Eating Healthy in Barcelona3 min read
One of the great cities of the world, Barcelona is a feast for both the eyes and taste buds. An estimated 32 million people visit the city each year to walk the ancient streets, admire the Modernist architecture, soak in its culture and history, lay on the beaches, and taste the regional cuisine.
Fortunately, you do not need to spend a lot of money to eat well in Barcelona. Resist the temptation to settle for quick and cheap food like the local Telepizza or doner kebob outpost, because it’s not hard to stumble across delicious food while exploring the city.
Here are some healthy food options discovered during a recent visit to Barcelona. While this barely scratches the surface of the city’s myriad culinary offerings, it can serve as a starting point for those looking to eat healthy in Barcelona.
Patronize outstanding public markets
Barcelona’s best-known covered marketplace is Mercat de la Boqueria, centrally located along La Rambla boulevard. It is a massive market with a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, spices, sweets, and more that compete for your attention. Get some freshly squeezed juice near the entrance and take a leisurely stroll through the market, winding your way past nearly 300 vendors. There are several tapas bars within the market if you want to linger and soak in the sights, sounds, and smells of the market from a bar stool perch. Other markets in central Barcelona include Mercat de Santa Caterina near the Gothic Quarter and Mercat de la Llibertat in Gràcia. Take note that the markets are closed on Sundays.
Shop small in the neighborhood
While Mercat de la Boqueria and the larger public markets receive the lion’s share of attention, each neighborhood is studded with smaller markets that pack an impressive variety of fresh produce and healthy products for everyday needs. For example, The Farmers in El Raval, with its selection of veggies, bulk grains, and freshly prepared foods, aspires to be a place where agriculturalists, artisans, and consumers interact. During a recent visit, the sign on the door read, “At some point in your life you’ll need a doctor or a lawyer. You need a farmer three times a day!” For a more upscale option, visit one of eight Woki Organic Market locations throughout central Barcelona with made-to-order salads and sandwiches, healthy snacks, and vegetarian staples ranging from tofu to kefir to kombucha.
Seek out prepared foods
You don’t need to commit to a lengthy meal to enjoy great food in Barcelona. As is the case with many metropolitan cities, Barcelona does a good job of filling the gap between cheap fast food and fancy sit-down meals with a variety of hip cafes and eateries where you can order gourmet but inexpensive food at the counter. One of the best lunch finds on a recent trip was The Pan’s Club, located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter near the Picasso Museum. The lunch offering included zucchini pasta, squash salad, lentils, and marinated eggplant — all available to mix and match and pair alongside homemade quiche.
Sample a taste of Spain
If you’re looking to have a nice meal out without breaking the bank, consider El Nacional, one of Barcelona’s newer culinary gems. Opened in 2014, El Nacional is a food palace that features four different dining experiences within a tastefully restored 19th century industrial building that had most recently served as a parking garage. There are four bars, as well as four restaurants — one each dedicated to serving meat, fish, tapas, and delicatessen options — serving traditional recipes from the Iberian Peninsula. The multi-space dining area has capacity for 700 people and a lively crowd on a busy night can add warmth to the cavernous space.