The Best Cheap Eats In Barcelona

Reach tapa nirvana at these culinary hot spots

Falling in love with Barcelona is easy; it's deciding where to eat that's hard. So we ask Marwa Preston, the Barcelona-based founder of Wanderbeak, for her input. Preston leads travelers through tapas joints and Michelin-star temples alike, but her favorite spots are bustling places where you can get tasty eats that won't break the bank. Here, her top five.

Paradiso / Pastrami Bar

Craft cocktails and smoked sandwiches collide at this El Born hybrid. Grab a seat at Paradiso, the hidden speakeasy, and order cocktails served in vessels ranging from teacups to teakettles. Then, order the best sandwich in Barcelona at Pastrami Bar. "I love the famous pastrami sandwich, but you have to try the slow-cooked pork with kimchi sandwich or smoked mackerel with beetroot sandwich, too," Preston says. "They even smoke their own butter!" Expect to spend $20 for both a cocktail and a sandwich.


Alaire is perched on the eighth floor of Hotel Condes de Barcelona; you can dine alfresco at this terrace restaurant while enjoying a view of La Pedrera and the Sagrada Família. "I go to Alaire for drinks and small bites, like the mouthwatering tacos ($10 for three)," Preston says. "The atmosphere is lovely, the staff is always smiling and my favorite time to go is at sunset for live music."

Bar del Pla

Hidden within bustling El Born, Bar del Pla specializes in Catalan tapas and is beloved for its local, seasonal fare. It's one of the few restaurants that remains open throughout the afternoon (most others close for siesta), and you can dine at the take-out window or grab a seat at the bar. Best of all, a spread of tapas, wine and baked-from-scratch dessert will run you only $35. "Bar del Pla has the best squid-ink croquetas and grilled octopus in town," Preston says. "Order the beef cheeks for the most tender meat you will ever eat."


At Llamber, a restaurant set within a Spanish tavern in El Born, you can share a bunch of plates like Parmesan fondue with wild prawns and octopus, and mackerel topped with potato mousse and Spanish Gamonéu cheese. A full meal will cost you $40. "I celebrate most birthdays or special events here," Preston says. "But for dinner, I book in advance. It's a favorite spot for expats and locals alike." 

Blai 9

Blai Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with pintxos bars, offers the most delicious and budget-friendly way to eat well in Barcelona. Start at Blai 9, positioned in the heart of the action. Eat pintxos and drink beer or vermouth to your delight, saving the toothpicks to signify what you owe; each pintxo is around $1 to $2. "Go to Blai Street after 9 p.m.," Preston says. "The atmosphere is casual—it's really where the locals go."

Michaela Trimble is a nomadic travel writer and photographer previously based in New York. Follow her on the road on Instagram at @michaelatrimble.