Discover the Tapas Culture in Barcelona

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In Barcelona (and, in fact, all over Spain), dining is virtually an art form; meals are usually drawn out, relaxed affairs and are the perfect opportunity to socialise. Locals often gather at outdoor cafes to while away an hour or two over a delectable lunch or dinner with family and friends. If you enjoy a relaxed lifestyle and have booked in to one of the delightful Barcelona luxury hotels, you too can take part in this tradition. Tapas are the most popular type of plate – small bites that are shared by all so everyone can sample several dishes at once in a relaxed setting. Many feature local ingredients and Spanish staples and are perfect for a light lunch or a more elaborate dinner.

What to expect on the menu

Tapas can run the gamut of selections of vegetables, beef, pork, chicken and seafood. Most plates have enough bites for a few people and the Spaniards have perfected the art of snacking; they’ll often have a tapa or two with every drink or before a larger meal. Depending on the region, the selections can vary; for instance, within the restaurants of many Barcelona luxury hotels seafood is the star, with the city’s close proximity to the ocean. Inland, menu items such as beef cheeks, pork ribs and even lamb are often the highlights. Almost all tapas restaurants will feature potatoes – usually in the form of a salad with mayonnaise, or as ‘patatas bravas’, similar to home fries and drizzled with a spicy ketchup.

What time is mealtime?

When dining out Spain, meals tend to be on a different time schedule than you might be used to at home. Lunches can last well over an hour and may be followed by a resting period or a walk, even among city workers. Because of this downtime, days are stretched out and dinner comes much later, sometimes well after dark. Families partake in this tradition as well, with children eating and staying up later. However, you can still get into popular restaurants and beat the later crowd if you prefer to stay on your regular schedule.

Best city tapas restaurants

It’s not hard to get delightfully lost among the countless, delicious restaurants found around the Barcelona luxury hotels, or you can head downtown or along the coast, too. For a great introduction to classic tapas try La Cova Fumada – with such delights as traditional marinated sardines or fried artichokes. For an even more local feel, stroll down the street to the sound of Catalan music and arrive at Roure, a venue decked out in football memorabilia and frequented by city residents. Order a few clay dishes of cured sausage or lunch-sized paella to share. A more upscale affair can be explored at Tapeo – the shared plates of stuffed olives and grilled calamari make for an elegant and delicious experience.

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