Catalonia Food and Where to Eat it in the Pyrenees

May 2, 2024   3 Comments »

Catalonia Food and Where to Eat it in the Pyrenees

August 20, 2015 3 Comments »

One of the universal things we all have to do in the world, no matter what religion, sex, age, or culture, is eat and drink. And some places just do it better than others.

Sure – there are countries and regions that make great food and have plenty of famous chefs, like America, but then there are countries and cultures that take it to another level where it’s not simply about the food, but it’s about the social aspect of food and drink. It’s not about what it looks like on the plate or even about taste – it’s about people and the time, care, and love that is part of the recipe that makes some cultures and destinations a mecca for food. Catalonia food, specifically in the Costa Brava / Pyrenees, is one of them.

Catalan Chefs of all Levels Bring Quality to the Table

Yet Costa Brava/Pyrenees is quiet and humble about their food. In fact, I think that’s what makes me love the food in Catalonia Spain even more. Humility is sexy…and tasty. Catalan chefs don’t take the ‘look at me’ approach; they simply do what they’ve always been doing, quietly putting love, tradition, and quality into their most basic of meals.

Home to the best restaurant in the world in 2013 and 2015, El Celler de Can Roca, Catalan chefs are certainly doing some innovative things around the region. However, as I traveled through the Pyrenees, what I found was beautifully made Catalonia food made out of respect and tradition, dishes and chefs that won my heart and taste buds.

One of the most astonishing things that struck me is that no matter how small and remote the village or restaurant is, they will wow you with a feast that is beautifully plated and equally delicious.

I visited Catalan villages where there were only one or two restaurants in the whole village and the level of service and preparation was at a level of any large city.

what to eat Catalonia

Catalonia Food Staples

Bread At Every Meal

Bread is a part of every meal and comes in all forms, always baked fresh daily. Often, you’ll find bread for dessert, too. Make sure you stop at the small-town bakeries, but get there early as all the work happens in the morning. Just follow your nose to the smell of freshly baked bread.

The region is best known for the bread concoction – pa amb tomàquet. Be sure to try making your own at the table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner: toasted/crunchy bread scrubbed with ripe fresh tomato, garlic, salt, and olive oil.

And for something different and traditional try succamulla – a slice of day-old bread, pour red wine over the top until it soaks into the dry bread, then sprinkle a spoonful of sugar over the top. Surprisingly this is a treat for kids and a great way to use of old bread!

Catalan Meats and Where to Eat Them

Cal Colfa Restaurant in the little Spanish enclave of Livia was probably my most memorable meal. A classic 2+ hour lunch with dish after dish of amazing food. But my favorite meat dish during my entire stay was the mustard beef at this simple little Pyrenees restaurant. I’ve never had anything like it before.

Catalonia Food 10

Chef Eva of Can Jordi was excited to serve us a Pyrenees specialty – horse…yes…horse. She grilled up horse fillets for us in the tiny little town of Espinavelle with a population of 24 people.

We had pate at many meals, a staple dish in Catalonia and at Can Borrell.

Meat is best cooked slow, and the ultimate slow cook was made by Chef Pep in Garrotxa. He slow-cooked beef cheek for 24 hours in a mold – exquisite, tender, and flavorful.

Duck at La Barretina –  OK, so this wasn’t in the Pyrenees per se – but it’s on your way to the Pyrenees, and I loved this restaurant so much (and Chef Albert), that I went out of my way to stop there again and have the same exact meal that made me fall in love with La Barretina 3 years ago! Getting back to see Chef Albert was a highlight for me, he was still creating great, local, comfort food – but the one thing that was different was that he knew much more English this time around!

Catalonia Food 2 (2)

Fish in the Pyrenees

Even though you are in the Pyrenees, that doesn’t mean you can’t find seafood and fish! Can Jepet in the tiny mountain town of Setcases was the restaurant where my eyes were bigger than my stomach. Each dish was so wonderful that I ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. But the fish was the dish that impressed me the most. How do they make such great fish in a mountain town?!

Read my ebook I wrote about the Fishing Culture in Costa Brava

Basque food - Catalan fish

Greens: It’s All About the Soil

“Vegetables grown in volcanic soil taste better,” Chef Pep Nogue announced with a smile. We had to work for our greens in the Pyrenees! During our hike, we spotted and picked dandelion chicories. The leaves are sharp and fresh, and you can find them in abundance while hiking in the Pyrenees if you just look down at your feet.

Award Winning Catalan Pizza

Pizza in Spain?  Yes, Catalan pizza is so good and innovative that it beat Italy in the Naples Pizza World Championship in 2009! Fabian Pizzeria Puigcerdà is not your typical pizza place; it will change your definition of pizza. Fabio, a retired professional boxer, deconstructs pizza in so many different ways it’s mind-boggling. His World Championship pizza…is served in a glass.  In addition to drinking your pizza, if you are lucky, you’ll get to see Fabio put on a dough-spinning show!

Learn about Catalonia’s quirky Christmas traditions

Catalonia Drinks

I was at dinner and counted five glasses in front of me at one time. This is totally normal in Catalonia!  If you are going to have a long 2-hour lunch, then you better have a lot to drink!


And after dinner, wash it all down with the local Ratafía.  Ratafia is a Spanish liqueur that is made by mashing different fruits (such as lemon peel, morello cherries, red carnations, and green nuts), herbs (like mint), and spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and bramble branch) in an alcohol of some sort.

After dinner, pour a glass of Ratafia

Ice Wine From the Pyrenees

High in the mountains of the Pyrenees near Llivia, a group of locals are growing grapes for ice wine.  They are just in the beginning stages, in fact, they made us roll up our sleeves and help them plant! In a few years, I’m going back to stake my claim to my vine!

Emporda Wines

The variety of soils in Costa Brava/Pyrenees, limestone, sandy, volcanic, and clayey, means that many grape varieties are able to thrive.  The Emporda region has amazing new wineries popping up all over where you can tour and taste, like Terra Remota.

emporda wine terra remota


These delicious desserts need no words…

Map of Where to Eat This Delicious Catalonia Food:

Find the restaurants I’ve mentioned in the article and have your own food holiday! Bon appétit!


I was a guest of Costa Brava/Pyrenees tourism during my time in Spain, however all opinions here are my own.

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