Barcelona’s Best Vegan and Vegetarian
Meat-free eating in Barcelona
At English Doctor Barcelona, we like to help our clients and their families to eat healthily. For many, that means following a vegetarian or vegan diet. A decade ago, if you asked a waiter in Barcelona what was on the menu for vegetarians, your answer would have been a roll of the eyes and a slice of tortilla de patatas. In 2020, however, the city was named as one of the best for vegan travellers.
Whether you live here or you’re just visiting, the choice is now greater than ever.
Barcelona’s vegetarian boom
How did the veggie boom happen? A growing interest in well-being and healthy lifestyles, and the gradual disappearance of the two-hour, heavy lunch-siesta tradition are certainly factors. More concretely, Spain is the largest producer of fruit and vegetables in Europe so raw product is cheap and plentiful. Add the talent and creativity of Catalan chefs and you have an explosion of vegan/vegetarian restaurants, take-away and delivery services.
Here is our choice of some of the best.
Best for a Smart Lunch
If there is one chef who is associated with the vegetarian revolution in Barcelona, it is Teresa Carles.
Author of several books and founder of several restaurants, she was the first to shake off the woolly knitted jumper image of vegetable-based cuisine in Barcelona and with creative dishes based on a ‘flexitarian’ philosophy (there are sometimes fish courses in the menu) based on local ingredients prettied up with edible flowers and lashings of fresh herbs. For a special lunch accompanied by organic wines, we recommend ‘Flax & Kale’ which is located inside the fashionable Yurbban Hotel (St. Pere Més Alt 31-33).
Best for a Romantic Dinner
‘Veggies for veggies and non-veggies’ is how the owners of Green Spot describe their menu. The décor of this restaurant situated near the Port Vell marina complex – Barcelona’s parking lot for super yachts – was designed by Isay Weinfeld, the Brazilian credited with creating the ‘tropicalia’ style of décor that mixes natural materials with modernist forms. Soft Copacabana jazz wafts in the background as you enjoy exquisitely prepared dishes such as tempeh with papaya, beet and avocado salad or black bean ‘burgers’ on pretzel bread.
Best Quick Bite at Your Desk
While the COVID-related restrictions of 2020 have not been kind the local hospitality industry, they have led to countless hole-in-the-wall services delivering one-dish lunches to your home or office.
Founded by an Irish-English couple, The Dirty Vegans offer up a small menu of fat, tasty and spicy sandwiches made with rustic bread from the ovens of Baluard, widely considered to be the best bakery in the city. Mila’s Lunch is another small-scale start-up, which rustles up tiffin box-type meals of vitamin-packed, ethnic-flavoured treats such sticky miso aubergines, Indian pakoras, sweet potato curry and lime cabbage for a meagre 7 euros.
Best Home Cooking
Before vegan/vegetarian dining became a ‘thing’ in Barcelona, there were a handful of restaurants serving veggie fare prepared with simple local recipes and none of the hipster trimmings. Located near the Sagrada Familia, Arco Iris has been a perennially popular lunch spot for its three-course lunch menu that generally includes a soup followed by steamed vegetables, and a more elaborate dish like moussaka or mushroom risotto. One of Barcelona’s original veggie haunts, Macrobiotic Zen is centrally located just near Plaza Universitat. Since 1974, it has been feeding office workers with ultra-healthy dishes spiced with plenty of miso and lots of pulses such as mijo and soja.
Best Ethnic Flavours
A favorite with the neo-hippie crowd for Sunday lunch, Veggie Garden is an Indian restaurant that adheres to a strict vegan ethos, and is one of the few places in the city to get an authentic Nepalese thali; a bin-lid-sized plate of vegetable curry, dhal, basmati rice and mango chutney and papadums.
Roots & Rolls extends its flavour base over Asia, with vegan sushi, kimchi, mega-spicy cauliflower ‘popcorn’ and various poke bowls of exotic combinations in a trendy dining room in the Eixample district.
Dr. Joseph is a big fan of vegan food, and at least twice a month he visits Alive Restaurant in the company of his older daughter who introduced him to this cruelty-free cuisine. Another favourite is Blu Bar (a must-try is "Pulled Pork Goes Happy") or Honest Greens