There’s probably no better way to experience Spain’s local culinary culture than Barcelona tapas bars. Tasca el Corral is one of the best. (Photo: Peter Forsberg / Europe / Alamy Stock Photo)
Like the pubs of the UK or the diners of America, tapas bars are an essential part of Spain’s culinary landscape. These bars, named for the small plates of appetizers they serve, are the place where Barcelonés pop in for a quick bite in the morning or settle in after a night out. What’s on the plate? In Barcelona, it’s usually seafood, but there are always meat and veggie options, too. Every local has their go-to, but these five are among Barcelona’s best.
Casa de Tapas may not be the cheapest, but it’s one of the tastiest. The grilled vegetables, succulent meats and seafood are all delicious, but don’t leave without a taste of the homemade ham: artfully sliced by the restaurant’s specialist and presented with finesse. The terrace, with its attentive, friendly servers, is perfect on a warm Barcelona night.
The generous selection of traditional Catalan tapas at the well-known Restaurant La Mar Salada pairs well with a glass of rioja, cava or beer. Just don’t overdo it; the chef’s desserts are excellent. This place has won lots of awards but still charges local (as in affordable) prices.
You’ll have to wait to get into Pinotxo Bar, but since it’s within the buzzing La Boqueria Market, there’s plenty of people-watching to keep you occupied. The all-you-can-eat tapas go great with beer and include traditional dishes like grilled lobster and shellfish. This is a must on any tapas tour and is well worth the wait.
The rustic decor at Tasca El Corral (hams hanging overhead and all) is the real deal, and so is the warm welcome from its owner. One of Barca’s oldest tapas bars, this Gothic Quarter spot offers generous portions of Basque tapas.
Blai Tonight is among the city’s Basque tapas bars that offer pintxos (or pincho). The San Sébastian specialty, named after the Basque word “to prick,” is composed of a small slice of bread with a variety of toppings, held together with a toothpick. The service makes the experience all that much better.