Everyone wants to enjoy tapas whilst in Spain, but with such a variety of bars, how do you know which will give you the best value?
Spain’s unique tapas culture is the envy of the world. There’s nowhere else you can go bar-hopping and eating and it be the accepted norm. Not every Spanish city is conductive to a night of tapas though. For that reason, we’ve found the best tapas bars in Barcelona. If you’re looking for a short break in a romantic, warm city, here’s how and where to spend your evenings.
A Bit About Tapas
Of course we all know and love tapas, but have you ever stopped to consider the origins? Below we'll discuss the history of tapas and how they became so beloved by Spaniards.
How Tapas All Began
The history of tapas involves King Alfonso XIII and his miraculous tale. Following a travel in Andalusia, the king arrived at a restaurant where he received a glass of wine with a slice of cheese over the top. He understood that it was served like this to protect the wine from dust or bugs, but he ate the cheese regardless. Following this event, the King continued to ask for his wine served like this everywhere he went. Specifically, he renamed it ‘tapas’.
There’s also another story about the history of tapas which is slightly different. This refers to King Alfonso XIII being ill. Many believe that he needed small snacks and wine in moderation between meals to recover. As the King’s health improved and he returned back to his normal state, he advised that inns and bars in the area serve wine along with a snack. This would help the working class have stamina whilst working long hours every day. Specifically, farmers would have a glass of wine and small snacks to maintain their energy and blood sugar levels before eating lunch or dinner. Whichever story is true, it has led to the birth of the best tapas bars, and for that, we are thankful!
Why Are Tapas So Popular In Spain?
Tapas is an important part of Spanish culture, which other countries have tried to replicate. Its legacy has lasted over 800 years, and doesn’t have any intentions of slowing down soon. The idea of Spaniards sitting down together and enjoying small portions of food and wine quickly became a part of their lifestyle. The best tapas bars serve between 8 and 12 kinds of tapas on a daily basis. This is usually set between 1 and 3 PM, and 9 and 11 PM. By offering snacks before dinner and lunch, it allows people to start fueled for the entire day, without feeling bloated with heavy meals.
Examples of Tapas
So, what does tapas consist of? Tapas is traditionally made from Mediterranean ingredients, including seafood, pork, garlic and olive oil. Potato omelets and ‘rice of the day’ are also common snacks amongst the Spanish culture. Beef and lamb are regularly featured, though the most popular meat is pork. Every part of the animal is used, including blood, cheeks and trotters.
Here are a few popular examples you can find in the best tapas bars in Barcelona:
- Chocos: cuttlefish, usually breaded and deep fried
- Calamares del Campo: breaded and fried onions and peppers
- Chipirones: small squid, usually cooked “a la plancha” (on the griddle)
- Tortilla: potato omelette
- Solomillo al Whisky: pork tenderloin in whisky and garlic sauce
- Salmorejo: a thicker version of gazpacho, often used as a sauce
- Patatas bravas: fried potato wedges served with a spicy alioli sauce
- Albóndigas: meatballs – most often pork, but also of beef or seafood
- Revuelto: scrambled eggs with various fillings
The Best Tapas Bars in Barcelona For Foodies To Indulge
Let’s take a look at some of the best tapas bars in Barcelona you should definitely visit. Each one has a unique selection of tapas, as well as a different atmosphere to accommodate every occasion.
1. Bar Canete
Bar Canete is a classic spot with mood music and dim lighting any time you enter, making this one of the best tapas bar. Bar Canete is vibrant and energetic, always packed with hungry residents and globetrotters who have a passion for food. This is one of the best tapas bars to maintain its high reputation as a local eatery. Arrive at around 10 PM for Spanish dinner to make the most of meeting locals.
Their wine list is varied, with plenty of options by bottle or glass. Simply ask a server for a recommendation based off of your tastes, and they’ll serve you up a delicious drink. Despite the environment, design, and low lighting, this is a place to socialize and eat until you burst, rather than encounter a romantic date. Bring along your favourite people and enjoy seafood to your heart's content. You’ll be that amazed at the selection that you might wish to skip lunch to prepare your stomach.
Bar Canete offers fresh ingredients which you won’t find at many other best tapas bars in the area. Enjoy a gluttonous feast of oysters, tuna tartare, razor clams, tomatoes or pesto. Alternatively, give the grilled Iberian pork loin a try, and leave room for a traditional dessert to finish off a delicious treat.
Viana opened its doors less than three years ago, but its beautiful characteristics have made a lasting impression on residents. Located in Plaza Real, it’s surrounded by a beautiful oasis in a stunning location. This cozy little restaurant offers high-quality ingredients and products crafted with love and care by expert staff. Their extensive menu offers a menu of large cocktails and delicious snacks to enjoy with friends, or as a romantic date.
This small restaurant seats 22 tables, though you can eat at the bar when it’s extremely busy. The menu only offers around eight tapas and six or seven main courses, which is one of the most limited tapas bars. However, their quality ingredients and flavours make up for their small menu. We recommend this place if you are new to tapas bars and eating Spanish cuisine or you’re heading out on a budget.
Viana is infamous for its delicious Sangria and complimentary aperitif for all customers. This isn’t one of your typical tapas bars as you’ll receive a drink waiting in line. The accommodating staff and relaxing ambiance makes this a desirable location for a special occasion or for when it’s too warm outside. Don’t walk out without trying a dessert too, because this bar is notorious for its sweet selections. Eat until stuffed at one of the best tapas bars in Barcelona.
3. Bodega Biarritz
Bodega Biarritz serves delicious food and traditional Spanish spices. Their easy-to-order menu is divided into sections so you can order ‘menu 1’ or ‘menu 2’, with each selection being enough for two people. A small and friendly environment is what makes this one of the best tapas bars in Barcelona. The interesting menu is diverse and doesn’t serve fish food, only meat and vegetables.
Bodega has around 30 tapas options to choose from, including everything you’d expect from the best tapas bars. There are selections of potato and cheese tapas, meat dishes, and a wide variation of vegetarian dishes. A meal here is inexpensive compared to other tapas bars. Most of the tapas are between two and four euros, and the tasting menu for two only costs 28 euros – of which serves eight tapas dishes.
Cheese-lovers will adore Bodega, although those who are lactose intolerant might have more of a limited choice. On the other hand, the up-close and personal approach from the expert waiters makes these one of the most adored tapas bars in Barcelona. As this tapas bar doesn’t take reservations due to its popularity, we recommend heading here and going straight through to get a good seat with a view.
4. Alba Granados
Alba Granados has an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere as soon as you step food inside. It’s not the cheapest of the best tapas bars, but it’s worth every bite. Its simple design and ambiance is one of the best features of this bar. There’s a huge focus on Mediterranean cuisine, and they specialise in quality products such as Ox meat and wild fresh fish cooked on Charcoal. There’s an immense amount of creativity that is in every cuisine which not all tapas bars are able to offer.
The future of Alba Granados is bright, with a wider selection of healthy options and better accommodation for every dietary need. Currently, regulars adore their scrambled eggs with potatoes, snails, variation of rice, and homemade croquettes. We recommend this tapas bar if you prefer ‘safer’ foods, ie. those with a mild flavour and limited seafood.
After you’ve devoured a delicious selection of foods, head to the first floor of the restaurant to their cocktail bar. This hidden gem is similar to a ‘50’s film, with balconies that face Enrique Granados street. These beautiful views of the night sky make this one of the best tapas bar with a unique and romantic vibe. Add a strong cocktail to your hand and listen to the soft music in the background.
Palosanto is one of the newest and best tapas bars in Barcelona, but it’s certainly not an underdog. This fresh bar offers high quality tapas, tasty snacks, and dishes in the Gothic Quarter. There’s a charm and informal atmosphere here which other tapas bars can’t quite live up to.
Here, you can escape on the terrace and enjoy great tapas. Located in a friendly neighbourhood, a diversity of crowds gathers here to enjoy well-priced tapas and a wide selection of cocktails, wines and beers. Their classic Mediterranean cuisine is full of flavours inspired from other cultures. Although, the expert team add a personal touch to take these flavours to another level.
Palosanto serves delicious food and a wide selection of wines. The prices are reasonable and the service is efficient to accommodate all groups of people. If you’re new to tapas bars, and want to explore somewhere you feel comfortable and welcome, we highly recommend this joint. The tapas are fresh, vibrant and tasty, and all of their drinks are affordable and refreshing. It’s an ideal place for an unplanned trip out with friends, and there’s nothing like delicious food outside with the sun shining.
6. Sensi Tapas
Sensi Tapas is a warm and charming gem in the Gothic Quarter which offers creative cuisines and plenty of options for all tastes. This restaurant is an ideal option for those looking for a place in the central area to take plenty of unforgettable photos all the while eating delicious food.
Sensi is renowned for its almonds, cherry tomatoes, onion jam, and salad with brie cheese. Some of their other popular options include beef sirloin with black pepper sauce and potato gratin. Let’s not forget their infamous red curry mussels with fresh basil, or noodles with vegetables and sweet chilli. There are plenty of the best tapas bars in Barcelona, though Sensi is a strong competitor in the field, thanks to its friendly atmosphere and quality cuisine.
This is a sensual treat where you will vow to return to in Barcelona. The vibe of the restaurant is cheerful and the food is first class. A typical meal out will include vegetables as a starter, then meat and mussels, with rich ravioli swimming in truffle sauce. Its perfect spot makes it ideal for anyone visiting Barcelona for the first time as there are plenty of things to do in the area. There’s also a hotel directly opposite and it’s a short walk from other bars to continue your venture.
Where Are Your Favourite Cities To Enjoy Food?
Tapas is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, though these tapas bars aren’t the same as those in Spain. Many Americans don’t know exactly how to recreate the stunning flavours and spices, because of a different culture. Thus, Barcelona is home to one of the world’s best culture hubs and it’s packed with creative people and of course, amazing food.
We hope you enjoyed the array of the best tapas bars to enjoy in this amazing region. Where are some amazing places you’ve visited and enjoyed delicious food? Share your recommendations in the comments to advise other globetrotters.
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