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The Quest for Top Barbecued Bites in Barcelona ∼ Calçots and Botifarras


From craft beer to wine and tapas, show cooking to Michelin starred exquisiteness, Barcelona is known as one of the world’s trendiest, most innovative cities in terms of its culture and gastronomy. Fervent foodies visiting for a few days always give into temptations such as the esqueixada (salted cod platter served with tomatoes, onions, and quality olive oil) or escalivada (grilled eggplant and red peppers served over a toasted baguette with lashings of quality olive oil, garlic, and salt), but lovers of all things smokey be advised: Barcelona is one of the best cities in Spain to enjoy barbecued temptations.

A Traditional Catalonian Temptation ∼ calçotada

One of Cataluña’s most famous barbecued delights is centred not on meat, but rather, on a special onion called calçotada, barbecued to juicy perfection and made with a specific variety known as cebolla tardía de Lérida (late growing onion of Lérida). More than just a dish, it is a revered tradition for Catalonian families. Those lucky enough to live in rural areas often grow their own calçots, which are known for their buttery tenderness when grilled.

Calçots are barbecued using wood from nearby vineyards, normally cut a couple of days before the feast known as the calçotada. They are popped onto the grill for a couple of minutes then wrapped in newspaper so they can retain their heat until they are served with an orange-hued sauce called romesco, made from garlic, roast tomatoes, peppers, walnuts, olive oil, and salt. The exquisite tenderness is enjoyed with a no-holds-barred attitude. Thrown your head back, enjoy the juiciness and don’t worry about getting your clothes stained. The onion extravaganza is followed by a plethora of meat, sausage and vegetable dishes, all charred to golden-black perfection.

If you want to try calçots in Barcelona, you can head to a Masia (Catalan countryside houses or farms), so you can enjoy the rustic atmosphere associated with this onion delicacy. Here are a couple of our favorites:

Enjoying a Barbecue in the City ∼ botifarras

If you only have a few days in Barcelona and feel inspired to host your own barbecue, there are many merenderos (outdoor barbecue areas) in parks and green areas, where you can rent everything you need  – including chairs and wood.

Brian Heinen, who has started the blog BarcelonaBBQ, is confident that Barcelona will soon be the barbecue capital of Europe since it has all the crucial ingredients for success: the locals’ passion for flame-grilled dishes, great weather year-round, and top quality markets selling a plethora of cuts of meat and produce.

The American experience is certainly a standard bearer for Catalonians who dare to approach the flame; the popularity of barbecue parties for everyday folk has led Americans to embrace different barbecue recipes and styles, with each state known for its own marinade, sides, and meat/produce choices.

Served on the Platter ∼ all type of Catalan meat cuts

If cooking isn’t your thing and you want to get straight to the heart of the matter, some of the coolest restaurants for mouthwatering barbecue dishes include La Boucherie (an affordable steakhouse known for its generous portions), La Llar de Foc (specializing in wood-grilled meat) and Vic Brasería (known for its juicy T-bone steak and barbecued entraña – a fine, tender cut of meat).

When in Barcelona, do as the Catalonians. Tuck into tender calçotada, impress others with your own barbecuing skills and recipes at a merendero, or breathe in the smoky aroma of a juicy steak at a local asador. Don’t be shy about throwing fruits such as peaches on the barbie, either; the ‘burned’ goodness caramelizes the sugar in the fruit and makes for a dessert to be remembered.

And in case you are looking for the juicer adventures in town, take some time for checking out our Barcelona culinary experiences that include the best of local gastronomy tapas and drinks!