Between two simple slices of bread exists a mind-boggling array of possibilities – something not lost on Spaniards, who have turned sandwich making into something of an art form.
In Spain, sandwiches go by different names depending on the kind of bread used and local custom. The type that’s generally called a bocadillo in Spanish and entrepà in Catalan traditionally comes on pan de barra, itself a broad category of bread, with varying dimensions, qualities and more specific names, including baguette, maybe chapata (ciabatta), depending on how round the bakery makes it, pistola (pistol) in Madrid and flautas (flutes) in Barcelona if it’s short and very thin. Here in Barcelona, the local favorite coca is another popular bookend for a multitude of fillings. Bread with a very soft crust is known as a bollo. If it’s a sliced Pullman loaf, it’s sándwich, which in Barcelona becomes bikini or biquini if it holds ham and cheese – so-called because the combination became famous in 1953 through the Sala Bikini, a popular music club in the city.
Below, our top 5 picks for sandwiches (leaving aside hamburgers and hot dogs for the moment), plus a bonus round of places that also deserve a mention.
Kim Díaz gives sandwiches the respect they deserve, serving them on just the right rolls from Forn de Sant Josep, an old bakery nearby, and enlisting chef Victor Lema to invent a mouthwatering variety of fillings. Calamares (calamari with squid ink mayonnaise), rabo de buey (oxtail), cochinillo (roast suckling pork) and Antxón (red pork sausage and poached egg) are the customer favorites.
Opened by acclaimed Michelin-starred chef Oriol Rovira, Sagàs specializes in high-end, farm-to-table sandwiches. The menu has a section devoted to Catalan sandwiches, such as the porchetta on coca and the Botifarra Perol, with mushroom-stuffed sausage, and another for more international flavors, which might include Sicilian sardines or Mexican chicharrón.
This colmado, or small grocery, and xarcutería is a regular hangout for the old-timers in Barrio Gótico. They settle into the tiny space for a glass for vermut and the superb handiwork of brothers Antonio and José Segovia, who turn their lovingly curated selection of meats, cheeses and tinned seafood into delectable sandwiches.
A Gràcia favorite, this eatery run by three Basque friends serves bocadillos on bread from the long-running bakery Forn Boix in El Raval. We like especially the #5, with jamón and melted brie, and #11, with jamón, Parmesan and pesto.
One of the best places in town for the traditional and substantial breakfast known as esmorzars de forquilla, this Gràcia institution serves standout sandwiches from morning to midnight. In fact, it’s one of the few venues where you can get a bite between the usual mealtimes.
We would be remiss if we omitted a few more local favorites. The little brother of MonVinic, one of the best wine bars in Europe, FastVinic makes an appealing variety of excellent gourmet entrepans on coca or barra bread, like the wondrous black butifarra, onion and roasted apple, roast duck with pear and octopus with pisto (ratatouille).
Iconic and essential, Bar Fidel in Raval is a long cozy bar offering more than 50 sandwiches, some made with Catalan or Balearic products, others filled with ingredients like roasted pork loin, ham from the Canary Islands or sausages cooked in wine. Each and every one of them is delicious.
Founded in 1951, the famous Can Conesa is easily recognizable in Jaume I Square by the line of locals, City Hall and Catalan government workers and tourists waiting their turn for the classic sandwiches, which come on a short baguette. The hot options get toasted on the eatery’s special grill. The menu includes gluten-free, vegetarian and low-calorie options.
In addition, we can’t leave out Bocatería Argot, Marc’s Entrepans, Bar Sanz, Carrot Café or Bodega Montferry. And of course, from our archives: La Pepita, Casa Pagès, Bó de B and the Iberian ham bocadillo from El Jabalí de Ronda.
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