Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors
Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - La Boqueria Market - Grab Tapas While Tasting Local Ingredients
No trip to Barcelona is complete without a visit to the bustling La Boqueria market. This lively food market has been around since the 13th century, making it one of the oldest and most iconic spots in the city. It's an absolute must for any food lover visiting Barcelona.
As you walk through the market's crowded aisles, bursts of color and tempting aromas overwhelm the senses. Freshly caught seafood glistens on ice while ripe fruits and colorful vegetables beg to be tasted. Meat, cheese, and bread stalls display the glorious ingredients of Spanish cuisine. Local specialties like jamón ibérico, Manchego cheese, and membrillo (quince paste) are in abundance.
But it's not just the incredible array of ingredients that make La Boqueria a top tapas destination. There are numerous bars and eateries located right in the market where you can sample authentic Spanish tapas made with the freshest local ingredients. It's the ultimate way to experience Barcelona's food culture.
Pinotxo Bar is one of the most popular tapas spots, located close to the market's main entrance. Here you can try classic tapas like pan con tomate (grilled bread rubbed with garlic and tomato) and croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes) while watching the bustling crowd. Be sure to order a glass of cava to pair with your food.
Another excellent option is El Quim de la Boqueria. Chef Quim and his team serve up innovative tapas with quirky names like "the egg that wanted to be a shrimp omelet" and "botifarra with monocle". The dishes are full of flavor and fun. Don't miss their award-winning fried eggs with baby squid!
For seafood lovers, Kiosko Universal is a must. Their stellar tapas showcase the catch of the day. The king prawns sautéed in olive oil and the Galician-style octopus are exquisite. And you can't go wrong with the percebes (goose barnacles), a local Catalan delicacy.
Wherever you choose to eat in La Boqueria, you'll be immersed in the sights, sounds, and aromas of one of Europe's best markets. It's the embodiment of Barcelona's vibrant food culture. And the delicious tapas made with the freshest local ingredients are the perfect appetizers before a night of bar-hopping in the city.
What else is in this post?
- Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - La Boqueria Market - Grab Tapas While Tasting Local Ingredients
- Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Bodega 1900 - Traditional Tapas with a Modern Twist
- Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - El Nacional - One Stop for Multiple Types of Tapas
- Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Cal Pep - Fresh Seafood Tapas Galore
- Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Cervecería Catalana - Tapas with Locally Brewed Beer
- Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Bar Pinotxo - Counter Dining Offering Classic Tapas
- Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Quimet & Quimet - Mouthwatering Montaditos Sandwiches
- Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Tapeo - Lively Neighborhood Spot with Huge Variety
Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Bodega 1900 - Traditional Tapas with a Modern Twist
No evening out in Barcelona is complete without savoring authentic Spanish tapas paired with good wine or cava. While there are plenty of traditional tapas bars throughout the city, Bodega 1900 offers a fresh take by infusing centuries-old recipes with modern techniques and presentations. Led by renowned Chef Albert Adría, Bodega 1900 is bringing Spanish tapas into the 21st century.
As soon as you step inside the moody, candlelit interior of Bodega 1900, you feel transported back to turn-of-the-century Spain. Sepia-toned photos of old Barcelona adorn the walls, paying homage to the city's history. But the food tells a more modern tale. Chef Adría playfully experiments with the classic tapas while respecting tradition. His reinvented dishes surprise the palate with unexpected textures, aromas, and visual flair.
A standout is the "Russian salad" - a retro tapa typically made of potatoes, carrots, peas, and mayonnaise. Adría's version comprises an artfully constructed tower of tomato gelatin, salmon tartare, creamy stracciatella cheese, and caviar. With each bite, you get an explosion of flavors and textures that dance on the tongue.
Another innovative dish is the oxtail bunuelo de Kobe. Bunuelos are little fritter-like tapas popular all over Spain. But at Bodega 1900, the crispy exterior gives way to a rich, braised oxtail filling made with premium Kobe beef. It's the perfect marriage of homey and haute cuisine.
Of course, you'll also find classic tapas done exceptionally well, like the jamón ibérico de bellota - acorn-fed Iberian ham sourced from the finest producers in Spain. Bodega 1900 ages it in-house for intense, complex flavors you won't find elsewhere. Paired with pan con tomate (rustic tomato bread), it's tapas perfection.
The extensive beverage program also gets a modern overhaul. You can sample unique vermouths and sherry varietals while enjoying wines from small producers. Or sip cavas made using the traditional champenoise method. The cocktails offer whimsical takes on classics like the "Margarita Maria" made with artichoke, lime, tequila, and mezcal.
Everything about the experience at Bodega 1900 is simultaneously classic and contemporary. The revived historic setting pairs nicely with the chef's imagination. It allows diners to time travel back to the early 1900s when tapas first emerged - but with all the innovation and diversity that modern Barcelona has to offer.
Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - El Nacional - One Stop for Multiple Types of Tapas
No single tapas bar in Barcelona offers more variety under one roof than the sprawling food court El Nacional. This converted warehouse in the hip Poble Sec neighborhood houses four separate restaurants, each specializing in a different type of regional Spanish cuisine. It's the ultimate one-stop spot for a tapas crawl.
At La Braseria, sinks your teeth into hearty Catalan fare like butifarra sausage with white beans and grilled country bread rubbed with ripe tomato - classics every visitor to Barcelona should try. Or opt for chef's creative riffs on local dishes, like the cannelloni stuffed with oxtail and caramelized onions. With its vaulted brick ceilings, dark wood, and exposed beams, the industrial-chic dining room evokes a traditional tavern.
For seafood, head to La Llotja, where a glassed-in counter overflows with the fresh catch of the day. You can watch the chefs prepare made-to-order paellas, stuffed with head-on prawns, mussels and clams steamed in the rice. Don't miss specialties like the Galician-style octopus drizzled with paprika oil and the razor clams sautéed with jamón ibérico.
At the marble-topped counter of La Taperia, admire rows of glistening jamon while you nibble on mouthwatering montaditos - slices of bread piled high with delicious toppings. Try the smoked salmon with zesty goat cheese, or the roasted peppers with tuna belly. And be sure to pair it with a glass of sherry, the quintessential Spanish apéritif.
With its gleaming orange La Marzocco espresso machine as the centerpiece, Café is the perfect spot for Spanish-style tapas with an international twist. Savor Asian-style chicken karaage drizzled with truffle honey or the mini angus burgers with caramelized onions - the perfect snacks between caffeine fixes.
El Nacional's bustling, cavernous interior designed by renowned architect Ricardo Bofill brings together people from all walks of life under one cathedral-like roof. With communal tables that seat up to 100, it’s an ideal spot for large groups. The space retains original details like brick walls and cast-iron columns juxtaposed with modern pendant lighting and sleek surfaces. An entire wall of windows keeps the space bright and airy.
Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Cal Pep - Fresh Seafood Tapas Galore
Tucked away on a tiny side street in the heart of the Born neighborhood, Cal Pep is a Barcelona institution renowned for its succulent seafood tapas. Stepping inside the cozy, tiled dining room feels like entering the living room of a lifelong friend. The atmosphere is warm, convivial, and always buzzing with energy. Chef Pep himself presides over the kitchen, preparing sterling seafood with precision and passion. His creations range from traditional to avant-garde, but always showcase the freshest catch from the Mediterranean.
At the heart of the experience are the small plates meant for sharing. An impressive array of tapas parades from the kitchen throughout the night, so diners never know quite what delights will emerge next. You may start with a refreshing gazpacho served in a shot glass, followed by lightly fried baby squid sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in silky aioli. Plump garlicky shrimps sizzle on the plancha, their shells slick with olive oil and charred to perfection. Roasted octopus tentacles offer an incredible interplay of textures - crispy exterior giving way to supple, buttery flesh.
Then comes the paella, which many patrons agree is the best in Barcelona. Pep uses bomba rice, prized for its ability to absorb flavors while remaining firm. The pan sizzles with morsels of monkfish, tiger prawns, mussels and clams, imbuing the rice with the essence of the sea. A sprinkling of aioli adds luscious richness to balance the briny notes. Of course, no Catalan meal is complete without bread for sopping up the precious socarrat, the golden toasted rice crust that forms on the bottom.
The rotating selection showcases the best of what’s in season, from meaty scarlet shrimps to spider crab when they’re at their sweetest. You never know what seafood wonders Pep has up his sleeve. Part of the magic lies in placing your trust in the chef and letting his daily creations guide your palate on an aquatic adventure. The menu evolves constantly based on the catch from Barcelona’s fishing fleet.
Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Cervecería Catalana - Tapas with Locally Brewed Beer
No tapas crawl through Barcelona's lively Eixample neighborhood would be complete without a stop at Cervecería Catalana. This bustling taproom has been pouring brews since 1876, making it one of the city's oldest watering holes. But beyond serving up cold pints, it's also a stellar spot for authentic Catalan tapas paired perfectly with local beers on draft.
The moment you step inside, you feel transported back in time. Sepia-toned photos documenting the history of Catalan brewing adorn the walls. Barrels, casks and other breweriana lend to the old-school ambiance. But it's at the gorgeous Art Nouveau bar where the magic happens. Gleaming brass fixtures and stained glass detailing epitomize classic Barcelona style.
Of course, the beers take center stage. Catalana stocks an impressive array of local brews, primarily from Catalonia's craft breweries like Alhambra, Damm and Moritz. It's a great chance for visitors to sample widely from Spain's burgeoning craft beer scene. Orders flow steadily from the bar to thirsty patrons seated at communal tables - the quintessential Spanish tapas experience.
You can't visit Catalana without trying their signature tapa, the pa amb tomàquet. Rustic country bread comes out hot from the oven, ready for you to rub with ripe tomato pulp and a generous drizzle of olive oil. The sweetness of the tomato mingles with the crunch of the bread for incredible flavors and textures. It's the perfect accompaniment to any beer, and an iconic snack.
Other standout tapas include the juicy dates stuffed with tangy Cabrales blue cheese - an ingenious pairing of flavors. The classic Spanish tortilla loaded with potatoes comes perfectly executed with a runny interior. Their croquetas make an addictive bar snack, crammed with bechamel and jamón. And the lightly fried baby squid offers a crunchy, salty counterpoint to the beers.
The service at Catalana remains friendly and efficient even during crowded happy hour. Servers deftly balance heaping plates while rattling off the day's specials. Getting a table may require patience, but the festive din of laughing patrons just adds to the electricity. It's easy to lose track of hours lingering over pints and plates.
Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Bar Pinotxo - Counter Dining Offering Classic Tapas
Tucked into the northwest corner of La Boqueria market is Bar Pinotxo, one of the most iconic and beloved tapas counters in Barcelona. For over 70 years, this diminutive bar has been transporting diners back to a simpler time with its old-school charm and standout traditional plates. Despite its humble surroundings amid the market bustle, Pinotxo attracts locals and tourists alike for an authentic taste of classic Catalan tapas culture.
The draw is as much about the experience as the stellar food. Pinotxo only has a handful of stools at its L-shaped granite counter, which creates a convivial, communal atmosphere. You'll likely chat with fellow diners or Juanito, the congenial owner who presides over the compact kitchen. His charisma entertains patrons as aromas from the sizzling plancha whet appetites. Juanito sources the freshest ingredients each morning right from the market, allowing for impromptu daily specials. This intimacy and spontaneity fosters a living connection to Barcelona's culinary roots.
Of course, Pinotxo's core menu shines with iconic staples that every visitor should savor. The pa amb tomàquet brings Catalan cuisine's simplicity to the forefront - crusty bread rubbed with ripe tomato, garlic and olive oil. Combining sweetness, acidity, crunch and richness, it's a study in pure flavors. Another signature is the bomba, a football-shaped potato croquette crammed with minced meat and typically topped with aioli and spicy salsa brava. Pinotxo's version bursts with the primal savory flavors of perfect comfort food.
The tortilla española stands out for its exemplary technique - lush and creamy yet firm enough to slice. Fried artichokes offer a satisfying crunch paired with Juanito's velvety alioli for dipping. Of course, no tapas experience is complete without jamón ibérico de bellota, acorn-fed Iberian ham that practically melts on the tongue. You'll find it in abundance at Pinotxo's counter, with complex nutty undertones.
Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Quimet & Quimet - Mouthwatering Montaditos Sandwiches
Tucked away on a narrow side street in the hip Poblenou neighborhood, Quimet & Quimet feels more like an intimate wine bar than a tapas spot. But this cozy, standing-room-only joint has earned fame for its incredible montaditos - bite-sized sandwiches piled high with cured meats, cheeses, roasted veggies and other delicious ingredients. It's a mouthwatering experience for the senses.
As you step inside Quimet & Quimet's modest interior, you immediately notice the impressive display of wines lining the walls from floor to ceiling. Over 4,000 bottles from Spain's most acclaimed producers provide the backdrop as you peruse the montaditos menu stretched above the bar. The offerings change daily based on what's freshest, but you'll always find a heavenly mix of flavors and textures.
A sublime combination pairs sweet fig jam and nutty Idiazábal cheese on crisp bread for a salty-sweet delight. Another highly craved montadito features earthy sautéed mushrooms mingling with salty shreds of jamón ibérico and tempranillo wine reduction. The interplay of umami flavors dazzles the palate. Even vegetarians praise the roasted eggplant montadito cloaked in silky goat cheese and caramelized onions.
Of course, the real stars are the quality cured meats sourced from Spain's finest producers. The melt-in-your-mouth jamón ibérico de bellota takes the spotlight, with its complex marbled fat that dissolves on the tongue. But you'll also find variations like chorizo, spicy salchichón, and herb-crusted lomo embuchado stacking layers of flavors between bread slices.
Choose your favorite montadito, then grab a spot at one of the few mini tables or lean against a barrel to enjoy Spain's answer to a gourmet sandwich. Be sure to ask for staff recommendations on wine pairings from their encyclopedic selection. The affable owners love to guide customers on the ideal vino match for each montadito.
Bar Hopping for Tapas in Barcelona: The Best Spots to Sample Small Plates with Big Flavors - Tapeo - Lively Neighborhood Spot with Huge Variety
If you want to experience the essence of Barcelona's tapas culture, head to the lively neighborhood eatery Tapeo. This boisterous spot embodies the convivial spirit of tapas dining with its bustling communal tables packed with hungry patrons. Tapeo's extensive menu showcases all the variety and vibrancy of Catalan cuisine. With so many tempting plates rolling out of the kitchen, you'll want to come hungry and share dishes family-style.
The moment you step through Tapeo's doors, you're immersed in the din of laughter and conversation reverberating off the vintage tiled walls. Locals mix effortlessly with tourists at the shared tables while waiters adeptly navigate the narrow spaces between diners. Volume rises as the rosé and cava flow. But the amicable atmosphere means you're just as likely to make friends with neighboring revelers as your own companions.
Once you're settled with a chilled glass of vermouth or beer, it's time to dive headfirst into the menu. Tapeo excels at pinxtos, the Basque-style tapas on slices of bread. Pair creamy tortilla or potato omelette atop baguette with chorizo slices for a perfect protein duo. The tomato pan con tomate with silky stracciatella cheese melts in your mouth. Their signature pinxto stacks sweet figs, salty jamón ibérico and tangy goat cheese for an umami flavor bomb.
Beyond pinxtos, the array of shareable small plates at Tapeo seems endless. For seafood lovers, the salt cod fritters with honey alioli and grilled shrimp with smoky paprika hit the spot. Their classic Spanish tortilla oozes with lush egg and potato goodness. You can't go wrong with favorites like jamón ibérico or Manchego cheese paired with membrillo quince paste. Hearty stews brimming with short rib, chickpeas and morcilla sausage satisfy. And the dry-aged beef tenderloin barguette with truffle butter and potato chips is superb.
Desserts like crème brûlée flan or chocolate ganache tart then arrive to complete this feast. But before indulging, you'll want to order a porrón of wine to share. This traditional glass pitcher comes with a spout for drinking and pouring streams of wine into your mouth. It adds a playful flourish to conclude the meal.