Barcelona has always been a flamboyant and vibrant city. Famous throughout the world for being the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona has attracted the most gifted writers, painters and artisans for centuries. Few cities in Europe can boast a more romantic thorough-fare than the La Ramblas. Lined with cafes, shops, restaurants, and newspaper stalls, it’s the heartbeat of Barcelona, a meeting point for locals and tourists alike. After spending all day walking past colourful street artists, musicians, and spooky human statues in glamour costumes, even the most stoic of visitors are likely to build up an appetite. As one of the largest cities in Europe, the city centre is unsurprisingly home to swarms of restaurants trying their best to lure in the passing hordes of tourists with alluring table displays, menus and handsome waiters in dashing white suits.
With a huge trade to be made from the millions of visitors who descend upon Barcelona each year, attracted by the likes of the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Picasso Museum and the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter), the city has developed a fine reputation for cuisine and Iberian and Catalan cooking is considered by many to be some of the best in the world right now. However, budgets can be tight and many visitors going on Barcelona holidays will be looking for cheaper options than the most luxurious restaurants in the city, especially those attended by the likes Lionel Messi, Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson. In these difficult financial times, many local residents and international visitors have to be more economical when they go out for dinner.
But this certainly shouldn’t mean anyone should compromise when it comes to quality. For a rotten meal in a bad restaurant can lead to furious arguments with your partner, self loathing and a tragic embrace with a white toilet rim. Fortunately there are alternatives to upmarket dining and those wanting to economise can eat some of the finest cuisine in Catalonia without facing a nasty overdraft charge from their bank.
The food, and Barri Gotic
Most restaurants in Barcelona serve an eclectic mix of local Catalan dishes and traditional Iberian cuisine, alongside some of the city’s more extravagant international restaurants. Situated in the Barri Gotic district, one of Barcelona’s more popular budget restaurants is Les Quinze Nits and it caters for budget travellers wanting to pay less than €13 for an entrée. A word of mouth favourite amongst locals, there is often a small queue outside for people wanting to get a seat. Serving regional tapas dishes and Catalan delicacies, the restaurant has become a cult favourite and is highly recommended for anyone wanting to enjoy local home cooking and still have change in their pocket for a night out on the La Ramblas.
Anyone wanting to dine like Christopher Hitchens on holiday will love the two Xampanerias (Champagne bars) in the hip Born area of the city. Inevitably there will be queues but that is for a pretty good reason. The food is absolutely delicious and visitors to the two bars can order a bottle of Cava, white wine for as little as €7 and this makes it all the more appealing to the budget traveller. Usually a glass of champers is washed down with chorizo, pork, cheese and traditional regional dishes for a fraction of a price in the La Ramblas.
Catalan Tapas, Paseo de Colon
Dao Kaitensushi offers an alternative to Catalan tapas and is a South Asian joint situated in Paseo de Colon. All you can eat deals are fantastic for anyone on a tight budget and this mechanical sushi buffet offers a series of plates of Japanese sushi all day long. Deliciously fresh and incredibly healthy, you can eat lots and well as it’s embarrassingly cheap – you can eat as much sushi as you like for less than €10 a time and as a result the Dao Kaitensushi is increasingly popular with cultured and frugally orientated travellers.
Rosa Negra is a popular a Mexican so a great alternative to Catalan dishes and situated between the Barri Gotti and Born districts of the city. What can only be described as an authentically delicious, cheap, and cute Mexican restaurant, there is a legendary happy hour before 8pm and their dishes include traditional dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and nachos. If you can’t save any money in Barcelona, then eating out in an affordable and charming Mexican restaurant such as Rosa Negra will guarantee you will put on a few pounds. Some people will call that a fair trade. Not content with Catalan, Japanese and Mexican cheap eateries, there is always an alternative in a city as vibrant and exciting as Barcelona.
El Café is a cute salad bar near Torrent de l’Olla and has an excellent reputation for its cholesterol friendly menu of salads, dips, and fresh sandwiches. Providing a large meal and a drink for less than €15 per person, this is a great value venue for anyone wanting to dine in class but not pay for the full privilege. Even in these financially pressing times, there are always alternatives to the excessively priced restaurants in this fantastic city and you really should try sample the local food, it’s one of the main Barcelona attractions! With a lively underground movement and independent shops providing a more frugal alternative to bankruptcy, there really are fewer better places better to go on holiday than a romantic city break in Barcelona.