Gluten Free Barcelona: Where to Eat
Finding safe gluten free food while on the road can sometimes be a challenge, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Barcelona is a very gluten free friendly city. My husband and I had no trouble finding gluten free options for our son, and we were happy to be able to avoid cooking meals while on vacation.
We found most shopkeepers and restaurant staff to be knowledgeable of gluten free, and we looked for the gluten free certification sign on prepackaged items. "Sin gluten" in Spanish or "Sense gluten" in Catalan means gluten free. Label laws in Europe are quite strict, so if y ou are planning to purchase packaged foods like chips or cookies, gluten must specifically be listed on the package, usually in bold type.
Below is a list of restaurants, cafes, markets, and bakeries that cater to the gluten free eater. Please always be sure to always do your own due diligence and ask the important questions, but hopefully this list will give you some great options to make eating in Barcelona a cinch. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should get you started!
Click on the links in the titles to go directly to the website of each listing.
1- Forn Boix: We stopped by this bakery every morning. It is not a completely gluten free bakery, but they have a separate area where they sell pre-packaged gluten free cookies and muffins, and even gluten free bread. Located just off La Rambla, it's extremely easy to find, and the cookies were really good! Great for picking up a snack on the go. 20 Carrer de l'Hospital
2- SynGluten: This is a completely gluten free bakery that offers bread, pastries, cakes, cookies, the works. It's located close to Camp Nou, the Barcelona soccer stadium, so if you're making a trip to see the stadium it might be worthwhile to check out the bakery. Hours are listed on the website, but it's only in Spanish. Click on "Horario" to see when they're open. 115 Carrer Galileo
Restaurants and Cafes
1- McDonald's: Everyone always complains about McDonald's, yet I've never seen one that wasn't always full of customers. For a quick meal in a hurry, it's worth knowing that McDonald's in Spain offers gluten free buns. Their fries are also gluten free, and most locations have a separate fryer just for the fries. Staff is knowledgeable, and some locations have a separate prep area for gluten free. Everywhere!
2- El Cafe BlueProject: Focused on vegetarian, vegan, raw food, and gluten free dishes. Everything is 100% organic and the focus is on fresh. The menu is clearly labeled, and almost everything is gluten free. I'm not sure how they handle cross-contamination issues with meal prep, so it's worth asking. You can make reservations on their website. 57 Caller Princesa
3- Conesa: This sandwich shop is heaven for those who are gluten free. We took the kids there one night after we had been walking around all afternoon and the kids were famished. They offer up gluten free sandwiches on certified gluten free bread. My husband chatted up the owner and he explained that there are only two sandwiches fillings on the menu that he doesn't offer gluten free, and that's because his supplier cannot guarantee that the ingredients are certified. They work with the Celiac Association in Catalunya, and also undergo third party testing. Highly recommended. Two locations: Libreteria 1, Placa Sant Jaume (Bari Gotic), and Creu Coberta 80, in Montjuic.
4- Copasetic: This restaurant is a fabulous option for anyone with food restrictions. It has gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian/vegan options available. The menu is pretty diverse and has a great selection of meal options. There's also a separate brunch menu. I wrote a review of this restaurant on the blog earlier, so rather than write everything out again, you can access the review here at Gluten Free Barcelona: Copasetic. Bottom line, they are knowledgeable about gluten free, make great food, and the service is friendly. Caller Diputacio 55.
5- La Lluna: This is a fancier restaurant located in the Bari Gotic. We didn't have a chance to eat here, but when we asked around for recommendations, this restaurant was mentioned a few times. It's not a 100% gluten free restaurant, but they have gluten free items clearly marked on the menu. Based on the photos on the website, it looks like a place for a romantic meal. 7 Carrero St. Bonaventura.
6- Il Piccolo Focone: This is an Italian restaurant with over 8 years of experience preparing gluten free food. They cater to Celiacs, and have a menu specifically for Celiacs called "El rincon del Celiaco" which means "Celiac Corner" or "Celiac Space." They offer pizza, pastas, salads, and more for gluten free customers. The website is all in Spanish, but I linked to the gluten free menu portion in the title. Located a few blocks from Sagrada Familia church. 268 Caller Dos de Maig.
7- Allergy Chef: For a searchable database of restaurants that cater to specific food allergies, there is a website called Allergy Chef, in association with the Catalan Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The site allows you to search by neighbourhood and food restriction, and then you can make reservations at any other restaurants that pop up directly through the site. There are also restaurant reviews, and viewable menus. Such a great option, and you can access the information in English.
1- The Boqueria Market: This is foodie heaven. Truly. This market has everything from food stands selling fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, and cheese, to prepared meals and actual sit-down cafes. You can find fruit juices and fruit salads for one Euro, salads for two or three Euros, and even fries cooked in a dedicated fryer for two Euros. It's simple and cheap to create a meal out of items available at the market, or to do some shopping if you want to prepare a meal back at your hotel or rental apartment. Get there early for smaller crowds and more selection. I recommend taking a walk around first before buying anything. Prices tend to go down the further into the market you go. Located right off La Rambla. Open Monday to Saturday from 8:30 to 8:30.
2- Mercat de Santa Caterina: This market is another great choice for finding fresh, gluten free options. It's located close to the Barcelona Cathedral, and has a distinctive mosaic tile roof. It is a smaller market, but still has a great selection of food products from cheese, to olives, fuits, and vegetables, and more. Hours available on the website. 16 Avinguda Frencesc Cambo.
Almost every grocery store we stepped foot in had a section for gluten free products. Chain stores like Dia, as well as the grocery section of El Corte Ingles have several options available. It was easy to find cookies, pasta, sauces, condiments, and more, all labeled gluten free.
In many European countries, pharmacies carry a small supply of gluten free items. They are usually found in the same section as other dietetic items, like sugar free foods or low fat ones. It's a good option if you're looking for a quick snack in the middle of the day while sightseeing, or to stock up on some items to keep in your bag as a back up. I found gluten free options in several pharmacies in Barcelona. Also, medications in Spain tend to be labeled gluten free as well, so don't hesitate to ask a pharmacist if you find yourself in need of over-the-counter medication while you're there.
One thing that impressed me the most was the number of times I saw the word Celiac versus just gluten free. People are knowledgeable about Celiac disease, and had products or plates that were suitable for Celiacs or had the seal of approval from the local Celiac association. There are many tapas that are naturally gluten free, and several people told us that if we just ask in most tapas bars, we would be happy to know that many would be able to accommodate our needs. I hope you have a great time in Barcelona, and that you find eating gluten free as simple and delicious as I did!