Barcelona is famous for its tapas, but it also has a surprising amount of other options. We always recommend eating the local food when you visit any destination but when you live somewhere for three months at a time as we do, some variety is required. There are so many restaurants in Barcelona that it would be impossible for anyone to try them all in a three-month period, but we tried a lot. Here are some of our inexpensive favorites, in no particular order.
1. Milk Bar and Bistro – Small place with a great atmosphere. The Drunken Shrimp is our favorite dish, on an already impressive menu. This is one of those restaurants that does everything well, so order whatever looks good to you and you won’t be disappointed. There’s sometimes a wait at the door here but I feel it’s always worth it. Their breakfast is also probably one of the best in the city. Try the French Toast, it’s scrumptious and everyone in the restaurant will look at what you ordered and wish that they had ordered it. – ($$ – $$$) – Carrer d’en Gignàs, 21, 08002 Barcelona, Spain +34 932 68 09 22
2. The Fish and Chips Shop – This remains my absolute favorite fish and chips in the entire world. There’s something they use in the batter that makes this place extra special. It’s a very small place so there’s often a wait, but I would crawl across broken glass for these fish and chips. Seriously, they’re that good, so waiting meant nothing to me. Everything on the small menu is good but it all revolves around the fish and chips here. – ($) – Carrer de Rocafort, 70, 08029 Barcelona, Spain +34 677 83 41 17
3. Tosca – Fun little tapas place with a good drink selection. I wouldn’t call it the best in the city but it’s still very good. The people working here were always friendly and the people watching is fun, because the front of the restaurant has big windows that face a famous theater. We went here often because of the vibe and consistent quality. – ($$ – $$$) – Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 8, 08003 Barcelona, Spain +34 933 15 10 72
4. Menssana – A local gem that serves great food. The owner seems very involved with the day to day operations, insuring the quality of his ingredients. The menu is mostly a breakfast or sandwich type lunch menu but with a few surprises. We visited both for breakfast and lunch and always had a good meal. It’s a quiet, out of the way place that seemed very local. It’s not along any of the main tourist routes so you’ll want good directions to find it. – ($) – Carrer de Sardenya, 48, 08005 Barcelona, Spain +34 936 24 35 05
5. Alsur Café – There are a few locations, but we mainly visited the one that was a block away from our apartment in El Born. Not the best restaurant in Barcelona but always good with an excellent selection of desserts. They have several unique menu items, and everything is pretty good for the most part. The plantain chips and guacamole got ordered as a starter every time we went, while we rotated our favorite main dishes. The grilled cheese waffle sandwich was a favorite of mine because of that sweet and savory combination. – ($$ – $$$) – Plaça de Sant Cugat, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain +34 931 82 54 07
6. Mescladis – It’s a funky little, open air type place with good food. The best part is that your meal helps others. They hire people in dire need, often refugees, to work in their café’s, to give them opportunities and job training. Their mission is beautiful.
In their words:
“Mescladís is a non-profit organization, dedicated to increasing social cohesion to make life richer for everyone. By promoting dialog, understanding, and diversity, the organization hopes to help everyone have equal rights and opportunities and to embrace that which is not familiar instead of fearing it. Mescladís is also committed to sustainability and the support to those who come from abroad to make Barcelona their home.” – ($) – Carrer dels Carders, 35, 08003 Barcelona, Spain +34 933 19 87 32
7. N.A.P. Neapolitan Authentic Pizza – This was best pizza we’ve had in Europe and we’ve been to Rome. We’re still working through parts of Italy, so we hope to find a new champion one day, but for now it’s NAP. The owner of this pizza place is from Naples and as the story goes, he was tired of not being able to get a decent slice of pizza in Barcelona. So, he opened NAP and we were so glad he did. We went there often for his pizza and calzone. Take away or dine in. – ($) – Av. de Francesc Cambó, 30, 08003 Barcelona, Spain +34 686 19 26 90
8. L’Arrosseria Xàtiva – This was the first place we went out to eat in Barcelona because we were on a mission to find paleta. L’Arrosseria Xàtiva has two locations but we went to the one in the Les Corts neighborhood and found exactly what we were looking for. Maybe it’s just sentimental to me but we enjoyed it. It was much better than the touristy places we saw throughout Barcelona. This was done in true Valencia style and Valencia was the only other place we had better paleta. – ($$ – $$$) – Carrer de Bordeus, 35, 08029 Barcelona, Spain +34 933 22 65 31
9. Catalina Restaurant – It’s harder to describe this very simple restaurant. It seems sort of upscale when you walk in, but it operates more like a mom and pop with reasonable prices. Located in the Sarria-Sant Gervasi neighborhood is this quiet little place that you could easily walk past if you weren’t paying attention. It’s basically in the suburbs and serves local Spanish Mediterranean food. We liked it because the food was good, the vibe was relaxed, and it felt very local. – ($$-$$$) – Carrer d’Anglí, 4 bis, 08017 Barcelona, Spain +34 932 06 17 91
10. Taco Alto – There’s a simple menu with mainly tacos of course, and a few hot sauces that they feature. They’re tasty and they’re inexpensive. You can eat there although it’s sometimes crowded. It’s easy to grab and go as well. We lived close enough that we could grab some tacos and take them home after whatever shenanigans we were up to. – ($) – Carrer del Portal Nou, 62, 08003 Barcelona, Spain +34 936 33 97 42
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