Sunday, 25 February 2018

Gluten Free Barcelona - The Highs

For families with strict dietary requirements, choosing a holiday destination is not straight forward..... In addition to the universal debate of what there will be to do when you get to wherever you end up (which may mean trying to fit in (or compromise) the needs of several age bands and interests), the ultimate choice may in part be driven by the likelihood of getting a good meal...... Will we be able to eat safely and how easy will it be to find lunch or dinner without hours of traipsing and enquiring?

I have been meaning to write this post for ages, but for various reasons which are far too complicated or boring to go into, it has taken months to get around to it. With the summer fast coming round again however and the need to start planning holidays, I wanted to share a little Spanish gluten free wisdom..... and to share one or two other photos too.

Whenever we go away, I research my intended destination and work out whether the local diet is likely to be friendly to us and I make a note of any recommended eateries that are likely to cater for gluten freedom. One of my favourite sources is other bloggers, because I trust that they will be sharing the gems and be honest about where to avoid.

Let's face it...... If you can't just walk into any restaurant and eat, then someone else's leg-work could just save you a lot of disappointment (which becomes really really important when you have a hungry child in tow...).

With that in mind, I have decided that whenever I go away (which admittedly is not as often as I would like), I will endeavour to share my favourite finds with you too..... just in case you ever head for the same neck of the woods. Be sure to check out and follow my Instagram Account too, as this will always be ahead of any blog posts when I come across somewhere (or something) that blows me away.

But back to Barcelona...... which we visited last summer (2017)..... It was a last minute booking, to a city which I have wanted to visit for years. I wasn't disappointed. It was incredibly diverse, compact, colourful, welcoming, creative and with such a wealth of culture and history that I could have been occupied for months just wandering around the streets. Apart from the misfortune of being caught up in a major terror attack (our experience of which you can read about here), our time in Barcelona was amazing and I will be returning for sure....

A word of warning for summer gluten free travellers though...... August can create some frustration! When I set about my foodie research ahead of our trip, I was incredibly excited that the city was reported to have a number of specifically gluten free bakeries...... Turns out most of them are closed at some time during August for their annual holiday.

Either way, because I really really wanted to visit them, I have included a bit of information about them below in case anyone else is lucky enough to get there.

I don't know about you, but when I think food of Spain and Catalonia, I think Tapas, Paella and plenty of Mediterranean fruit and veg. Fruit and veg is straight forward for gluten avoiders and most Paella is also likely to be fine (depending on added stock, which you need to be sure to check)..... What about Tapas? If you avoid any breads and batters and stick to cheeses, hams, shrimp, olives, omelettes and potatoes, you should be fine. Right?
No! Apparently not!

I was genuinely shocked at how many Tapas restaurants turned us away, being constantly told that (despite being in separate counter areas with no other obvious contaminants) even the ham and cheese weren't safe. Frankly I suspect that some restaurants simply couldn't be bothered, but if their attitude is that unhelpful, then they cannot be trusted to prepare food safely. I am more than willing to take my custom and hard earned cash elsewhere.... and gluten-safety is always top priority.

Sadly, my very favourite Patatas Bravas (potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) seemed to be off the menu too..... I didn't find one restaurant that could offer them gluten free..... and trust me, I asked at dozens.

We did manage to find several Paellas however..... although they varied in quality, most were relatively cheap and pretty satisfying.

Anyway..... to where we ate and loved......

Eating Out

Jansana Bakery - Carrer Balmes, 106; Barcelona 08008

This was by far our favourite find of the trip, possibly because it was the only dedicated 100% gluten free bakery that was open during our August visit (opening the day after we got there). Being relatively central in the L'Eixample district on Carrer Balmes, it was (for us) a 15 minute stroll in the morning to pick up a stash of gorgeous gluten free goodies for a picnic lunch or to enjoy a leisurely, late, sit-in breakfast.

There is something about finding a completely gluten free bakery or restaurant that always makes me excited beyond belief.... If you aren't required to be gluten free, I am not sure you can truly understand..... but the prospect of actually being able to eat anything on display (which is taken for granted by most people), is so far removed from our usual day to day experience that it is like being a child let loose in a toy shop..... you want everything..... and I mean EVERYTHING..... You don't want to miss out on something you might never get the chance to try again..... and it is really really hard to resist the urge to binge..... even if it means carb overload.

Although quite small, Jansana had an amazing selection of sweet and savoury breads, pastries and cakes. They were able to provide us with filled rolls (with glorious home-made breads), savoury quiches and cheese-filled pastries to take out for lunch and we ate some of the most decadent patisserie there too. We were spoilt with everything from flaky layers of pastry or profiteroles.... to fillings of creamy custards, fruit and chocolate ganache...... You know.... the sort of beautiful desserts that make you feel extra special (and exceptionally immoral when eaten for breakfast! Well..... we were on holiday). Everything we ate was incredible.

We LOVED this place. It somehow made us feel extra welcome, not least because once there, we didn't have to ask....... That counts for a lot when you usually have to go through the 'can we see the allergen menu/can you do/how do you prepare...?' etc script pretty much every time you eat out.

Il Piccolo Focone - Carrer Dos de Maig, 268; Barcelona 08025

Located just round the corner from the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, this is a family-run Italian restaurant that offers an extensive menu of fresh gluten free pasta, pizza, risotto, breads, salads, meat and fish dishes. They have over eight years experience in preparing gluten free food, with a separate menu specifically for Celiacs and gluten-avoiders.

We tied lunch here with a visit to the Cathedral (which is a must see) and weren't disappointed. The pasta (I had traditionally filled Cannelloni) was one of the best I have eaten. Miss GF had Pizza which was also extremely good. You even have the option of GF Tiramisu for dessert, although sadly the last piece had been sold just before I ordered.... I settled for a creamy, Italian Panna Cotta instead.

If you love Italian eating, you have to visit this place..... you won't be disappointed. Although the surroundings are quite basic, the food is exceptional. You can check out their gluten free menu here. Although it is not in English, if you use a basic Catalan translation tool, you will get the gist.

Lolita Barceloneta - Passeig de Joan de Borbo, 38, 08039, Barcelona

If you are looking for an easy, low-key, relaxed meal, we found Lolita Barceloneta down near the seafront. Although not a specifically gluten free restaurant, the staff were friendly and knowledgable and were able to offer a variety of safe gluten free tapas and a selection of gluten free paellas. We ate here a couple of times and although both meals were great, on our second visit, the staff were a bit slow.... Nonetheless worth a visit if you are in the area.

Conesa Sandwich Shop - Llibreteria 1, Placa Sant Jaume, 08002, Barcelona (Bari Gotic)

Centrally located in the city, Conesa has a fantastic range of gluten free sandwiches and rolls, hot and cold, that have been certified by the Coeliac Association in Catalonia. Quick, easy and convenient, these sandwiches are really good and with a vast range of gluten free filling options, the whole family is guaranteed to be gluten-free happy.

McDonalds - All over the city

Okay..... don't shoot me down. We only eat there very occasionally, but I have a soft spot for McDonalds. In the UK, they are the only basic burger takeaway restaurant that offers the ability to give you a gluten free beef burger and safe fries. If you take in your own bun (I always pre-slice mine), they will happily fill it (and in some venues) toast it in a decontaminated area so that you can be like everyone else. They have made my life as a parent so much easier when Miss GF wanted to eat just like her friends or went to parties and sleepovers where I knew McD's would be on the menu.

In Spain, they take gluten freedom one stage further...... they offer you an actual gluten free bun to go with your burger..... so if you are in a hurry (or just want to experience the novelty of going to McDonalds without the faff of taking bread with you), this has to be on your list! You will also find that the fries are gluten free (fried separately from other products) and the staff are well-trained.

Ice Cream Parlours

Surprisingly, finding a gluten-safe ice cream in Barcelona was trickier than we thought it would be. A number of ice cream parlours that we visited had fresh ice cream that had no obvious gluten containing ingredients, but we were told that the manufacturing process made them unsafe. No one wants to be sick on holiday, however as ice cream is a summer essential..... we went on a mission to find the best we could. These two companies (which were both centrally located) were our favourites :

Dino Gelato - Passeig de Gracia 4, 46015, Barcelona

Loved this place. Not only was the ice cream creamy, delicious and gluten free, but they offered 'free from' cones as well. Being located at the top of the main shopping street, Dino is really easy to find..... but beware..... its convenience makes it rather addictive.

Gelaaati Di Marco - Llibreteria 7, 08002, Barcelona 

Amazing home-made, Italian artisan gelato. Gelaaati Di Marco caters for a full range of dietary restrictions including gluten free, lactose free, dairy free and vegan. This place has the most amazing array of flavours. Rich, creamy and delicious. Simply MUST be visited.

Gluten Free Supplies :


Barcelona is great for grabbing gluten free staples and goodies in supermarkets and you will find a varied selection in most stores (although some will be better stocked than others). Specifically gluten free products are clearly labelled and are found on gluten free shelves and aisles signed 'Sin Gluten'/'Sense Gluten', much as they are in the UK. Go explore!


An unexpected source of gluten free supplies is found in the city's pharmacies, although not in all and some are better stocked than others. In one of the stores I went into (opposite Gaudi's La Pedrera), there were a number of shelves of mainly Schaar products that I had not seen in the UK.... which (as you could imagine) caused  great excitement. Either way, bear the pharmacy in mind if you are stuck and hungry or need to stock up on some basics..... or just to have a mooch on the hunt for new stuff....

Barcelona Markets

Dotted around the city, you will find a number of permanent undercover local markets full of amazing, fresh local fruits, vegetables, fish, meats and cheeses..... stall upon stall...... You will also find freshly prepared fruit juices, smoothies, chocolate-dipped fruit, spices, olives, oils, nuts, dried fruits. preserves and even street food vendors and a few sit down cafes. 

Our favourites :

La Boqueria Market (Rambla, 91, 08001, Barcelona)
Located in the heart of the city, this is the largest and most vibrant. Open Monday to Saturday.

Mercat de Santa Caterina (Av. de Francesc Cambo, 16, 08003 Barcelona)
Also in the tourist area, close to Barcelona Cathedral, this is another buzzing market..... Smaller than La Boqueria, but no less interesting and still with a vast selection of fresh produce. Easy to spot for its distinctive tile roof.

Mercat de Sagrada Familia (Carrer de Padilla, 255, 08013, Barcelona)
If you find yourselves further North in the city, this is a great market. On a par with Mercat de Santa Caterina.

Whilst we didn't visit all the city markets, if the three we went to are anything to go by, they are all worth coming across. You can check out Time Out's Top Ten here.

Where we wanted to try, but weren't able to :


Celiadictos Bakery - Carrer Pobla de Lillet 5, 08028, Barcelona

Located up near Camp Nou and Barcelona FC, this independent specialist gluten free bakery looks amazing. Their website shows drool-worthy photos of high-end gluten free patisserie, cakes, cupcakes, breads, biscuits, pizzas and celebration cakes. Frankly I am gutted that they were closed when we were in Barcelona. This place looks good enough to make another flight to the city just to buy treats! (closed Sunday and Monday, but visit their website for up to date information).

Pasticelia Bakery - Carrer de Paris, 165, 08036, Barcelona 

As with Celiadictos above, I was so upset that Pasticelia was closed for vacation when we visited in August. Their website states that they were the first traditional artisan gluten free bakery in Barcelona. Located in the Eixample neighbourhood, they also have an amazing array of gluten free pastries, cakes, macaron, cookies, financiers..... not to mention de-glutened traditional and celebration cakes, pizza, party food, bread (including cheese bread) and brioche. (Closed Monday, but visit their website for up to date information)

Baci d'Angelo Bakery 

Yet another Artisan, specialist gluten free bakery (I am beginning to wish I lived in Barcelona....), with more than 200 products potentially available, baked using their own flour mixes. Unfortunately, Baci d'Angelo no longer offers a walk-in  premises, but sells their delicious-looking bakes via their on-line shop at (Tel 93 34 86 862 - email at Items ordered can be delivered in less than 24 hours within Barcelona - order Monday to Friday (Minimum order required) - see their website for further information.

Pastelosofia Bakery - Carrer Ferran Tume, 12-16, Barcelona

Located in the Sagrera neighbourhood, this bakery is a long way out from the city centre. However, looking at their website, I reckon they are worth the trip, especially if you are looking for something with a slightly more health-aware bake or are in need of additional ingredient avoidance. Their website states that they make 'healthy, gluten free and lactose free pastry' and use healthier fruits, vegetables, nuts and spices in their bakes for a more natural and nutritious result. (Closed Sundays). See website for more information.


Messie Sin Gluten Pizza - Carrer de Siracusa, 15, 08012, Barcelona

Located in the Gracia neighbourhood, Messie Sin Gluten serves pizza, pasta, salad and cakes which are all gluten free, in a dedicated restaurant (also deliver locally Sunday to Thursday). I read mixed reviews, although the majority were positive. Should I return to Barcelona (and I will), I would definitely give it a try, especially if looking for familiar child-friendly fare.

Copasetic Restaurant - Carrer de la Diputacio, 55, 08015, Barcelona

Located relatively centrally in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Copacetic serves Mediterranean-influenced cuisine with gluten free options (although this is not a specialist 100% gluten free restaurant) and has a good reputation and reviews within the Coeliac community. Gluten free menu choices include crepes, hamburgers, sandwiches, soups, pancakes and home-made cakes, using many fresh, locally-sourced organic ingredients. Copasetic also offers dairy free, lactose free and vegetarian/vegan options. Staff are reported to be helpful, knowledgable and accommodating in amending dishes to meet allergen needs. Child-friendly. Closed Mondays (sadly they were also closed during our August visit!)

La Lluna Restaurant - Calle Sana Anna, 20, 08002, Barcelona

Central to the city in the Gothic Quarter, La Lluna serves traditional Catalan cuisine with a good selection of gluten free options. Considered to be one of the best gluten free restaurant destinations in Barcelona, they no longer use wheat flour in sauces and their pastries are made using ground almonds. Unfortunately (although I haven't checked any update on this as we didn't make it there during our visit), gluten free eaters need to avoid fried options due to risk of cross-contamination. See website for opening hours.

Gut Restaurant - Carrer del Perill, 13, 08012, Barcelona

Located in the Gracia neighbourhood, Gut offers a menu which is largely (but not entirely) gluten free or can be tweaked to avoid gluten. Its offerings have an Asian influence with a healthy focus and include plenty of vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, lactose free or egg free options. Has a good reputation with Coeliacs. This would be high on my list to visit when I return to Barcelona.

Out Of China - Carrer Aribau, 112, 08036, Barcelona 

Chinese restaurant in the Eixample district which I am informed is knowledgeable and helpful if you are gluten free. They have lots of clearly marked gluten free options on their menu which look incredibly tempting. I don't know about you, but being gluten free, Chinese food is one of the things I most miss!

Sandwich Shops

Forn Boix Bakery - Carrer de l'Hospital, 20, 08001, Barcelona

We didn't get a chance to visit Forn Boix, but it has a reasonable reputation for selling pre-packaged, home-baked muffins and cookies (and some GF breads). Centrally located close to La Rambla, it may be worth keeping up your sleeve.

Since getting back, I have found a fab blog : Vivere Senza Glutine which has listings for a whole range of gluten free-friendly venues under a page Barcelona gluten free - Living Gluten Free, so if you are heading to this beautiful city, I would recommend you check them out.

I am sharing this post with the following linkies :

Free From Fridays with Free From Farmhouse and Le Coin De Mel
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated


  1. Oh wow - Barcelona looks amazing!!! I've never been and now I really want to go!!! I am fascinated by the varying levels of gluten free helpfulness (I presume it's a similar story in the UK)...and equally amazed that McD's can do GF bread in Spain but not in the UK, eh? Super glad to see how many happy pics and fun times you managed to have despite the awfulness of the attack. Eb x

    1. Thanks Eb. It was an amazing city and if you get a chance, you must visit! When you are gluten free, you get all sorts of strange responses..... some less helpful than others. There is a cafe in our high street where I once asked about GF food. They responded 'we don't get much call for that!' Needless to say I have boycotted them since.
      As for McD's.... they went right up in my estimation after we became GF..... They are actually much more switched on than many places..... But it does depend on which country you're in. In the States, you can't even eat the fries! Head to Scandinavia and the range of GF options widens even further! x

  2. That is very comprehensive - I hope it holds you in good stead when you return to barcelona. I visited there before it was the thing to go online and find vegetarian places and had a miserable time of eating out there - though I was there a week or so and my experience improved with time. So I appreciate how helpful the internet is to travellers with dietary restrictions. The bakery looks superb. I did a double take at macdonalds - will need to check about them here in Australia though I am sure they don't do GF buns. And the Gaudi buildings are amazing too.

    1. Thanks Johanna. Travelling with food requirements (whatever they are) is always an interesting challenge and the responses you get can be so different from country to country and city to city. There's always someone who's been there before you though and there wisdom can save so much time. x

  3. I went to Barcelona nearly 2 years ago and also found it very difficult to find anywhere safe to eat. I once wandered in and out of restaurants for over an hour with my sister looking for somewhere that would serve me something safe. Everything was either on bread, deep fried or battered. One night for dinner I even bought and ate some food from the supermarket, before sitting with my sister in a restaurant while she ate a nice dinner. I was really disappointed.
    The highlight for me was Jansana Bakery too. It was so good I went twice.

    1. Goodness..... it must have changed so much in just a couple of years. It's such a shame that eating was so difficult for you..... If I have a hard time, it really puts me off a place. But when you find somewhere like Jansana, it at least feels like moving in the right direction! x

  4. What a nice post! I visited Barcelona so long time ago now.. before the children came along. It is not far and I would love to visit it again. I love Spanish food, so fresh and so Mediterranean. Thank you, I really enjoyed the post x

    1. Thank you Alida. It is a fantastic city. You should definitely return...... I think your kids would love it too x

  5. So much stunning food! I remember seeing some of these on instagram and it all looked so amazing.

    1. Thanks Kat..... The food was so 'instagramable', it had to be shared then and there! x

  6. Wow, what a selection of places! It's amazing there is actually so much in Barcelona! I'm not surprised about most bakeries being closed in August, It's exactly the same thing in France: everyone is on holiday :) I'm impressed about the 100% GF bakery you found, and I'd heard about McDonald's having a GF bun, but had no idea they had them in Spain too. Makes me wonder why that global company hasn't yet managed to bring GF buns to the UK... Thanks for joining in with #FreeFromFridays.

    1. Thank you. I always forget that if you head South, August holidays are sacrosanct.
      The problem with McD's is that although it is a global company, it seems to be geographically managed and each country has its own rules on how food is prepared and what they offer with lots of local quirks. The world seems to be split on GF fries and also on buns, so I always check ahead of any travel, particularly when I have Miss GF in tow x

  7. Great post with some fantastic info for GF eaters. I don’t have gluten allergy but often opt to go GF. I’m so glad you found a GF bakery that was open In August! Everything looks delicious!! Love Barcelona. Thanks for linking #citytripping


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