BARCELONA HAS always been open to foreign influences thanks to its long history as a trade center. In the city’s tapas bars, you can taste old traditions and yet find the latest trends on superfoods.

It seems that most people visiting Barcelona look for the world-famous paellas and pintxos, which are actually typical dishes from other Spanish regions. Visitors shouldn’t limit themselves, as here you can find tremendous, lesser-known dishes. I invite you to check my favorite 8 dishes from Barcelona — and spread the word.

1. Bombas

Bombas is the signature dish that originates from Barceloneta district. Bombas is a round deep-fried mix of potato and minced meat, topped with an aioli dollop and a spicy sauce. They should be tasted at La Bombeta or La Cova Fumada tapas bars, where you can be sure the bombas are homemade — and the bar owners dispute their origins.

2. Pa amb Tomaquet (Bread with tomato)

Bread with tomato is dish that is served at each Catalonian meal. It is a simple piece of ¨coca¨ bread with a local variety of tomato, ¨tomate de penjar¨, rubbed over, and seasoned with olive oil. It is a childrens’ favorite.  All ingredients come to the table separated, and one or few commensals prepare it with their hands, so then it is shared and eaten by everyone. It’s the magic moment that sets the scene of any Catalan meal, and El Sortidor de la Filomena Pages is a good place to experience it.

3. Escalivada

Escalivada is a dish that represents how the Mediterranean diet can be perfectly balanced. It is a mix of roasted peppers, eggplant, onion, and tomatoes, which are slowly simmered in olive oil, and optionally topped with anchovies. It is a delicious pair for any other dish and the best place to find it is at the Boqueria Market stalls.

4. Calçots with romesco sauce

Photo: Mauricio

Calçots are onions and might be the epitome of gourmet food in Barcelona. They are roasted on a fire until they explode, then hand-peeled and eaten with a home-made romesco sauce of red peppers, almonds, hazelnuts, ripened tomatoes, and olive oil. I love this period of the year in Barcelona, as Calcota barbeques are organized by groups of friends at the outskirts of the city.

For the urban foodie explorer, Taverna El Glop makes the best genuine experience for calçots in the city.

5. Fideuà

Fideuà is paella’s little sister, a seafood dish that uses hollow noodles instead of rice, with fish and shellfish. It must be served with a generous dollop of aioli sauce. This is a local dish that you need to eat by the sea, whether in summer or winter, never in the middle of the mountains, I don’t know why. Xiroi Ca la Nuri is a genuine eatery by the beach.

6. Suquet de Peix

Suquet de Peix is basically a potato-based seafood stew, and one of the most representative traditional foods of Barcelona. Its flavors depend on the type of fish available at the market. It is cooked with garlic and tomatoes, and not easily found in restaurants. I recommend heading to La Barceloneta district and check some of the places that specialize in Paellas — they will usually prepare the Suquet if the fish catch of the day is good enough.

7. Crema Catalana

The most traditional Catalan dessert is crema catalana (catalan cream). In the XVIII Century when a Bishop visited a Convent here in Catalonia, the nuns prepared a flan that resulted in a kind of liquid cream. They tried to fix it by adding a layer of burned sugar just before serving it. As the sugar was hot, the bishop, when eating it, shouted: Crema! (it burns!) in the Catalan language. My favorite place to eat it is at Ca L´Isidre where they use real cow’s milk and eggs sourced at a local farm.

8. Mel I Mato

Photo: Quim Gil

Mel for honey and Mato for fresh, unsalted soft cheese in Catalan, this dish is served with walnuts. I really like to have one for breakfast and the best place to have one is at home. In your pajamas.

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