Barcelona Top 5 Cheap Eats

What’s that restaurant called?
A curious thing about living in Barcelona is that no one ever remembers the names of the restaurants in which they have eaten. A typical conversation might go like this:
“We ate at this really great Indian place last night.”
“Cool. We’ve been looking for good Indian food. What’s the place called?”
“Ummmm… actually, I don’t remember. That’s so weird, too, because it was just last night.”
“No worries. Where is it? What’s the closest intersection?”
“Well, it’s in the Raval. You turn right after Plaza Catalunya. Maybe it’s the 4th or 5th street. I’m not sure… but it’s right after a church…”

I know you think I am exaggerating but, honestly, I am not. The “I don’t remember the name or address of that restaurant” situation is serious enough that all restaurants display business cards complete with their name, address, metro stop(s) and a tiny map so that you can make your way back again. Be warned! Get a card!

Eating Affordably in Gaudi City
Barcelona is an expensive city. Anyone who says differently hasn’t been here since before the Olympics. The good news is that you can eat out well (and cheaply) in Barcelona by doing a little homework.

Here are five Barcelona restaurants where you can eat for under 15 Euros.

  1. Can Punyetes
    The first time I went to Can Punyetes I walked with friends and had absolutely no idea where we were. When I asked them the name, they told me “the toast place.” So that’s how I met Can Punyetes. When they said toast they meant bread toasted with something wonderful on top: jamon Iberico (ham), queso de cabra (goat cheese) or pimienta negra (green peppers). On my first visit, I thought there was only one toast place but there are actually two in Barcelona and the second is just a couple of blocks from my favourite plaza, Rius i Taulet. The Can Punyetes in Gracia is the least pretentious place to eat in all of Barcelona. For example, when you order fruit for dessert, they bring you a whole fruit. The waiter will place an orange on the table in front of you. No bowl of delicate orange slices… not even an orange on a dessert plate. Just the orange. While several of my friends remain faithful to the tostada, I prefer the grilled chicken and baked potato with alioli – a powerful garlic sauce that takes no prisoners. Remember that in Catalunya, if you want vegetables with your meal, order them. They won’t come with your entree. The waiters at Can Punyetes are tolerant of foreigners and, over time, downright friendly.
    Getting There: Carrer Francesc Giner, 8-10. Neighbourhood: Gracia. Metro: Diagonal.

  2. El Laurel
    We recently went, for the first time, to watch a movie at Cinema Renoir Floridablanca on a street called, what else, Florida Blanca. After witnessing Indiana Jones save the world (again), we went across the street to a restaurant which is a tried and true favourite of a good friend. She said it was all about the empanadas. As DP and I have both lived in South America and have eaten empanadas in Colombia, Ecuador and Chile, we were dizzy with anticipation. The restaurant/bar was long and narrow, filled with smoke and so packed we could hardly navigate our way through to the back room. In Barcelona, this usually means that the place is GREAT. It was a Saturday night and the wait was about 20 minutes which is not at all bad. We ordered four different kinds of empanadas (at two Euros each, they were a steal), two big salads with nuts and goat cheese and an order of chicken with four cheeses to share. Everything was cooked to perfection. The bill for six of us came to 60 Euros. Woo hoo! We have decided to go the movies at Floridablanca more often… and to then hop across the street for empanadas at el Laurel.
    Getting There: Carrer Floridablanca 140. Neighbourhood: Sant Antoni. Metro: Universitat. Telephone: 93 325 62 92

  3. Bar-Restaurante Rodrigo
    This popular budget restaurant is located beside the Basilica Maria del Mar in the Borne neighbourhood. It is a Catalan version of the greasy spoon but what a wonderful spoon it is. This is a family owned place that serves traditional Catalan food including tapas. You can sit at a table or stand at the bar where you will pay less for your food and drink. This is true of most of Europe. My favourite meal at Rodrigos is pinxo and fried eggs. Make the owner laugh and he’ll always take good care of you. When you are done your meal, you should definitely check out the Basilica!
    Getting There: Carrer Argenteria, 67. Neighbourhood: El Borne. Metro: Jaume 1. Telephone: 93 310 78 14

  4. La Pizza
    On Wednesday nights, I tutor late after school and by the time I get home around 8:30, the evening is pretty well shot. So it’s pizza night. DP goes down to our favourite little pizza joint for authentic, thin crust pizza made by two Italian guys who now call Barcelona home. The pizza I love best is called the “Calabacin” and is made with mozzarella, goat cheese and zucchini. There are just a couple of tables so most people take their pizza to go. Two medium sized pizzas cost us 14 Euros.
    Getting There: Carrer Penedès, 9. Neighbourhood: Gracia. Metro: Fontana (L3), Diagonal (L3)(L5).

  5. Cerveceria Catalana
    This is my favourite tapas restaurant in Barcelona and the place I first tasted sangria made with cava which is like a Spanish champagne (just don’t call it champagne… your waiter’s head might explode). When we meet friends at the Cerveceria, we order a number of platos and share them. Here’s a typical order for six people:
    2 order of patatas bravas
    a plate of manchego cheese
    2 orders of pan con tomate (bread with tomato and garlic)
    an order of pimientos padrones (small green peppers with sea salt)
    a plate of Spanish tortilla (eggs with onions and potatoes.. more like quiche without the pie shell)
    a plate of jamon Iberico
    an order (or two) of escalivada with goat cheese
    When we’re feeling nostalgic for all things North American, we order the gourmet mini-hamburguesas (min-hamburgers) with caramelized onions.
    For dessert we share a triple decadence: chocolate cake, lemon cake and Santiago cake.
    Doesn’t that make you want to eat there right now? Me too! (Please note that this is our big splurge at 20 Euros per person).
    Getting There: Carrer Mallorca, 236. Neighbourhood: Eixample. Metro: Diagonal or Provenca. Telephone: 932160368
    Photo: Courtesy of Shoko via Flickr

Tell us about your favourite Barcelona eateries. (We’re all taste buds!)

6 comments

  1. Too bad I didn't have your list last year when we visited Barcelona! My student-friend living in Madrid definitely knew her food there but when we visited Barcelona, it was a different story. We did eat one memorable meal on the patio in Plaza Real but I couldn't tell you the name of the place or what I ate. I do remember it was worth the price. If ever in Madrid and have a hankering for upscale California cuisine, try Memento. Pricey, but oh so worth it. They also make a potent fruity, slushy cocktail w/vodka and raspberries and other fun fresh fruit that's one of the best drinks I've ever tasted!http://www.restaurantememento.comHappy eating.

  2. Thanks for this – you have named the Gracia restaurant I was trying to remember for a colleague (the "toast" place) – actually I DID have a card for it but had convinced myself it was not the place I was thinking of. We tourists would be lost without our local experts (heroes!) CJ

  3. @KikiI am sorry to hear that you did not have memorable meals in Barcelona. The food here is amazing but with so many restaurants (and some of them just mediocre) you could end up missing out on the best that Barcelona has to offer.Thanks for the Madrid recommendation. I will put Memento on my list for our next visit.@CJCan Punyetes, right? It's the craziest name to try to remember if you don't speak Catalan. The ex-pats at my school call it "the toast place". DP and I have actually had the chicken breast and alioli as take-out a couple of times this spring; please note that this is not a very Spanish thing to do 🙂

  4. Hi ! I’ve been many times in Cerveseria Catalana, a high quality restaurant. In addition you must go to La Tramoia, best beef ever tried!

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