Ask Chris: Where to Eat in Barcelona

by Chris on March 28, 2011

Wondering where to eat in Barcelona? A few suggestions, including Cal Pep, Tapac 24, Jamonisimo (home to the best ham in the word), Can Sole and La Boqueria.

Where to eat in Barcelona, Tapac 24 Barcelona

A couple of my friends are visiting Barcelona this week, and asked me if I knew of any good spots to eat. I have never been but thought it would be a good idea to ask you. I suppose they are looking for anything that they might not notice in guide books, something like some hidden gems that only a local or an experienced traveler might know about. If you can help I’d really appreciate it! – Sam

Cal Pep Barcelona

When I went to Barcelona with my husband and friends in 2009, having great meals was first on our agenda. We ate well, without spending too much. Here are some of the highlights:

Cal Pep Barcelona, where to eat in Barcelona

Cal Pep: Sure, it’s in all the tourist books. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go! We arrived at this storefront just before 1 p.m. so we could grab a seat at the 14-person counter. A cheerful server told us that he would take care of us and indeed, he did. We must have consumed seven courses in all, plus two bottles of crisp Penedes white wine.

Cal Pep Barcelona, where to eat in Barcelona

Many of them were Catalan specialties, including chipirones, or baby squid, cooked with garbanzo beans, sausage served over white beans, tortilla espanola and crème Catalan. It was a rowdy and intense foodie experience. So worth it.

paella Barcelona

Paella at Can Sole: Every Sunday, many restaurants down by the marina in the Barceloneta neighborhood serve paella. We chose Can Sole because it was one of the oldest. With white tablecloths and a doting staff, it’s more upscale than a counter/diner restaurant such as Cal Pep. The stuffed-shirt atmosphere dissipated when our paella came out, in a table spanning pan. It was loaded with seafood – langoustinos, mussels, clams, shrimp – and perfectly seasoned with saffron. “This is REALLY good,” my friend John said. “Like really good, like one of the best meals of my LIFE.”

Tapac 24 Barcelona, where to eat in Barcelona

TapaC 24: Besides trying traditional Catalan dishes, we wanted to experience some of the innovative combos created by disciples of Ferran Adria (of el Bulli fame). This little tapas bar by his disciple Carlos Abellan was just the ticket. We ordered a sampling of dishes, including potatos brava, crispy cuttlefish, and ham croquettes. A standout: a toasted ham and cheese sandwich topped with a generous amount of truffle oil.

Best ham in the world, Jamonisimo Barcelona

Jamonisimo! This is where we found our ultimate Iberico de Bellota ham, the delicious meat that comes from acorn-fed pigs. More of a deli than a restaurant, Jamonisimo had shanks of ham hanging behind the counter. We came at the unpopular hour of 10 a.m., which meant we could grab one of fhe small booths in the back and ooh and ah over the jamon sampler plate. My friend Soon, who is based in London, liked Jamonisimo so much that she came back twice on our trip and has made subsequent pilgrimages to pick up Iberico de Bellota.

Boqueria Barcelona, where to eat in Barcelona

Boqueria Market: Can’t finish a post on Barcelona’s food without talking about this legendary market off La Rambla. It is as wonderful and diverse as everyone says it is. We ate at the famed Pinoxto, pushing our way through the crowds to point at the dishes on the counter, including baby squid with white beans, and more croquettes. If you go, plan to spend plenty of time wandering around, taking in the sights, smells – and tastes.

If you have any more recommendations for Sam’s friends, leave them in the comments below!

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kent @ NVR March 28, 2011 at 4:52 am

Now you’ve got us wanting to go back to Barcelona, where we had one of our most memorable meals ever. It was a day after running the Paris Marathon, and a friend took care of all of the details. We were in a running/travel fog, so we don’t even remember the name of the place.

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Sam Jacobson March 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

Thanks so much Chris. Now I want to go with them!

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Don Faust March 28, 2011 at 10:14 am

Sam – Cal Pep was my favorite. We were not offered a menu – they just started serving. I don’t recall if they spoke to someone in our group to see what we liked, but it was definitely a diner/chef exploration, as they kept bringing out more small plates. Every plate was much more than I expected in flavor. There were 5 of us, and with two bottles of wine, I think the bill came to $35 per person – I couldn’t believe it was so reasonable.

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Nina Cummings-Tannenbaum March 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

Sam- You are welcome to come with us but you’ll have to buy your ticket by Thurs pm.! Not only are you a wonderful chef but you are gracious friend. These are colorful and wonderful recommendations from Chris- we’ll let you know how we fared when we get back. Thanks so much!!! Nina and Allan

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Kelly E. Carter March 28, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Definitely Cal Pep! So good that I ate there twice during a three-day stay. Go early because there’s a queue to get in before the doors open. I was traveling solo and dined solo. Sat at the counter in the front both times but I believe there’s a dining room in the back. And who did I sit next to the first time? An editor from Saveur, of course!

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Ernesto March 29, 2011 at 5:27 am
Elena @ Hikes and Bikes April 7, 2011 at 11:44 am

Great tips, I’m going to Barca in a few weeks, I will definitely check ou that market!

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Maline August 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

Oh I love La Boqueria market, one of the best places I’ve been, a lot of diferents kinds of foods, fruits… and in addition there is a very good restaurant close to the market named “Gran Café”, so recommended!

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Mils September 12, 2013 at 7:40 am

What a beautiful Paella! I loved Barcelona a lot, I was in a lot of restaurants, one of the best in my opinión was Cheri Restaurant!

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