CeliacChicks Around The World, Restaurants, SPAIN, Travel

Gluten-Free Spain Guide: Barcelona

17 Comments 14 December 2009

PB080171
Contributed by Christine Carty. Christine is an Irish girl in her late twenties, who was diagnosed with celiac diseas at the age of 24. She currently lives in Dublin. Her favorite things to do are play Gaelic Football (Ireland's national sport), travel and discover new and fun places to eat gluten free

I knew very little of what to expect from Barcelona.  I've heard such amazing things about it, but also a definite "watch your bags for the pick pockets". Barcelona is similar to Dublin in the sense that it doesn't really do high rises, but never have I seen a skyline with such varying structures. After one weekend there I finally understood why Gaudi was considered to be left of field, and I am now ever more grateful that not all of mankind has chosen to live as sheep.
 
Acta Using  our stealth direction (OK maybe a map and turning down a few random streets) we found our hotel. The Acta Atrium Palace on Gran Via de la Catalanes is a 4 star boutique hotel, which surprisingly manages to fit in a small pool and a jacuzzi. There couldn't be any more than 60 rooms in this little gem of a hotel, and as well as being a perfect spot in Barcelona, the service is impeccable. On entering our room, we were presented with what can only be described as the best stocked room I've ever been in; a bathrobe and slippers for use when taking the lift to the pool, the biggest variety of toiletry essentials from a comb to a toothbrush, as well as soap and shampoo and two fluffy pillows each.
 

After our obligatory swim, we were so hungry that eating was a must. We decided that a ramble down "La Ramblas" was also in order. Getting outside into the air made us even hungrier though, and we were running on empty, so much that practicality took over authenticity and our eyes lit up at the thought of a big fat juicy steak in the Hard Rock Cafe (inventive I know!).
 
The Hard Rock Cafe is set iPB060074n Barcelona's main square Plaça Catalunya, and just around the corner from La Ramblas. On seating in the restaurant, we explained to our server that I was a celiac. She was extremely helpful and understood perfectly that it was important to eat gluten-free. She said the steak was fine, but with a salad instead of mash potatoes and fries as she explained the fries are done in the same fryer as the deep fried dishes. This can be fine for some celiacs, and not for others, so she said the salad was the safest thing. Also, no steak seasoning just in case. Out came this amazing steak, so juicy and tender, absolute perfection. With such a knowledgable and friendly staff with great English, this is a definite recommendation.

Barcelona has two main sightseeing tour companies, both of whom operate two different bus routes in the city. We thought it best to take a bus tour as we're a) lazy and b) it took care of ouPB080168r travel. We chose to use the Bus Touristic, but I think it's much of a muchness between them. You can pay a hop on hop off price of €21 for one day or €27 for two days. We chose the two day option, which worked out so much cheaper, but it also meant we could do one route a day and get to explore the entire city. It meant we didn't have to deal with the metro and also gave us a bit of history along the way.

Barcelona is like any European city in the sense that it has Gothic style architecture on many corners, but what makes it unique is definitely Gaudi. The buildings that Gaudi designed are truly unique and help give the city its unique sense of style. From the mid construction Sagrada da Familia Cathedral www.sagradafamilia.org (completely funded by donations) to Park Guell, you cannot but respect Gaudi's inventiveness, attention to detail, and sense of nature. You also have a versatile city in the sense that it has a long stretch of beach, but is also surrounded by hills.
 

For lunch, there are a lot of choices in Barcelona, as it contains a wealth of places to eat tapas, but like every good celiac, you have to be careful. In general, lots of cafes and tapas bars will have beautifully cured meats, chorizo, tortilla espanol, melon with cured ham, fruit and salads. You can also take a stroll down La Ramblas, which is the main pedestrian thoroughfare in Barcelona. About half way you will find the "Mercat de San Josef de la Boqueira" (www.boqueira.info),  a huge market that contains fresh produce as well as locally produced crafts. It's definitely worth a browse, especially if you feel like a picnic, but be aware that it is closed on Sundays.

 
PB070139 On a recommendation or two, we were told that the best place to have some seafood was down by the port. On further investigation, we also found that it's one of the best parts of town for bars, so we decided this would be our port of call (pardon the pun) on our last night. We came across many nice looking restaurants, all who promotion staff promisingly said that gluten-free was doable, but in the end we settled on Restaurant Miravent. The lady promoting the restaurant wasn't too pushy with us and had amazing English. After explaining I was a celiac, I was told my longing for some grilled Monkfish was not a problem. It came accompanied by seasonal vegetables which were all roasted together in a pot. She double checked with the chef and assured me that the vegetables were roasted in wine and oil, and no flour was added. Hurray! Boy were those vegetables comfort food. Add in a jug of Sangria and our meal was complete. To finish off our night, we wandered around the bars that surrounded our restaurant, took in the local atmosphere and went home full of lovely food.
 
I was sad to leave Barcelona, but boy was it a nice trip! Definitely bring your celiac eating out card in Spanish, but the locals are more than happy to help you find something to eat, so smile and take in the atmosphere.

Useful Spanish Celiac Resources:

There are 4 celiac societies that look after the different regions of Spain. The society serving Barcelona is:

S.M.A.P. Celiacs de Catalunya
(Serving: Barcelona,Costa Brava, Costa Dorada),
Comtal 32 5e 1a, Barcelona, 08002 Spain
Telephone: +34 (93) 412 17 89; fax: +34 (93) 412 03 82;
e-mail: info@celiacscatalunya.org
web: http://www.celiacscatalunya.org

The website currently only operates in Spanish, but here is the list of the restaurants in Barcelona that are linked to the society website. According to the society, these restaurants either have shown a good knowledge of celiac disease or the owner is a celiac. There are currently 21 restaurants on this list in the Barcelona area. Many of the restaurants listed have websites and contact details. As a precaution, you should always discuss your menu choices with your waiter before ordering.

Celiac Society Catalunya Restaurant Guide

Resources in this Post:

Hotel:

Acta Atrium Palace
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 656,
08010 Barcelona, Spain
 
Restaurants:
 
Hard Rock Cafe
Plaça Catalunya 21
08002 Barcelona, Spain
+34 93 270 23 05

Restaurant Miravent
Port Olimpic
Moll del Mestral, 8 y 9, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
+34 932 214 420


 "Mercat de San Josef de la Boqueira"

La Rambla 91
08002 Barcelona, Spain
+34 93 412 13 15

http://www.boqueria.info/

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Your Comments

17 Comments so far

  1. 1
     
    Kendra says:

    Awesome! So nice to read about gluten free travel that went well. And it sounds like there were some delicious meals.

  2. 2
     
    Michelle says:

    Thanks Christine!

    I will be in Barcelona in February (from Canada) and your article really helps!

  3. 3
     
    Stephanie says:

    Great trip! btw, the market is spelled “Boqueria” so the link is boqueria.info. Happy travels!

  4. 4
     
    susana says:

    Hi Christine,
    Since you live in Dublin, I would love to see resources for GF accomodations and restaurants for Ireland. I want to plan a trip there but I am afraid to do the traveling so far from home.
    Can you provide that in your next blog?
    or please email me?
    Thank you!

  5. 5
     
    Mixednuts says:

    Hi Kelly – we love your blog! Have you had a chance to try the Bora Bora sample bars we sent you? We can’t wait to hear your feedback, thanks and have a great holiday!

    ~The Villagers of Bora Bora
    http://www.boraborafoods.com

  6. 6
     
    Erin Swing says:

    So glad to hear this! I will be living in a “subuer” of Barcelona- Manresa from January thru April. I am worried about my day-to-day living there as a Celiac. Ironically enough, I will be there to do gluten free baking formulation research & development. Thank you so much for your accounts & posting the Catalan Celiac web site.

  7. 7
     
    Christine says:

    Heya

    Kelly and I are in the process of working on a big piece in Dublin… so watch this space! :)

  8. 8
     

    These guides are FANTASTIC! The worst part of being g-free is worrying about what you’ll eat when you travel. What a great idea!

  9. 9
     
    Judy says:

    Hi,
    We are coming into NYC next weekend and would like some recommendations for GF restaurants. Not looking for pizza, but anything else would be great!!!
    Thanks, Judy

  10. 10
     
    Neil says:

    I found your blog useful and fascinating. I have been to barca a few times but only once since I was diagnosed with Coeliacs.
    I know how difficult it is to travel and eat safely. I am English and travelled extensively through Europe and found it awkward to eat. I now own and run a restaurant in South Tenerife, I am promoting GF menu so that people can enjoy a night out safely. I will keep looking here for more useful travel tips. Thanks.

  11. 11
     
    Jorge says:

    You can find a nice place near Barcelona, first beach after airport could be nice stop waiting for your flight, it is a french crêperie they prepare savoury and sweet crepes of buckwheat gluten free, look at http://www.tripadvisor.com Cafe Creperie Chez Bea in Gava…

  12. 12
     
    Irina says:

    Thank you for your post. We are leaving for barcelona in 3 days and I can’t wait to try some of the restaurants you recommended. Were you able to find gluten-free bread and breakfast pastries in Barcelona?

    I booked the same hotel. How were their gluten-free breakfast options?

    Thanks again!

  13. 13
     

    Glad to hear you managed to get some decent gluten-free grub! I’m a Coeliac Scot who moved to Barcelona last year, and am always on the hunt for GF-friendly eateries. Have found a great wee shop in L’Eixample Esquerra called Celia i Celiacs – a lifesaver:)

  14. 14
     
    Bet Capkin says:

    Thanks for sharing this GF info. Heading to Spain, Barcelona included, to celebrate an Anniversary, and always get a little anxious about being able to eat safely “..cuando necessito usar una otra idioma…” Your blog gave me confidence, allayed some fears, and with a spanish GF dining card, I know I will be fine!

  15. 15
     
    Emily says:

    Hi.
    I love this blog. I am 17 and i just found out i have celiacs 6 months ago and its my dream to go to Spain. So I am definatly going to use this information!

  16. 16
     
    Therry says:

    Hello to everyone!
    In Barcelona, in Diputacio street 55 (Eixample Izquierdo), we have just opened a new bar-restaurant called “Copasetic” and it offers many options for gluten & lactose intolerant people. The options include gf hamburgers, sandwiches, or even a gf crepe or pancake and many homemade cakes & sweets.
    Drop by!!
    Copasetic


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Thanks for stopping by! I'm Kelly Courson and this is where I've shared my gluten-free finds since 2003. The world has been my gluten-free oyster for 14 years now and I love sharing what I've learned in order to help others adapt to a gluten-free diet. Have a look around and feel free to leave a comment. Connecting with people like you is what has kept me going this long! Seriously.
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