This blog post was originally posted on June 22, 2016, and was updated on October 3, 2017.
Tasty aperitifs, long lunches, late dinners—there is so much to love about eating in Barcelona.
One of the joys of traveling is experiencing all of the fabulous food on offer. But it’s one thing going out and trying local specialties, it’s another thing doing it the right way! Read on to uncover the secrets of how to eat like a local in Barcelona!
Have breakfast, not once, but twice!
Lunch is late in Spain, and if you get up at a decent hour before work, you definitely aren’t going to last until 2 p.m! So do like the locals and have breakfast twice! Many Spaniards have something light when they wake up, like toast or fruit, and then later on in the morning, have a croissant, a sandwich or something similar to hold them over until lunchtime. In fact, many bars and cafes have stellar breakfast specials, from around €2.50-€4, that also includes a coffee or tea.
Watch our lovely guide Victoria show you exactly how to enjoy breakfast like a local in our favorite city!
Whet your appetite.
We love a good aperitif in Barcelona. From cava, the region’s sparkling wine, to sweet red Spanish vermouth, locals love to go out, particularly on the weekends, for a pre-lunch or pre-dinner snack. If really want to eat like a local in Barcelona, find one of the city’s many rustic bodegas, or wine shops, and nibble on some of their cured meats, olives, and cheese.
Tip: If you’re visiting, you might need some vocabulary to help you out at the bar! Check out these top words and phrases that are used for ordering a drink in Spain.
We have lunch late in Spain. If you try to have lunch at 12 p.m, you will be sorely disappointed! Not many restaurants are even open until 1 or 1.30 p.m, and even then, they are often half-empty. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, and many restaurants open the kitchen between 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Local’s Tip: Want to eat paella? Do it like the locals and have paella for lunch! It’s far too heavy for dinner, and makes for a much more authentic experience in the middle of the day! Check out our favorite places to eat paella in Barcelona.
Don’t miss the afternoon snack!
One of the beautiful things about Spain is that we spend a big part of the day eating, and we are always planning our next meal. Join with locals in the merienda, or afternoon snack around 5 or 6 p.m. It’s the perfect excuse to check out some of the best pastry shops in the city!
Have a late, and light, dinner.
If you want to eat like a local in Barcelona, then there’s no better way than to have a late dinner. Just like at lunch hour, many restaurants don’t even open until 8 p.m. Most locals go out around 9 or 10 p.m., and even later on the weekends. And because it’s so late, it’s best to do it light—cue the tapas!
Keep it social!
Eating in Barcelona and throughout Spain is a social experience. Even if you are traveling or dining alone, find a spot at the bar—you will see that it won’t be long until you’re chatting with your neighbor or the waiter behind the bar! This is definitely one of our top tips to eat like a local in Barcelona.
Spain is all about wonderful seasonal treats, and there are a handful of different dishes, pastries, and drinks that locals obsess over, depending on the time of year! Here are a few of them:
- Calçots: don’t miss out on these Catalan spring onions between the months of December and April!
- Warm weather treats: the list of delicious foods that come out in summer in Spain is long, one of our favorites being the deliciously refreshing cold tomato soup—gazpacho!
- Pastries: Spain’s pastry shops follow the Catholic calendar—during different times of the year, devour different delicious specialties!
Spain is a very regional country and each area has its very own specialties, Catalonia being no exception! Locals in Barcelona are proud of the traditional Catalan fare, which explains why we have so many typical Catalan restaurants and so many Catalan wines on the menu!
Take your time!
One of the most beautiful things about eating in Barcelona is the pace at which locals do it. There is no rush, and time is always found to sit down and enjoy even a cup of coffee. Waiters never rush (in fact it can be quite the challenge to get them to bring over the check!), and locals tend to camp out at the table for long after they’ve finished—a cultural phenomenon known as sobremesa, and one that we love!