Patrons at one of the best restaurants (Barcelona, Spain)

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People eating at one of the best local restaurants in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona best local restaurants


When you travel abroad, you don’t want to feel like a tourist, be treated like a tourist and eat like a tourist. You want to find where the locals eat, interact with them and eat like a local. Of course, that requires a bit of an effort from your part: be open to try foods that you may consider adventurous, try to communicated in the local language (and use Google translator to make sense of the menu), and follow the local rules. But isn’t it part of the travel experience? And it’s so worth it!

Unfortunately, in the internet era it’s not that easy to find places that aren’t frequented other by well informed travelers. Still, you can still find restaurants where locals continue to go despite having to share now with foreign visitors. Are you curious to know where do locals eat in Barcelona? Get ready to take notes, because we have compiled a great list for you below, plus a few insider tips so you can blend in. Here we go!

Tips to eat like a local in Barcelona

  • Be ready to eat late. The average lunchtime in Spain is 2PM and dinner is either 9PM or 10PM.
  • Monday to Friday for lunch, go for a menú del dia.
  • Avoid La Rambla. It’s all tourist traps (except the restaurant recommendations in this post).
  • Eggs aren’t for breakfast. And forget about porridge and pancakes. It’s bread with cheese, ham or cold cuts for savory breakfast, and all kind of bakeries for a sweet one.
  • Paella is a lunch thing. Locals don’t eat paella at night because it’s a too heavy dish to eat late night. And avoid places with “Paellador” pictures of paella outside: it’s frozen paella.
  • If they bring a basket with tomatoes and garlic… that’s not a salad. Learn to make your own tomato bread.
  • Don’t ask for butter for your bread. It’s olive oil here!
  • Sangria is for the Summer. Or for youths drinking games, if it’s the cheap kind.
  • There’s no free tap water. Tap water in Barcelona tastes awful and it’d ruin your meal. So sorry, you’ll have to buy a bottle if you want some for your meal. The only acceptable excuse is to ask for a glass of water for your medication.
  • Hot chocolate is not dessert. Despite tapas bars starting to offer it now, that’s just to cater tourists. Hot chocolate with churros is either breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack. And you don’t get it in restaurants, but in specialty cafes called “granjas” or in churrerias (churro places).
  • If the waiter doesn’t smile, don’t take it personally. Waiters in Spain don’t depend on tips to survive, so they won’t go the extra mile to please you. Most waiters are there to do their job, which is taking your order and bringing it to your table, but they won’t give you conversation (unless it’s a very relaxed day and they feel up for it). 
  • Tips aren’t required, but they are appreciated. And they aren’t 20% either. You can learn everything about tipping in Spain in our blog.
  • Don’t be in a hurry to leave. “Sobremesa” is the Spanish word for that time to chat with the people you ate with. Enjoy coffee or maybe a shot of liquor. The waiter won’t bring the bill until you ask for it (but don’t abuse it either). 15 or 20 minutes after finishing is OK (but sobremesa can last hours in a private home!).

Best local restaurants in Barcelona


La Cova Fumada

A bar with no sign outside, you'll just find it because of the address number on the wall (56). Push the wooden door to enter an iconic tapas bar where apparently the famous "bomba" tapa  (mashed potato ball with a heart of slightly spicy minced meat). was created ages ago. Baked artichokes when in season and all kind of seafood are other great things to order here.

WHO GOES THERE: In the morning it’s mostly retired neighbors having their carajillo (coffee with liquor) and something to eat. On Saturdays at midday you also see locals going there for tapas before heading somewhere else to eat (what we call “do the vermouth” even if drinking vermouth isn’t really necessary).
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. They close earlier than other tapas bars, arrive before 1PM.
ALTERNATIVE: Can Maño, also in La Barceloneta.


Bar Cañete

A Spanish tapas bar with waiters in white uniforms. Order tortilla de camarones (baby shrimp omelet), artichoke fries and eggplant with molasses.

WHO GOES THERE: While for lunchtime you’ll mostly see tourists, dressed-up locals go there before or after attending the opera or a ballet at the nearby Gran Teatre del Liceu.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Eat on a stool by the counter if you are only two people. They also have a handful of small tables for up to 4 peple and only one table for larger groups.
ALTERNATIVE: De Tapa Madre, a Madrid style tapas bar in Eixample.


Xiringuito Escriba

The owner of one of the oldest cake shops in Barcelona also runs this beach restaurant where the quality of the food equals the bliss of their desserts. Because it’s further away from the city center, locals favor it more than other restaurants that are easier to reach.

WHO GOES THERE: In the weekends for lunch you’ll see here families and groups of locals wanting a good paella.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Rice takes 20 minutes to be cooked. Order some light starters such as a salad or some tapas to share while you wait, or you’ll get hungry and end up eating all the bread, then your stomach will be too full to enjoy the paella.
ALTERNATIVE: Ca la Nuri Terra, for good paella in the Eixample, where tourist will never find it.


Bar Pinotxo

The Bayen family run a famous tapas bar in the Boqueria Market for over 50 years. Unfortunately after his death in 2023 his nephew couldn’t continue the family business in the same location and had to relocate to the nearby Sant Antoni Market.

WHO GOES THERE: Now that their location is less touristy, the crowd has become much more local. You’ll see local patrons that want to show their support and to continue enjoying their famous chickpeas with blood sausage and their white beans with baby calamari.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Come for breakfast to enjoy their delicious “xuxos”, a sort of fried croissant filled with cream and coated in sugar.
ALTERNATIVE: El Quim de la Boqueria, their friendly competitor at the Boqueria Market.


El Vaso de Oro

One of the most famous restaurants in Barcelona for ensaladilla russa (Russian salad, made with cubes of boiled potato, carrot, green beans, green peas, canned tuna, grated hard boiled egg and tons of mayonnaise. 

WHO GOES THERE: Locals by themselves or in couple, maximum 4 people: the tables are small and you might have to seat by the counter. 
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Order a “flauta” (tall glass of house beer) and don’t miss their sirloin with foie gras.
ALTERNATIVE: Tapas 24 Diagonal, their chef won the price to the best ensaladilla rusa of Spain in 2018. Sure, they have another bar right off Passeig de Gracia, but it’s packed with tourists. To see locals head to this one on Diagonal avenue: you’ll see there business people and office workers for lunch during week days.


Cocina Hermanos Torres

The most local 3-star Michelin restaurant in Barcelona. The Torres brothers learnt to cook watching their grandma at the family household, and their first restaurant was at the top of a 5-star hotel. But they wanted freedom to create, and they relocated to a residential and business district where locals rarely go. Their food bring a new light over traditional Spanish recipes and fresh local products.

WHO GOES THERE: Well-off locals interested in creative cuisine, business people with important clients (and of course, foreign wealthy tourists because you can’t keep a 3-star Michelin restaurant secret).
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Book well in advance: the tables book out fast. Lunchtime is often easier to book than dinner.
ALTERNATIVE: Abac, for another 3-star Michelin restaurant off the beaten path (even if it’s a hotel restaurant) or Via Veneto for 1 Michelin star classic fine dinning.


Sartoria Panatieri

This pizza restaurant won the price to the best pizza of Europe outside of Italy and 3rd in the world in 2023. Their menu changes to incorporate products that are in season – so ask your waiter for recommendations.

WHO GOES THERE: Local and international pizza-loving foodies.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Their venue on Provença street receives more international clients because the location is more central. For a more local public book their Gracia venue on Encarnacio street.
ALTERNATIVE: See our post about the best pizza in Barcelona.


Ca l'Estevet

Open since 1890, this old restaurant tucked away in an alley of the shady Raval district serves traditional Catalan food. You’ll find here recipes for adventurous eaters such as snails, as well a delicate sweet and sour dishes such as Catalan duck with orange or pears, and surf and turf specialties such as meatballs with squid.

WHO GOES THERE: Catalan people looking for a good old grandma meal. Staff of the nearby MACBA and CCCB museums and the UB university during lunchtime, workers of the nearby Goya theater at night.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Research the most typical Catalan dishes so you are prepared to order.
ALTERNATIVE: Taverna Can Margarit, maybe a bit less elaborated but equally local in Poble Sec.


Mantequerias Pirenaicas

Head to the uptown district of Sant Gervasi to taste what could be one of the best Spanish omelets in Barcelona. They have the regular potato one, another one with truffle and another one with sobrassada (a paprika pork spread). They are all delicious!

WHO GOES THERE: Upper-middle class neighbors of all ages, on their own, in couples or with family and friends.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Despite being open longer, their omelets are only available as long as there’s some left. Go there for breakfast (I know, I said eggs aren’t a breakfast thing, but this is the exception) or a mid-morning snack. On week days you might still find some left if you arrive for an early lunch before 1PM.
ALTERNATIVE: Bar Lalans, a mom and pop bar with also spectacular omelets.


Granja Mabel

The most famous place in town for Menu del Dia, the specials of the day Spanish menu that includes a starter, a main course and dessert to choose from a few options, plus on drink and bread, for an affordable set price. It’s a great way to eat because the dishes are almost ready to be served, so locals in a hurry can get lunch and head back to work.

WHO GOES THERE: Locals by themselves or in couple, maximum 4 people: the tables are small and you might have to seat by the counter. 
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Most restaurants don’t offer menu del dia on the weekends. Granja Mabel does, just a bit more expensive than on week days. BTW, it’s closed on Sundays and every day for dinner.
ALTERNATIVE: Check out our post about Menu del Dia in Barcelona.


Bar Velodromo

This old bar from 1930 that had been the meeting point of an interesting mix of intellectuals, bohemian artists and trade unionists. The owners retired in 2000 and it was closed for a while until in 2009 it was reopen by a local vintage beer brand with the idea of recovering it's original spirit and make it a meeting point for Barcelonans again.

WHO GOES THERE: Barcelona people anytime: for breakfast, for a midday snack, for a tapa and vermouth before heading somewhere else for lunch, or for an entire meal.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Order some croquettes and a glass of Moritz beer to blend with the locals.
ALTERNATIVE: Bar Versalles in Horta.



A great local Barcelona restaurant with a fun informal atmosphere serving beautiful seafood. The menu is deliberately short, so they can focus on freshness and doing things well. They have two venures, both in Gracia.

WHO GOES THERE: Locals looking for a nice seafood meal. Since the restaurants are coowned by two young actors, it’s not unusual to see there people of the local theater scene.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Try their “lluritu”, the colorful fish that the restaurant is named after, known as pearly razorfish or cleaver wrasse in English.
ALTERNATIVE: For a classic marisqueria go to Carballeira, or an affordable fun option try La Paradeta.


Taberna La Llesca

Farmhouse style Catalan food: grilled meats, salads, creme brulée… Nothing fancy, but a fun place to spend time with friends and family.

WHO GOES THERE: Groups of locals: either friends, extended families and coworkers.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Unlike other places, their “group menu” is available for as little as 4 people (instead of the usual 10) – such a great deal!
ALTERNATIVE: Restaurant chains such as El Mussol and El Glop.


La Xula Taperia

Did you know that in other places of Spain it’s common to get a free tapa with your drink order? Unfortunately, that’s not a thing in Barcelona, and it’s really hard to find a bar that does that. But… of course, we get you covered here too!

WHO GOES THERE: Young adults and informed foodies.
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. The first tapa is simple, as you keep ordering more drinks, the free tapas will become more elaborated.
ALTERNATIVE: See here our recommendations for free tapas in Barcelona.


Vila Viniteca Teca

Vila Viniteca is a famous wine shop in El Born, and they have a gourmet grocery right accross the street. What tourists don’t know is that they have a handful of tables where you can actually eat. The menu is reduced: salads, cheese and ham with a delicious sourdough bread, some high quality canned foods and a delicious cream mille-feuilles for dessert. 

WHO GOES THERE: Local patrons, in couples or maximum 4 people. 
LOCAL INSIDERS TIP. Order wine by the glass, so you can try it before heading to their wine store to buy.
ALTERNATIVE: We have a post about Barcelona wine bars, too.

What's your favorite place where to eat like a local in Barcelona?


Author Marta Laurent Veciana


Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.

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