It might seem the stuff of dreams, but it's true: there are plenty of bars in Barcelona where you can get free tapas when you order a beer. Follow our guide to visit some of these very special establishments where food's included with your drink order. Note down the addresses and get ready to fill your boots for very few euros.
SEE ALSO: BARCELONA BARS WITH FREE TAPAS
This legendary venue in Hostafrancs, formerly known as Casa Mayo, was a classic of the free tapa in Barcelona. Although the establishment has changed hands, Juanjo, your new master of ceremonies, not only wanted to stay true to the philosophy of his predecessors, but he also wanted to improve it, with no offence to Casa Mayo. La Cova serves a tapa of the day, which could be cannelloni filled with salmon mousse, a spoon of stuffed squid, clams, octopus, croquettes, Iberian cold cuts, cheeses, small fried fish or other delicacies that go far beyond the classic – and absolutely classic respectable – chistorra sausage.
With apologies to Sants, if there's one neighbourhood in Barcelona where you can still find a bit of the tradition of free tapas with drinks, it's Barceloneta. And a benchmark of the practice for years has been Cal Chusco, where, when you order a draught beer (€2) or a small bottle of beer (€1.20), they'll accompany it with anything from a plate of ham or cheese to patatas bravas, chistorra sausage, potato omelette, croquettes, or whatever Isabel is up for serving that day. Hers is a kitchen of home-made dishes with a good dose of fish among them, and every day there are five or six different tapas to serve up with the drinks.
At La Gata Mala, when you order a drink they don't only give you a taa of Russian sala, potato omelette or chistorra sausage, but they also do it with a smile and refer to all their customers with terms of endearment. You'll feel like you're visiting your granny, where the main priority is to be sure you've got all you need to drink and eat from a kitchen with 100 percent home-made dishes. They mix it up with the tapas so you don't get the same thing twice, and then you end up having dinner for less than a tenner (draught beers are €1.60) and calling the lovely owners Luci or Trinity (or both) Mum.
To sit at a table in this Sants bar that opened in 2008 is like being transported to Jerez in the south of Spain, birthplace of Araceli, the owner and cook. El Capritxo seems to exist only to pay tribute to fish dishes, and in particular to Andalusian seafood cooking that is so prevalent in Cádiz. With your drink you get free fish tapas such as anchovies, small fried fish, calamari and more boosts of protein and Omega 3. And only for the couple of euros your draught beer cost. ¡Olé!
When a place has sandwiches called 'kiki' (chicken breast, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato), 'kiki completo' (the same, but with bacon) and 'vaquiña azul' (steak with blue cheese), you know right away that you're going to really be able to sink your teeth into them without hesitation; however 'el erótico' (pork with spicy chorizo sausage) might strongly conflict with your idea of sensuality. Even better than the selection of sandwiches is that whenever you order a drink, you also get a free tapa, which could be a warm dish like patatas bravas, or chistorra or spicy chorizo sausages, or it could be cold such as white botifarra sausage, tuna with pepper or sobrassada sausage. All served in a traditional bar that won't disappoint.
The name of this place is a declaration of its intentions ('canya' is a draught beer in Catalan): chorizo and chistorra sausages, croquettes, various types of omelettes, Russian salad, crab salad... small tapas come along with your €1 'canya' in a bar that's the antithesis of cosmopolitan sophistication found in brunch venues around the area. It's a great spot without pretensions where you can eat well for practically the same price you'd pay for a smoothie in any other bar in the neighbourhood.
Attention fans of quality cold cuts: here's where you want to be when you're thirsty for a soft drink or a draught beer, because with each order, Juan will bring you a small tapa that you can sometimes choose yourself, but usually you'll be getting some type of cold cuts. From Serrano ham to chorizo or 'salchichón' sausages served with a bit of bread, and occasionally some good cheese. All this in an informal charcuterie-deli, a true homage to pork products, which might be coming back into fashion in some areas of the world, but has never stopped being tops in Barcelona.
From outside, this Galician bar might look like it's about to crumble down at any minute – in fact, the sign is falling apart, so you might never even think about crossing the threshold. But take the chance, and at the bar is where you'll find all the action. For one thing, you get a free tapa with your beer! Plus, you can sample dishes made from excellent products and brilliantly executed, including an out-of-this-world Galician octopus and a ridiculously fresh hake. You'll also be happy with dishes that are more Barcelona's versions of pub grub tapas, such as the Galician tripe, sow's ear, etc. And while you might be iffy about places that have pictures of their dishes on the menu, rest assured this is the exception.
Located in Barceloneta, El Moll d'en Rebaix mixes ’70s and ’80s music to create a friendly environment. The place is full of photos of Marilyn Monroe and sayings hanging on the walls such as 'They should open only bars in order to help customers close wounds and feel that every morning means forgetting every day'. This is a place where you can eat and drink for half the price as other similar spots. And at El Moll d'en Rebaix the offer of a free tapa with your drink takes on a different spin: you get a free drink that costs less than or equal to the price of your tapa of choice. House specialities include fried fish or snails with home-made sauce.