Barcelona’s best tapas bars serve up traditional dishes using local ingredients, all set in an exceedingly lively atmosphere.
Courtesy Casa Lolea
Tapas, or “tapes” in Catalan, is a defining dining experience in Barcelona. Many traditional tapas bars are tiny and you will mostly likely eat standing up at the bar or at high-top tables shoulder to shoulder with regulars—but that’s part of the fun. Traditional tapas are simple dishes that showcase the best Spanish ingredients, like pan con tomate, grilled bread rubbed with fresh tomato and garlic and drizzled with olive oil; tortilla española, a slightly runny Spanish omelet; and paper thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth Iberian ham. But plenty of Barcelona tapas bars offer their own spin with seasonally driven small plates touting influences from all over the world. No matter what you're eating, the addictive thing about dining this way remains the same: it’s a moveable feast. If you don’t order too much at one spot you should be able to dine at two to three tapas bars in a single night. Or, find the one you love, and stay put until the wee hours. Either way, the experience encourages adventurous grazing.