Barcelona’s food culture is constantly evolving: tapas joints are now gastro bars; bistronomías (bistro-style restaurants) offer imaginative cooking at affordable prices; and Mediterrasians (which blend Mediterranean and Asian food) add exotic flavours.

Budget: The laid-back atmosphere makes bistronomía Embat a great place to linger. Try scallops with papada of pig and celery , €15.50, duck with warm pears and smoky aubergines, €10.10, and baked apples with lemon and vanilla ice-cream, €3.90. (

After a makeover and a menu revamp, Casa Delfin is back serving unpretentious Catalan classics. The lunch specials are unbeatable value for the trendy Born district, featuring hearty slow-roast lamb in mountain herbs, €9.50, suquet (Catalan fish stew), €10.80, and arroz caldoso (soupy rice), €6.50. (00 34 933 195 088)

Blowout: Designer dining at Moments, headed by Raül Balam, son of the Michelinstarred Carme Ruscalleda. Dishes such as tuna cheek with parsnip sponge cake make it like playtime for grown-ups. Tasting menu, €125. (

Budget: Gastro bar Cañete combines cool architectural lines with updated traditional dishes. It works. The place is full of locals tucking into tapas of cap i pota (literally, head and leg of pork stewed in wine), €2.75, albondigas con sepia (meatballs with cuttlefish), €5.50, or cochinillo (roast suckling pig), €5.75. (00 34 93 000 4484)

Chef Kenji worked in many of the city's Asian restaurants before setting up Can Kenji, his tapas riff on the Mediterrasian theme. Think shiitake and prawn albondigas €7.80, octopus buñuelos €6.80, and buey (ox meat) with lemon dashi, €7.80. (

Blowout: Tapioles 53 feels like a private dining club: no sign, just great food and convivial company. The five-course menu, €58, features dishes such as Iberian pork loin with black rice, and ice-cream bocadillos (sandwiches). (

Budget: Pint-sized Bar Zim scores highly among oenophiles for its meticulously sourced, small production, all-Spanish wines. With just 12 or so on the menu, each available by the glass, recent highlights include a voluptuous chardonnay from Seville and bright, herbaceous reds from Bierzo, from €1.95 a glass. (C/Dagueria 20, Barri Gòtic)

Barcelona seems an unlikely place to breed the ultimate gin and tonic, but Scotsman Mike Cruickshank's passion for his subject has seen his style emulated far and wide. Bar Xix offers around 30 different gins including a wintry sloe gin and tonic, €11. (

Blowout: Stylish, sexy, and with sensational sea views, the Eclipse Bar at Barcelona's sail-shaped W Hotel is the most spectacular place for drinks in the city. Check out a miyabi (fresh apples, pears and cinnamon over rum), €14. (

Budget: Banys Orientals is a beautifully restored 18th-century townhouse in the heart of the Born. Cosy yet elegant, little touches like fresh flowers by the bed add panache, doubles from €99.75. Big bonus: it's attached to Senyor Parellada - a pretty courtyard bistro serving excellent, old-school Catalan fare. (

Smack in the heart of the Barri Gòtic, Denit is an ultra-modern 36-room b&b with a gourmet coffee bar and generous breakfast, doubles from €99. It also offers packages with restaurant Petit Comitè, headed by Michelin-starred Fermì Puig. (

Blowout: New York loft-inspired Granados 83 has made food a feature. Restaurant 3 does a carte du jour Monday- Friday, while the Terraza Bar on the roof is good for new-wave tapas. Doubles from €180. (

Must do:
Budget: Sydney-style Federal Café has a communal table at its heart, a sunny roof terrace, all the papers and magazines, plus a fine cup of java to boot, €2. Breakfast is king here ranging from homemade muesli, €3, to gourmet egg dishes, from €6.50, but save room for the homemade cakes, jams and chutneys, from €3.50. (

Deli Shop has branches around town and sells products from all over the world, but it's the own-label goodies you want to take home. Stock up on its alioli, €4, romesco sauce, €4, and fig jam, €4.90. (Passatge Garrofers, 14, Travessera de Gràcia, 141 & Mallorca, 241)

Blowout: Stroll among the piles of fruit and vegetables and spectacular fish and seafood stands at must-visit La Boqueria market. Fill your bag with pata negra jamón ibérico, from €15 for 100g, and anchovies from L'Escala, €5.90 for 50g. (

Tara Stevens is a Barcelona-based food writer. She blogs about food for Barcelona Metropolitan (


The article 'A budget and blowout guide to Barcelona' was published in partnership with Olive magazine.