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Barcelona's best cheap eats

Time Out's top places to eat on a budget in the Catalan capital

In Barcelona, more than most other European cities, eating out on a budget can mean dining in style - as long as you know where to go. Here are Time Out's recommended places to find great food with minimal outlay.

Bacoa

Critics' choice

The mothership of this small gourmet hamburger chain, a pioneer in the field in Barcelona, moved to Ronda Universitat, and is now called Little Bacoa. The original bears the name 'Little' because the new Bacoa, while still carrying on with its trademark excellence and informality, is enormous. So what's new? Owner Brad Ainsworth is betting that thinking locally will pay off: with the change of seasons, Bacoa will offer a burger with products grown nearby, such as artichokes from El Prat, for example. And apart from the house classics, the exclusive Bacoa burgers will make your mouth water just thinking about them: the San Jacobo is Iberian loin and Serrano ham with manchego cheese in panko, Japanese bread crumbs.

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Ciutat Vella

La Taquería

Critics' choice

The Mexican owners say they make 'Mexican street food'. And they do it well: their tacos are phenomenal and their quesadillas are made with care and without industrial cheddar. The repertoire is informal Mexican food, and weekends are reserved for more-traditional fare such as aguachiles and chicken with mole sauce. The ambience is also a cut above the norm, with modern Mexican and colourful décor.

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Eixample

Àpat

Critics' choice

Eating well at a reasonable price would be a pipe dream in Barcelona if it weren't for restaurants like Àpat: its lunchtime menu is surprising and scrumptious. The dinner menu brings to the table dishes such as cod steak with sweet apple and traditional chickpea stew.

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L'Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample

Cat Bar

A petite bar-restaurant with a vegan punk spirit, the walls look like Black Flag album covers starring cats. They're also big into their beers, with foam-licking-good Catalan craft beers, and the punky bottled Scottish Brew Dog. The lunchtime menu always features a veggie burger (that could easily make claim to being the best in the city in its class) and dishes that are simple but always scrumptious. Food and beer are served all day till closing time.

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Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera

Lluís de les Moles

Critics' choice

Down a little street right near Plaça Catalunya you can enjoy a lunch menu that offers so many dishes to choose from, it's not nearly as limiting as many lunch specials. Bear in mind the restaurant is open only for lunch and a drink is not included. Their timbal (pie) of potato and botifarra negra (black sausage) is already a classic.

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El Gòtic

Lata-Berna

Critics' choice

Juanjo Martínez, former executive chef at the Hotel Arts and Renaissance man, has opened a space for creative tapas with a raison d'être – that is, they have to speak for themselves. So there's a lot of thought behind the tapas like a smoke burrata cheese with rosemary and tomato and muesli compote, but you'll also find classic tapas with original presentations, such as the Olot potatoes served with a metal mesh that evokes the mountains of the Garrotxa.

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Can Vilaró

A real traditional eating-house, where you can find tasty, half-forgotten dishes such as brains in batter, noodle casserole just like granny used to make it, or pig’s cheeks. No special menu, à la carte only.

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Sant Antoni

Himali

Critics' choice

A comic metaphor for modern-day Barcelona, Himali moved into what was a local boozer, but has retained the silhouettes of famous Catalans - Dalí and Montserrat Caballé among them - on the windows; inside, meanwhile, there are Nepalese prayer flags and tourist posters of the Himalayas. The alien and impenetrable menu looks a bit daunting, but the waiters are useful with recommendations. Alternatively, you could start with momo dumplings or Nepalese soup, followed by mugliaco kukhura (barbecued butter chicken in creamy tomato sauce) or khasi masala tarkari (baked spicy lamb). All dishes include rice and nan bread.

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Vila de Gràcia

Ofis

Critics' choice

Ofis is the daytime version of the cocktail bar next door, Sifón, where Srta. Monium used to be. Choose your midday meal at your leisure: six dishes, of which you can pick two, with no restrictions on which comes first or second, with a lovely glass of wine and fantastic desserts. Enjoy the Italian-Argentinean ambience with a creative meal that comes at the incredibly low price of €10. The wilder ones may go for pizza and vacío (a mouth-wateringly tender meat), but you can also try the sautéed vegetables with soy sauce or the classic vitello tonnato, roast veal with tartar sauce.

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El Raval

Juicy Jones

At first glance it looks like a Rasta bar, perfect for enjoying a fresh fruit juice after a late-night rave. But in fact they serve good, varied meals at Juicy’s: exotic salads and cold dishes, stews with Indian touches, as well as all kinds of shakes, juices and delicious sandwiches. They always use organic produce, and the menu is 100% vegan.

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El Raval

Comments

11 comments
Michelle Milgrim
Michelle Milgrim

Wow, I love Negro Carbon, such a great spot. Believe it or not, some of the best meals I have been having recently have been with these "eatwith" events. Has anyone heard of it? Basically you eat meals with locals in their homes. Prices range but I have been meeting some very cool people and eating AMAZING food. Take a look at the events in Barcelona coming up http://goo.gl/x0PWSW

Mike
Mike

woww Himali is amazing!! I live it and I love Trobador restaurant too! :)

Marie
Marie

I love Negro Carbon restaurant and Bimbas restaurant, both ones are amazing!

Laurent
Laurent

Hi! I was in Negro Carbon last year! I love this place! another restaurant that I've been this year is Bimba's, and I liked a lot, sure is one of the best italian restaurants in Barcelona!!

Marie
Marie

Wow thanks for these tips! In addition I was last summer in Barcelona and I was at Divinus restaurant, they have a quality food and very good Price! So recommended! :) Àpat restaurant I was too and it's quality/Price a good restaurant too.

Megan
Megan

Bo d Be sandwich shop!

Jony
Jony

Guakamola Mexican Taqueria A taqueria that offers Mexican food Burritos (Tinga, Steak, Cochinita, Veggie), Tacos, Guacamole, Nachos, Quesadillas and some specialties like ceviche, shrimp cocktail, meatballs, stuffed pepper, and also have fruit drinks, fruit smoothies , Margaritas, Tequila, Mojitoz. All products are fresh with typical Mexican. They are located off the Barceloneta beach, has a very cool terrace and decor is fun, the service is warm and quick with great prices.

KimK
KimK

Great tips I like the look of the Japanese tapas place! Another good tip is to get involved with the Barcelona foodie scene for cheap (and sociable) eats. There is a new community where chefs are serving fresh, local meals from their homes, I tried this out last month when I was in Barcelona, it was a lot of fun and something new and different, here is the site: www.eatwith.com/espana

Richard
Richard

I was in Barcelona a week ago, I went to the Casa Batllo and then ate in restaurant Divinus. It was so cool, really impressive quality, and excellent service. If I go to Barcelona go to this restaurant for sure!

Lillie
Lillie

Can't wait until I go to BCN so I can try all these restaurants!