Food is such a huge part of life in Barcelona and eating routines really do dictate the timetable of this city. Let me tell you about local eating habits and times so you can get the best out of your culinary experience during your visit.
Breakfast – 8 am to 10:30 am
This is quite a light affair consisting of a coffee or a cocoa drink accompanied with plain biscuits or cake. In the mornings, cafes and bars offer a combined deal of coffee and pastry at a great price. At this early hour you will be given café amb llet (a machine coffee with hot milk). You can ask for a solo (expresso) or a tallat (machiatto), although these beverages are traditionally taken after dessert at the large midday meals. For the more healthy ones, the front stands at the Boqueria market serve up great fruit salads for take away at unbeatable prices.
Media mañana – 11 am to 12:30 pm
Some people might decide on having a little snack to keep them going before lunch. In bars sometimes they have special offers of a mini entrepà (a small filled baguette) and a canyita (a tiny glass of beer) for very little money. What a great option for snacking in between sightseeing.
Lunch – 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm
These are the hours when the main meal of the day is eaten. On weekdays, restaurants offer set 3 course meals, including drinks, at very reasonable prices. You need to ask for Menú del Dia and maybe a little help with the translation. Dishes change every day and most places will only print up a photocopy in Catalan or Spanish. Beware that after a huge feed with wine you might roll over and decide to take a siesta like I often do! Don’t worry too much. Things run later here and museums can stay open until around 8pm so you’ll be able to fit in both.
Merienda – 5 pm to 6:30 pm
If adopting local eating times, you will probably need a quick snack to keep you going. This might be an ideal time to try some delicious chocolate and churros (a cup of thick drinking chocolate with fried fingers of batter for dipping). To go the Catalan way, you can order ensaimadas (Mallorcan pastry) or melindros (lady fingers) to dip into your hot chocolate. Churros establishments close during lunch and open their doors in the evening around 5-5:30 pm. The quaint Granja Viader, over 100 years old, is the most traditional one here in Barcelona.
Dinner – 9 pm to 11:30 pm
Evening meals are taken quite late here. Don’t distress if you are an early eater as many restaurants have adapted quite well to visitors, opening their doors before hand. Traditionally, portions consumed at this late hour are not as big as at lunch time. While starters, mains and deserts are available, you won’t find those 3 course bargains that are on offer in the afternoons. Sometimes locals chill out on terraces with friends over a beverage and some tapas. This might be the ideal time to give those famed small plates of food a go. I know that this is one of my favourite ways of eating in Barcelona!
Want to learn more about learn about Barcelona? You can join us on one of our award-winning Free Walking Tours or book a Private Tour with some of the best guides in the city. A great activity to wet up your appetite for lunch or dinner.
Photograph by Andrew E. Larsen
Hola Anne-Marie! Granja M Viader is my favourite place for chocolate and other snacks! It took me 2 trips to Barcelona to finally find it open. I’ve been told that they ‘invented’ Caocaolat (the cold chocolate milk drink) but who knows? Thanks for another great article!
Ann-Marie Brannigan says
Thanks Gigis_mum. You are right. Cacaolat was invented by the great uncle of Granja Viader’s current owner. I love this place because of their philosophy: small company that has been in the same family for 4 generations. The great hot chocolate also helps, I must admit ;-).
Im not sure if Im too far from the city center – but Im getting a weird vibe from the local restaurants and eateries. Is this a Tuesday thing? Trying to get “dinner” or anything really at 9:30 pm…
Some restaurants are closed on Monday and Sunday evening but you won’t have any problem finding a restaurant opened on a Tuesday at 9.30pm. Which area are you staying in?
study abroad scholarships says
Thanks For Sharing Its Very Informative For Me
Ann Marie Brannigan says
No problem. The eating timetable in Spain can be quite confusing so I am glad this helped knowing when to eat in Barcelona. You’ll probably also find helpful these posts about food in the city:
– Traditional Catalan food
– Best restaurants for paella in Barcelona