Everyone knows it - Barcelona is a foodie’s paradise. But only a local foodie can show you where to go and the food customs to follow to make the most out of your culinary experience in this city. Whether you’ve just moved into Barcelona or you’re just visiting, here’s how you can eat like a true Catalan local.

Breakfast times two

It’s true - unless you’re on a health kick, most Spaniards will reduce breakfast to a bare minimum (often because they’re still recovering from that late dinner, but more about that later). When they do enjoy it, it’s often very light, consisting of a pastry, coffee, or sometimes even everyone’s favourite Spanish dish, tortilla. But the best part? They’ll have breakfast twice because lunchtime is so far away!

How to order coffee in Barcelona

One thing Spaniards love in the morning is their cup of coffee - and when you’re in a city like Barcelona, you just have to know how to order coffee to make sure you get it just the right way.

Here are some of the most popular coffee choices in Barcelona:

  • Café solo - standard espresso - you can ask for a ‘café doble’ for a stronger dose.
  • Café con leche - regular coffee with milk and one of the most common orders in the morning. You can also choose the temperature of your milk, and you’ll normally be asked if you want it templado, which means cold, or caliente, which means hot.
  • Café con hielo - aka café amb gel aka iced coffee
  • Café cortado (or just ‘cortado’) - a shot of espresso with a splash of milk - also extremely common and a perfect pick-me-up.
  • Carajillo - an espresso with whiskey, rum, or brandy, depending on the offer.
  • Trifasico - a Catalan version of Carajillo with an added splash of milk.
  • Bombón - this is also known as ‘cortado’ with sweetened condensed milk. Perfect drink to order after lunch or in the evening.

Lunch hours in Barcelona

While Barcelona definitely does late breakfast aka brunch, you might still struggle with opening hours of most restaurants. Restaurants won’t be open until 1pm or 2pm, but when they are open, Barcelona locals love to make it a 2-hour lunch.

But what do you order? If you really want to eat like a local in Barcelona, you have to get used to the seafood and meat - there will be plenty of dishes to choose from.

Typical lunch in Barcelona:

  • Esqueixada de bacallà - cod with tomatoes, red peppers, and onions.
  • Arròs negre - rice with squid’s ink.
  • Fideuà - similar to Paella, but with noodles instead of rice.
  • Bacallà amb samfaina - cod, tomato sauce, and vegetables.
  • Canelons - pasta rolls filled with meat.
  • Faves a la Catalana - fava beans and Catalan blood pudding.
  • Cargols a la llauna - aka snails. You just have to try them when in Barcelona!

Time for Merienda!

Merienda is known as snacktime between lunch and dinner. You didn’t think Barcelona will let you go hungry, did you? Merienda aka afternoon snack is where you can make an excuse to enjoy Catalan desserts. These are some of the most popular ones to order:

  • Crema Catalana - like crème brûlée without the baking, with added cinnamon and lemon.
  • Xurros - aka churros, a standard on the Spanish dessert menu.
  • Xocolata amb melindros - hot chocolate and sponge biscuits, similar to ladyfingers.
  • Mel i Mato - H=honey and Catalan cheese.
  • Empanadas - originally from South America, an empanada is a pastry full of various fillings, typically meat.

Dinner in Barcelona

Dining in Barcelona is a must-experience for anyone that’s not used to eating later than 6pm. Catalans don’t really have dinner until 9pm and it usually extends into quality party time. Having dinner in Barcelona is a social experience you have to try at least once in your life.

The dinner menu is similar to lunch - while some locals prefer to go light in order to squeeze in a nice healthy breakfast in the morning, you can also pretty much order whatever you like for dinner.

Most locals do tend to opt out for tapas, small dishes that are known to be shared with the entire table.

Common tapas dishes include:

  • Patatas Bravas - potato cubes with a garlic mayo and tomato sauce.
  • Croquetas - seafood, meat, and vegetarian options are all normally available.
  • Russian Salad - standard salad with potatoes, eggs, topped up with mayo.
  • Chipirones - deep fried baby squids.
  • Anchoas - anchovies.
  • Pan con Tomate - one of the most ordered plate of tapas - bread with tomatoes, topped with oil and salt. Don’t underestimate the power of a good pan con tomate.

What do you think? Can you handle the dining experience in Barcelona?

For more articles on life in Barcelona, check out:

48 Hour Guide to Barcelona
Best Brunch Spots in Barcelona
A Guide to Being Vegan in Barcelona
Unusual Places in Barcelona Not Even Locals Know About