As an on and off vegetarian myself with a meat loving hubby, I know how much research goes into finding good vegetarian restaurants while on holidays. During my walking tours in Barcelona I always get asked for recommendations for places to eat so let me, as a local, guide you through the veggie scene in the city.
This city has a large range of vegetarian restaurants. You certainly won’t be short of options when researching. Having sampled quite a few myself, here is a list of my top 5.
Top 5 vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona:
Nice decor, freshly displayed ingredients and a huge variety of options. It breaks the mould of incense smelling interiors that serve bland canteen world food. These Spanish influenced dishes are delicious and do not rely too heavily on tofu or seitan. The restaurant is clean and atmospheric with professional staff. If you are more than 4 you can try their great tasting menu.
It has a great value lunch time buffet. At night, the ambience is very pleasant and they do some good evening time deals. Although not usually a seitan fan, the one here is the best I have ever tried. Service can be a bit slow.
This sweet little vegetarian is located in my neighbourhood and is run by a collective of friends which ensures that extra friendly service. A lot of love is put into their home cooking with fresh ingredients. They do a great lunchtime deal of 3 courses, including a drink, at a super cheap price.
Veg World India
This Indian restaurant is located in the very trendy neighbourhood of Gràcia and has a huge option of vegan dishes. They actually use a clay oven which gives a great flavour to the vegetables (their tandoori paneer is just fabulous). They also serve masala dosas which make a great main course. Be aware that the taste has been adjusted to the Spanish palette so, if you like your food spicy, insist a lot.
I couldn’t help mentioning this simply because their falafels are sooooo good. This is a fast food style place so you will have to stand at the bar to eat your food. Their salad bar is yummy and you can keep topping up your pita here free of charge.
If visiting with meat loving friends who do not want to eat vegetarian, there are some great Syrian and Lebanese restaurants that offer great meat and vegetarian dishes. Ugarit, although it has expanded to a few locations, has been maintaining the quality since I tried it for the first time many years ago.
If you are interested in sticking with Catalan cuisine, I would search out modern style restaurants that might include more vegetarian options. Orígens is one that would spring to mind. Traditional establishments would offer very little variety and you would have to explain that vegetarians do not eat chicken or fish as well as no red meat!
Traditional vegetarian tapas in Barcelona:
At some point of your holiday, you might find that perfect outdoor terrace of a traditional tapas bar. And, if you decide with a glass of wine in hand, to share a nibble with friends, let me tell you about your most likely options:
- Patates braves. Fried cubes of potatoes with a spicy sauce on top
- Pebrots de Padrón. Small fried peppers sprinkled with rock salt
- Truita (omelette). Tortilla de patata is the most traditional (potatoes and onions) but sometimes you can get espinacs (spinach) or, my favourite, carbassó (courgette/zuchini)
- Formatges. Selection of local cheeses
- Croquetes (croquettes). Traditionally stuffed with meat in Catalonia but you can also find them with ceps (mushrooms) or espinacs (spinach)
- Escalivada. Grilled red peppers and aubergines/eggplants oven roasted until soft and served cold or hot in olive oil. Sometimes they include anchovies so be sure you check
- Xampinyons al ajillo. Mushrooms cooked in a lot of olive oil and garlic served in a terracotta dish
- Carxofes fregides. Fried sliced artichokes
Before you head off, check Happy Cow Barcelona which is a great site for vegetarian restaurants, listing reviews of over 90 different venues in the city. Happy veggie visit!
Photograph by Jessica Spengler
Ann Marie Brannigan
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