How to Choose a Good Barcelona Restaurant (Not a Barcelona Tourist Trap)

Every traveler wants to have a memorable Barcelona restaurant experience.

What you don’t want is plate of sub-standard food that isn’t as fresh as it should be.

We don’t want that to happen to you either. Now don’t get too worried — you are most likely going to have a positive dining experience in Barcelona. It is  the name of these memorable meals and all that is good about Barcelona dining, we’ve created this quick guide to choosing the right Barcelona restaurant:

5 Tips For Choosing the Perfect Barcelona Restaurant

1. Menus in English Aren’t a  Bad Omen

Barcelona has become such a magnet for English-speaking tourists that local restaurants have adapted. In some countries,  a restaurant with a menu in English is basically an invitation to pay a lot of money for really bad food. Not so in the Catalan capital. Many restaurants of good repute have menus in at least three languages: English, Castellano and Catalan. Some restaurants are even catering to Russian tourists by featuring signage and menus in Russian. French and German also appear on some menus.

Tapas, Barcelona Restaurant, Barcelona Blog

With the “English menu equals rip-off” myth dispelled, we want to remind you that it always helps to check out the Spanish side of the menu along with the English side because, in many cases, translations can be a little … interesting.

One of our favorite local restaurants features “kindling of shaved Iberian ham” and “tuna carpaccio with lumpo”.  Remember, these mistranslations aren’t a reflection of the quality of the food. In the case of this restaurant, the food is remarkable. Make sure you have Google Translate handy.

2. Ask About The Menú Del Dia…

You guessed it…menú del dia is the menu of the day. And in Spain, the menu of the day is usually a very good bargain. Most menús come with a drink, bread and sometimes coffee along with an appetizer, a main dish and a dessert.

Paella, Barcelona Restaurant, Barcelona Blog

You’ll typically have a several choices for the appetizers and several choices for the main dish. On Thursdays in Barcelona, you can be sure that the menu of the day will include a paella-type dish because Thursday is the traditional day to eat the rice-and-seafood delicacy.

Another important tip is that, in many cases, if you don´’t like what you see in the list of main dishes included in the menu of the day, you can double up on your first course.

3. …But Don’t Forget About the Tapas!

You can’t come to Barcelona and not try tapas, the appetizer-style dishes that are one of the trademark’s of the city’s thriving culinary community. Local “experts” will complain that tapas aren’t a Barcelona creation. It’s true…tapas are an import from the south of Spain.

But snobbery be damned, many of the city’s finest (and not-so-fine) chefs feature tapas on their menus. We can give you recommendations for tapas restaurants, but we’d rather give you the tools to choose a good place … sort of that “teach a person to fish” principle:

  • If there is a sign in front of the restaurant’s entrance with photos of the tapas, find a new place.
  • If you see people on the patios eating greasy, unappetizing food, find a new place.
  • If what you see of the food looks fresh and creative,  indulge!
  • Avoid eating on Las Ramblas.
  • Avoid fried foods and try for other options — you’ll be surprised how delicious the non-fried tapas are.
  • Try jamon iberico, the quintessential Spanish tapa that melts in your mouth.

Tapas Menu, Barcelona Restaurants

And don’t forget to bring Google Translate with you. In the meantime, you can read up on our guide to some of the basic must-haves on any Barcelona tapas menu. Also, if you see ración on the menu, it means you’ll be getting a plate big enough to share between at least two people.

4. Michelin Stars Don’t Mean Michelin Prices

Barcelona is home to four two-star Michelin restaurants and 19 one-star restaurants. Though some of these fabulous places are expensive, there are relative bargains to be had for foodies who want an authentic-yet-regal dining experience in a city known for its burgeoning cuisine scene.

For example, famed chef Albert Adriá’s Tickets Bar features a an entire page of cocktails and quick bites all under 7€. They currently have a round-the-world oyster menu which feature’s oysters served in styles ranging from Texas to Tokyo and all costing less than 6€ each.

Tickets Bar, Barcelona Restaurant

There’s even a finger-food menu which features nine different offerings for less than 7€, including queso manchego and ceviche-marinated shrimp.

While Tickets has been notoriously impossible to book (two months in advance is the standard), the restaurant, which is under the umbrella of a larger restaurant group, recently opened a phone line you can call Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to see if there are any day-of cancellations: 606 225 545!

5 . Should You Tip? Hmmm….

Tipping isn’t a part of the culture here. Most Catalan locals don’t tip, so many servers don’t expect a big tip at the end of your meal. If you stop by restaurant for a quick breakfast and you want to tip your server, a good rule of thumb is to round up to the next euro.

Tipping, Barcelona Restaurant, Barcelona Blog

If you’re giving more than 5-8% of your bill, you’re giving too much. The American rule of 15-20% doesn’t apply here, so save that gratuity money for your next meal!


And one more thing…

….you don’t have to be alone in Barcelona’s maze of streets as you search for the perfect restaurant or tapas bar! We provide individuals, small groups and big groups with tapas tours that take you to authentic Barcelona tapas bars with fresh, delicious food you won’t soon forget. If you want to know more, email us or click here to check out our walking tours!

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