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Travelling presents an opportunity – not only to discover new places and get to know different cultures, but also to literally and figuratively enjoy a taste of local life! Imagine a city break without enjoying local delicacies as you explore… impossible, isn’t it? Check out the reliably tasty destinations of Bologna and Barcelona for two very different, but equally delicious trips!

There can be no classic Italian cuisine without the inclusion of traditional dishes from the Emilia-Romagna region. And there can be no discussion of Spanish delicacies without the delectable morsels served up in the Catalan capital. If you’re planning a flavourful, adventurous and inexpensive culinary city break and value time spent at cafes, restaurants and ice cream parlours as much as at museums, galleries and monuments, then choose Barcelona or Bologna. These two dining destinations are some of the tastiest and cheapest places in Europe!

Beautiful restaurant garden © unsplash
Beautiful restaurant garden © unsplash

A city break in Barcelona – for the love of food

Colourful, loud and full of contrasts, Barcelona is one of the most popular destinations for a city break. Are you dreaming of getting away from the autumn rain and shorter days? Buy your ticket for a crazy Catalan culinary adventure! Here you will find bustling La Rambla, Gaudi’s intricate architecture, the aromatic and colourful La Boqueria market, FC Barcelona stadium, lively beaches, Insta-worthy photo spots and the most delicious dining in this part of Spain. So where and what should you eat in Barcelona? Let us guide you on a taste adventure!

Friends during dinner in Barcelona © iStock
Friends during dinner in Barcelona © iStock

The best of Barcelona’s specialities

Barcelonians love feasting together and any occasion is a great excuse to gather for great food and wine. Start your food exploration with some of the local delicacies bought from a stand at one of the city’s nearly 40 fairs, or on the corner of most main streets. Delight your taste buds with chorizo, fuet sausage and serrano ham; fried seafood like marisco (calamari) and boquerones fritos (anchovies) and deliciously marinated boquerones en vinagre (marinated anchovies). Barcelona specialises in “one bite” tapas dishes such as pimientos de padrón (grilled peppers in coarse salt) and croquetas de bacalao or de jamón – balls of deep-fried ham or cod.

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Being in Barcelona means heading to a tapas bar and there are some firm favourites that you simply can’t miss. Spicy patatas bravas – fried potatoes in pepper and tomato sauce, tortilla da patatas (omelette with fried potatoes and onions) and la bomba, which is a potato croquette with white aioli and red spicy sauce. Also enjoyed here day and night is pan con tomate, a baguette with olive oil and tomato paste. A special treat for the end of winter, is calçot, which is a grilled green onion topped with a sweet romesco sauce of almonds, hazelnuts and nyora peppers, available at street stalls.

Barcelona-style paella © iStock
Barcelona-style paella © iStock

What’s for dinner in Barcelona?

If you have a bigger hunger to satisfy then let’s take a look at some popular dinner options. Paella is a must-try for any foodie visiting Barcelona. Although this dish originates in Valencia, where it is originally prepared with beans and meat, Barcelonians regard it as their specialty, and a near-sacred one at that! Barcelona’s paella is made from rice with added seafood, but restaurants often offer versions with chicken, rabbit or vegetables. Remember – a one-pan order of paella is typically large enough for at least two people! Not keen on rice? Try fideua. This seafood pasta is fried in the same pan as the paella for a uniquely delicious flavour

Vegetarians and vegans will enjoy the Catalan escalivada salad with roasted peppers and eggplant, onions, olive oil and fresh garlic. For dessert, choose crema Catalana, a Catalan version of creme brûlée, or, if you’re snacking on the go, classic churros with liquid chocolate – a treat available almost everywhere in Spain. And what to drink in Barcelona? From breakfast through to lunchtime, enjoy great coffe – solo, cortado or con leche are the most popular varieties. Later in the day, enjoy some of the area’s refreshing sparkling wines, such as a typical Barcelona cava. If you prefer classic white or red wines then you’re in luck! The region is packed full of vineyards producing world-class tipples!

Friends during dinner in Barcelona © iStock
Friends during dinner in Barcelona © iStock

Where to eat in Barcelona?

Worried that a Spanish culinary city break will ruin your budget? Not a problem, as there are plenty of places to eat cheaply in Barcelona. Look for authentic places where local Barcelonians eat. Close to La Rambla, look for student bars such as Estudiantill for decent prices and good quality tapas guaranteed. Other recommended venues include La Cala Barcelonetta, Bar Xapako and Dona Rosa.

If you would like to splash out on some fine dining, check out Con Gracia or Santa Rita Experience. Lunch prices in Barcelona start from €14-15 for the menú del día, which is usually a two-course meal, dessert and coffee. How much is paella in Barcelona? Prices start at €25 per person, but average is more like €35-50. The restaurants Bodega Joan, The Paella Club and Xiringuito Escribà are particularly recommended for paella.

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As tasty as it gets in Bologna!

Emilia-Romagna’s capital Bologna is considered one of the tastiest regions – not only in Italy, but in all of Europe. Its historic burnt siena buildings look good enough to eat, but it’s inside their doors where you can find delicious, filling and aromatic tagiatelle, tortellini, ravioli and tortelloni, all cooked with love. The surrounding vineyards boast sparkling red Lambrusco, and the dairies produce authentic Parmesan cheese. The Bologna area is also famous for its balsamic vinegar, Ferrari and an ingrained love of art. If you’re dreaming of an Italian culinary adventure? Buy a ticket to Bologna and enjoy life in dolce far niente.

Family sharing a meal © iStock
Family sharing a meal © iStock

Bologna – Italy’s most delicious city!

A culinary city break in Bologna is an amazing experience for all your senses. You will find comfort food at its best everywhere. Are you dreaming of filling pasta? Try tagiatelle con ragù alla bolognese – handmade ribbons of the best pasta in a meat and tomato sauce. Other typical offerings include lasagna verdi al forno with spinach and meat, or tortellini in brodo, which are delicate pasta parcels with meat served in a broth topped with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Carnivores will be delighted with cotoletta alla bolognese – a veal cutlet with cream sauce, Parmesan cheese and quite often with a decadent shaving of truffles.

Prefer to eat well but lighter? Alongside the more filling meat dishes, you will also find vegetarian options, for example ravioli di ricotta con burro e salvia, which is a ricotta filling and roasted butter and sage sauce, or friggione, a slow-cooked onion and tomato sauce dish.Be sure to try some typical Bolognese pastries with your coffee, such as pinza bolognese cakes or raviole bolognesi croissants – both made with local marmalade. And what to drink in Bologna? Wine, of course! The area produces pignoletto colli bolognesi, trebbiano and sangiovese varieties.

Couple enjoying wine in an Italian vineyard © iStock
Couple enjoying wine in an Italian vineyard © iStock

Where to eat in Bologna?

Are you planning a visit to Bologna and want to know where to eat the best tortellini? We have you covered! Reasonable prices and large portions of delicious regional dishes can be found in Osteria al 15, as well as at the food stands at Mercato di Mezzo and Mercato delle Erbe. Osteria dell’Orsa, Trattoria Da Me, as well as Osteria del Sole and Trattoria di Via Serra all l guarantee unforgettable experiences over a plate of pasta.

And how much should you budget for lunch in Bologna? A lot depends on what type of restaurant you choose. Quick meals on the street, such as panino with mortadella, buratto or pistachios, are available from just a few euros per serving, with a glass of wine around €2.5-3. When deciding on menú del día, you can reasonably expect to pay at least €12 per person for two courses with dessert and coffee. In osteria and trattorias, you can also choose from pasta dishes for around €10. In Bologna, you will be expected to add a coperto, which is a mandatory tip for a seat at the table.

Buon appetito!



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