The Catalan capital may be famous for its many top-notch restaurants and fashionable lunch spots, but there are some very affordable gems to be enjoyed too. These are some of the most budget-friendly places you can sample authentic Spanish tapas and Catalan cuisine without spending a fortune.
Restaurant, Bar, Charcuterie, Spanish
A choice of burgers | Courtesy of El Club de la Hamburguesa
Despite being located just minutes from La Rambla in the heart of El Raval, Elisabets Restaurant is always popular with locals who like to come here for a drink and a snack in the afternoon. The menu includes a selection of hot and cold sandwiches prepared with classic filings such as botifarra sausage or Spanish omelette. Small dishes include croquetas, fried calamari or a selection of Catalan charcuterie.
Open in the evenings only, Bar Ramon is a popular tapas bar which you’ll struggle to get in to without a booking. The kitchen serves an ample menu of classic Catalan dishes and Spanish tapas while the dining room is a tribute to some of the greatest musicians of rock’n’roll, with posters and other paraphernalia covering the walls.
Located in the old fisherman’s neighbourhood La Barceloneta, Bar Jao-Cai is a family-run tapas bar whose prices stay true to the neighbourhood’s spirit – a far cry from the pricier venues which line the beach. Choose from platters of fresh seafood such as fried fish, grilled calamari or steamed razor clams all served in a traditional locale which remains mostly unchanged since the 1950s.
Wander down the backstreets of Poble Sec and you’re more than likely to stumble across the queue outside Quimet & Quimet. This tiny bar specialises in a type of dish known as montaditos which consist of slices of bread topped with different ingredients such as smoked salmon, cream cheese and honey. There’s no seating at Quimet & Quimet and you’ll have to be prepared to brush up against a few shoulders to get your place at the bar, but it’s worth it.
A trip to La Xampanyeria is likely to leave you feeling a little merry as this popular tapas bar is best known for its cheap glasses of Cava, the local sparkling wine. Large platters of jam, chorizo or cheese are served alongside bottles of local fizz, with a buzzing atmosphere almost any night of the week.
This is one of the last ‘old-school’ venues that hasn’t been converted into a hipster hangout on the trendy Parlament street in Sant Antoni. Pa i Trago – meaning ‘bread and drink’ – has served traditional Catalan cuisine since 1965 and is still owned by the same family today. The large dining room is usually full at weekends and on Bank Holidays when locals come to get their fix of dishes their grandmother used to cook them.
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Step inside El Vaso de Oro and the first thing you’ll notice is that there’s not much more to this bar than the bar itself in terms of space. The second thing you’ll notice is the crisp white shirts of the barmen as they shout orders to each other and occasionally burst out into song. A selection of tapas are all prepared just behind the counter while the beer on tap is their own brew.
Situated just opposite the historic Sant Antoni market, the Bodega d’en Rafael is where many locals like to drop in for a drink after their weekly shop. The owner is always around to greet people with a smile and the atmosphere is more akin to a family gathering than a bar. The tapas are some of the best value for money you will find this side of the Raval, including traditional cooked meat dishes, fried fish and Spanish charcuterie.
Located on one of El Born’s coolest streets you’ll find El Xampanyet, a bustling tapas bar which opens out into a traditional-style tiled room with tasty morsels on display in the glass counter. Open since 1929, this popular tapas bar has stayed true to itself over the years as the neighbourhood has become one of the trendiest in Barcelona. Just a stone’s throw from the Picasso Museum and around the corner from the impressive Santa Maria del Mar, this is a great traditional place to eat when sightseeing.
La Flauta, named after the typical Catalan sandwich, is a great spot for tapas and, of course, the eponymous ‘flautas’. Situated in the heart of the Exiample, not far from Passeig de Gracia and Placa Catalunya, queues here often stretch out the door as locals and tourists know it’s worth the wait even if the service can sometimes be a little brusque at peak times.