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.

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 24, 2017 at 4:45 am
    Nenu
    Hello, I am enjoy going through your website and getting tons of useful information for our trip to Barcelona. Could you suggest any food tour that would cover some great tapas joins you mentioned. Cant wait to visit Barcelona! Warmly,
    • December 25, 2017 at 3:12 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Nenu, Thanks a lot for the compliments on my site, I really appreciate it :) For an authentic tapas tour with some local places that also alternates as a bit of a history lesson I recommend Wanderbeak’s Tapalicious tour. I took it in the spring and it was good fun, includes a cool welcome drink on a roof terrace (low season may be different) with a nice view etc. Another cheaper option that includes less food and more history is the Tapas Tour offered by the Office of Tourism. Here you get a tour of the famous Gothic Quarter plus La Boqueria Market (a foodie’s dream) as well as an assortment of tapas. These are ones I can vouch for based on personal experience, they won't cover the places above (you could make your own mini tour?) but perhaps that's giving me an idea to launch my own tapas tour this spring ;) Anyway, I hope this steers you in the right direction! A Merry Christmas to you, and I hope you enjoy your holiday. Ash
  • September 30, 2017 at 9:35 pm
    Mark
    Hey ash .. thank you so much for your recommendations.. we are enjoying trying out the places recommended by you.. specially brunch and cakes... I believe the cog and burq is closed ... Is that true ? Could you also recommend a a good steak house .. not very expensive but medium range ... And if there are any Brazilian rodizio kind of steak houses here where it's all you can eat with different cuts Thanks
    • October 2, 2017 at 8:32 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Mark, It's a shame to say, I just walked by, that the Coq and the Burg is closed. They're looking for a new location but haven't found one yet. I'll update the blog accordingly, good spot. For steak I always recommend Patagonia Beef and Wine. It's quite upscale and won't be cheap by Barcelona standards but the same place in London or New York would be double the price. A lot of people looking for value go to La Malandrina. This South American steak house allows you to pick from 3-4 cuts and one side dish (try the creamy potatoes). And it's right by the beach. For an all you can eat place I haven't been to one or heard of anybody who has had a good experience so would hesitate to write something just to give you an answer. I'll let you test your fate on Tripadvisor for this one ;) Since Barcelona is a city by the sea I certainly suggest you change gears and try the seafood at a place like Somorrostro or La Paradeta... but up to you! Cheers, Ash
  • September 30, 2017 at 10:24 am
    Mark
    Hi ash... Lovely informative website .. thank you so much .. could you recommend any good breakfast places we can try in Barcelona .. thanks
    • September 30, 2017 at 7:05 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Mark, Thanks for the compliments, it's good to hear :) As far as breakfast it kind of depends what you're looking for but here's what I'd do. First off you can't go wrong checking out any of my best breakfast restaurants in the restaurants article. Another thing to do is go really early to Boqueria Market and get the Spanish savory breakfast of your life going to the Pinotxo stall and getting blood sausage and beans. The omelettes are also amazing (try the eggplant one). It's not on my list but Milk Bar also has great and varied breakfast offerings like pancakes, huevos rancheros etc. The good thing is the prices are quite reasonable as well. This should be more than enough to keep you occupied, but if you've got any more questions I am here! Ash
  • June 23, 2017 at 2:17 am
    Jill
    How do you say mayonnaise in catalan/Spanish? While we are visiting we plan to eat tapas and such, but my husband will not eat mayonnaise. Thanks for your help.
    • June 23, 2017 at 12:37 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Jill, Mayonnaise in Spanish is 'mayonesa' (my-oh-NESS-ah) while in Catalan it's 'maionesa' (my-oh-NEZ-ah). To order something without mayonnaise simply add 'sin mayonesa' (seen my-oh-NESS-ah) in Spanish or 'sense maionesa' (sen-TSA my-oh-NEZ-ah) in Catalan. OK! any more questions I am here :) Ash
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