Let me guess… One of the things you thought to do while you stay in Barcelona is eating, right? We are going to give you some advices or tips about where to buy food or the types of food you can find in Barcelona. As I explained in the section Cost of Living in Barcelona, the monthly cost for food can go from 100 € to 300 €, depending on what you eat and where you buy the food (brands and products).
Barcelona is a really great city to get some food. It is very common to find close-by supermarkets, like 2, 3 or 4 markets in 100 metres distance from the place you live in, no matter the neighbourhood. Apart from these you can find small markets opened 24 hours, so it is very easy to find food although you don’t have a car. It is not so easy in other European cities or in any other place in the world.
I will highlight the main supermarkets in Barcelona that use to open from 9.30am to 8.30pm. Sundays and festivities they close, so don’t wait for Sunday to get some food.
Mercadona is a Spanish supermarket that works all over the country and also in Barcelona. It is a cheap supermarket because they sell house brands (Hacendado, Bosque Verde and Deliplus). The fact that they offer house brands makes it cheaper than buying directly the products from the manufacturers. The products have a good rate quality/price, but the main problem is it is difficult to find products from other brands. It is perfect to get the basics (rice, pasta, milk, juices…). In most of the Mercadona supermarkets you can also get meat and fish. The worse: Fruit.
Dia is a ‘low cost’ supermarket. It is the supermarket with more establishments in Barcelona and Spain. It offers mainly basic products (not much innovation) to very low prices, not just in their own brand, but also in the manufacturers’ products. Besides, they offer a lot of promotions and discounts, specially if you have the fidelity card which can be obtained for free. Usually their establishments are small, so probably its weakness is the lack of much products.
Carrefour is a French company with establishments around the world. You need to distinguish between the hypermarket (big establishments that you can find in malls such as Glòries or La Maquinista) and the so-called Carrefour Express, that can be found in different spots of the city center, but they are very small. Carrefour Express is very expensive and does not offer much variety, so I would not recommend it, specially comparing to DIA, Mercadona or other local supermarkets. However, in the Carrefour hypermarkets you can find EVERYTHING that you look for, from food, cosmetics, cleaning products, electrical appliances, to clothes, etc. Their variety is huge and the have great 3×2 promotions, but the problem is that there are not much and they are usually in the outskirts.
Caprabo | Condis | Bonpreu
Caprabo, Bonpreu or Condis are local supermarkets (they only sell in Catalunya), medium-big companies with a great variety of brands and quality products. They are not specially cheap because they have the best fresh products (bakery, fruits, vegetables, etc.). It is the best option if you look for quality and variety.
Consum is a combination between Mercadona and the local supermarkets that we just mentioned. It is a Valencian supermarket growing fast in the Mediterranean coastline which offers well-known brands and also their own products. It is a good option to do the main shoppings.
Lidl is a LOW COST supermarket that has been growing in Barcelona in the recent years. It is famous for having lots of German brands and their own brand, with a great assortment of German products. It is very cheap and most of the products have a great quality, even though sometimes you can’t find what you are looking for. They also offer products of the season, like flowers or garden tools in Spring or sports clothes and swimsuit in Summer, for instance. They have great dairy products and chocolates.
El Corte Inglés
Probably El Corte Inglés is the most famous Spanish mall, but because of its shops in Plaza Catalunya and Diagonal, not precisely for its supermarket. The El Corte Inglés supermarkets are usually placed in the basement of their malls, and they offer a lot of products of great quality. However, it is as good as expensive. You can easily spend around the 20%-30% more than in the rest of the supermarkets.
Alcampo is a French company that belongs to the group Auchan. It is well-known as the low cost hypermarket, so you can find there a huge assortment with low prices. The problem is that there are not many hypermarkets and they are placed in big malls such as Diagonal Mar or Icaria.
Above I explained the main supermarkets and hypermarkets spread in Barcelona, but there are much more: Keisy, Sorli Discau or Suma, and others even smaller.
Besides the supermarkets, in Barcelona you can find a lot of tiny shops opened 24 hours, that are called by the local people as “paquis”, because they are usually managed by people from Pakistan. Actually almost none of them open 24 hours, but they are usually opened at late hours (usually from 9am to 11pm) and 365 days a year.
These are tiny shops with not much variety and more expensive (between the 30% and the 50%), but very useful if you forgot to buy something in the supermarket and you arrive late at home, or even on a Sunday or public holiday.
According to Trip Advisor, there are more than 7.250 restaurants (and just considering the registered ones) in their website, so it is probably the most difficult topic to give tips. Instead of recommending you some restaurants, I will just say that in Barcelona you can find food from everywhere, so it is probable that you can find a restaurant that offers traditional food of your country (if you feel yearning for some dishes).
Personally I have tried lots of good, cheap and cozy restaurants of international food: Japanese, Mexican, Colombian, Ecuadorean, Bolivian, Peruvian, Chinese, Italian, French, Portuguese, Hindu, Thai, German, Venezuelan, Pakistani, Turkish… And, of course, great traditional Catalan food or food from other places in Spain.
I can give you some tips regarding the prices. As you can imagine, among more than 7.000 restaurants, you can find a huge range of prices, but the average should be around 15-20€ per person and meal. Is it possible to pay less than that? Of course it is, but it probably won’t be so good.
If you need any particular advice, you can ask directly to me by sending an email.