Foods your kids will like in a Barcelona restaurant


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Barcelona is a foodie’s dream. When it comes to your kids and food, could it be their dream too? And not a cold, sweaty nightmare? You wonder…

“Is it really all fried foods?”

“What if I don’t understand the menu?!”

“Will they gross out because of a weird spice? Then just eat doughnuts the rest of the trip?”

Parents of picky eaters, allow me to hold space for your pain.

If your kids enjoy US-style hamburgers, French fries, pizza, spaghetti, and chicken nuggets, you won’t have a problem finding a restaurant that serves that up. They’re usually on a special menu infantil (kids’ menu) – if the restaurant has one.

But maybe you want your kids to expand their culinary palate. Stretch their repertoire of flavors that go beyond mac and cheese, if you will.

Let me introduce you to some main dish options that your kid might like. You can often find them on a menu:

Main Dishes for Lunch or Dinner

(In Catalan / Spanish / English)


Paella, of course, is the most stereotypical dish of Spain. It’s not eaten all the time, like the tourist-ridden restaurants offer, but locals still enjoy it. Restaurants often serve it for lunch on Thursdays on a menu del dia (a fixed-price meal, drinks, and bread included).  Some kids don’t like the extra veggies and seafood, but you can always pick it out and put it on the side.

Foods your kids will like in Spain

Where to eat it: try it at Escriba restaurant by the beach!

Kid foods Barcelona

Fideuà / Fideos / Catalan short noodles

In short, fideuà the Catalan version of paella. Instead of rice, the star ingredient is short noodles, and the meat is always seafood. It usually includes a white fish like monkfish and some cuttlefish and/or shrimp. Read my post here about the centuries-old battle between paella and fideuà. It’s usually served for lunch.

Macarrons / Macarrones / macaroni 

Macarrons are like the go-to easy home dish that mothers and grandmothers make for their kids. It’s like the Spain’s version of mac and cheese. Only this doesn’t come in a box, and it’s not usually elbow-shaped. It usually has a tomato sauce with some ground pork, beef, or a mixture of both. 

Macarrones. Photo by JaulaDeArdilla
Upclose and personal: macarrones made by abuela. Photo by JaulaDeArdilla.

Mandoguilles / Albóndigas / Meatballs

Meatballs in Spain are usually made of pork unless noted. Sometimes they have a tomato-based sauce or another vegetable-based sauce. 

Photo by @scaredykat via Flickr
You can’t lose with albóndigas. Photo by Krista / scaredycat via Flickr

Patates bravas / patatas bravas / Spicy potatoes

Often served as an appetizer, patates bravas are irregular cuts of fried potatoes served with alioli and a spicy tomato sauce.  If your kids don’t like heat, ask your server to put the sauces to the side. They’re always a hit!

© Copyright 2017 Justine Ancheta
“Pa-ta-ta”: the way to get kids to smile in a photo.

Croquetes / Croquetas / Croquettes

It’s hard to find a kid who doesn’t like croquetes. The charm of this bite-sized yumminess is the juxtaposition of textures: crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Inside this small roll is ham, chicken, or other ingredients mixed with a thick bechamel sauce (flour, milk, and butter). Then it’s breaded and fried.

Gooeyness galore. Photo by CarmYla’s Selection via Flickr

Truita de patates / tortilla de patatas / Spanish tortilla 

This dish sounds simple, and it is. The ingredients are potatoes, eggs, onions, and olive oil. But it isn’t a slice-bam-thank-you-ma’am-kinda meal. Making it requires time and patience. A spidey sense of tortilla done-ness. And a confident, yet exacting, flip of the tortilla.

The result is a solid “cake” of egg that beautifully binds the slow-cooked potatoes and onions sweetened to scrumptiousness.

FACT: There are many recipes of tortillas as there are abuelas in Spain.

Entrepans / Bocadillos / Sandwiches

Sandwiches are hard to get wrong. They’re usually served on baguette bread and has 1-3 fillings – no mayo, mustard, or lettuce. It can be a Spanish tortilla, jamon serrano (cured ham), or even tuna.

Photo by scaredycat via Flickr


So what if none of this is still appetizing? All hope for your kid is not lost! You can often find a protein option with potatoes or another side dish.

A myriad of meat options

On the menu, you’ll probably find different cuts of meat like chicken breast, beef fillet, or sirloin. Here are some examples:

  • Pechuga empanada / breaded chicken
  • Filete de ternera beef fillet
  • solomillo plancha grilled sirloin pork
  • lomo de buey beef tenderloin
  • pollos a l’ast / Pollo asado roasted chicken
  • Presa iberica / pork shoulder blade
  • secreto iberico / a secret cut of dreamy marbled fat of pork

Fish and seafood. Hey, we’re by the sea!

The seafood in Barcelona is usually fresh. Just head to the local market and see the wide array of seafood options.

  • lluç / merluza / hake
  • rap / rape  / monkfish
  • bacallà / bacalao / cod
  • salmó / salmón / salmon
  • calamars a la romana / calamares a la romana / fried calamari

Legume (bean) options

If your kids like beans, you’re in luck! I, personally, took a long time to get used to the chewiness of beans as I didn’t eat much of it as a kid. Here, kids learn to eat them early.

  • llenties / lentejas / lentils
  • cigronets / garbanzos / chickpeas
  • faves / habas / broad beans
  • mongetes / alubias / white beans
Delectable catalan beans at La Plaça Restaurant of El Corte Ingles.

Sausages and cold meats

Other options are sausages, both served as a cold meat or as a warm dish. They can include:

  • Jamón serrano – infamous cured Spanish ham, served in thin slices
  • Chorizo – sausage made with paprika
  • Botifarra – A Catalan sausage, often served warm/cooked, but there’s also a cold version

There’s also fuet, longaniza, morcilla, chistorra, and more!!

Pintxos, small pieces of bread with a topping, typically eaten in Northern Spain.

What about Breakfast?

For breakfast, you can find toast topped with jamon serrano, oil, and tomato.  Alternatively, it’s typical to have toast smothered with butter and jelly. There’a a wide variety of pastries like croissants and magdalenas (muffins) at the local bakery or coffee shop. You can often find freshly squeeze orange juice.

Pa amb tomàquet / pan con tomate / bread with tomato is often served as a tapa.

Desserts, unlimited choices

Catalan desserts on a menu can include crema catalana (like a French creme brulee), mel i mató (honey and a delicious soft cheese), or macedonia (fruit salad).

Nowadays, it’s not surprising to find cakes, brownies, or even the trendy carrot cake.

Nutella crepe at El Nacional.
Dessert at Federal Cafe.

If you’re visiting, do you think your kids will like any of this??

Or, do you live in Barcelona and have kids? and what do they like to eat? Leave a comment below!

Bon profit!

Kid-friendly food in Barcelona

By Justine Ancheta

California native, churro aficionado, and mom of 3, Justine Ancheta writes fervently about Barcelona and Spain. Since 2008, she's been eating burnt onions (calçots) and tripping on cobblestones in the Gothic Quarter. She shares tips on popular attractions, exposes offbeat non-touristy spots, and gives insight on exploring Barcelona with kids. Her next Catalan culture challenge: top level of a human castle (castellers).

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