Time for tapas: Barcelona's best late-night spots

An illustration of various people eating at a table.

Once a simple bar snack, tapas has been elevated to a gourmet dining experience of its own. Here’s our bite-size guide to Barcelona’s tastiest spots

By Katie Jennings   Saturday 2 February, 2019

Lemon juice being squeezed onto deep fried squid.
Meat tapas on a white plate.
Great for groups
For those drawn-out evenings with friends, La Pepita hits the spot. With an atmosphere more reminiscent of a private dinner party than a restaurant, diners chatter amid a mix of grafftied walls, vintage French art and strings of hanging garlic. Plates such as seabass with strawberries or citrus and coriander mash are lush and abundant – best accompanied with a bottle of wine. Equally atmospheric is the on-point Sant Antoni spot, Lolita Taperia. While the decor has the feel of a cool fast food joint, the dishes are anything but basic. Try the salmon toast in a slick of truffled honey or the Asian-style tuna loin, before indulging in a plate of Lolita’s special chicken dippers – coated in a knobbly batter of fried potatoes. For larger parties, ChichaLimona is a roomier option and offers group menus. Start at the bar with salty scallops and spicy olives, before savouring a selection of South American-inspired tapas beneath the festoon lighting of the main restaurant. Try to drop in on a Thursday for live music and local DJs. 
A plate of carpaccio.
A mushroom-based tapas dish in a ceramic bowl.
Date nights
Take advantage of Barcelona’s dinkier dining rooms and make it a meal for two. Amid the tourist-trap pintxos bars of Calle Blai, you’ll find Malamén (+34 932 52 77 63) – a Great Gatsby-esque enclave of dark leather and gold fittings. Tables are high, tapas are modern and service is excellent. Alternatively, candlelit bistro Elsa y Fred takes diners on a journey through classics such as patatas bravas and chicken croquetas to boundary pushing plates of squid doughnuts and cocoa-dusted foie gras. But you can’t visit Barcelona without ticking off an Adrià. The low-ceilinged snug of Bodega 1900 is one of a clutch of eateries by the el Bulli brothers and serves old-school, world class Catalan food. Feast on buttery jamon iberico and slivers of smoked mackerel, accompanied by el Bulli’s renowned liquid olives.
The entrance to a restaurant called Canete.
A prawn-based tapas in a bowl.
Flying solo
Unlike other restaurants, you are unlikely to feel alone in a tapas bar and more likely to skip any queues, by filling up single seats. Roll off a flight into the casual Bar del Pla for an instant injection of traditional Catalan dining. Food is rustic yet refined, with squid ink croquettes and crispy oxtail inviting unrestrained plate licking. Or try the foodies’ favourite Cañete, where you can sit at the bar amid the noise and bright lights to enjoy the theatre of the kitchen behind. Plates are seasonal, light and visually stunning with an emphasis on seafood. The Galician baby scallops and fried moray eel are exceptional. 

Illustration by Nanna Prieler
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