This guest post was written by Laura Cerys, originally from Wales and, after a brief spell in the north of England, now happily settled in Barcelona. She currently writes for ApartmentBarcelona.com, a holiday apartment rental agency which provides over 1000 apartments, and a whole host of tips and articles for travellers.
Dining out on some delicious tapas is as integral to the Barcelona experience as visiting the works of Gaudí, shopping on the Passeig de Gracia, or watching a football match at Camp Nou. The idea of tapas may have originated in Andalusia, in Southern Spain, but these devilishly tempting nibbles have quickly become a firmly cemented part of Catalonian culture too. In fact it could be argued that the legendary Catalan chef, Ferran Adria, helped popularise the notion of tapas and tasting menus at his world famous El Bulli restaurant (now closed sadly!). Today the idea of eating a meal comprised solely of mouthful-sized bites has spread globally to become an integral part of the way we experience cuisine.
This all started in Spain many centuries ago…. ‘Tapa’ translated from Spanish means ‘cover’ or ‘lid’, and the legend goes (there are many however!) that these small dishes were originally placed on top of glasses of sherry to ‘cover’ drinks, thus keeping out the flies. Nationally and internationally however, the concept of tapas has evolved a lot over the years to become a full on gastronomic concept of its own. Nowadays, around the world, you can find thousands of different dishes masquerading as tapas, ranging from a traditional plate of Spanish olives to “molecular” concoctions dreamed up by the world’s best chefs.
Tapas for free in BCN? Only If You Know Where To Look!
The traditional way of serving tapas in the southern Spanish cities is as a complimentary snack to stop punters going hungry when they are enjoying a beer or glass of wine. Unfortunately this cheap and cheerful practice is rarely observed in Catalonia – and you can sometimes end up paying though the nose for a few rounds of tapas.
However there is some good news! They actually do exist, if you know where to look: fantastic tapas bars in Barcelona which offer a free tapa with every drink you buy – and normally the more you buy, the more elaborate the tapa becomes! So keep ordering those rounds, amigo.
This little gem located centrally in the Gothic Quarter serves some of the most delicious meatballs and ensaladilla rusa (Russian salad) in the city. After enjoying some free tapas as you gulp down some chilled cerveza, you are perfectly placed to go exploring the local nightlife. You’ll find tonnes of hip joints and nightclubs in this district, which is just near Placa George Orwell and Placa Reial.
Address: Carrer Ataülf 6.
Ambiente del Sur
This informal local joint, located in Eixample, is famous for its tortilla de patatas. It is also known for its special paella Tuesdays, if you fancy trying the legendary dish from Valencia. Whilst no one is likely to get on the tables and dance flamenco ‘Ambience of the South’ is the perfect locale for those who would like to savour a real Andalusian experience in Barcelona!
Address: Carrer Viladomat 85.
Cerveceria de Dues
Situated right in the heart of Gràcia, this intimate beer bar also serves free tapas. And with cervezas costing just 1 euro before 7pm, it’s hard not to have a good time here as you get chatting to the increasingly inebriated locals. Just have some Alka Seltzer handy for the morning after.
Address: Carrer Torrent de l’Olla 89.
Found in the old fisherman’s district of Barceloneta, Cal Chusco is a great little local hangout for passing the time and satisfying the rumbles in your belly. Try their famous bombas or fried fish! This bar also offers raciones (ie. larger dishes/portions) for those looking to settle down for dinner.
Address: Carrer de l’Almirall Aixada 5.
Pappa e Citti
An Italian eaterie in Gràcia, Pappa e Citti serves up free tapas with every drink between the hours of 6-9pm. The drinks are dirt cheap too, and the staff gregarious and friendly. This barrio is full of local Catalan people and a great one to feel the soul of the city, as you explore the nightlife.
Carrer l’Encarnació 38.
Of course, if you’re willing to part with some of your hard earned cash, then your options for indulging in the dining scene multiply exponentially and, whilst you will pay for the privilege, venues like Albert Adria’s much-hyped Tickets Bar are an experience you won’t forget in a hurry. You can find it on Carrer Parrel-lel, but you’d best try booking exactly three months in advance online.