15 bars and restaurants that Barcelona locals swear by
1. Ovella Negra
Its subtle entrance near a central location makes it easy to walk past without even noticing it. But the minute you step inside, you’re greeted with friendly faces, popcorn trails to tables, and sangria. All the sangria in the world. It’s a great bar to go with as little as two people and as many as eight, as the large wooden benches make for easy accommodation. The decor is almost medieval-looking and be sure to take advantage of the endless bowls of popcorn! At 2AM, nothing has ever tasted better with your beer.
2. Can Paixano (La Xampanyeria)
Despite its crowdedness, because an empty Xampanyeria does not exist in this life, the buzzing atmosphere and proximity to the beach make it one of the best lunch spots in town. Great valued tapas, delicious food, and cheap cava! This place has been around for so long, that it’s kept its authenticity and despite most restaurants adapting to the English-speaking crowds from tourism, you’ll have to bring a Spanish friend to help you translate the all Catalan/Spanish menu. But therein lies the beauty of its authenticity.
This bar is the perfect way to start a crazy night out. With over 500 hilariously-named shots to choose from, the Monica Lewinsky being a local fave, this place will blow your mind. Many of their shots include elaborate fire displays, orange peels, and sparks to add to the delivery and make the night all the more exciting. Come alone or come in a group, the minute you walk inside, everyone is your friend!
The local vibe is very apparent as you walk in and are immediately greeted with a friendly, “Hola, guapa!”. The place is very traditional, yet modern, and if you want to ditch the tapa food, but want tapa portions, you can order freshly-cooked food in tapa style. And one mustn’t leave this place without trying La Bomba! As a highlighted stop on the Devour Barcelona Food Tour, this place will quickly turn into one of your favorites.
5. Cal Pep
With authentic and delicious food, it’s typical to find this place jam-packed. This place is a foodie’s heaven as the authentic tapas bar and surprise dishes leave you full, satisfied, and glad you waited half an hour or pre-booked online beforehand. If seated by the bar, you can watch the chef carefully and creatively fix your dishes as you sit there drooling like a hungry pup in anticipation.
Tucked away in the lovely Gracia neighborhood, this place is small but worth the inevitable wait to get inside if you’re wanting an authentic Catalan bodega experience. The service is great and the waitresses are never seen without a smile. This place has great homemade Vermut served with olives and despite the crowd, you’ll still feel the authenticity of the atmosphere and overall experience. It’s Barcelona, so of course there will be a tasty selection of tapas to choose from as well!
If you’re looking for a place with the best sandwiches or bocadillos in Barcelona, then you’ll get this place recommended to you constantly. A small, intimate establishment with great service, a lovely atmosphere, and some of the tastiest sandwiches you will get your hands on. In the “hipster” quarter of Barcelona, it has just as many locals as it does tourists, and even when a place gets overrun by foreigners, it’s still worth it because there simply is no other replacement!
8. Can Mano
One of the best things about living in a coastal city is you that you know the Mediterranean Sea will offer some of the best seafood you’ve ever tasted. In close proximity to the beach, this place has some of the most delicious seafood in all of Barcelona. A charming staff awaits your arrival and although you can’t book in advance, taking a drink outside and people-watching in one of the most gorgeous villages of Barcelona helps time pass quickly. Sardines, squids, and fish galore!
This cozy bar/restaurant is a perfect place for two to relax, chat, and taste some of the best vermut in town. Although it can get quite busy on Friday and Saturday nights, taking a drink outside while waiting, or squeezing into a corner is hardly an issue once the food is served. The patatas bravas are some of the best, the staff is incredibly friendly, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a seat at the top which slightly overlooks the establishment and allows for more privacy with a spectacular view.
10. Sor Rita Bar
If you can get over the absolute absurdity of the wall decor of decapitated barbie dolls and high-heeled shoes draping from the ceiling, then you’re ready to experience something special! This place is undiscovered by so many tourists because of its discreet location in a small passageway in the city.
11. Churruca 5
This list isn’t complete without a paella joint and good heavens if you’ve never tasted arroz negro then this would be the perfect place for the first try. With paella served in fish, meat, seafood, or veggie options, everything else is just a plus. The location makes it a perfect spot to grab lunch outside and people-watch in the gorgeous Barceloneta village and enjoy your surroundings, topped off with a clara con limón.
12. Foxy Bar
This place has one of the funniest wall signs I’ve seen in Barcelona. It has the cozy, local feel, cheap drinks that keep you happy, and a fun environment with the perfect background music to keep you satisfied. The place matches the vibe of the Raval area, and on any given night, you can’t go wrong!
13. Bar Marsella
The minute you step inside it’s like you’ve traveled back in time. Established in 1820, you can see the well-kept antiquity of the bar still intact. Best known for its supply of absinthe, which I both do and don’t recommend, it’s definitely a great, local experience. Van Gogh supposedly cut off his ear under the influence of absinthe. Do what you will with that information.
This family-run restaurant is extremely popular with locals because of that home feeling you get when you eat there. The staff are happy and treat/serve you like family and with a 10-euro all-you-can-eat starters buffet, main course, bread, drink, and coffee with dessert, it’s hard to beat that price anywhere else.
15. Casa Pagès
You can’t eat here without getting to know the humble and hard-working owner Pedro Barros, an immigrant from Galicia, Spain who came to Catalonia during the time of Franco’s dictatorship. The restaurant still retains a historic charm and to anyone who asks, Pedro will share the story of how it used to be a warehouse and local distribution point for one of Catalonia’s most popular beers, Estrella Damm. People who come here are mostly family, neighbors, and locals of the area. A fun thing about this place is their selection of “philosophical sandwiches” which bear names like Socrates, Kant, and Freud. Because of its family environment and Pedro’s wife cooking the tortilla de patatas to perfection, this place is one of those restaurants that turn a regular meal outing into a fun and local experience. This is another favorite and highly recommended stop on the official Devour Barcelona Food Tour, which highlights local food experiences in the Gracia Neighborhood.