As you walk around the city looking for food you may find yourself thinking of the old Catalan proverb: Barcelona és bona si la bossa sona (Barcelona is only good if you’ve got money).
But wait! There’s cheap food out there.
In fact, in my list of the best tapas in Barcelona I’m going to include 8 places where you’ll get free tapas just for ordering yourself a well-deserved beer at the end of a day of sightseeing.
Let’s dig in.
The Best Tapas in Barcelona
This historic Barcelona tapas bar is known for two things: exceptional tapas and authentic atmosphere. If you’re really looking for that local place where it looks like time has stopped this is it.
On the surface it may look a bit run down but that’s what this is: a cheap working class bar with €2.00 glasses of wine and all the traditional tapas classics like patatas bravas, spicy sausages, and pickled anchovies.
Try the house vermouth and the bacalao: a salted, dried, and re-hydrated cod dish.
This chaotic and messy bar may be rammed with people from opening to close, but for good reason. What stands out here is how such quality can be achieved with such a varied tapas menus. From the Serrano ham to the eggplant with honey to the bombas you’re in good hands.
The sangria here is excellent and if you’re a lover of fresh seafood you’ll be in heaven: go for the cuttlefish.
This is a great weekend snack and drink spot near the Picasso Museum. The small and hip restaurant with its inviting wooden walls also includes a lovely terrace for some al fresco dining.
Grabbing two of their homemade vermouths, a little bowl of olives, and a meat and cheese platter is how locals eat in Barcelona. The pan con tomate and albondigas (meatballs) also top notch. Beer drinkers will be happy that this tapas bar is one of the only ones serving craft beer.
Another historic local that brings tourists and locals together like few other places. Part of the fun is nudging your way through the boisterous crowds to order your tapas at the bar.
Here there are no seats – so grab your food and a sparking white (called ‘El Xampanyet’) and get to know your neighbour. The place opened in 1929 and hasn’t stopped serving since. One of the best tapas bars in Barcelona, period.
La Cova Fumada
This little hole in the wall place packs a punch with a capital ‘P’. From the outside you wouldn’t know it’s a Barcelona tapas institution. They don’t even have a sign, but no bother. The family has been serving for 3 generations, and they know it’s the food that counts!
The famous tapas dish here are the bombas, a type of crispy potato ball stuffed with ground meat and topped with a spicy sauce. The beef cheeks are also to die for while the seafood, being in the fisherman’s neighbourhood is super fresh.
Another great seafood option right near the beach.
Can Paixano (La Xampanyeria)
They might not be the best tapas in Barcelona but they’re the cheapest and funnest. This rammed bar is essentially a fast food joint churning out small tapas plates made from classics like butifarra sausage, chorizo, and all sorts of local cheeses and cold cuts.
Nobody dares step in the place without getting a bottle of their sparkling homemade rose – it’ll only set you back about €4.00. This is the ultimate day drunk social spot for meeting tourists.
The Best Free Tapas in Barcelona
A bit of a hidden gem in Gracia that focuses on only two things: beer and tapas. Order even the smallest €1.80 beer and you’ll get free patatas bravas (fried potato wedges in a spicy sauce), a tasty tortilla, Serrano ham, chorizo sausage and more.
The only problem is it gets a bit crowded, but the atmosphere is decidedly local and you won’t complain because there’s free food! The ensaladilla Rusa (a kind of potato, vegetable, and mayonnaise salad) is really delicious.
The owner Pilar speaks English and is as friendly as they come – but cash only!
Here you’ll find free tapas like croquettes and empanadillas served just like in Madrid. The tradition of cubo de birras con racion (a bucket of beers with a plate of food) lives on here and the prices are low! It’s also right by the beach.
A no-nonsense bar. Free tapas with your drink and large portions reign supreme and keep the traditions of the Spanish region of Galicia alive and well here. The pulpo a la gallega (octopus, potatoes, paprika, and rock salt) is a great example.
This was recommended to me by a taxi driver who said all his colleagues go here for a quick bite. Make sure you book in advance or you’ll be sitting at the bar.
Good, cheap, and friendly is the name of the game at my go-to Barcelona free tapas place. This luminous and modern Spanish bar really keeps tradition alive. They’ll give you a homemade tapa of your choice from the bar with any purchase of a beer, wine, or vermouth.
I like hitting this place up in the peak of summer for the chilled €1.00 white wine. A great place to just sit outside in the square and watch the neighbourhood come alive in the evening.
El Moll de Rebaix
The locals keep saying that Barceloneta is gradually losing its soul as the authentic locale is replaced by chains or tourist traps – this is a massive tapas exception.
The fresh produce, warm atmosphere, and old school decor add up to a humble and charming bar run by two brothers who value customer service. Try the pimientos de padron con migas (an Andalusian classic with peppers, chorizo and breadcrumbs).
This Barcelona tapas bar is hidden on a small winding street in the Raval. It may not be the best or the most fun but finding another terrace in the Raval which serves free tapas with your drink? Good luck!
What stands out here are the massive portion sizes of the mains – bring an appetite. This is also a great tapas bar to check out some South American specialties, particularly Chilean dishes.
I recommend the homemade ham croquettes.
La Xula Taperia
The combination of Madrid-style free tapas with every drink and the creativity of a modern Barcelona tapas joint is just lethal. So get there in the early afternoon, grab a draught beer, and let the chefs do the rest.
Aside from the free tapas this place is up there in the top restaurants in Barcelona for their creative Mediterranean dishes like cannelloni with butifarra sausage and mushrooms, duck breast carpaccio, and fried eggplant with foie gras foam.
Every list needs a wildcard and for this one we’re going two countries over to Italy. If you’re looking for free tapas with a drink but you want a cocktail instead of beer then look no further than this stylish Milanese-style aperitivo place.
In the late afternoon you’ll have your pick from the buffet-style setup with a selection of pastas, meats, cheeses, hummus, and Basque-style pintxos. There’s probably no greater food selection in the list.
Get More Free Stuff in the Comments Below
I’ve given you my list of where to get free tapas in Barcelona but that’s just the beginning! Any question you have regarding your Barcelona holiday will be answered by me personally in the comments below.
Also, if you’re dying to share your tapas experience don’t be shy! The more opinions the better.
And don’t be afraid to join the Barcelona tapas discussion in my new Facebook group called I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, chat with fellow travelers, and more – anything goes!
Happy eating 🙂