Our family likes to eat. When we vacay, there is a lot of discussion around eating–where to eat, when to eat, looking up reviews for places, walking out when the mood doesn’t feel right (the kids love that part), etc. There are many perks to living in Germany, but great food is not one of them. Traveling to new cities gives us an opportunity to not only try the local cuisine, but seek out the things we miss from home—seafood, spicy food, ethnic food (anything that’s not Germany sausage).
Within a few days into Spanish food, we tire of sausage, olives, potatoes, and ham, but Barcelona, luckily, offers so much more. It is a foodie culture, and we were happy to be back with a full variety of fantastic things to eat.
Restaurant timings can be a challenge. We found many “breakfast” places don’t open until 10 am. Lunch is served until late, but real dinner doesn’t begin until 7:30 or 8 pm. You can eat tapas midday and make that a meal unless your kids are really hungry and then that will add up quickly. If you’re walking around and sightseeing, a hungry bunch of teens at 5:30 or 6 pm may force you to find food to curb their hangry ways.
Of course, you will need to try tapas. While visiting, we tried three different places, and they were all very different. Tapas are small plates of food. For a family of four or five with teenagers to fill up, it will cost you so make sure you’re not starving when you sit down. Tosca, across from the Palau de la Música, was the most traditional. With olives, cheese/meat platter, bread, and some patatas bravas we were all pretty pleasantly full . . . . after a big lunch earlier that day.
My favorite place was Somorrostro, which was closer to the beach area. Tucked away in a side street the food is all locally sourced, including from their own garden. While they have tapas-sized portions, the food has a wonderful “foodie flair” to it. Everything was unbelievable. Unfortunately, we were starving when we got there so we just kept ordering food and the bill ended up more than we had planned. But it was worth it.
Related: 5 Days in Barcelona with Teens
We had tried to get into Lolea earlier in the week, and when we finally made a reservation, this was a delightful little spot in the Gothic Quarter. With only a few tables, I would recommend you plan ahead. Their bottle their own sangria and the bright red and white polka dots just make the place so fun. The tapas were well priced and delicious.
Our apartment happened to right next to Barcelona’s Chinatown. Asian food is a difficult find, even in Frankfurt, so our first night we dropped in at Chen Ji, right across from our apartment for crispy duck and bowls of noodles for less than 10 euros a person. Most of the restaurants were packed every evening and the upside is they are open early enough for hungry teens.
When your brood gets tired of tapas and craves a burger, Bar Centro is fantastic and open before 8 pm. We love burgers and could eat them at least every week. In fact, we loved this place so much, we went twice. They have a variety of huge burgers to curb any teenage appetite and an assortment of craft brews for mom and dad.
Mercat de la Boqueria
The Mercat de la Boqueria should certainly be on the list to visit, but if this one feels too busy, there are several around the city to visit. Markets like this one are a great place to get perspective on the food culture and get variety. I know there are kids (even teens) who are picky eaters and markets give an excuse to try new things and see exactly what you’ll be eating. My kids love the fresh juices most of all, as well as looking at the all the sweets. Markets are great places to pick up little gifts and snacks for along the way.
While we were there, we ate breakfast at Pinotxo. Lured over by the older gentleman pointing to the warm Xuixo pastries — a Catalan pastry that is lightly fried and sugared and filled with some wonderful kind of custard. Another customer was enjoying one, and we asked him what he thought. His response: It’s the best thing you’ll ever eat. You must have one.
We ordered four.
Looking for a place for lunch after our CrossFit working, Picnic, a tiny little place you might miss, on the corner near the Arc de Triomf reminded us of an Austin, Texas, brunch restaurant. Tacos, short ribs, huevos rancheros, fried chicken sandwich: We hit the food jackpot. Large portions after a hard workout. It’s hard to find anything like this in Germany. This little place is a gem, but prepare to be seated close to your neighbors.