There’s nowhere quite like Barcelona. As cool and hip as they come, this is Catalunya’s elegant and self-confident modern capital. It's no wonder, then, that the city is also one of the most exciting places to eat in Spain. This is our pick of the best tapas bars in Barcelona, from traditional taverns to chic contemporary bars.
One of the best tapas bars in Barcelona is the Boqueria’s Pinotxo, no contest. The market’s most renowned refuelling stop – just inside the main entrance on the right – attracts traders, chefs, tourists and celebs.
A coffee, a grilled sandwich and a glass of cava is the local breakfast of choice. Or, let the cheery staff steer you towards the tapas and daily specials (€5–15). Here everything is good from a slice of tortilla to fried baby squid.
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Carles Abellan, king of pared-down designer cuisine at his restaurant Tapas 24, offers a simpler tapas menu at this retro basement bar-diner. There’s a reassuringly traditional feel that’s echoed in the menu: patatas bravas, Andalucian-style fried fish, bombas (meatballs), chorizo sausage and fried eggs.
But the kitchen updates the classics too, so there’s also calamares romana (fried squid) dyed black with squid ink or a burger with foie gras. Most tapas dishes cost around €4 to €16. And there’s always a rush and bustle at meal times, so be aware that you might well have to queue.
Bar La Plata
Bar La Plata offers a classic taste of stand-up snacks in the Old Town, with a marble tapas counter open to the street (anchovies are the speciality) and dirt-cheap wine straight from the barrel.
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A boisterous bar in a pretty square in El Born, just off Pla del Palau, this is the place for some of the best tapas in Barcelona – if you can get a seat. There’s no equal in town for off-the-boat and out-of-the-market tapas.
You may have to queue, and prices are high for what’s effectively a bar meal (up to €60). That said, it’s definitely worth it for the likes of impeccably fried shrimp, grilled sea bass, Catalan sausage, or squid and chickpeas – all overseen by Pep himself, bustling up and down the counter.
Step into this La Ribera institution for a glass of Catalan fizz and a bite or two before dinner. Situated near the Museu Picasso and El Born, this azulejo-tiled bar specialises in cava and some of the best tapas in Barcelona, especially the Cantabrian anchovies. An old-school classic.
The traditional blue-tiled bar does a roaring trade in cava, cider and traditional tapas. The drinks are cheap and the tapas turn out to be rather pricey, but there’s usually a good buzz about the place.
Vaso De Oro
An old favourite for stand-up tapas (€4–15) – there’s no menu, but order some thick slices of fried sausage, grilled shellfish and a dollop of tuna salad and you’ve touched all the bases. Unusually, they also brew their own beer, light and dark.
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It's best to make reservations at this intimate space as it quickly fills with diners looking for tapas with an exotic spin. There are impeccably executed classics like buttery patatas bravas. However, the stars of the show, such as the tender Iberian pork tataki, take their cues from further afield (€5–12).
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East meets west – and hipsters meet each other – in El Raval's cool Asian fusion tapas bar. They offer à la carte dim sum in the front galley bar (steamed dumplings to grilled oysters and stir-fried prawns; average spend €30) and a back-room, counter-style Asian bar where tasting menus (€60, €70 and €85, reservations required) wade their way through the highlights.
Bar del Pla
El Bar del Pla is located in El Born and since late 2008, the restaurant has introduced a new orientation as a bar and offers lunch and dinner based on tapas and other dishes - which you can enjoy with a good wine all day long. Every day the bar offers a 'dish of the day', which is prepared according to the ingredients found in the local market.
La Cova Fumada - one of the best tapas bars in Barcelona for its historical charm
La Cova Fumada is a legendary bar that opened as far back as 1944. It is located in the Barceloneta district and has preserved its style through time. This bar has been operated by the family for three generations.
A distinctive feature of the bar is that there is no signage, but you can quickly see where the entrance is due to the queue of people waiting to enter the restaurant. It may not be the most glamorous bar in Barcelona, but it retains a special charm throughout its 79-year history.
La Pepita is a small but charming tapas restaurant in the heart of Barcelona. Opened in 2010, the restaurant offers not only classic tapas but also reinvented the author's tapas for sophisticated gourmets. The bar has a cheerful and laid-back atmosphere, and there is also a mini Pepita, a small bar next door.
Another classic tapas spot in Barcelona, Bar Cañete has a reputation for being more of a local favourite. Although the restaurant is packed with tourists during the day, in the evening during Spanish dinner, you will mostly hear only Catalan speech here.
Though the tapas on offer here are not much different from tapas in other popular places, it's the freshness of the ingredients that make Bar Cañete stand out from the rest. There's also an excellent selection of wines to accompany your meal.
The iconic Bar El Velodromo has retained its art deco charm thanks to the Moritz brewery, which renovated the place. Here you will enjoy Catalan cuisine made from the highest quality products, and those who wish can accompany their meal with a glass of beer from the Fàbrica Moritz Barcelona.
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