Barcelona Food Walk (Self Guided), Barcelona

No one should visit Barcelona without making an attempt to get to know some of the best food in Spain – Catalan food. An abundance of fresh fish and superb meat, a plethora of great vegetables, plus local inventiveness, have produced a very diverse, distinctive and delicious cuisine, including the famous tapas. Follow this self-guided walk to treat your taste buds in the Catalan capital.
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Barcelona Food Walk Map

Guide Name: Barcelona Food Walk
Guide Location: Spain » Barcelona (See other walking tours in Barcelona)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Chocolate Museum (Museu de la Xocolata)
  • El Xampanyet
  • Casa Gispert
  • Santa Caterina Market
  • 4 Gats (Els Quatre Gats)
  • Granja Dulcinea (Carrer Petritxol)
  • La Boqueria Market
1
Chocolate Museum (Museu de la Xocolata)

1) Chocolate Museum (Museu de la Xocolata)

The Chocolate Museum, as the name implies, is home to the history associated with chocolate in Europe. The museum explains the origin of chocolate, its myth and facts, and its use in food, drinks and medicine. One can witness the complete process of chocolate-making from a cocoa bean to the final packaging.

Exhibits of impressive chocolate sculptures, informative panels that detail the history of chocolate, as well as the machines used to make chocolate, are all here to be seen. The ticket itself is a cute, small bar of dark chocolate. If you register beforehand, there are also some small hands-on workshops, which look fun, especially for children (apparently, they are free as long as you sign up).

One can buy tasty chocolates at the museum shop and the small café at the exit is where you definitely have to order a hot chocolate or a "mocha", which is that same hot chocolate mixed with an equal quantity of espresso. Both are to die for!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am–8pm; Sundays and Holidays*: 10am–3pm (Jun 15–Sep 15)
Mon-Sat: 10am–7pm; Sundays and Holidays*: 10am–3pm (Sep 16–Jun 14)
* May 1, Jun 24, Aug 15, Sep 11/24, Oct 12, Nov 1, Dec 6/8
2
El Xampanyet

2) El Xampanyet

If you want a truly authentic tapas experience, you have a few choices, and El Xampanyet is one of them.

Pop into this marble-and-tile haven at almost any time and you will find it packed to the brim. Despite this, the staff is friendly, genuine, and will do everything they can to make you feel at home and happy.

Their tapas are straightforward and unfussy (e.g. olives stuffed with anchovies, chickpea and spinach stew, jamón ibérico, etc.), which is not at all a bad thing, as it all comes down to the quality of ingredients. Their namesake Xampanyet is a “frizzante”-style (lightly sparkling) white wine that is slightly sweet and great for washing down the rich ingredients that make their tapas so great. Enjoy plenty of other great cavas and wines if Xampanyet is not your thing.

For your best chance to snag a table, try it before closing in the afternoon or right after it reopens for evening service (no reservations possible). Otherwise, elbow your way to the bar and park yourself there to watch all the action. Bring an appetite!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 12–3:30pm / 7–11:pm; Sun: 12–3:30pm
3
Casa Gispert

3) Casa Gispert

This is the type of business one wishes could be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in order to protect humanity from the banality of finding all the same stores around the world. A unique institution still in family hands since its beginnings in 1851, it sticks firmly to its roots, standing much as it did when it first opened its doors. If you have trouble finding it behind the Santa María del Mar church, then simply follow your nose. The smells here combine to stimulate the senses – a lovely mixture of roasting coffee, nuts, and spices.

Entering the store is like passing through a time warp into another age, so take some time to look around at everything and drink in the atmosphere. Then spend your money, because it's a great place to pick up distinctive foods not available elsewhere. A large quantity of saffron will cost you a fraction of its price in the US, for example. Dried fruits, coffees and teas, wines, oils, vinegars, jams… there are all kinds of tempting treats here. You won't go wrong with any of their freshly roasted nuts, either, but the lightly salted Marcona almonds scooped out of a bin into a paper sack are a standout. Prices are reasonable and the staff is incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.

Tip:
Go ahead and ask about the oven they roast almonds in… You may get lucky and get a tour of the wood-fired roaster which is over 100 years old – the last survivor of its kind in all of Europe.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am–8:30pm
4
Santa Caterina Market

4) Santa Caterina Market

An easy walking distance from the Barcelona Cathedral, Mercat de Santa Caterina has been dramatically overhauled in 2005 to become a stylish market with a designer edge, sporting a colorful roof with an inviting facade and offering a clean relaxing experience all around.

There are plenty of places in and around the market that will cook some great dishes with the freshest ingredients possible. Make sure you stop at Bar Joan's for a couple of drinks and probably the best tapas available – very economically-priced, too, because it's there for the locals.

If you're looking for a well-mixed plate of vegetables, try La Torna at the back of the market, who also serves some of the most marvelous cod (bacallá) with spinach, pine nuts and raisins, topped with allioli – everything grilled right before your eyes.

Another definite must is the Cuines Santa Caterina, a remarkably elegant – yet still casual – large modern space that serves the best of "fusion food" – from breakfast meals to typical tapas, vegetarian selections to numerous types of sushi and Asian sensations to Mediterranean favorites.

Obviously, you can also choose from a variety of products to cook a meal yourself – from fresh vegetables, seafood and meats to olives and olive oil, spices and more. The food here is cheaper than in the La Boqueria Market, but vendors not minding your interest even if you don't buy anything!

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed, Sat: 7:30am–3:30pm; Tue, Thu, Fri: 7:30am–8:30pm
5
4 Gats (Els Quatre Gats)

5) 4 Gats (Els Quatre Gats)

One of the most historic bar-restaurants in the city of Barcelona, Els 4 Gats (or, "The Four Cats") was opened in 1897, initially featuring a restaurant, a pub, a cabaret, as well as accommodation in the form of a hostel. It was for turn-of-the-century Catalan modernism what cafés like La Rotonde were for artists in 1920s Paris: a meeting place to trade theories of art, engage in wine-fueled debates and see exhibits of then-unknown artists like Pablo Picasso.

Reopened at the same site in 1989, El 4 Gats is nowadays more of a meeting place for tourists than for artists and intellectuals, but still worth a stop to have a quick drink or a meal in downtown Barcelona. The décor is straight out of the epoch and a couple of the waiters look like they're from the era, too! Order a fairly-priced glass of wine, vermouth, or a "licor de hierbas" (pomace brandy) and take the opportunity to soak up the bar's unique and historic atmosphere.

They also serve well-cooked lobster paella and some rather sinful desserts such as the "textures of chocolate" (i.e. three different types of chocolate desserts in one) or you could go for the delicately smooth and not overly sweet "crema catalana" (Spain's version of crème brûlée).

***PICASSO'S BARCELONA***
In 1900, the painter had his first one-man show here. The special exhibition of his artwork featured more than 50 portraits of friends and family and another 60 or so drawings and paintings, at last earning him some critical attention.

Opening Hours:
[Breakfast] 9–11:30am; [Gastrobar] 11:30am–12am; [Restaurant] 1–4pm / 7–12am
6
Granja Dulcinea (Carrer Petritxol)

6) Granja Dulcinea (Carrer Petritxol)

Carrer de Petritxol, one of Barcelona's most historically charming narrow streets, is the place to head to for a cup of creamy hot chocolate, with Granja Dulcinea (established in 1930) as the traditional choice. Among their other specialties are deep-fried, super-crispy churros that regulars flocking here love to dunk into their cups (it certainly doesn't hurt that the hot chocolate has the right amount of bitterness to balance the churros that reach the table warm with sugar falling off), and also the "Crema Catalana", which is like crème brûlée served cold in a largish dish – but with particularly good flavoring.

This is a bygone-era kind of place, all furnished in traditional old style with a fireplace and memorabilia throughout, and the service is quite attentive. It was and is very popular – even Dalí used to sit down in its chairs and enjoy some of their delicacies. The café is small but has an upstairs seating area, so there is room for more people than you think when you first walk in.

Tip:
Don't forget to bring some cash, as cards may not be accepted.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am–1pm / 5–9pm
7
La Boqueria Market

7) La Boqueria Market (must see)

Located to the north of Las Ramblas and a couple of blocks south of Catalunya Square, the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, commonly known as simply La Boqueria, is extremely busy no matter what time you go, but the vendors are so quick and used to it and the market is so large that the crowds are quite tolerable. The first-ever mention of a marketplace here dates back to 1217 when the stalls were installed near the old city gate to sell meat; however, it wasn't until 1826 that the market was officially recognized.

La Boqueria is a great place to learn about Catalan traditional food, to take yourself on a tapas tour, to learn about and sample jamón (usually served with cheese), to buy the world's freshest saffron (sold in various-sized small boxes) and fresh-caught seafood (no fish Sundays and Mondays) or buy tasty culinary souvenirs to take home. There's also a sit-down counter/bar-like place, called Kiosko, that offers fresh fish cooked right there for you. And, of course, there's an abundant choice of olives and fantabulous fresh fruit!

Explore deep into the market where some of the better stalls are. Try a little of everything and you won't be disappointed.

Tip:
Keep in mind that there are lots of pick-pocketers in the area. Whether by yourself or with friends, it's a good idea to watch your belongings.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8am-8:30pm; closed on Sundays

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