Cheap Places to Eat in Barcelona
Now open in Poblenou, Cal Cuc kicks off with a menu that features Asian 'tapas', big bowls of dishes to be eaten with a spoon, and wok dishes such as a green curry with squid that's tender, just the right touch of spicy, and pays tribute to a classic Catalan dish that combines squid with soft meatballs made with bits of shellfish.
Escairón is particularly remarkable for its Galician entrecot (sirloin steak) and 'caldo gallego' (Galician broth). Aside from the entrecot, main dishes include barbecue, stews, and especially the eponymous dessert, Escairón (crème caramel with a kind of nougat ice cream). Unforgettable fried potatoes accompany the meat dishes. This is the perfect place to delight your palate with the very best of Galician cuisine and fresh, quality market fare at reasonable prices.
'Any Argentinian dish you can think of, we've got it.' That's the idea behind the updated version of the restaurant Sifó. Creative maestros when it comes to cooking meat, they put a lot of R&D into their grilling, their empanadas, and their Argentinian pizza – something hard to find in Barcelona. And the prices range from universally pleasing to as much as you feel like spending.
They offer an organic, traditional and creative set lunch menu for under €12 where six of the eight options are vegetarian – and it varies every day! You won't miss fancy things done with prawns when instead you've got before you gorgeous veal cannelloni wrapped in courgette, or a traditional Catalan potato coulant ('patata emmascarada'). For dinner you can dig into haute cuisine for around €25.
But what you'd be missing is its warmth and dynamic and positive vibe: Every day it serves up complete lunches as well as a generous and home-made set lunch menu for a tenner. On your first day you're treated like a regular customer who's been having lunch here every day for decades.
This family establishment was modernised when the children inherited it from their parents, resulting in one of the best lunchtime menus in the Marina area. For less than €10 per person, you can choose between four starters and four main dishes, made from simple ingredients but created with great expertise and originality. Like upside-down macaroni stuffed with chicken and bechamel. It’s become a real magnet in the area.
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 decor.
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.
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. If you want a global sampling of Nepalese cuisine, order the 'tahli'.
Juan Antonio Miró is an omelette guru. He opened this restaurant in 1985, and from the outset he focused on these 'truites' ('tortillas' in Spanish). You can try simple culinary works of art here such as caviar, crab or smoked salmon omelettes. There are even omelettes for dessert: try the cherry and banana creation.
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.
Senyor Vermut is a local spot in the Eixample Esquerre whose menu of tapas and small plates may not be so different from other restaurants of its ilk, but here in the Miralles family business, everything has the Miralles touch. A peach gazpacho, lovely croquettes – the wild mushroom ones are phenomenal – a 'capipota' just like Grandma Josefina used to make, good but not stellar patatas bravas, and a tasty shish kabob marinated with oil and spices.
The three Fernández sisters from Bierzo in the north-west of Spain have been in the heart of El Raval for years, where they offer an experience that combines the produce of their land with a deep red decor, a bit like an Almodóvar film. All dishes are for sharing. It’s quite small and has its hardcore clientele, so you're advised to book well in advance.
Tarannà is a special place. The light is magnificent in the afternoon, no joke. When night falls, there's nothing like ordering one of the many beers on the menu to go with an organic chicken and avocado sandwich. Breakfast, vermouth, lunch, gorgeously sweet snacks, dinner, quality drinks... The combination of versatility, modernity, quality and simplicity, and surprisingly attentive and fast service make it impossible not to be seduced by this oasis.
What makes them so great are their stir-frys, made with fresh ingredients in an open kitchen where the masters of the wok play with fire to cook up your made-to-order dish. The result is a crunchy, healthy meal bursting with flavours. First you order your base of either noodles or rice, and then up to 15 add-ons and a special sauce. The average dish is about €8.
A good place to try authentic Japanese cuisine tapa-style, and at very attractive prices. No sushi here, but they do have delicacies like tofu, pork meatballs and Japanese-style fried chicken. The miso soup (a fermented and salted soybean paste) is a little taste of Japan you won't want to miss at a very good price.
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.
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.
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.
A real traditional eating-house, where you can find tasty delicacies any day of the week such as the tripe and leg of lamb. The menu has a lot to offer with recommended dishes like the salted cod with vegtables adn tomato sauce, the grilled liver with real fries and the baked pork tripe. At the bar you can enjoy your breakfast or lunch with a bottle of wine that has been bottled specifically for the house.
Brad Ainsworth, the chef who brought the gourmet burger to Barcelona with his tiny Bacoa, also opened El Kiosko, which is along the same lines but more spacious and comfortable and open onto the street. Try any of the delicious recipes with special chutney sauce, home-cooked fries and you’ll know what we mean.
Superb seafood, served refectory-style. Choose from glistening mounds of clams, mussels, squid, spider crabs and other fresh treats, decide how you'd like it cooked (grilled, steamed or a la marinera), pick a sauce (Marie Rose, spicy local romesco, all i oli or onion), buy a drink and wait for your number to be called. A great – and cheap – experience for anyone not too grand to clear their own plate.
One of the pioneers among the city's vegetarian restaurants, Biocenter's been around for 30 years and still going strong. When you enter you have the feeling that it's not a restaurant that's just for vegetarians, but for anyone who wants to eat well, with generous portions. Lunchtime features a self-service salad bar followed by a main dish that you choose from among the daily specials. At night you get a bit more of a quality range of vegetarian and vegan options.
This tiny place in the Raval is serving up top-quality hot dogs that match those of New York. The concept is similar: frankfurts of every kind to enjoy in the street or on the go. Made using prime sausages and a range of tasty garnishes, such as fried onion or sweet corn, you'll be having your own bite of American cuisine.
The wooden tables and chairs along with the extremely clean design invite you to enjoy a beer, cocktail or top-notch sandwich without having to deal with the hordes of night creatures who populate the neighbourhood. Drink fresh juices, wine, various classic cocktails or the magnificent beers, with the half-litre option the trophy for true cervesa champions. To eat, tapas, salads and sandwiches each created with the signature in-house quality.
This local sandwich and frankfurt classic draws long queues that can extend into Plaça Sant Jaume. And deservedly so. Try the warm roquefort sandwich, the one with 'salsa de Marta' and the frankfurts. But you can't really go wrong with any of the choices. There are even options for those who follow a coeliac diet.
Though Kapadokya has become a kind of Turkish restaurant chain, the quality of the food isn't compromised. The meat is tender and always fresh. If you visit, try the house speciality, the doner kebab, which is stuffed with deliciousness and accompanied with a variety of condiments to choose from.
It's impossible to even say 'sandwich' and not think of Bar Fidel, of their local produce, their mastery of combining ingredients with simplicity – salmon with roquefort, emmental with tomato confit – and that toasted bread... A sandwich here is a zero-risk investment.