Splashing out on loads of things to do in Barcelona can quickly add up. From all of the historic sites and city attractions to nights out on the town, things can start to cost a pretty penny. However, visiting Barcelona is possible, especially when it comes to food! Whether you're looking for a place to eat that's near the hotel you got a great deal on or close to the local shopping areas, from quick takeaway options to tapas and drinks or a sit-down meal, you'll be able to eat like royalty without having to hurt your wallet.
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Cheap places to eat in Barcelona
Giles Brown, who hails from the UK and is the owner of a small empire of Asian 'tapas' restaurants that started out in 2003 with Mosquito, has opened his seventh with Cal Cuc. Also on the menu are 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.
When you're strolling through a quiet part of a neighbourhood and you see a bar full of customers, they must have something pretty good to offer. That's Bar Casi, in a more deserted part of Gràcia, up a steep road. You might not be wowed by the ambience, thinking the best thing you can say about the bar with its six tables is that it's clean enough. But what you'd be missing is its warmth and dynamic and positive vibe: Every day they serve up complete lunches as well as a generous and home-made set lunch menu for around €12. Plus, you're treated like a regular customer who's been having lunch here every day for decades.
Iakni provides exotic flare in a neighbourhood full of culinary offerings. From the kitchen come Lebanese cuisine classics created with both precision and love. The hummus, baba ganoush, pickle, falafel and kefta sandwich are all excellent. Everything is home-made and prepared with quality products: the shawarma isn't cut from a suspicious block of meat, but from a veal fillet treated with respect. And this respect for high-quality ingredients makes all the difference.
This classic tavern was reopened by some bloggers who are passionate about wine and tapas, and they've applied their philosophy to breakfasts in the bar featuring sandwiches that are so big they can count as a full brunch: 'botifarra' sausage with cubes of aubergine, or tuna with cheese and sun-dried tomatoes are among the surprises that await you.
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 €12 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.
Italian chef Stefano Mazza – from the Alps, an area known for abundance and flavour – knows at least two things very well: Barcelona and Asian fusion. He was the second to join the city's much-missed restaurant Mé, under the incredible Thang Pham. Mazza has built a short and tasty menu where Southeast Asia is infused with Italian touches, and vice versa. Chefs who aren't screaming against the 'fusion' label are those who do it very well, like Mazza.
Mà de Morter, in the Les Corts neighbourhood of Barcelona, is set in lovely brick and wood surrounds, and for about €11 you can get a joyful meal to perk up your mood and keep your stomach satisfied. The value for money is impressive, with a sort of 'best of' of Catalan cuisine, using slow and precise cooking methods and fresh products. You'll find 'trinxat' (a dish made with potatoes, cabbage and pork) and glazed rabbit; chickpeas with calamari and 'botifarra' sausage with 'pisto' vegetable tomato sauce; caramelised apple salad; and grilled sea bream with vegetables.
Gelida is one of those bar-restaurants that are few and far between nowadays, ideal for tight budgets and good eaters. The full breakfast is a memorable experience. And at lunchtime, get ready for a communal meal with some delicious starters and main dishes. The 'capipota', ham hock and cod are excellent. Wash it all down with a fine wine from the town of Gelida in the Alt Penedès wine region.
All the dishes in all the Fish and Chips Shops have a singular modern flair, and all the 'shops' feature high tables with stools, an integrated kitchen and a youthful ambience. Sure signs of their identity, however, are the fried delights, with the classic fish and chips as the star dish thanks to a super tender fish and triple-fried chips. In the Raval, there are other fried masterpieces as well, like the tempura prawns and the cubed octopus in Japanese 'panko' bread crumbs.
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. The most curious, which also happens to be their best-seller, is the ham croissant omelette. At first the sampler plate seems a bit strange, but it starts to win over palates accustomed to simpler omelettes. A fantastic one is the foie gras, and an extraordinary option is the 'morcilla' blood sausage with a hint of spiciness that could become a true vice. There are even omelettes for dessert: try the cherry and banana creation.
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.
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 (they've more recently added other bases, including quinoa, buckwheat, and seasonal courgettini), and then up to 15 add-ons and a special sauce. The average dish is about €8.
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If there's one thing Barcelona has a surplus of, it's bars. Every neighbourhood in the city boasts such an immense offering that deciding where to meet for a drink can be a daunting task. Let us help you find the best Barcelona bar for what you fancy, whether it's cocktails, craft beers, wine, or beyond.