I lived in Barcelona from 2010 till 2018.
Barcelona has more fancy restaurants than many other cities in Europe. There are some good cheap places too, but not many. Be prepared to spend some cash on some good food.
Restaurant opening hours: most restaurants are open from 1:00pm till 4:00pm for lunch, then the kitchen closes, and later reopens for dinner from 8:00pm till 11:30pm. It’s hard to find good places to eat outside those standard hours. While Google Maps might be telling you that a restaurant is open at 6:00pm, the kitchen might be closed at that time, and you’ll only be able to have a coffee and won’t get any food. If in doubt, give the restaurant a call.
Catalan cuisine is different from the general Spanish cuisine. In Barcelona, you’ll find all the Spanish staple foods, and they will be delicious, but don’t miss the truly Catalan specialities, as you won’t get those almost anywhere outside of Catalunya.
La Pubilla. I used to go here for lunch every day for 3 months straight. It helped that they change the lunch menu every day. Dinner is mostly classic Catalan dishes, very well done by the owner Alexis and the team. Plaça de la Llibertat, 23. Website, Google Maps.
Vivanda. Quite far from the city centre, in the residential Sarrià area. A brilliant terrace and great food. Book at least a day in advance to get a terrace table. Take a stroll around the Major de Sarrià street before dinner (or after). It’s got a very different feel from the touristic centre. Carrer Major de Sarrià, 134. Website, Google Maps.
Rather than any specific foods, tapas are small dishes to share. Many tapas places in the old town are very bad, most good tapas restaurants are a bit further out.
El Xampanyet. They have lots of great cava (Catalan sparkling wine, think Champaign but made in a slightly different way with different grape varieties), and great food as well. Come early (like 7:00pm or even a bit before) to get a table. Carrer de Montcada, 22. Website, Google Maps.
Bar El Velódromo. My personal favourite for tapas (this is not just a bar). One of the few places where you can have good food anytime between 6:00am and 3:00am. Carrer de Muntaner, 213. Google Maps.
Taktika Berri. This is not a tapas place but rather a pintxos bar — Basque specialities served on slices of baguette. There is a proper restaurant in the back, but the pintxos area is more fun. Get there early. Carrer de València, 169. Google Maps.
Burgers and sandwiches
Not your average bocata.
Conesa Entrepans. My favourite sandwiches in the world, no exaggeration. Take Butifarra de calçots if you’re in Barcelona during the calçots season. Carrer de la Llibreteria, 1. [Google Maps](Carrer de la Llibreteria, 1).
Bacoa Kiosko. This used to be called just Kiosko, and it used to look less hip. Still, good burgers close to Barceloneta. Av. del Marquès de l'Argentera, 1. Google Maps.
El Filete Ruso. More refined burgers, it’s good stuff. Reservations recommended. Their signature burger doesn’t come with bread but has a breading instead. They open at 8pm on all days but on Saturdays they open at 8:30pm. A few friends and I didn’t know this when we went there last time, so we arrived at 8pm, saw the closed door, and used the remaining 30 mins to get smashed with Old Fashioned’s at a nearby cocktail bar. Carrer d'Enric Granados, 95. Website. Google Maps.
El Cuiner de Damasc. Does shawarma qualify as a sandwich? This shop has the most strange opening hours from all shawarma places in the world. Even if they are open, they sometimes close once everything is sold out. Definitely worth coming early. I love the mix of spices they use on the meat. Cash only. Carrer dels Templers, 2. Google Maps.
I love coffee and tea. Here are a few of my favourites for both in the city.
Satan’s Coffee Corner. I met the owner Marcos for the first time when he was making flat whites inside a bike store in Raval. Once his first permanent location opened in Gòtic, for the first year or so I went there multiple times per week for breakfast. Even though I lived in Gràcia and studied in Zona Universitària (Gòtic is, like, very out of the way). Many of the baristas who work or used to work here are now my friends. Carrer de l'Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 11 (standalone shop, many food options, no Wi-Fi) or Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 700 (inside a hotel, fewer food options, with Wi-Fi and good for working). Website.
Onna Cafè. I used to go here very often. Many of the staff are also friends. Carrer de Santa Teresa, 1. Website.
Caj Chai. This is in the next building from my favourite coffee place (Satan’s Coffee Corner above). A wonderful tea house with lots of specialty tea and great Arabic sweets. Carrer de Salomó ben Adret, 12. Website. Google Maps.
Bars for vermut and cocktails
A few favourites around the city.
Tandem. The quality of the cocktails here is crazy. Expensive and worth it. Carrer d'Aribau, 86. Google Maps.
Bodega 1900. A great spot for vermut from Albert Adrià who also runs the Michelin-starred Tickets and a number of other restaurants in the area. They also have food, although not too many options. Carrer de Tamarit, 91. Website. Google Maps.
Bar Calders. A very relaxed neighbourhood bar for vermut and food. Not all food is good. Can be crowded on the weekends. Carrer de Parlament, 25. Google Maps.