Guest post: Eating vegan in Barcelona! »
At first glance, Barcelona doesn’t seem like the vegan-friendliest city. This is bull-fighting country, after all. You see butcher shops everywhere, tempting though completely NOT vegan pastries in bakery windows, and smell not-so-pleasant wafts of seafood in the air. But frankly, I was surprised with how many vegan choices I’ve stumbled upon during my various visits to this city. Barcelona is not only full of amazing buildings, museums, and churches—it is quite progressive when it comes to food. I’ve been lucky enough to travel here three times (for work, mind you, but yeah, I know) and I always discover new vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants.
I found the awesomely named Cat Bar on my last trip to Barcelona. An all-vegan bar named after my favorite animal!? Oh my, I think this could work. Owned by U.K. ex-pats, Cat Bar is a cozy little joint in El Born (the best neighborhood!). Weirdly, it is located right next to a cycling shop that sells San Francisco’s Chrome Bags, so I felt very much at home. I was super-hungry from a morning trip to Park Güell, so I ordered a veggie burger and a pint of BrewDog, a vegan beer brewed in Scotland. They have an eclectic, ever-changing menu with options like quiche, sushi, hummus plates, goulash, and gluten-free chocolate balls, as well as local beers from Barcelona and the Catalunya region. Cat Bar’s website is terrible, so just check out their Facebook for more information. They also have this handy map to navigating Barcelona’s vegan scene.
Juicy Jones is another favorite when I’m visiting BCN. They have a large, sit-down restaurant in the Raval neighborhood (which, to me, is the most intriguing and mysterious of all the Barcelona neighborhoods) as well as a smaller spot with counter-only seating near the Barcelona Cathedral. Juicy Jones is crunchy. This is dreadlock zone, folks. But having living in Santa Cruz for many years, it’s not a big deal to me. As the name implies, you can get various kinds of freshly-made juices and smoothies. They have rotating specials, including an Indian-inspired thali rice plate. My favorite, however, is the tofu bocadilla. A bocadilla is a sandwich on a hard roll, and in Spain, they loooove them bocadillas. The roll at Juicy Jones is fantastic; crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. My bocadilla was garnished with sprouts, lettuce, tomato, and some sort of vegan pâté. The hummus plate is also quite good, though it has nothing on Maoz.
Oh yeah—they have Maoz here! Vegansaurus has already sung the praises of the mind-blowing all-veg falafel joint that is Maoz. There is one location in Barcelona close to La Rambla on Carrer de Ferran. Another great “para llevar” (takeout) place is Wok 2 Walk, which is just up Carrer de Ferran from Maoz. When I’m working, I live off this place. You pick a noodle or rice (stay away from the egg noodles, obviously), your favorite ingredients (vegetables, tofu, pineapple, etc.), and a sauce (I like the curry coconut). A dude whisks it all up in a wok and in minutes, you have a giant to-go container of stir-fry. While it might be tempting, don’t grab an Estrella Damm beer with your dinner. Sadly, Spain’s ubiquitous cheap beer is not vegan.
La Bascula is a rustic restaurant in a defunct chocolate factory tucked away in an alley in El Born. The old-school European ambience alone is enough to visit at least for a café sin leche, but the food is pretty good too. It is mostly vegetarian, but there are a few solid vegan options. I went there for lunch and had a satisfying seitan bocadilla, but when I went back for dinner on another visit I had a fantastic zucchini, tofu, and lentil dish served with basmati rice. Sesamo is a little fancier, and perhaps more “autentico” than some of the other restaurants listed here. They have vegan and vegetarian tapas (small plates), and the standout is a dish of roasted vegetables with vegan goat cheese. The rocket salad with pear (pictured) is not only beautifully presented, but also damn tasty. They also serve ENORMOUS cocktails.
Cruising around La Rambla and need a pick-me-up? The open-air market off the Rambla, La Boqueria, sells fresh juices for just 1 euro. Gelaati! has both soy and rice milk-based gelat,o as well as fruit sorbetto, which is a must if you’re visiting Barcelona in the summer. I ate it in February, however, because a little rain can’t keep me away from my gelato. If you run out of cruelty-free toiletries on your travels, the chain Natura is a good bet for picking up soap, shampoo and more. They’re everywhere—even in the Barcelona airport!
If you’ve tried all of these places (I salute you!) and want to find something else, Barcelona has its very own guide to vegan/vegetarian restaurants and shops, aptly called Sin Carne. ¡Felices viajes!
Ginny Mies is a lifelong Northern Californian who loves long -istance running, metal, margaritas, and is way too amused by her cats. She’s also Mission Mission’s vegan correspondent.