Vegan Travel: Barcelona

When a good friend of mine asked me if I’d like to go to Barcelona I jumped at the chance. My first thought was: where am I going to eat? Luckily for me and for my fellow vegans Barcelona is teeming with vegan and vegetarian food options.

I’ll be outlining a few here and giving you a few tips based on what I learnt over the four days.



Day one.

We arrived at our hotel in the early evening, the Hotel Barcelona Universal, right opposite the Paral-lel metro station. This proved invaluable. The hotel itself is a short walk from La Ramblas and most of the restaurants and shops I will mention in this post.

Veganoteca
c. Valldonzella, 60, 08001

One of the first places I wanted to go was to Veganoteca, a vegan grocery shop that I had found through Happy Cow and other internet research. Quite a small shop but brimming with vegan and vegetarian friendly products. They had 2 fridges full of faux meat products, tofu, tempeh and vegan cheeses. Two big freezers with frozen faux meats and ice creams. All of the popular brands like Wheaty, Frys and Sheese. They also sell pastries behind the counter but as it was quite late already we didn’t try any of these. The man behind the counter was very nice, humouring us in our language barrier by typing out the total for us on a calculator!

Ceres Natural
Ronda de Sant Pau, 49, 08015



On the way back from Veganoteca we found Ceres Natural, a plant based health store. Ceres had a huge selection of nut milks, some I had never seen before, like baobab! Lots of tofu and fresh vegetables available. As well as nuts, seeds, grains and all the other things you would expect from a well stocked health store. Unfortunately, we had gotten all we needed at Veganoteca so we ended up leaving empty handed from Ceres Natural.

Tip #1: Most of the big chain supermarkets (Dia and Consum) stock soya, almond and other nut based milks. If you are on a tight budget they are a lot cheaper than going to a health food shop.

Wheaty salami, chocolate covered rice cakes, almond milk, vegan pesto, omega bread all from Veganoteca.
Bowls, chocolate soya pudding, orange juice, soya milk, pears, avocado and muesli all from Dia and Consum.

Tip #2: If your room has a mini bar, USE IT. We filled our mini bar with the food we bought. We didn’t have to go out for breakfast once and this saved us a huge amount of money. We also made and took our own sandwiches everywhere. It’s a good idea to make your own food, both if you are travelling in an area where you are unsure of the vegan options or if you are on a tight budget.

After our trip to the supermarkets surrounding our hotel we set off in search of our first restaurant choice, Cat Bar.


Cat Bar
http://www.catbar.es/
 Carrer de la Bòria, 17, 08003

Cat Bar is a bar and cafe with vegan burgers. The ordering system is a list of the burgers and their sides (bravas, English style chips, salad) on which you put a cross next to what you would like. We both chose the Black Cat burger, which is a bean burger with lettuce, tomato, aubergine and garlic sauce. The burger was very flavourful. My only complaint about Cat Bar is that some of the potatoes were slightly raw, I’m not sure if this was because of the time we were there (10pm) or not. There was also a very friendly dog in the bar which I was very happy to give a good pat! Cat Bar is ridiculously cheap, two burgers with two green teas and a soft drink cost us around 20 euros.

Day two.

On our second day we decided we needed to go see Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. We had our breakfast in the hotel fairly early and made our own sandwiches from our supplies. We ended up getting to Sagrada Familia fairly early, around 10:30am and the queue was already building. The queue moved very quickly however and we hardly had to wait at all. We opted to pay a little extra for the chance to go up inside one of the towers. Our time was two hours from when we had entered the church so we had a look around before going outside to sit down and enjoy the sunshine.

Enjoying our salami, pesto and avocado sandwiches.

Soon our two hours was up and it was time to ride the lift up to the towers. This involved a 50 metre lift ride and then climbing a narrow stair case up. We crossed over a bridge with fantastic views of Barcelona before descending again on the other side. Lots more narrow stair ways and the chance to stand on the balconies of the towers. Not for the faint-hearted. Next was the worst bit of all, the rest of the way down was a SPIRAL STAIRCASE. Nightmare. We finally made it to the bottom after a lot of groaning and had to have ourselves a rest.

Next we made our way to Park Guell. The park is fairly large and contains Gaudi’s house and some other work of his. The out lying areas of the park are free to use but the main area is ticketed. We decided to go in to the ticketed area.

A cat friend I made in the park (and the only cat I ever saw in Barcelona!)

We had a walk around the park and sat down to admire the view. The park is high up so you can see right out across Barcelona. We thought the park was nice but we weren’t sure it was worth the ticket price. Next time I don’t think either of us would bother to go again. It seemed more of the place for a die hard Gaudi fan, something that neither of us are.

That evening we ended up having a wander around La Boqueria, the biggest and most famous market in Barcelona. The market is quite the spectacle. Huge displays of fruit and vegetables, meats, chocolates, fish and spices. We ended up getting a mango and coconut juice at one of the stalls which was probably one of the best things I’ve ever drunk in my life. They had a lot of exotic fruits available that I hardly ever see here in London. I bought myself a mangosteen to try and the stall owner gave me a Rambutan for free!

After our market wander we decided to make our way to Sesamo, another vegan/vegetarian restaurant I had found online.


Sesamo
Carrer de Sant Antoni Abat, 52, 08001

By the time we found Sesamo we were both ravenous. We were the first ones inside after it opened at 8pm. The chef was very friendly and welcoming. I think he realised straight away that we hardly spoke any Catalan or Spanish and so spoke to us in English.

Specials board at Sesamo, written in English with vegan options clearly displayed

We both decided to try the Sweet potato, coconut and macadmia nut soup, I opted for the vegan option of the Sauteed mushrooms in eco beer puff pastry tart and Eleeshia chose the lasagna. From reading Kristy of Keepin’ it Kind‘s post about Sesamo I wasn’t expecting much in the way of innovation when it came to replacing the cheese in my dish.


Padron peppers with lime, chilli and salt


Sweet potato, coconut and macadamia soup


Mushroom in eco beer tart (cheese replaced with tofu)

The soup was my favourite part of our meal at Sesamo. Incredibly delicious, creamy and a great depth of flavour. I finished the entire (rather large) bowl. The tart was a little more disappointing, the cheese had been replaced with pieces of tofu. The mushrooms had a great flavour from the beer. The salad however, was SO salty. There were capers and nuts mixed in as well as dressing and balsamic vinegar. The combination of the capers (which I love) and the balsamic completely overpowered the salad. I didn’t dislike our food at Sesamo I was just disappointed in the lack of innovation and the saltiness of the salad. The soup and the padron peppers however were a complete winner.

Day three.

On our final full day in Barcelona we decided to leave the city and to visit the monastery at Montserrat. We made our sandwiches and had our breakfast like usual before catching the 10:36am train from Espanya to Montserrat. The train ride was fairly uneventful but did leave me feeling quite nauseous due to the heat and lack of ventilation on the train. When we arrived at our stop we bought tickets for the cable car. The cable car holds 35 people and was built in 1930. It’s essentially a giant yellow box that you stand in. The journey to the top takes around 5 minutes. I wasn’t much of a fan of the cable car going up, I dislike the feeling of not having solid ground beneath me!

When we got to the top we were greeted with the most amazing views! We took a bunch of photos before walking up to the top. Montserrat is quite touristy and has a cafeteria, museum and multiple gift shops. We went to the information desk for a map and then to check out the cafe. The cafe was one of those buffet type ones but we were both starving so we decided to get some food. We ended up with a plate of chips and some grilled vegetables. The vegan options were quite limited. After eating we made our way into the basilica to listen to the Montserrat boys choir sing. The singing was somewhat hampered by people insisting on taking flash photography (which wasn’t allowed) during most of the performance. The church is very beautiful, with large frescoes behind the altar and gold decorating almost everything.

After exploring the basilica we decided to queue up to see the black Virgin Mary of Montserrat. She is a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus, she was inside a case but one of her hands (holding the bowl of the world) is outside. You are encouraged to touch her hand and to seek some kind of blessing. I’m not religious at all but I do enjoy the reverence of holy artifacts. Getting to touch her hand was a great experience and one I will not forget.


Prayer candles lit for the Virgin Mary.

We left Montserrat around 2:30 and made our way back to Barcelona. We ended up at Barcelona’s port and the Rambla Del Mar. The port is very pretty but quite touristy. For a while we sat in the sun next to the water before having a walk along the front. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a bakery I had read about that sold vegan cakes and patisserie. The owner was a very old and sweet man who didn’t speak a word of English. I chose a chocolate, caramel and hazelnut patisserie which he wrapped up for me.

The Excelsior from http://www.lujuriavegana.com/
Bought at Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 32 (Pujol building) 

This cake is hands down one of the best vegan cakes I have ever eaten. A lot of the time people gauge how good vegan food is based on whether you can tell or not. You cannot tell at ALL with Lujuria Vegana cakes. I was transported back to my pre-veganism days when I had patisserie at Laduree in Paris. Simply sublime. Do not miss out on going! We went back twice but both times the bakery was closed so I am unsure of what hours they keep.

For our final dinner in Barcelona we decided to visit Rasoterra.

Rasoterra
Carrer Palau, 5, 08002 

Books in Rasoterra.

Rasoterra is a lovely, light and comfortable restaurant. They have a lot of books available to read, vegetarian cookbooks and the magazine of the Slow Food movement. The owner was very polite and brought us a menu in English. The food at Rasoterra was my favourite of all the places we visited. Eleeshia had the gnocchi and I had a trio of tapas. I chose the patatas bravas, artichokes and the tofu and vegetable gyozas.


Patatas bravas with spicy tomato and vegan aioli

Artichokes with roasted young garlic and hazelnut heart cooked in wine


Tofu and vegetable gyozas


Gnocchi.

The food at Rasoterra is SO delicious. You should have seen my face when he brought over the bravas and there was VEGAN AIOLI! So exciting. Everything was amazing, I have no complaints at all about the food or the service. The owner was very good to recommend a local beer to Eleeshia. The only thing I regret about our visit is that we were too full to eat dessert!

Day four.

We spent our last day in Barcelona wandering around. We spent a while in La Boqueria, bought some spices and some gifts and had some more coconut mango juice. We went for a wander and found the Arc de Triomf. We had a rather disappointing lunch (think chips and nothing else) at the Rambla Del Mar before trying to get some vegan gelato at Gelati Gelati! Unfortunately Gelati was closed so I missed out. We made our way back to the hotel and got our bags before starting on our journey back home!

Final thoughts and tips.

  • Plan ahead, do your research before you fly. A lot of my knowledge of where to eat came from other peoples blog posts, Happy Cow and Tripadvisor.
  • Get a decent map!
  • Free wifi is your friend
  • Make your own food!

Sarah xxx


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