Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

by Talia Klundt / Aug 29, 2016 /
Talia Klundt's picture

Last summer I had the opportunity to work in Barcelona at BarcelonaSAE (Study Abroad Experience), a study abroad company located in the heart of the city. I came on board to assist during the very busy and hectic summer season that saw more than 200 students come through in just three months! Although it was a crazy three months, it was a lot of fun and I learned so much about study abroad behind the scenes that it only emphasized how much I enjoy working in this field and working with students who are off to start their life changing summer/semester. It felt great to be such a big part of that and see how much they grew and changed in just the short time they were there. Anyone looking for a fantastic summer or semester study abroad program, should choose BarcelonaSAE! The company provides a lot for their students and they are very hands on. I could see how happy and satisified all the students were with the service and attention we provided them.

Gaudi's Park Güell. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Gaudi's Park Güell

Now I must say I had previously been to Barcelona a handful of times, and I was never over the moon for the city so I am actually not sure why I went back more than once. I always found it to be a little bit obnoxious and absolutely un-Spanish in every imagineable way. I am a big fan of Madrid and Sevilla, two cities that made me think I was actually in Spain when I was there, whereas Barcelona has reminded me of a just another big international European city with a mecca of tourists and study abroad students looking for a good time. But now I must say that Barcleona has grown on me, it's still no Madrid in my eyes, but I can appreciate it as being the capital of Catalunya and for all its history and charm.

Open air market in Plaça del Pi. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Open air market in Plaça del Pi

Painters and artists in Plaça del Pi. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Painters and artists in Plaça del Pi

The Cathedral in Barri Gòtic. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

The Cathedral in Barri Gòtic

One thing I really loved about Barcelona was that the sea was located in the city and it was easily accessible. Although, I did not spend so much time on the beaches of Barcelona due to overcrowding and being a bit too dirty for my taste, I enjoyed being able to walk down the boardwalk and watch people playing volleyball, stop for an ice cream, or just sit down and read my book by the sea. Barceloneta, the neighborhood where you will find the beach, is very hip, fun, and young and epitomizes a true beach neighborhood. It is a wonderful place to hang out and have a coffee or an after work drink because you can sit in the sun and stare out at the sea. It is a little overpriced though, being that it is very touristy and right on the beach.

Barceloneta. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Barceloneta

I didn't spend so much time there as I preferred to spend my weekends out by the beach outside of the city, but I did spend quite a bit of time in the neighborhood next to it, El Born.

Fossar de les Moreres in El Born. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Fossar de les Moreres in El Born

El Born is located in between the center and Barceloneta and is a fantastic neighborhood for shopping. There are several small boutiques selling everything from handcrafted jewelry, clothes, and art, to designer shoes. It was one of my favorite places, and still is, just to walk down the cobblestoned streets grab a bit to eat and sit in the sun. 

El Born. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

El Born

My favorite place to grab lunch was Gusto del Born on Passeig del Born, 16. It was owned by an Italian and had great Italian pizza by the slice at a very low price.  Not only did I love their pizza margherita by the slice, but it also reminded me of being in Italy, which was reason enough to eat there. For evenings out, I frequented a few places in El Born. I enjoyed many evenings at El Xampanyet on Carrer Montcada, 22. It was hands down my favorite cava bar and they served great cheap cava. You could also get a few basic tapas there, but I just went for the cava.

El Xampanet cava bar. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

El Xampanet cava bar

On the same street (although it has a slight name change) on Placeta de Montcada 1-3, is Restaurante Euskal Etxea Taberna, which is another fantastic Basque tapas bar. It is about a one minute walk away from El Xampanyet and is tucked into a little corner and outside you will find wine barrels used as tables. This place is always busy and we usually went there first before heading to grab a class of cava. I would highly recommend this place too. Another favorite, which I went to quite often was SAGARDI BCN Gòtic on Calle Argenteria, 62.  Every time I had friends visiting, I took them here and it never disappointed!

Me at one of my favorite tapas bars, SAGARDI BCN Gòtic. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Me at one of my favorite tapas bars, SAGARDI BCN Gòtic

Basque tapas bars, SAGARDI BCN Gòtic. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Basque tapas bars, SAGARDI BCN Gòtic

Now the tourist trap that always got me was La Boqueria. I can't tell you how many times I visited this open air market. It is so visually inviting the second you set foot into the market, that you want to buy and taste everything. Even if I was not hungry, I always managed to buy something. That something usually was the freshly cut up coconut sold in plastic take away containers for 1 Euro.Usually I could not just settle for that after seeing all the fresh juices lined up so nicely in many of the stalls, my favorite was the blackberry and coconut juice. You could buy these juices for 1-2 Euro as there are several stalls competing against each other. You can buy almost any fruit and vegetable imaginable, as well as buying food from all over the world. Besides being able to buy little snacks, you can also get a great lunch at many of the different restaurants spread throughout the market. The two I always ate at were Eslice Pizza for a great slice of pizza, and Organic Market. Organic Market is located at the very back of La Boqueria and services great vegetarian and organic food.

La Boqueria Market. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

La Boqueria Market

Organic Market in La Boqueria. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Organic Market in La Boqueria

Fresh fruit juices in La Boqueria. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Fresh fruit juices in La Boqueria

While walking through Las Ramblas in Barcelona after work or during the weekends, I always tried finding great vegetarian food. Thankfully Barcelona is such a large international city that it was quite easy to find a some great veggie places. One of my favorites was Gopal Restaurante on Carrer Escudellers 42, which served fantastic vegan and vegetarian food at a great price! Ten doors down on Carrer Escudellers 52, is Vegetalia which also served great vegetarian and vegan food at a reasonable price. It was always hard to choose between the two, so I would always alternate! Both of these restaurants are located in El Barri Gòtic, about a ten minute walk off Las Ramblas. 

Vegetalia Restaurant. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Vegetalia Restaurant

One of my favorite places to go for breakfast or lunch was Teresa Carles. Teresa Carles is located quite close to La Boqueria near Plaza Catalunya. It has been around since 1979 and serves delicious vegetarian food all day. It was always way too hard too choose what to eat as everything was delicious and they have such a wide variety of food on the menu. They also serve fresh juices and smoothies and made to order salads. If you don't have time to sit down, you can always grab something to go! Another fabulous tapas bar off on Rambla de Catalunya, 18 is Cuidad Condal. I had a childhood friend visiting who was in town with her husband and they invited me to meet me there. I will admit I was a bit hesitant at first because it was on Rambla de Catalunya, which is a mecca for tourists, but I went ahead met them. The food was better than I could have hoped for and at such low prices it only encouraged me to order tapa after tapa. I told my Spanish friend I had eaten there the night before and she told me it was a very old and well known tapas bar and when she worked in the city she would always go there for breakfast, a sure hit if the locals are eating there. I can't recommend this place enough.

While walking around in Raval you will find many great boutiques and great little places to eat. If you are on a budget or looking for organic and vegetarian fare, there are two places for you. Veritas is an ecological supermarket selling everything and there are several located throughout the city. I always shopped there, I only wish we had a store like this in Stockholm. You could seriously find everything you need from teff flour to rye pasta, it was heaven to me. There is one located in the heart of Raval near one of my favorite bakeries, BarcelonaReyklavik on Carrer Doctor Dou, 12. It is a delicious organic bakery selling whole grain breads with spelt, rye, and barley as well as selling cookies, muffins, and little pizzas and quiches made from whole grains. I loved their little mini pizzas but I usually went there to buy the whole grain spelt bread as  I am not crazy for the traditional bread in Spain. It is amazing and I highly recommend going in to get a cinnamon roll or try one of the many samples that are always available. They have two other locations, one in El Born and the other in Gracia. A restaurant worth mentioning in Ravl is Rabipelao Rawalistan, a hip and trendy Venezuelan restaurant. It is only open in the evenings, but it definitely worth the visit. Unfortunately, there is not so much for vegetarians to eat but what they do have, makes up for it. They make the best black beans and tostones (fried plantains) served with dipping sauces along with the best empanadas! The food is unbeatable and on top of that they make great cocktails. You will find this hidden gem on Riera Alta, 50. 

Gracia was also a favorite neighborhood of mine as it has a bit of an artsy and hippie vibe going on. One of my favorite tapas bars was Gasteria, located on Carrer de Verdi 39. They had great typical pintxos (Basque tapas) as well as other yummy tapas to order of the menu, including these fried potatoes, which were a mix between fries and patatas bravas. Oh and not to be missed are the great bartenders working behind the counter, as they are constantly pouring beer and cava behind their backs or from way up high. The service is fantastic and the ambiance is totally relaxed and of course hip as well. It's a great way to start the evening out with a group of friends, eating great tapas and having a glass of cava or caña (beer).

Bartender pouring cava at Gasteria. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Bartender pouring cava at Gasteria

A glass of cava and a tapa at Gasteria

A glass of cava and a tapa at Gasteria

Eight doors down at 31 is a delicious Lebanese restaurant called Zeinab. This place was a wonderful welcome when I was craving something a little more international or ethnic to eat. There are quite a few Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurants on this street but this was my go to restaurant. El Raconet de Lisboa is another great inexpensive place to go out for dinner, located on Carrer de Verdi 19. I enjoyed a delicious homemade pasta along with a salad and my favorite, a glass of cava. Carrer de Verdi is a great street because it is full of restaurants and bars, perfect for an evening out or drinks and dinner. There is such a large variety of restaurants to choose from that no matter what your taste is, you will find something for everyone. 

Vegetarian meze platter at Zeinab. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Vegetarian meze platter at Zeinab

These were my favorite places when I spent the summer in Barcelona. I recently went back in March for my birthday and tried to visit as many as I could in four days. Barcelona has so much to offer in terms of food, fun, sun, beach, and much more. Now this is a city I would recommend to anyone visiting Spain, it is a must see (after Madrid, of course). 

Nightly light show at Montjuic. From Foodie Finds: Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

Nightly light show at Montjuic

Gaudi's Casa Milà

Gaudi's Casa Milà

 

 

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Exploring Barcelona, One Bite at a Time

 

 

Talia Klundt is the Sweden Editor for Wandering Educators

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Talia Klundt