Tuesday, May 12, 2015

[Gluten-Free] Barcelona: My Top Five Tips

How was my recent trip to Barcelona, Spain? Well, this picture basically says it all. It was amazing. It was beautiful. But most of all, it was delicious. Traveling anywhere with a gluten intolerance is a little nerve-racking, but traveling to another country with a different language... well, it's downright scary. It only takes one miss to throw everything off. Luckily, Spaniards are just as famous for their naturally gluten-free dishes as they are for their freshly baked bread. Be on the look out for Tortilla Española (eggs, potatoes, onions), Paella (a rice dish with meat/seafood), and Patatas Bravas (crispy potatoes with a spicy sauce). All of these are naturally gluten free and you can find these at most restaurants or bars in the city. Of course, you can't forget to wash it all down with a big glass of Sangria. Then a café. And then some more Sangria...

So don't panic! A gluten-free trip to Barcelona is deliciously possible. Here are my top five tips to make your trip amazing:

#1: Master the phrase: "Sin Gluten" 
This means "without gluten." I used this phrase to ask about specific dishes at restaurants and to spot gluten-free products at the grocery store. Also learn, "soy celíaco" (or "celíaca" if you're a girl). These two phrases are enough to alert your waiter of your gluten-free situation. I found that most waiters were not only familiar with gluten but they were also very knowledgable about the ingredients in each dish. It made ordering really easy.

#2: Order cappuccinos, everywhere.
Luckily for us, coffee is gluten free and served everywhere in Barcelona. And I mean everywhere. Every restaurant, every cafe, and every bar has an espresso machine. And while I definitely suggest trying the espresso as well as a café con leche (coffee with steamed milk), please do yourself a favor and order a few cappuccinos. They were seriously the best I have ever had in my entire life. Trust me. One sip, and you'll thank me.

#3: Have Seafood Paella in la Barceloneta 
Around lunch time, take a stroll along the large walkway around the port of Barcelona and eventually make your way to la Barceloneta, the small seaside neighborhood full of character. This is where you must get yourself some fresh Seafood Paella. There are a bunch of restaurants that line the busy walkway and overlook row after row of gorgeous sailboats docked in Port Vell. I fell in love with La Gavina (Plaça Pau Vila, 1). Patrick and I ate their amazing Seafood Paella twice in one week. Ask for a table outside and order a bottle of Spanish Rioja wine. Watch the boats. Linger a little. It's heavenly.

#4: Get a sandwich{es} at Conesa
Even as I am writing this I cannot contain my excitement for this place!! Bocadillos (sandwiches) are everywhere in Barcelona. They are the quintessential quick bite for any Spaniard or tourist alike and are usually off limits for the gluten-free connoisseur, until now! 

They offer a number of different sandwich options (Jamón ibérico with cheese is my favorite!). Order your bocadillo "caliente" and they'll press it on a separate grill exclusively marked for gluten-free sandwiches. Don't forget to order an extra bocadillo "frio" (cold) for the road. Most of the meats are cured and don't require refrigeration which means you can always have a back-up meal in your bag if you decide to do some exploring. You can also buy the bread by itself. Add a little olive oil to it and it's the perfect breakfast in the morning. Conesa is a must-stop in Barcelona. One bite, and you'll understand.

#5: Do brunch at Copasetic
One thing you'll notice about Barcelona is that no one is up early. I mean, no one. My advice is to go with the flow and sleep in like a Spaniard. Man, they do so many things right. And while brunch is more of an American thing, Copasetic (Carrer de la Diputació, 55) has got it down. It's so easy to be gluten free at this restaurant. They have everything from savory plates to sweet dishes. While you wait for your delicious food to come, sip on their amazing café con leche. Oh and get the pancakes. That's right, gluten-free pancakes in Barcelona. You might want to pinch yourself a couple times. This place is a dream.

#5½: Have a REAL Cuba Libre
Okay, so maybe just one more tip. If you've never had Cuban rum before, you are missing out. Take advantage of being overseas and having this liquid gold right at your fingertips. Havana Club is unlike any rum you have ever tasted. Don't add too much coke, you just need a little. Before you know it, you'll be dancing to Celia Cruz and yelling her famous "¡Azúcar!"

By the end of my trip, I didn't want to leave. Being in Barcelona with Patrick was the most amazing experience! We literally ate and drank our way around the city. And I really couldn't believe how many gluten-free options there were. I simply can't wait to go back! 

Until then España...



  1. Okay, those Ham and cheese croissant guys look amazing. Remember how they were listed on the menu in Spanish? Going soon, an must eat..
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