Ash
Written by Ash

The Best Tapas in Barcelona + 7 Bars with Free Food

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As you walk around the city looking for food you may find yourself thinking of the old Catalan proverb:

Barcelona és bona si la bossa sona (Barcelona is only good if you’ve got money).

But don’t let anybody tell you there’s not good cheap food out there.

In my list of the best tapas in Barcelona I’m not just going to help you find the fantastic – I’m including 7 places to get free tapas just for ordering a well-deserved beer after a day of sightseeing.

Let’s dig in.

What Are Tapas?

Tapas originated in the 18th century in the southern region of Andalusia as small snack sidekicks to the drink of the day: sherry.

The name ‘tapas’ comes from the custom of covering drinks with plates (tapar in Spanish means to cover) to avoid pesky bar flies ruining a customer’s beverage. Over time bars used this opportunity to offer free food.

Today the three most famous tapas are patatas bravas (pictured, fried potato wedges with a spicy tomato sauce), pinchito moruno (marinated/spiced pork kebabs), and chipirones (mini fried squid).

As far as Barcelona tapas bars go you’ll find one on every street!

Here’s a map of my selections:

The Best Tapas in Barcelona

Season

€€-€€€ | Area: Eixample | Carrer d’Aribau 125 | Metro: Diagonal

This delicious gourmet tapas restaurant famous for ‘new classics‘ gets to the top of the list because most of my readers want a balance of Spanish tradition and contemporary style.

The fresh, natural, and seasonal menu tailored to wine lovers bills itself as Mediterranean food with an international touch… or as they call it: Barcelona food!

I particularly enjoyed the seafood paella and the Catalan cured meat platter – there are also great vegan options and the original cocktails are out of this world.

I was so impressed I’ve even set up my own reservation system with Season where my readers will get €8.00 off a gourmet tapas tasting menu by clicking the button below:

SEASON
Book your tasting menu

Not looking for the full tasting menu? Book a table and order à la carte using the button below:

SEASON
Book your table now

Bar Cañete

€€€ | Area: Raval | Carrer de la Unió, 17 | Metro: Liceu (L3) | Website

Pick this one if you’ve got a hotel, Airbnb, or holiday apartment on La Rambla.

This stylish Spanish tapas bar stands out for its passionate servers and hungry locals perched on stools watching the open-plan kitchen show.

The lobster croquettes here really bring a tinge of luxury to a very commonplace dish. The steak with foie and truffle keeps the standards high but if you’re feeling really adventurous grab the tripe and beans.

Lolita Taperia

€€-€€€ | Area: Eixample | Carrer Tamarit 104 | Metro: Poble Sec (L3) | Website

Modernity and flavour meet in perfect harmony in this Barcelona tapas bar fit for fans of Nabokov, slick decor, and perfectly seared tuna! It’s great to see some adventure in tapas and that’s what you find here.

It even turns into a cocktail bar between 12-2 on Friday and Saturday night if you’re looking to combine your nosh and nightlife. Grab the potato-chip crusted chicken fingers.

Also one of the best and crunchiest pan con tomate in the city.

Bormuth

€€-€€€ | Area: Born | Plaça Comercial 1 | Metro: Jaume I (L4) | Website

This is a great weekend snack and drink spot near the Picasso Museum. The small and hip restaurant with its inviting wooden walls also includes a lovely terrace for some al fresco dining.

Grabbing two of their homemade vermouths, a little bowl of olives, and a meat and cheese platter is how locals eat in Barcelona.

The pan con tomate and albondigas (meatballs) also top notch. It’s also one of the only tapas bars in Barcelona with craft beer.

El Xampanyet

€€-€€€ | Area: Born | Carrer de Montcada 22 | Metro: Jaume I (L4) | Website

Another historic local that brings tourists and locals together like few other places. Part of the fun is nudging your way through the boisterous crowds to order your tapas at the bar.

Here there are no seats – so grab your food and a sparking white (called ‘El Xampanyet’) and get to know your neighbour over some smoked cod and tomato confit or butifarra del Perol (a local sausage).

The place opened in 1929 and hasn’t stopped serving since.

a spread of modern tapas at season restaurant in barcelona spain a spread of modern tapas at season restaurant in barcelona spain
Get a gourmet tapas tasting menu at Season!

Bar Pinotxo

€€ | Area: Raval | Carrer la Rambla, 89 | Metro: Liceu (L4) | Website

If you need to serve up quality tapas why not set up shop in the middle of Barcelona’s biggest food market? If you’re looking for fresh and even famous (Anthony Bourdain swore by the place) then the Catalan classics here hit a home run.

The navajas (razor clams) and codfish with ratatouille are huge favourites but the locals usually go for xipirons amb mongetes – a type of triend cuttlefish with beans.

Bambarol

€€€ | Area: Eixample Carrer de Santaló 21 | Metro: Hospital Clinic (L5) | Website

I respect any tapas restaurant whose daring mission statement is something like “we hold true to our grandmother’s recipes but open up to the world”. The seasonal cuisine here jumps out for its complicated simplicity.

This is one of the best places to try ensalada russa (a type of potato salad): a strange Spanish obsession if I do say. Other hits are the marinated salmon, scallops, and a mean strawberry mojito! Two please.

It’s also rare to find a house wine so favorable to the taste buds.

La Cova Fumada

€€€€ | Area: Barceloneta | Carrer de Baluard 38 | Metro: Jaume I (L4) | Website

This little hole in the wall place packs a punch with a capital ‘P’. From the outside you wouldn’t know it’s a Barcelona tapas institution. They don’t even have a sign, but no bother. The family has been serving for 3 generations, and they know it’s the food that counts!

The famous tapas dish here are the bombas, a type of crispy potato ball stuffed with ground meat and topped with a spicy sauce. The beef cheeks are also to die for while the seafood, being in the fisherman’s neighbourhood is super fresh.

If you want your tapas on a Barcelona beach this is as close as it gets without falling into a tourist trap.

O’Retorno

€€ | Area: Eixample | Carrer del Comte d’Urgell 68 | Metro: Hospital Clinic (L5) | Website

When people ask me where to eat tapas in Barcelona this is my go to because it’s a no-nonsense bar where you even get free tapas with your drink.

Large portions reign supreme and keep the traditions of the Spanish region of Galicia alive and well. The pulpo a la gallega (octopus, potatoes, paprika, and rock salt) is a great example.

This was recommended to me by a taxi driver who said all his colleagues go here for a quick bite. Make sure you book in advance or you’ll be sitting at the bar.

Bar Jai-Ca

€ | Area: Barceloneta | Carrer de Ginebra 13 | Metro: Barceloneta (L4) | Website

This chaotic and messy bar may be rammed with people from opening to close, but for good reason. What stands out here is how such quality can be achieved with such a varied Spanish tapas menus.

From the Serrano ham to the eggplant with honey to the bombas you’re in good hands.

The sangria here is excellent and if you’re a lover of fresh seafood you’ll be in heaven: go for the cuttlefish.

Can Paixano (La Xampanyeria)

€ | Area: Barceloneta | Reina Cristina 7 | Metro: Barceloneta (L4) | Website

The best cheap tapas in Barcelona if you’re looking for a little fun with your food.

This rammed bar is essentially a fast food joint churning out small tapas plates made from classics like butifarra sausage, chorizo, and all sorts of local cheeses and cold cuts.

Nobody dares step in the place without getting a bottle of their sparkling homemade rose – it’ll only set you back about €4.00. This is the ultimate day drunk social spot for meeting tourists.

a pan of seafood paella at bodega joan restaurant in barcelona spain a pan of seafood paella at bodega joan restaurant in barcelona spain
Get a paella tasting menu at the legendary Bodega Joan!

The Best Free Tapas in Barcelona

Gata Mala

€€-€€€ | Area: Gracia | Carrer Rabassa 37 | Metro: Joanic (L4) | Website

A bit of a hidden gem in Gracia that focuses on only two things: beer and tapas. Order even the smallest €1.80 beer and you’ll get free patatas bravas (fried potato wedges in a spicy sauce), a tasty tortilla, Serrano ham, chorizo sausage and more.

The only problem is it gets a bit crowded, but the atmosphere is decidedly local and you won’t complain because there’s free food! The ensaladilla Rusa (a kind of potato, vegetable, and mayonnaise salad) is really delicious.

The owner Pilar speaks English and is as friendly as they come – but cash only!

Cal Chusco

€ | Area: Barceloneta | Almirall Aixada 5 | Metro: Barceloneta (L4) | Website

Here you’ll find free tapas like croquettes and empanadillas served just like in Madrid. The tradition of cubo de birras con racion (a bucket of beers with a plate of food) lives on here and the prices are low! It’s also right by the beach.

This is also a good place for football lovers to see Barcelona matches instead of shelling out at Camp Nou. I recommend the homemade bombas (a type of spicy potato and mince meat ball).

Raspall

€€ | Area: Gracia | Carrer Samsó 8 | Metro: Joanic (L4) | Website

Good, cheap, and friendly is the name of the game at my go-to Barcelona free tapas place. This luminous and modern Spanish bar really keeps tradition alive. They’ll give you a homemade tapa of your choice from the bar with any purchase of a beer, wine, or vermouth.

I like hitting this place up in the peak of summer for the chilled €1.00 white wine. A great place to just sit outside in the square and watch the neighbourhood come alive in the evening.

El Moll de Rebaix

€€ | Area: Barceloneta | Baluard 84 | Metro: Barceloneta (L4) | Website

The locals keep saying that Barceloneta is gradually losing its soul as the authentic locale is replaced by chains or tourist traps – this is a massive tapas exception.

The fresh produce, warm atmosphere, and old school decor add up to a humble and charming bar run by two brothers who value customer service. Try the pimientos de padron con migas (an Andalusian classic with peppers, chorizo and breadcrumbs).

Bar Rustik

€-€€ | Area: Raval | Carrer Sant Pau 90 | Metro: Liceu (L3) | Website

Update: this bar in under new management and doesn’t offer free tapas – but it’s worth a try anyway!

This Barcelona tapas bar is hidden on a small winding street. It may not be the best or the most fun but finding another terrace in the Raval? Good luck!

What stands out here are the massive portion sizes of the mains – bring an appetite. This is also a great tapas bar to check out some South American specialties, particularly Chilean dishes.

I recommend the homemade ham croquettes.

La Xula Taperia

€€ | Area: Gracia | Mare de Deu dels Desemparats 18 | Metro: Fontana (L3) | Website

The combination of Madrid-style free tapas with every drink and the creativity of a modern Barcelona tapas joint is just lethal. So get there in the early afternoon, grab a draught beer, and let the chefs do the rest.

Aside from the free tapas this place is up there in the top restaurants in Barcelona for their creative Mediterranean dishes like cannelloni with butifarra sausage and mushrooms, duck breast carpaccio, and fried eggplant with foie gras foam.

No Sé

€€-€€€ | Area: El Born | Passeig del Born 21 | Metro: Barceloneta (L4) | Website

Every list needs a wildcard and for this one we’re going two countries over to Italy. If you’re looking for free tapas with a drink but you want a cocktail instead of beer then look no further than this stylish Milanese-style aperitivo place.

In the late afternoon you’ll have your pick from the buffet-style setup with a selection of pastas, meats, cheeses, hummus, and Basque-style pintxos. There’s probably no greater food selection in the list.

Get More Free Stuff in the Comments Below

I’ve given you my list of the best tapas in Barcelona but that’s just the beginning! Any question you have regarding your Barcelona holiday will be answered by me personally in the comments below.

And don’t be afraid to join the Barcelona tapas discussion by first giving me a like on Facebook and then joining my group I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, and chat with thousands of Barcelona travelers.

Anything goes!

36 comments
  • December 30, 2019 at 12:14 am
    Aimee Reid
    Hello, A little different from tapas thread but I was wondering if you had any suggestions for paella in Barcelona? I’m after the seafood paella but somewhere not too expensive and easy to get a table if possible... heading at the end of February and your blog has been so helpful - it’s my first Time going to Barcelona with my boyfriend Many thanks for the advice !!
    • December 30, 2019 at 12:00 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Aimee, Of course I do! In fact I've got a whole post on eating paella in Barcelona: https://www.barcelonahacks.com/paella-barcelona/ Where I break them all down for you :) I would recommend Bodega Joan or Xiringuito Escriba which both give a great price-quality ratio. Cheers, Ash
  • July 27, 2019 at 3:37 pm
    Sandra
    Your website is very informative. Thank you for putting this out. Through your site, I was able to find the areas that suit our needs and I now have more knowledge on tapas. Thanks again, Sandra
    • July 28, 2019 at 10:28 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Great to hear Sandra! :)
  • July 15, 2019 at 11:38 pm
    Abbie
    Hi Ash, Your website and tips are great! I was wondering if you could advise on a good restaurant for a large group on a hen do? Something reasonably priced if possible. Any bar recommendations would also be appreciated! Thanks, Abbie
    • July 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Abbie, Thanks so much for the kind words :) I'll first direct you to, if you haven't seen already, my article on stag dos in Barcelona because it'll contain all the big bars that would be suitable for you guys. Apologies if I didn't target it at hen dos... but in the end the keyword research suggested that more people look for stag do info, so I had to go with it! You'll find a fair few places to eat there too... though I would also add Xiringuito Escriba and Bodega Joan as large spaces who can accomodate groups and don't mind things getting a bit rowdy. You may even want to book in advance at the all you can eat extravaganza of Puerto Plata... I've been to two birthday parties here and they were amazing :) Cheers, Ash
  • July 9, 2019 at 12:32 pm
    Debbie
    Hi, I am looking for a tapas/club style restaurant for the evening for myself and my daughter. Glam upmarket place to celebrate our birthdays. We are booked into Acces on the Saturday as they are closed Sunday. She's from London and a fashionista social queen so need somewhere that will impress her , Thanks. Love this site
    • July 9, 2019 at 3:50 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Debbie, When you explained the situation I immediately thought about Bestial which is a combination beach club/restaurant. If you really wanna go to a stylish place though, a unique Spanish culinary space with about 6-7 different bars and restaurants I would also check out El Nacional. There won't be a club vibe but you're always free to go to a club after ;) Also, you may want to try Guzzo because it's got great food and live music... and it's also very stylish and popular with a hip crowd. Hope this helps, Ash
      • July 12, 2019 at 10:25 am
        DEBORAH O'MALLEY
        Wow thanks for your quick response, will check them out and book. Ta Deb
        • July 12, 2019 at 2:28 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          No problem at all Deborah! Enjoy :)
  • March 9, 2019 at 1:56 am
    Tracy Tucker
    Hi Ash! Could we take our 16 and 12 year old daughters with us to Cal Chusco? Also, do they serve cocktails or just beer/wine? Thanks! Tracy
    • June 20, 2019 at 12:24 am
      Charles
      O"Retorno was an massive disappointment! Raspal one of the best experiences ever!
      • June 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm
        ashley
        Team Member
        Ash
        Disappointed to hear about O'Retorno! Any specific reason? I am always curious to hear.
    • March 9, 2019 at 1:19 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Tracy, There should be no problem bringing kids... it's a standard restaurant with not much of a nightlife vibe, if any! Most of these typical tapas restaurants are mostly about beer or wine and make some very basic 'long drinks' like rum and coke etc... they also offer many digestifs etc. However, I wouldn't count on cocktails! If you want a high quality Spanish place with cocktails I suggest Arume or Luoro. My two cents :) Ash
  • March 4, 2019 at 3:48 am
    kristin
    I have a sever shellfish allergy. Any reccommendatins for tapas that would be better for us to try with my allergy in mind? How do I alert my waiter of my allergy - is it bedt to have a card?
    • March 4, 2019 at 11:27 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Kristin, Most everybody in the restaurant industry speaks English so I wouldn't worry about not getting understood... there are just a ton of tapas without shellfish, so many so that I wouldn't know where to start. I actually have a list of the best local dishes and here you'll get quite a few without shellfish. My favourites would be pan con tomate, patatas bravas, bombas, and of course the famous tortilla de patatas. Ash
  • November 17, 2018 at 11:56 pm
    Connie Morreale
    Hello again, We have reservations at Pacomeralgo...are you familiar with this place?
    • November 18, 2018 at 1:14 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Connie, I've walked by this place many times and since it is always packed with locals can only assume it's very good... it has been on my list forever, and I'm kind of ashamed to admit I haven't been even though it's about a 10 min walk from my house! Please let me know how it turns out :) Ash
      • November 18, 2018 at 6:02 pm
        Connie Morreale
        A student studying under one of my doctors is here from Barcelona for a year. he recommended this place. I'll def let you know my impressions. She also recommended: el National Terrace at Casa Fuster Brunch at Hotel W Terrace at Wittmore hotel Totura (peruvian) Solange for cocktails Vibitus Ceneceri Catalana Unless I get a strong recommendation from you on one of these others, I think we will wing it on our other meals.
        • November 19, 2018 at 10:01 am
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Are you referring to Cerveceria Catalana? This is a great tapas place I would recommend. Also El Nacional is outstanding even though it's a bit pricey... just a great place to get the full Spanish experience.
          • November 19, 2018 at 2:36 pm
            Connie Morreale
            Yes! it was a doctors handwriting, soooo...you know. But now that you wrote it correctly it is easy to see that is what she wrote down. lol
            • November 19, 2018 at 6:07 pm
              ashley
              Team Member
              Ash
              Haha! a 70% strike-rate on the letters is usually enough anyway ;) Thanks again for the kind words Connie... I am indeed your local traveling with you! Any more advice I am here.
  • October 11, 2018 at 4:21 am
    Jeanne
    Hi Ash...what can you tell me about Devour Barcelona's Tapas, Taverns & History Tour? Is it something you would recommend or is there another tapas/foodie tour that's better? TIA Jeanne
    • October 11, 2018 at 12:37 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Jeanne, I took a Devour tour a few months back and I must say that every aspect of it was great from the restaurant selections, to the history, to the knowledge of the guide. I would recommend them completely especially the Tapas, Taverns, and History tour. Another one you may want t consider is Wanderbeak... you'll get less of the history but the same knowledge and just a lot of fun! Can't go wrong with either. Ash
      • October 11, 2018 at 6:51 pm
        Jeanne
        Thanks again :)
  • August 10, 2018 at 7:57 pm
    Haine
    Oh, also how do you say "without cheese" in Spanish and Catalan? Thanks!
  • August 10, 2018 at 7:56 pm
    Haine
    Hey Ash! Would you say that tapas at a paid restaurant are better overall compared to a place where they come free with a drink? We are in Barcelona for only a very short time, and would like to go to the best tapas restaurant. Which would you recommend? Again, thank you so much!
    • August 11, 2018 at 10:47 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Haine, Definitely the paid restaurants will offer a much higher quality tapa so if you're looking for that make sure you go for the paid places. My favourites are Bormuth and La Masia, though you could also check out Bitacora. Without cheese: sin queso (seen kay-soh) in Spanish and sense formatge (sen-zuh for-mat-juh) in Catalan. :)
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