15 Delicious Dishes to Try in Barcelona That Aren't Tapas

| © T.Tseng / Flickr
Tara Jessop

There’s no denying that the Spanish tapas culture is desirable: small morsels of food readily available in every bar to quell your appetite at any hour of the day. Yet if you’re after something more substantial, or just a little of the classic Spanish tortilla and cured ham, then check out these local dishes that won’t disappoint.

Fideuà

This local version of a paella is made with small noodles instead of the traditional rice version. It’s not uncommon to eat a mar i muntanya version or ‘surf and turf’ blending seafood and meat. Seek this dish out in the smaller traditional eateries or on a local menu del día for a taste of the real deal.

Fideuà

Escalivada

Cap i pota

Literally meaning ‘head and tail’, cap i pota is a hearty Catalan stew rich in pieces of meat and offal. A traditional dish, it’s made using morsels of veal and pork, including pieces of tripe which give it a distinctive flavour. Often on the menu of low-key neighbourhood eateries, it’s sometimes found ‘reinvented’ on the menus of high-end Catalan restaurants too.

Crema Catalana

The ultimate Catalan dessert, the crema Catalana has a close cousin in the french crème brûlée, although the Spanish version is typically given a slight orange flavour. A rich custard is poured into shallow ramekins before being finished off with a layer of caramelised sugar on the op.

Crema Catalana

Catalan-style chicken

Also prepared with fish instead of chicken, the ‘Catalan-style’ typically involves the use of raisins, prunes and pine nuts to prepare a sauce with a slight sweetness to it. Fried onions and white wine give the sauce its rich base and it’s not uncommon to eat the meat and sauce on their own without any vegetable accompaniment.

Fricando

A humble dish, the fricando is made using thin slices of beef – from what’s known as the silverside cut – and a sauce which invariably features small local mushrooms. The sauce is made from a traditional sofrito: a fried onion and tomato base which is used in most Catalan dishes. Hearty, wholesome and comforting is how most locals would describe the fricando.

Calçots

If the winter isn’t usually considered the most exciting of seasons food-wise, the winter in Catalonia reserves one special treat: calçots. These unusual alliums appear to be a cross between a leek and a spring onion, both in taste and size. They are eaten during feasts known as calçotadas where they are cooked over open fires, dipped in a rich sauce called romesco and gobbled whole.

Calçots on the fire

Botifarra

Most countries and people have their own version of a sausage and the Catalans are no exception. The botifarra is a Catalan sausage believed to have its origins in the time of the Ancient Romans, made using a combination of raw pork and spices. Botifarra is usually served alongside white beans or potatoes and cooked over a grill for flavour

Suquet de peix

This is the Catalan version of a fish soup, similar in some ways to a French bouillabaisse but with its own distinctive mode of preparation. After frying the prawns and other bits of shellfish, fish stock and tomato puree are used to make a rich sauce which also features saffron for flavour and colour. The dish is finished off with a picada: mixture of dried bread, nuts, herbs and water.

Alcachofas a la brasa

Sometimes the simplest of dishes are the best and this is very much the case with alcachofas a la brasa: fresh artichokes cooked over the grill. Artichokes are native to the area and are particularly famous from El Prat, the area around Barcelona’s airport. Simply grilled and served either with a nutty romesco sauce or drizzled with olive oil.

Artichokes

Escudella

A most Catalan of dishes, the escudella is a type of soup which is eaten over the course of a meal. A clear broth with vegetables, pasta shapes and a large meat ball called pilota, the broth and pasta are usually eaten as a first course while the meatball and vegetables are eaten as the main course afterwards. At Christmas time a special escudella de nadal is the traditional meal on Christmas day.

Esqueixada

One of the oldest methods of preservation, salting is used on meat and fish in many places around the world. In Catalonia, salt cod – or bacalao as it’s called locally – is used to prepare a type of salad known as esqueixada which involves fresh tomato, onion and olives.

Churros con chocolate

Another sweet treat to watch out for, churros – a type of long, thin fried donut – are not exclusively a Catalan dish but you’ll find them on street corners in most Catalan towns or cities. There’s even a street in Barcelona, the Carrer Petrixol, which is famous for the quality of its churros con chocolate as it was the historic home of the chocolatier’s guild.

Churros

Cannelons

If a stuffed cannelloni doesn’t sound like the most likely contender for a traditional Catalan dish, the canelon is very much a local favourite. Said to have been brought to Catalonia by Italian chefs in the late 20th century, the canelon is stuffed with leftover meat and served with a rich béchamel sauce. Special occasions even see the addition of a little foie gras to the mix for extra richness.

Caracols

Last but not least, not for the faint-hearted but certainly one for the culinary adventurous, caracols are snails. A Catalan delicacy, they are cooked either grilled or stewed, while the recipes vary and each cook has their own secret recipe for the sauce. A good snail should’t be too tough and certainly not slimy, just tender and full of flavour.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article