I’m an over planner. My friends laugh at me, my family thinks its…endearing? I’m the person carefully researching places to go for dinner, for lunch, or even for a quick dessert (in that regard, I totally relate to Dev of Master of None). I live off of reviews, which is why I often contribute my own as well. This of course carries over to travel. Some people could care less about what they eat on vacation – but me? Research and planning are a must. There are plenty of Michelin star restaurants in Barcelona that cost hundreds of dollars to eat at, but here are my picks for a delicious Catalonian foodie experience on a lower budget.
Cost: 1-3 euros per piece
Location: Carrer de Blai
I can think of nothing more beautiful than walking into a charming bar, only to see the counter decorated with colourful arrangements of food – each held together with a skewer, ready to be plucked up by a hungry visitor. This is the pinchos experience in Barcelona. My group from Hostel One Sants took the metro to Paral-lel in search of these tiny delights, and eventually wandering onto Carrer de Blai, a street bursting with pinchos bar. Have you ever been bar hopping? This is similar, but way better, because instead of overpriced drinks and cover, you get to snack away on a variety of two-bite dishes. We wandered from bar to bar, trying whatever pincho caught our eye – including of course, the dessert pinchos.
You can eat as much as you like, and afterward, the waitress will come by and calculate your bill by how many dishes or skewers you have left over. And at 1-3 euro a pop, you might find yourself getting carried away – but trust me, it’s worth it.
COST: $3-10 CAD
Well, can you believe this is the only picture I have of tapas in Barcelona? For good reason of course – they seldom lasted long enough for me to remember to “tweet it before you eat it”. Pictured is one of the most common and popular tapas dish, patatas bravas. Our first tapas experience came at the Ohla Hotel, which is apparently quite an expensive hotel…We really only realized this after being seated, so I guess we were more hungry and exhausted than we thought. Regardless, we shared 3 dishes for lunch and that was enough for our appetite, and for our wallets. The rule of thumb for seeking out budget-friendly tapas options is to, of course, avoid the touristy areas with sandwich boards that advertise only tapas and paella. Other must-try common tapas include croquetas (little breaded balls stuffed with meat – I liked the seafood versions) and pan con tomate, which is white bread rubbed with tomato and drizzled in oil. Yum.
COST: $3-5 EURO
On this trip, I happened to drink wine every day (you can get it at the supermarkets for about 1-4 euro a bottle), and the same was true for gelato. I know, I know, this isn’t Italy – but it was still the best damn gelato I’ve ever had. My two favourites had to be Dino, which was on the same street as the pincho bars, and Vioko, a trendy spot by the beach that always seemed to have a lineup.
Paella Cooking Class
COST: $90 CAD
I know what you’re thinking – $90?! But trust me, this is actually a fairly good price for a food tour/cooking class in Barcelona. I was about to pull the trigger on one that cost $150 when I discovered the website Eat With, where you can search for local chefs who host their own tours and classes. We booked our evening with Guillermo & Cristina, which you can find here, or here on their own business website, Slow Travel Barcelona. It was a rainy day, so we started by scurrying to the market under umbrellas to shop for the necessary ingredients. I have to admit, I was a little nervous/squeamish watching the butcher hack up fish meat, but still excited to try a dish I had never tasted before – Paella. We headed back to their gorgeous apartment and sat around the table with aged cheese, iberico ham and fantastic wine (especially compared to the $2 wine I was buying).
We all had something to prepare for the dinner. I was responsible for chopping the peppers, and helping my friend with preparing the mussels. Again, I was squeamish when I saw that we had to squeeze the intestines of a fish into the dish, for extra flavour. The rain finally let up and we headed onto a quaint terrace to cook the paella which was a group effort. After about an hour or so, it was time to enjoy the fruits of our labour – and let me tell you, it was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. Like everyone else, I went back for seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths, and there were still leftovers. Paella is known as a dish for family occasions, since it takes many people to make and serves a large number of hungry mouths. The evening ended with fig ice cream, and needless to say, I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone visiting the beautiful city of Barcelona.