Tapas are an attraction for gourmet and tourists who, without any doubt, will taste some of them during their stay in Barcelona. But why are these small plates so popular? Where do they come from? Where to find the best tapas in Barcelona? Here you can discover the history of tapas as well as our selection of the best dishes and restaurants in the Catalan capital city if you want to enjoy tapas!
The origin of tapas
First of all, tapas are small, typical Spanish appetizers which are served cold or hot. It comes from the verb “tapar” in Spanish which means “cover”.
The legend says that during the XIX century, an inn-keeper in Andalusia used to cover glasses with a slice of sausage, bread or cheese to prevent insects from falling into the drink. Afterwards, bartenders in the region followed the trend and served their customers a slice of chorizo or cheese with every consumption.
Those small slices were no longer used to cover glasses but were eaten by clients: tapas were created and spread to the whole country.
Tapas, a part of the Catalan culture
Nowadays, there is a wide variety of them, depending on the region, the local products and customers’ taste. In big tourist cities such as Barcelona or Madrid, some restaurants are even specialized in tapas which has become a complete business. Through the years, the tapas industry has become so important that it has evolved in some sophisticated cuisine. Today you can easily find some gourmet tapas as well as classic dishes depending on what you are looking for. There is even a National Tapas Competition in Valladolid every year where many culinary schools from the world come to the city to compete the best tapas concept. Today, tapas are supposed to be shared between guests and should promote conversation as a Spanish tradition.
The composition of tapas has largely evolved through time. Indeed, different influences, countries and products have been brought to Spain during the history of the country. Olives were brought by Romans during the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula; almonds, spcies and citrus fruits were brought by North African moors. Tomatoes, peppers, corn and potatoes were brought from the United States. Other products came to Spain and were used for the preparation of tapas. Therefore, tapas are influenced by several cultures.
In Barcelona, tapas are part of the Catalan culture. In every restaurants, you can find tapas as entries or as complete dishes. Some restaurants are specialized in tapas and offer different styles and derivatives with new concepts. Many mediterranean products are used with sea food such as gambas, shrimp, mussels, squid, octopus and fishes.
The most popular dishes you can find in Barcelona
- Tortilla - Spanish potato omelette
- Patatas Bravas - Grilled potatoes with hot brava sauce
- Jamón Ibérico - Slices of Iberic ham with typical cheese
- Pan con tomate - bread slice with tomato and garlic
- Pimientos de Padrón - red and green pepper with olive oil
- Anchoas maceradas - macerated anchovy
- Croquetas - ham or chicken croquettes
- Pulpitos - Small octopus or tentacles with garlic and chive sauce
- Chipirones - Fried squid rings
- Gambas a la plancha - grilled prawns with mayonnaise and garlic sauce
- Mejillones - marinated mussels with vegetables sauce
Best tapas restaurants in Barcelona
- Quimet & Quimet - Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25
- La Cova Fumada - Carrer Baluard, 56
- Els Sortidors del Parlament - Carrer Parlament, 51
- Taller de Tapas - Rambla de Catalunya, 49-51
- Bar del Pla - Carrer Montcada, 2
- Tapas 24 - Carrer Diputació, 269
- El Quim de la Boqueria - Rambla de Catalunya, 91
- Tickets - Avinguda Paral·lel, 164
- Tossa - Carrer de Nàpols, 291
- Cal Pep - Plaça de les Olles, 8