The season of the Catalan Calçots has started!
The calçot onion (pronounced “calsots“) is a winter green onion that Catalan farmers grow in a particular way: they keep covering it with earth as it grows, to prevent the sun from turning the leaves green. That’s how it grows long as a leek and stays tender and sweet.
During the calçot season (starting as early as December and ending as late as March), locals meet up for a calçotada (read “calsotada“): BBQ parties where every participant gets a portion of 12 to 20 calçots that will be dipped in calçots sauce before eating them. Calçotadas usually go together with a regular meat and veggies BBQ, but the star of the party is always the calçot.
No Catalan has a proper social life if he or she isn’t invited to a calçotada. But what about you? You might not be lucky enough to know someone that can invite you to one… But don’t worry: today we are sharing with you the best restaurants in Barcelona to eat calçots. Most of them have set all-included calçotada menus, but you can often order just one portion as part of a meal.
These are our favorite Barcelona calçots restaurants:
El Jardí de l’Apat. A 10min walk from the upper exit of Park Guell you’ll find this off-the-beaten-path restaurant that in the winter weekends gets crowded with Barcelona families devouring this Catalan spring onion. Make sure to get a reservation, otherwise you might not be able to get a table!
El Mussol. This chain of Catalan restaurants are specialized in traditional Catalan cuisine. Their recipes are cooked with seasonal Catalan products. Every month they have a special Seasonal Dish. Guess which is their specialty in February! 😉
El Disbarat. This nice and rustic restaurant in the middle of Gracia quarter, offers among other traditional Catalan dishes, an excellent calcotada menu during the calçot season. Go there to be surrounded by groups of young locals eating and enjoying themselves.
Font Les Planes. If you are feeling adventurous, take the FFCC train from Plaça Catalunya and head to the suburban district of Les Planes in the middle of the Collserola woods. Take the bridge over the road that leaves the station and you’ll get to two “merenderos” cheap restaurants where the working class gathers for their BBQs. Leave the first one behind and keep walking until you find the Merendero Font Les Planes. If you’ve bought your own calçot onions in some local market, here you can rent one of their BBQs to grill them yourself. Or if you prefer, inside the restaurant they make awesome grilled onions as well. There is also a small playground for kids outside.
Cerveseria Catalana. If you aren’t willing to join a full calçot BBQ meal but would still love to try it, there is a way to do it. This busy and central tapas bar usually serves calçot tapas during the season, as part of their Daily Specials. Ask if they have them on the list before being seated, as they might not serve it every day.
AND BONUS! Want to join the fun? Discover where is the biggest calcotada party in Catalonia!
Festa de la Calçotada de Valls. In Catalonia, eating calçots is so big that we even celebrate their own festivity in the village of Valls, where calçots are said to come from. Every year during the last weekend of January, Valls celebrates the Calçotada Festival with a lot of popular activities and calçotades in the streets. The best part are the three competitions taking place: the best calçot grower, the biggest calçot eater (how many can you eat in 45 minutes?), and the best dip sauce (called salvitxada).
So what about you? Tell us in the comments: have you ever tried calçots and how was the experience?