When it comes to dining options Barcelona, like Berlin and Singapore, is spoiled for choice. There is the variety of Catalan food on offer, then there is the diversity of seafood that you can count on, but not every one of those options I mentioned is affordable for the budget traveler. There are however good dining options to fit every budget, this time around we look at the affordable option in this amazing city.
I tried to find options that originated in this city, and its wasn’t hard since Barcelona is thriving with successful restaurants that have grown wings and spread beyond the city.
A national brand that first debuted in Barcelona, Nostrum is sells foods with a homecooked flavour at extremely cheap prices (think 1-3 euros), which can be microwaved and consumed on the spot. According to the company all their products are 100% natural and the products on offer are relatively cheap.
If I’m being honest, the food from nostrum is nice but nothing to shout about. But then again, it’s value proposition was never about serving the best food at the lowest price, it’s value proposition is time – wholesome food, with low prices in almost no time at all, it’s especially useful for the individual who is not into dining and eating (there are such people, gasp!), or people in a rush for time – like I was.
Nostrum is a franchise located all across Spain, you can find them in metro stations and the like, while most of the food can be consumed ‘to-go’ there is usually a microwave machine at the stall and tiny booths where you can consume you meal quickly.
At 1 Euro for a quick pasta (3ish Euros for a more expensive quinoa item), I’m a happy camper.
Montaditos, a small sliced baguette with an assortment of wonder flavours inside (sort of like a traditional Spanish sandwich), originated from the southern coast of Spain – in Andalusia, and has gone on to become a national favourite snack, and a well-loved dish outside of Spain too. The montaditos however, is more than a sandwich since its predates the sandwich, having been served up in the 16th century(A montaditos differs from a pincho in that the former is a sandwich while the latter is an open-faced bread with toppings served as an hors d’oeuvre.)
100 Montaditos is so named because they began by having a menu of over 100 flavours of Montaditos, although the menu has expanded considerably. It began in 2000 in a small town in southern Spain and and has today 350 stalls in Spain and another 90 outside of Spain (Italy, US, Portugal, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Belgium).
Operating somewhat similar to a fastfood joint, service is brisk and self-helped since you collect your food when it is prepared. It certainly adds to the atmosphere of the place.
On Wednesdays and Sundays, each Montadito and almost every item on the menu goes for 1 Euro, which means 5 montaditos (3 or 4 is more than enough to fill you up) sets you back 5 Euros, a great bargin if you ask me.
It helps too, that the Montaditos and their flavours inside taste awesome!
Bikini at SandwiChez
Yea I know, the name left me in guffaws too.
SandwiChez, another Barcelona product, is a gourmet cafe chain that is currently that seeks to be the social point of reference in every neighbourhood it is located, a front-runner for third-wave cafes which stress quality of their product. SandwiChez is fundamentally a cafe that sells coffee and bread, which on its own is a typical model which is not particularly notable, so what makes them stand out?According to an interview, Sandwichez is “not price-driven, [but is] looking for quality,” so their products may not be the cheapest in town but they claim to be of a very high quality.
A price driven cafe therefore is not obsessed with selling products at low cost, mening products here are not necessarily the cheapest. But the Bikini Sandwich is a great 3 Euros to spend. Sure it may not be at the most famous place to get one but it was a great rendition. The Bikini is a beautifully grilled Ham and Cheese sandwich, a Catalan version of the French Croque-monsieur.
The name Bikini was given because of the stall that popularised it near what the Bikini Nightclub in the district.
I liked the Bikini so much, I ordered a second.
Pans & Co
Another Barcelona brand, Pans & Co is the unabashed fast food brand in this list. Founded in 1991, it now has something some 550 establishments from Europe to Asia, America and Africa. It’s central product is sandwiches, which makes it essentially a Spanish version of Subway except that it also serves fries and sets apart from a sandwich.
But Pans & Co, doesn’t face down Subways as a competitor, it’s competitors are the MacDonalds and Burger Kings of the world. So what makes Pans & Co special? Well, within its space, fast-food there aren’t many good healthy options as this, a fast-food joint that feels healthier and cleaner and also serves much nicer breads, you won’t find burgers here. Add to this the fact that you can get a beer instead of a soft drink and you have a winner in my book.
At prices that sometimes drop to less than 4 Euros, this fast-food joint has a lot more value than MacDonalds, Burger King or the like.