Dining in Barcelona is a delightful, intimate, and relaxed experience. Catalan food is delicious – whether the Catalan-inspired breakfast spread at your lodging, filling cafè amb llet, or espresso with milk and a pastry mid-morning, tapas at the neighborhood bar late afternoon, or a multi-course extravaganza late evening, complete with locally produced cava and wines, dining in Barcelona is a much more civilised and thoughtful event any time of the day.
I enjoyed nearly all my meals throughout the 3-day exploration of Barcelona’s Catalan food, but a few were truly exceptional. Here they are:
Breakfast Buffet, Hotel Bagues, Barcelona
Freshly squeezed juices, tempting fruit, Iberian cured meats, cheeses, vegetables, yogurts, cooked spiced rice with fruits, absolutely heavenly cafè con leche/cafè amb llet, … and who can resist a sip of cava to start the day? Actually, I declined cava, but enjoyed the rest of my first meal of the day, especially in such serene surroundings. Hotel Bagues offers hot breakfast entrees as well, but with the sumptuous spread, ordering additional dishes was unnecessary. While many locals may get only a coffee, or a coffee with a pastry, before second breakfast around 10 or 11 in the morning, enjoying the extensive offerings of Barcelona Catalan food is a great way to power through your morning and early afternoon.
Market Lunch, Arcano Restaurant
I found Arcano Restaurant as I finished my ramble through the Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter, in Barcelona. Arcano is in El Born, one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in the city. Built on 17th century stables, and formerly housing a wine cellar, the decor and surroundings do feel a bit arcane – definitely interesting and relaxing. With a reasonably priced prix fixe menu, market-fresh ingredients, interesting locale, and free wifi, the restaurant ticks all the boxes for a quiet meal as well as a boisterous celebration. I ordered from the Market menu – fresh food prepared from chef-sourced ingredients from local markets, and greatly enjoyed my sauteed basmati rice with squid starter, skirt steak (from Argentina, no less) with grilled vegetables main course, and aniseed-roasted pineapple with ice cream dessert. Meals range from 16.90 euro to 19.90 euro, depending on the day (weekdays are less expensive), and some dishes require a small supplement.
Coffee Break, La Porta Ferrissa
Traditionally, Catalan people will have a cup of coffee either at home or at a coffee bar on the way to work, then something more substantial around 10 or 11 in the morning. This spot offers just that, but throughout the day. Inexpensive, with friendly service, wonderful cafe amb llet, pastries, sandwiches, and more, La Porta Ferrissa is a fantastic place to pop in during your day while exploring Barcelona.
Cava, Tapas, and Wine Extravaganza, Bar Cañete
The friendly hotel staff suggested Bar Cañete for a tapas meal the night before I flew out, so I wandered down Las Ramblas, and found this spot tucked away on a small side street. Incredibly, though it was fairly late (nearly ten in the evening), the restaurant was buzzing, and the waiting area full, but not uncomfortably so. Greeted with a glass of cava, I gave my name to the hostess, and sat down to ponder my visit. Several of us waiting for a seat started sharing details during a conversation and wound up asking for a table for the four of us. Though the menu is presented in Catalan, Spanish, and English, we decided to rely on our server to create a representative menu for our meal – wow, what an interesting menu!!
The various tapas were fantastic to share, the waitstaff engaging, and the tapas beautifully presented. Our server introduced each dish, and we washed these down with a lush red wine as well as loads of water. Over the course of this convivial meal, we enjoyed toasted flatbread with tomato, ham croquette, cod fritter, bellota cured ham (incredible!), green beans parmesan and pine nut salad, Cañete-style shrimp in garlic, octopus with tomato (I declined the treat, but the others enjoyed), and roasted veal with vegetables (also declined with thanks).
And to end, we shared a small chocolate coulant – lava cake, in other words – a completely divine dessert! Go to Bar Cañete, alone or with friends — it’s a do-not-miss place!
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