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  • Writer's pictureEmma Cakmak

Barcelona: A Beginner's Food Guide

This One Is For The Foodies

International travel allows people to gain a new appreciation for other cultures of the world, and a big part of any culture is the cuisine. The food of a region is a reflection of their history and their geographical location as well as the resources they have available to them. Barcelona is a city on the northeastern coast of Spain, in the province of Catalonia on the Balearic Sea. The cuisine is reflective of the colorful history of Barcelona and its’ centralized location in the Mediterranean and its’ proximity to Africa.

Here are some of the great food and drinks to try on your next visit to Barcelona


Let's kick this list off with a couple of great drinks most people might already familiar with:

Sangria - one of the most popular drinks in Spain

Sangria- Everyone must try a glass of Sangria. It’s a great refreshment on a hot day. The great thing about Sangria is that every restaurant and Sangria maker has a different take on it, and some places will even offer up to 6 different varieties on their menu. You may have already tried it at a party – or even made some yourself - but there’s something inexplicably satisfying about sitting outside at a local bar in Barcelona proper and drinking the local cocktail. Kind of like eating pizza in Naples, right?

Cava- This is the sparkling wine of Spain. It’s usually on the sweeter side than what you might be used to, but there is a variation. Brut Cava is a cava that is drier, and it tends to taste more like traditional champagne.

Meat and Cheese

Iberico ham and manchego cheese
A delightful display of Iberico ham and Manchego cheese

Iberico Ham- Iberico ham is to Spain what prosciutto is to Italy. This ham has become a famous ingredient known well to world-class chefs as one of the best hams in the world. It can be served on its’ own or as an ingredient in a dish. It is cut thicker than prosciutto, so it’s not as delicate and is a little meatier.

Chorizo- Chorizo is a spicy sausage that’s eaten in many different ways, including sliced up like salami or used as an ingredient in many local dishes.

Manchego - This sheep's milk cheese pairs wonderfully with Iberico ham. It has a salty, earthy flavor to it, and it originated in the La Mancha region of Spain (hence the name). One of the most popular cheeses in Spain.

Authentically Spanish Fare

Spanish tapas
An assortment of Spanish tapas

Gazpacho- This is a chilled tomato soup that is incredibly satisfying on a hot Spanish summer day. It sometimes comes served with Pa amb tomàquet or with sides of croutons, red peppers, and onion. No matter how it’s served, it's delicious.

Bocadillos- This is the Spanish version of a sandwich. They are made on baguettes that are soft and crusty all at the same time. You choose the meat, and then they are topped with multiple sauces and toppings that can include lentils, lettuce, corn, or cucumbers.

Seafood- Barcelona is located right on the Balearic Sea, just a stone's throw from the Mediterranean. This makes Barcelona a central place for fantastic seafood. If you’re feeling adventurous, I suggest trying the calamari and squid, which is normally served fried or grilled.

Bombas- Bombas is a combination of mashed potatoes and meat that are rolled in bread crumbs in the shape of a ball and fried. They usually come in two different sizes (like snack and meal size), and they’re generally served with aioli - on top and the bottom.

Spanish Omelet- Not the breakfast omelet that is probably coming to your mind right now. This is an omelet that is eaten all day and can come in an individual size or larger and served in slices. It’s filled with chunks of potatoes and onions and served with some type of aioli.

Pa Amb Tomaquet- A bread that is served with many dishes in Barcelona. It’s so popular that if you don't order it, many servers will ask you if you want it. It is a slice of bread topped with a rub of olive oil and tomato and a dash of salt. Everyone puts their own twist on the dish like some will toast the bread, and others will serve it with more chunks of tomato.

Croquettas- This is a dish that is a lot like the Bombas. Croquettas are filled with meat (usually chicken or Iberico ham) and cheese. They are a long, oval shape.

Spanish tapas
Tapas in Barcelona

Spain can be a food lover's dream. Some fantastic restaurants and cafes line the streets, and all of the best Spanish fares are at a traveler's fingertips. They love to serve their food in the small-plate style so the portions are great for eating all day long. Dishes come in different serving size options: A pintxos serving is a portion that is like a two-bite snack, which is perfect for on the go. A tapas menu is going to be a bigger serving size meant for sharing amongst a couple of people.

Are you planning a trip to Barcelona? Get one step ahead and click here to get your free planning guide for Barcelona.

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