Spain is known for being the country with the most bars and restaurants per person in the world, and there’s no argument that Barcelona has one of Spain’s best offerings.
While the pandemic sadly forced many people’s favourite tapas bars and restaurants to close down, it’s a testament to the quality of these eleven highlights, not to mention their popularity with the locals, whose loyal custom kept them alive through the worst of times, that they’re still here and thriving and serving up the best tapas in Gràcia, Barcelona.
Taverna El Glop
El Glop has been around since September 1978 and specialises in paellas and arroces. They also have some gorgeous meat and fish dishes, as well as some of the best tapas in the neighbourhood, from patatas bravas to the langostinos al ajillo. El Glop represents the cuisine and culture of the local Catalan population of Gràcia, which not so long ago was its own town, independent of Barcelona. If you’re lucky enough to arrive between January and March, you’ll find the local speciality, calçots. If not, be sure to try the alcachofas fritas (fried artichokes), a worthy substitute.
Carrer de Sant Lluís, 24
In Chile, the word quiltro means “mongrel” and it’s an apt name for this Gràcia bar that gives a Latin American twist to the tapas concept. All three of the founders have roots on both the South American continent and the Iberian peninsula, and the result is a fine-tuned menu that takes dishes as geographically diverse as Mexican tacos and Chilean empanadas, Venezuelan patacones and Peruvian ceviches, pulled pork and Argentinian entraña or Brazilian picaña, and makes them work perfectly together, all served in bite-size portions. Do not miss the latinas bravas, made with fried sweet potato (Latin America has over 4,000 different types of potato!) and topped with chipotle mayo. Their range of piscos and rums are infused with everything from chillies, spices and herbs to fruits and even matcha green tea.
Carrer del Montseny, 13
One of the pastimes most emblematic of life in Gràcia is chilling in its many squares, or plaças. Perhaps the most iconic is Plaça del Sol, which, true to its name, gets the sun almost all day. Of Plaça del Sol’s tapas bar selection, the best pick for many is Sol Soler. Famous for their exceptional albondigas (meatballs in sauce), they also serve fine examples of all the Spanish classics: tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette), bravas, and pa amb tomàquet (the Catalan classic, tomato-rubbed bread). In an interesting twist, they also do an amazing lasagne (veggie and otherwise).
Plaça del Sol, 21
In another of Gràcia’s most lively plaças, Plaça de Rovira i Trias, you’ll find La Rovira. There’s a spacious terrace to enjoy the vibe, or for those cooler evenings, an inside space that blends traditional Spanish tapería with contemporary craft beer bar. Highlights include the botifarra encebada (a local Catalan sausage), patatas La Rovira, aubergines stuffed with tuna, and banderillas, usually comprising an olive, a pickled chilli and some form of seafood, all squeezed onto a cocktail stick and designed to be eaten in one mouthful. The name banderilla comes from the small daggers used in bullfighting to weaken the bull, but since bullfighting has long been banned in Catalonia, the edible ones are the only banderillas you’ll come across here in Gràcia.
Carrer de Rabassa, 23
Raspall is a rare find. Very unusual for Barcelona, and in the style of Granada, Jaen and certain tapas bars in Madrid, they give you a free tapa on the house every time you order a drink. And here at Raspall it’s not just any tapa: you can choose your own from the board, and even if they weren’t free, the quality of these tapas alone would still earn this place a spot on this list of the best tapas bars in Gràcia. The tataki de atún is a firm favourite: two small pieces of tuna lightly grilled on each side and sprinkled with rock salt. Ñam ñam.
Carrer Samsó, 8
Not only does La Gola have some of the crispiest patatas bravas in Gràcia, they also combine the best of Spanish tapas with the best of Italian cuisine (which we can all agree is a very good thing). Think fresh, handmade tagliatelle, ravioli, gnocchi and risotto. Don’t miss the long-time classic chicken fingers with wasabi mayo, and the range of croquetas and panes de coca or de cristal, when they have them.
Carrer de Tordera, 33
One of the cosiest bars in Barcelona, Lo Pinyol, specialises in vermouth and a range of good wines, and of course the food to pick at while you’re drinking them. We’re talking Catalan cured meats; pinchos with sobrasada, cheese and honey; sardines with black garlic jam; smoked salmon with guacamole or gorgonzola; mojama (filleted, salt-cured tuna, popular in the Huelva and Cádiz regions of Andalusia) with caviar, olive oil and almonds. Not to mention a healthy range of equally delicious vegan and vegetarian options. Comfy seats are set amidst vintage décor, plenty of good books, and regular poetry events.
Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla, 7
While we’re on the subject of vermouth, there are few activities more Catalan than fer un vermut (doing a vermouth) with friends, especially at the typical “hour of vermut” (Sundays at about noon or 1 p.m.). And few vermuterias in Gràcia are as well known and iconic as the aptly named La Vermu. Just off Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, you can enjoy the best Catalan vermuts – red or white, with or without soda – here, accompanied by classic tapas dishes from the banderilla to the bomba and other specialities, perfect for the pre-lunch hour.
Carrer de Sant Domènec, 15
Like El Glop, Xàtiva is one of Barcelona’s most highly regarded restaurants for paella and rice dishes. In such high demand due to the quality of the food, Xàtiva now has four unique restaurants across the city, but this Gràcia spot is arguably “the one”. They have what are frequently touted as the best vegan and vegetarian paellas in Barcelona, and are also famed for their arroz negro (black rice cooked in squid ink), arroces melosos (creamier than a paella) and fideuà (a delicious paella-like dish made from chopped noodles instead of rice). Also don’t forget to try their other tapas to start, especially the unmissable gambas al ajillo.
Carrer del Torrent d’En Vidalet, 26
La Fourmi brings an Argentinian, French, Japanese and, in general, international influence to Spanish tapas, creating a whole new fusion of flavours in the process. The main highlight is the breaded chicken accompanied by wasabi mayo and oriental mustard dips, but they also do a mean patatas bravas and goat’s cheese au gratin with honey.
Carrer de Milà i Fontanals, 58
So much more than just a tapas bar, La Muriel is now one of Gràcia’s coolest event spaces, for photography, poetry, live music, art and more, but what really earns it its spot on this list are a couple of dishes without rival, namely the picanha curada and the bikini de lacón – an extra delicious take on this Spanish breakfast classic, the bikini, known elsewhere as a ham and cheese toasty. So there you go: breakfast as tapas, long into the night. Welcome to Barcelona!
Carrer de Verntallat, 30