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.
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.
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
Ice Cream Parlours
Dino Gelato – Passeig de Gracia 4, 46015, Barcelona
Gelaaati Di Marco – Llibreteria 7, 08002, Barcelona
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!
Our favourites :
Where we wanted to try, but weren’t able to :
Celiadictos Bakery – Carrer Pobla de Lillet 5, 08028, Barcelona
Pasticelia Bakery – Carrer de Paris, 165, 08036, Barcelona
Baci d’Angelo Bakery
Pastelosofia Bakery – Carrer Ferran Tume, 12-16, Barcelona
Messie Sin Gluten Pizza – Carrer de Siracusa, 15, 08012, Barcelona
Note : Site no longer accessible – Not sure this venue still exists
Copasetic Restaurant – Carrer de la Diputacio, 55, 08015, Barcelona
Note : Site no longer accessible – Not sure this venue still exists