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La mar salada
© Irene Fernández La Mar Salada

Student Guide: Food & drink

Scrumptious rice dishes, good food on a budget, haute cuisine and more


In Catalonia, rice dishes are for summer. But its ability to absorb flavours makes rice perfect for seasonal delicacies as well. You can also find some of the world's top chefs making incredible creations that are brought to your table. But don't worry if you're on a budget – Barcelona has plenty of delicious options to keep your wallet happy.

Delectable rice dishes all year round

La Barraca
©Ivan Giménez

It's the 'bomba'


La Barraca has a serious paella-making duo in the kitchen. Award-winning Catalan chef Xavier Pellicer is their expert adviser – there three days a week in full kitchen rig – while chef Rafa de Valicourt has left the world of luxurious uptown hotels to return to Barceloneta. The menu boasts six rice specialities that won’t steer you wrong, such as the paella made with high-quality ‘bomba’ rice (a short-grained variety from Valencia), squid, freshly caught fish, clams, mussels, and garlic and parsley oil. Price: €19.50

Fruits of the sea and early mornings

Restaurants Mediterranean La Barceloneta

Marc Singla is another top-class cook who’s decided to focus on paellas and other rice dishes. At La Mar Salada, his seasonal rice recipes take their cue from Barceloneta’s own fish market – a romantic idea that many invoke, but the produce at La Mar Salada really does come from the wholesale market Mercabarna. ‘At 4am we go to the auction and work with what we find.’ You’ll find amazing stews and paellas, such as the arròs negre (‘black rice’) with small cuttlefish and artichokes, or the arròs de senyoret (literally ‘the young master’s rice’) made with razor clams, monkfish and prawns. Price: €19.50-€23


Perfect for al fresco

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Seafood La Barceloneta

Quim Marquès comes from a family of chefs and is the man in charge of the kitchen in this restaurant just along from La Mar Salada. At any time of year El Suquet de l'Almirall is a great spot to linger over tasty, traditional dishes with a dash of the modern, while in summer the terrace is one of the most coveted places in the city, and their Barceloneta paella one of the most in-demand dishes. Price: €28

Good food on a budget

Lluís de les Moles

Restaurants Mediterranean El Gòtic

Down a little street near Plaça Catalunya you can enjoy a lunch menu with more than the usually limited selection. Their 'timbal' (pie) of potato and 'botifarra negra' (black sausage) is a classic. Open only for lunch, and a drink is not included.


Restaurants Catalan La Nova Esquerra de l'Eixample

One of those bar-restaurants that are few and far between nowadays, ideal for tight budgets and good eaters. The fork breakfast is a memorable experience. And at lunchtime, get ready for a communal meal with some delicious starters and main dishes. The 'capipota', shoulder and cod are excellent. Wash it all down with a fine wine from Gelida.



Restaurants Vegetarian El Raval

A pioneer among the city’s vegetarian restaurants, Biocenter has the feeling that it’s not just for vegetarians, but for anyone who wants to eat healthily, with generous portions and at a good price. Lunchtime features a self-service salad bar (not just lettuce nd tomato), followed by a main dish.


Restaurants Barbecue El Poble-sec

Escairón is remarkable for its Galician 'entrecot' (sirloin steak) and 'caldo gallego' (Galician broth). Jorge and Pilar make you feel at home, while the clientele are mostly regulars. Other main dishes include barbecue, stews, and the eponymous dessert, Escairón (crème caramel with a kind of nougat ice cream). Unforgettable fried potatoes join the meat dishes.

More good food on a budget

More food & drink

Catalan cuisine


Try these restaurants, cafés and tapas bars for the best traditional Catalan fare in Barcelona - from 'escudella' (Catalan stew) to crema Catalana (pictured left).

Wine bars

Bars and pubs Wine bars

It's always the right time for a good glass of wine, and you don't have to be an expert to enjoy one. Just head to these top wine bars in town and they'll help you pick out a grape that suits your taste.




In nearby fishing towns there are some who still say, 'He's so poor, he only eats lobster for dinner.' The saying may be a bit outdated, but keep an open mind: shellfish isn't just for the wealthy.

Tapas bars

Restaurants Spanish

Here are the restaurants, cafés, bodegas and tapas bars serving the best mini-meals in Barcelona.




Look beyond the imported fast food joints and you'll find Barcelona has a great range of perfect patties and fantastic fries.

Cat Bar
©Maria Dias


Restaurants Vegetarian

Not just for vegetarians, these places serve up mouth-watering, healthy food day and night.


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