Catalans are social people, and food is often the central part of special occasions and random family gatherings.
So the thought of eating alone in Barcelona, which is famous for shared plates, can be scary. But if you think about it, eating alone is one of the best ways to focus solely and deeply on the amazing food.
Eventually, eating on your own gets even more fun when combined with immersing yourself in the city by people-watching, or by meeting locals and other travelers. Here are five easy ways to enjoy solo dining in Barcelona like a local.
1. Have breakfast at a local market bar
Follow the locals and do some shopping at the local food markets. Take a look at the wonderful fresh produce and observe the locals buying and chatting with the vendors.
With so much seeing, smelling and talking about food, you will definitely get hungry. Head to one of the market bars, which are especially popular during “second breakfast” time (around 10–11 a.m.).
Grab a seat at Bar Joan in the Mercat de Santa Caterina for a mini sandwich and combine it with a tallat (Catalan for cortado) or maybe even your first glass of cava of the day. Or try one of our favorite bars in the Boqueria market, like Pinotxo or El Quim de la Boqueria, for an authentic “esmorzar de forquilla,” literally, a “breakfast to be eaten with a fork.”
2. Fill your belly with a wonderful menú del día
Lunch is the most important meal of the day here in Barcelona, and you can’t get better than the menú del día. Even on workdays, people often head out to have this reasonably priced three-course meal, which is offered by many different restaurants. It is very common also for locals to eat a daily menu on their own as well, which is perfect for one person as there are no shared plates.
Try the amazingly affordable menú at Granja Mabel (€11) near the trendy Poblenou neighborhood, or check out the classic restaurant Agut (€11.80 if you sit at the bar, otherwise €15) in the Gothic Quarter or the old-school Can Lluis (€12) in Raval for some authentic Catalan food.
3. Choose your seat on the terrace or at the bar
If it’s warm outside (which it is most days), choose your seat on the terrace. This allows you to do some sunbathing but also to see things happening in the city around you. It is the perfect place to soak in the ambience and do some classic people watching.
If you prefer to sit indoors, grab a seat at the bar if you can. This is the best place to meet locals and other travelers sitting next to you, chat with the servers and maybe even chefs themselves who usually enjoy sharing their insider knowledge.
Bonus: The prices at the bar are often cheaper than at the tables, especially if you look at menús del día!
4. Say yes to solo dining with tapas!
This might sound surprising, as many people know the very central idea of tapas is that they are to be shared. This is often the case of course, but not a must-do at all.
To go for tapas alone, pick places that offer small portions of things like croquetes, bombes or pintxos. Order one thing after another and not everything at once so you don’t get too full.
At Bodega 1900, owned by Michelin-starred chef Albert Adrià, you can pay by the unit. This means, for example, that you can choose to taste just two anchovies instead of getting a full plate.
5. Make friends with other travelers on a food tour
The best way to dig into all Barcelona has to offer is to go on a food tour. You’ll try more different things in just a few hours than you ever could on your own. Plus, you’ll learn precious insider knowledge and meet other travelers, with whom you can enjoy the food together.
At Devour, we offer award-winning foodie experiences, where we dive into the local culture. From daytime market and bakery visits, to our evening Gourmet Tapas & Wine experience, to tapas crawls in less touristy neighborhoods, we have everything you need to have an unforgettable experience in Barcelona.
For Hannah, every delicious food tastes even better if she knows its history. So for her thesis she analyzed a medieval Catalan cookbook, which hooked her on Catalonia’s cuisine—so much that she moved to Barcelona shortly after. She loves the product variety in Spain and can tell you historical fun facts about many different ingredients. Find some here: @cuisinehistory.