Barcelona Foodie Neighborhoods: Must-Sees & Hidden Gems
Spanish tapas, traditional Catalan cuisine, and innovative modern cooking join forces in Barcelona, making it one of Europe’s most tantalizing foodie destinations. Much like the different types of cuisine on offer in the city, each neighborhood has its own distinct flavor and food scene worth exploring. From popular neighborhoods to more off-the-beaten-path locales, here are some of the best neighborhoods to eat in Barcelona.
The must-see: El Born
El Born, Barcelona’s medieval quarter, is also home to some of the city’s best traditional Catalan restaurants and tapas bars, some dating back to the 1920s. El Xampanyet, set beneath the shadow of Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral, serves jamón, tinned seafood, cheese, and cava in an atmospheric space that’s almost always standing-room only. Meanwhile, the Santa Caterina covered market sells Spanish and Catalan ingredients and is much less crowded than the more popular Boquería.
The hidden gem: El Clot
This largely residential neighborhood also dates back to the medieval period, and while it hasn’t maintained its historic appearance in the same way as El Born, it wins big when it comes to both the price and authenticity of its food. You’ll frequently see groups of locals gathering over a meal or drinks at this quiet neighborhood’s traditional Catalan restaurants, bars, and the Mercat del Clot food market. Many eateries here are also within walking distance of the Sagrada Familia.
The must-see: The Gothic Quarter
No trip to Barcelona would be complete without a visit to El Gòtic, or the Gothic Quarter, in the heart of the old city. This network of cobbled streets and winding alleyways is home to some of the city’s top restaurants, as well as some of its biggest tourist traps. Take a guided food tour through the neighborhood for help finding the best bites. Don’t miss the chance to stop into El Quatre Gats, a former haunt of Pablo Picasso, for a drink.
The hidden gem: Gràcia
Gràcia was once its own city until the late 19th century, when it was enveloped by Barcelona, so it has a similar feel as the Ciutat Vella without as many tourists. The restaurants here—a mix of tapas bars, Catalan restaurants, and international eateries—cater mostly to locals, especially the further north you go. It’s one of the top spots in the city for global cuisine, too, with excellent restaurants serving Venezuelan, Indian, Japanese, Thai, and even Nordic food.
An Alternative Spirit
The must-see: Raval
Once a no-go area for visitors, Raval has become one of Barcelona’s buzziest cultural hubs, with one of its most eclectic dining scenes. Take a walk down the Rambla de Raval for a less crowded, more local version of the more famous Las Ramblas. The walking street has restaurants to either side, with tables set out beneath the trees for an alfresco meal. You can find a bit of everything here, from Catalan cuisine to Asian-inspired tapas and American-style brunch.
The hidden gem: Sant Antoni & Poble Sec
This neighborhood at the foothills of Montjuïc is one of the oldest in Barcelona, and its foodie scene has really begun to stand out in recent years. It rivals Raval with its eclecticism, and is home to everything from historic bodegas and tapas bars to some of the city’s most lauded fine dining establishments (such as Albert Adria’s Tickets on the edge of the neighborhood). Calle Parlament, a street in the small Sant Antoni section of the neighborhood, has become a trendy hotspot for coffee, brunch, and vermouth.
The must-see: Barceloneta
It should come as no surprise that Barcelona’s old fishermen’s village is now a hotspot for seafood. A handful of restaurants have tables right next to the beachside promenade, but it’s the more historic restaurants tucked away in the cramped streets of this neighborhood that serve the best food. While seafood shines (this is one of the best neighborhoods for paella), the most famous dish from Barceloneta is the bomba—a fried ball of mashed potato and ground beef, served with aioli and a spicy brava sauce.
The hidden gem: Poblenou
For some of the best beachside dining (and drinking) in Barcelona, get away from Barceloneta and head toward Poblenou instead. This stretch of Mediterranean coastline is dotted with xiringuitos, or beach bars, that are more local and less crowded than those closer to the old city. The food varies from place to place, but almost all have a generous cocktail menu for cooling off in the Spanish heat. Further inland, Rambla de Poblenou offers yet another quieter alternative to Las Ramblas.
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