The glutton’s guide to gluten-free Barcelona

Wheat. It gets about a bit.

Whether you’re among the increasing number of people being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease (an incurable genetic disease whose only remedy is to avoid gluten for life), or simply prefer to avoid this pesky protein for health reasons, finding food that’s safe for you to eat is no mean feat. Throw in a trip abroad, where language issues compound the problem, and things can get hairy.

I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in my early 30s, following decades of severe stomach pain. After three years in Barcelona, I’ve figured out a few ways to make living with the condition a bit easier. The plethora of fresh produce on offer in the city’s markets certainly sweetens the deal.

sant-jordi-roses by Julie Sheridan

Wheat – it even sneaks its way into Sant Jordi roses

Spain is no different to most western countries, in that it has a heavy reliance on wheat as a huge part of the traditional diet. Just like in the UK, waiters here will think nothing of bringing you a basket of bread before you’ve even ordered, and tend to look flabbergasted when it’s rejected.

On the plus side, I do think that the Spanish are much more clued up than their UK counterparts in the catering industry when it comes to the terminology. The phrase you’ll need is “soy celíaco” (or “celíaca” if you’re a woman), which you’d do well to follow up with a “no puedo comer gluten/harina de trigo” (“I can’t eat gluten/wheat flour”). Most waiters in Barcelona will nod sagely at this point, and take you seriously.

The good news is, as a Coeliac in Spain you have three amigos on your side: rice, eggs and potatoes. Standout stalwarts on a Spanish menu that are naturally gluten-free include paella (rice with seafood/meat), Spanish omelette (tortilla española or tortilla de patatas – eggs, potatoes and onions), and patatas bravas (a cross between chips and potato wedges, served with a spicy sauce).

But what about the tapas, the cakes, the god-damned pizza, I hear you cry? Yes, I know, I know. Read on.

Best gluten-free brunch: Copasetic

Copasetic is so effortlessly accommodating to those of us on a gluten-free diet, it makes you wonder why other restaurants don’t also up their game.

Copasetic by Julie Sheridan

Copasetic – a clinical interior, a forensic focus on fantastic food

Owners Therry and Omar are welcoming and attentive, the menu is varied, amazingly Coeliac-friendly and economical, while portions are generous and presented with creative flair. Oh, and you can even take your dog. Not to mention their ‘give something back’ initiative, whereby you donate a nominal euro which provides a coffee or sandwich to a person in need. Cool, eh?

Gluten free red bean burger

The gluten-free red bean burger at Copasetic

For the best gluten-free brunch in Barcelona, (and I’ve sampled a few Barcelona brunches in my time), Copasetic is unrivalled. The menu offers GF dishes ranging from crepes (sweet or savoury) and pancakes to hamburgers (meat or veggie). For something ultra-healthy, try their organic quinoa with Greek yoghurt, banana, blueberries, nuts and honey.

I took my Coeliac parents (I know, statistically incredible) to Copasetic for a full-on brunch recently, and my poor Dad almost wept with joy at the sight of his gluten-free crepe – it had only been 26 years since he’d last tasted one. Beer-loving Coeliacs don’t miss out, either – try the light, gluten-free organic Belgian beer to wash down your meal of champions.

Address: Carrer Diputació, n. 55 (left L’Eixample district).

Best gluten-free sandwiches: Conesa

Grabbing food on the go as a Coeliac is where it all starts to go horribly wrong. Fast food is an inherent homage to gluten: think sandwiches, wraps, bagels, crepes, hot dogs, pizza, pasta or cous cous salads. See the dilemma?

If it’s one of those days you really can’t face a full sit-down meal just for the sake of getting something to eat, head to one of the two Conesa sandwich bars in Barcelona. There’s one at the heart of the old town, in the Gothic quarter and another in the district of Sants, not far from Plaça d’Espanya.


The ‘Catalan’ filling – Catalan country sausages, onions and fried peppers

The bread itself is certified as gluten-free by the Coeliac Association of Catalonia and is regularly tested by outside inspectors to make sure there’s no cross-contamination.

The choice of fillings is satisfyingly generous, too – for something typically Catalan, opt for the llom i pernil (pork loin and ham), or, when the calçots are in season, the botifarra de calçots (sweet onion sausage with Romesco sauce). Vegetarian versions include escalivat (roast peppers, aubergines and onion with blue cheese) or the suitably Spanish manchego cheese with tomatoes and fried peppers.

Address: in the Gothic quarter, at Llibreteria 1, just off Plaça Sant Jaume, and a second venue in Sants on Creu Coberta, no. 80.

Best gluten-free bakery: Baci D’Angelo Patisserie

BacidAngelo-BarcelonaUp and running for less than a year, Baci D’Angelo is the gluten-free bakery Barcelona was crying out for. I only wish they could clone themselves.

This pretty patisserie is located very close to the Clot metro stop, and produces homemade gluten-free everything – from bread (part or wholly baked, as you prefer), to crepes, muffins to full-blown birthday cakes. Most days you can simply drop by and they’ll have something gluten-free ready for you to take away, but to make sure you’re not disappointed, give them a call or order direct on their website – they also deliver.

For locals, Baci also offers regular roll-your-sleeves-up workshops, where Coeliac clients are walked through the basic techniques of gluten-free baking.

To give you an idea of quality, here’s a recent gluten-free birthday cake I ordered, just for the hell of it. God it was good.


Baci D’Angelo gluten-free sponge cake – genius

Address: Carrer Valencia 656 (Clot district).

Best gluten-free pizza: Il Piccolo Focone

Finding gluten-free pizza is somewhat of a Holy Grail for Coeliacs. Oh, the streets of foreign cities I have trudged, in the vain attempt to track down a slice of bloody edible pizza that won’t poison me.

It’s a phenomenon that I’m hoping changes soon, but Italian restaurants in Barcelona don’t tend to hold a supply of gluten-free pasta for Coeliac clients, the way their Scottish Italian compatriots do. And, frustratingly, gluten-free pizza is even more elusive.

(Beware of the Telepizza adverts for gluten-free pizza, by the way. In reality, while everyone else gets to customise their topping and watch the base being rolled out before them, what Coeliac clients get is a frozen, ready-made pizza whose toppings can’t be customised and which resembles something only slightly less pliant than a brick. Oh, and which costs you a whopping 18-odd euros.)

Il Piccolo Focone is a welcome exception to the rule. Dishing up gluten-free pasta, pizza and desserts (even tiramisu), the owner has first-hand experience of the Coeliac condition, with close family members affected by it.

Inside, the place is cosy, down-to-earth, and the staff exceptionally sweet. Pizza!!!

Address: Carrer del Dos de Maig, 268 (Sant Martí district).

Best gluten-free tapas

Tapas can be tricky, if you’re restricted to a gluten-free diet. Spanish and Catalan food is glorious – the freshest seasonal ingredients, globally fêted chefs and abundance of products from mar to muntanya. But try being a Coeliac on the tapas trail and see how far you get.

Take the usual suspects, for example. Bombas (an ostentatious potato croquette), calamares (squid, usually battered in wheat flour), croquetas (deep-fried and wheat-battered mashed potato), empanadillas (wheat-based savoury pastry), pan con tomate (tomato-smeared baguette), pinchos or montaditos (slabs of bread adorned with a variety of tasty toppings). All of this is a no-go area for the gluten-free diner.


‘Escalivada’, or ‘esqueixada’ in Catalan – gorgeously gluten-free

The good news is, not all tapas have to be deep-fried and rebozados (battered in wheat flour). Coeliac-safe options include my friend and yours, Spanish tortilla, wholesome grilled prawns (gambas a la plancha) or the Catalan cod and roast veg favourite, escalivada (esqueixada in Catalan). Other naturally wheat-free tapas to try are pulpo a la gallega (Galican-style octupus), boquerones en vinagre (anchovies marinated in vinegar), and the Spanish speciality, jamón serrano (Serrano ham).

barramon-papasI’ve yet to come across a tapas restaurant that serves up montaditos or pinchos on gluten-free bread (we can dream, right?), but in the meantime, some lip-smackingly good places to try are Lolita Tapería (Carrer Tamarit, 104, Sant Antoni district) and the little-known Poble Sec hangout of Bar Ramón (Carrer Blai, 30, Poble Sec district), whose papas arrugas (wrinkled potatoes from the Canary Islands) are beyond anything you’ve ever tasted on Earth.

 Best gluten-free slap-up supper: La Lluna

Located down a dark alleyway in the old town’s Gothic quarter, just a couple of cobbles from the Ramblas, La Lluna is a classy joint worthy of a meal on a special occasion. The sense of old-world opulence makes it feel a bit like dining on the Titanic, minus the violins, but if you can get past that, the Coeliac diner is likely to leave a satisfied wee soul.

La Lluna is one of very few restaurants I’ve found in Barcelona that bother to mark which items on their menu are actually gluten-free, and the choice is varied (there’s also a decent vegetarian menu). Then there’s the sheer joy of being served warm gluten-free bread (albeit with a 1€ suppplement) with your meal. Considering it’s smack bang in the middle of Barcelona, the prices aren’t half bad either.

La Lluna restaurant Barcelona

La Lluna – rococo, but a Coeliac life-saver

Address: Carrer Santa Anna, 20 (Gothic quarter).

Best gluten-free supermarkets: El Corte Inglés or Día

Mention to anyone in Barcelona that you’re Coeliac and nine times out of 10, you’ll hear “Oh, did you know Mercadona do a great gluten-free range?”

I’m not quite sure how Mercadona, a large Spanish supermarket chain, has managed to pull this off, but kudos to the Marketing team.

In reality, this is what the Coeliac client can expect (bottom row only, mind):


Mercadona’s gluten-free range (the very bottom shelf): could do better

To be fair, there is the odd desultory GF frozen pizza scattered about the place, but essentially, that’s it.

Give it a miss and if you’re feeling flush, head to the Corte Inglés on Plaça de Catalunya, which stocks a brilliant variety of gluten-free products. A more economical option is the supermarket chain Día, which stocks a fairly good ‘free-from’ range as well, with all the store cupboard essentials.

Finally, I like Catalan organic food stores Veritas when it comes to gluten-free cakes, biscuits and sweet pastries. Again, it’s not the cheapest, but the pre-packaged baked items are fresh and lack the tell-tale crumbly consistency that seems to plague products sin gluten.

OK, I think I’ve used the word ‘gluten’ enough times for one lifetime. Feel free to leave a comment below if you need any specific advice on life without wheat in Barcelona, or of course if you know of any good places for Coeliacs. Cheers!

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38 Responses to The glutton’s guide to gluten-free Barcelona

  1. Great options and really tasty. I’m going to keep them in mind for my upcoming trip.
    Suki F recently posted..5 places to visit in Almeria, SpainMy Profile

  2. Karoline

    Hi! Great tips, I’ve been to both copasetic and conesa on my trip. I want to recomend you a great place: el cafe blueproject, vegan-raw-and gluten free! Carrer de la princesa 57

  3. I like your blog! Very intereating but your blog dont have button for share in facebook!! For exemple I want to share this post whit a friend but i cant.

    Anyway congratulations!!! Me gusta mucho; ole, ole y ole!

  4. Edvard

    I am on vacation here in beautifull Barcelona with my boys, whom one is allergic to gluten. It has been a small struggle to find nice places to eat. Tomorrow we will look for your favorite pizza restaurant! :-)

    • I know, Edvard, it’s not an easy place to be on a gluten-free diet (especially not at breakfast time, when it’s all croissants and sandwiches). The pizza place is great, though, and Copasetic is wonderful (they also do a children’s menu/portions). Good luck, and enjoy the city!

  5. Hi Julie, Thanks for all the information! Also I want to recommend you the website where you can make online free reservations in gluten-free, lactose-free and allergy-friendly restaurants in Barcelona. It’s absolutly useful and it has a complete transcription in english :)

  6. Those Conessa baguettes taste like “normal” bread. I was impressed. And lets be honest having gluten free bread doesn’t necessarily mean it will taste good!
    Martine @ Chompchomp recently posted..A Day in KL – My gluten free Kuala Lumpur experienceMy Profile

    • I know, Martine, they’re impressive, aren’t they? Not an easy thing to do, create gluten-free bread that could pass for the real deal, especially in a fast-food environment. It just shows it can be done – Domino’s and Telepizza please take note!

  7. This post is infinitely helpful! Ill be traveling to Barcelona in just three weeks for an entire semester abroad and Copasetic looks like less than a ten minute walk from where Ill be staying. Its going to be rough studying abroad with celiac disease but I already know this one post is going to be so useful. Thanks for the awesome recommendations!!

    • Katie, Copasetic is fabulous, you’ll love it. It’s such a relief to eat somewhere that clearly marks on the menu what’s GF and bends over backwards to give Coeliacs tasty, healthy food at a reasonable price. If you’re here for a semester, find out where your local market (as opposed to supermarket) is and stock up on fresh fruit and veg from there – it’s pretty cheap, and the quality is amazing. Enjoy Barcelona!

  8. think we will be living at Il Piccolo Focone …we are new to this stuff and our daughter has just been diagnosed…do they do really thin pizzas..

    Your site is so funny as well…excellent.

    • I sympathise, Nigel. It’s tough when you have a family member just diagnosed. Yes, the pizzas there are pretty thin crust, which is how I prefer them. You know you can buy the frozen GF pizza bases from certain places too, like the Corte Inglés? I’m still on the lookout for the perfect gluten-free pizza recipe that I can easily make at home. Italian friends keep telling me to try a polenta base, but that’s not pizza!

  9. Tatiana

    Thank you for this extensive info.

  10. Fernando

    Hi Julie! Thanks for the post, it was certainly helpful for me, as I´m flying to Barcelona in 10 days. Do you have any other coeliac friendly places you can recommend?



    • Fernando, if you’re looking for a bar that stocks gluten-free beer, I recommend Homo Sibaris on Sants’ Plaça d’Osca. It’s a small place that does lots of craft beers and usually has bottles of GF beer too. This plaça is a lovely little square in the Sants district, frequented largely by locals without a tourist in site. Hope you enjoy the city:)

  11. Mercedes

    AREPAS in Rabipelao in Gracia, are a great choice, vegan, veggie, pork, beef or chicken are fresh, toasted and healthy! they are in Torrent D’en Vidalet 22 near metro Joanic

  12. YES. this is great- thanks so much for putting this list together! copasetic is actually just a few blocks from my house and i was just there today- i had dinner there a few weeks ago and it was great! i am a tour guide and pass by conesa every day, and always wondered how i might be able to try one of their awesome sandwiches.. now i know! check out my blog if you have a minute- i just moved to barcelona in august :)

  13. GillianT

    Just a small warning, be careful with the tortilla española unless marked gluten free. If made with chips, maybe they have been cooked with battered food, also sometimes tortillas have gluten-containing additives to make them spongier and to save eggs, best to ask before ordering, some cafes/restaurants make their tortillas from a packet or buy in ready made!
    Would love to try the Conesa sandwiches they look delish, but not available as far as I know in Mallorca.

    • Good point, Gillian. Depends on the deep fat fryer they’re using – and let’s face it, so many tapas are battered in breadcrumbs it’s a distinct possibility. The trials of being Coeliac!

  14. Brendan

    Thank you for this post. You’re a rockstar. I was trying to remember the name of this place friends of a friend took me to a few years ago in Barcelona. Your picture of La Luna confirmed it was the place of which I was thinking.

    • Cheers Brendan! Just check though if you’re making a booking – there is a different restaurant in Barcelona called La Luna, but the one I’m talking about here has a Catalan name (La Lluna).

  15. Brendan

    Thanks for the tip. Google’s first thought is that I want the single-l tapas bar. Off to lunch at the double-l restaurant in a few minutes.

  16. Josefin

    I realy like the name on your blod, that I have been a guiri in this country for 19 years now – I´m norwegian
    in my family, my youngest have been eating gluten free since february and since now october, me and my oldest also joined the glutenfree team.
    At home I dont feel its hard any more, I found a bread that makes my kids happy, a very expencive pasta that are almoust as good and normal – and naturly gluten free its what we normaly eat every day!
    For my youngest that does not like to eat – its not been a big problem eating out eather – but now, for me and my son – its harder!!!
    So looking for places to go, that are more spesalist on gluten free food – I found your blog THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!!
    I will take time to read the rest of your blog to!!!

    • Hello Josefin, and thanks very much for commenting. I know, it’s a challenge to be gluten free, especially in the first year or so, but I do think it gets easier, honestly:) If you like cake (and who doesn’t?) I recently discovered Tonka in the Sant Antoni district, which usually has a couple of gluten-free cakes to choose from with your coffee. Another nice surprise was the traditional Spanish restaurant Mine in Sants, which has gluten-free bread to help soak up the arroz a banda. From one guiri to another, good luck!

  17. Cris

    Hi, I’m from Barcelona. I’m not coeliac but I try to eat gluten free products because they’re healthier and everytime I need to buy some items (pizza, corn flakes, ice cream, mozzarella, tomato sauce…) I always go to Mercadona.
    I think that you maybe didn’t find the gluten-free products but there’s a bunch of products in there like the ones I mentioned before and sweets, chocolates, cookies, bread, etc. Mercadona was made because the daughter of the owner is coeliac and it was hard to find gluten free products for a good price. So you can bet it has a good range of gluten free products ;)
    And now they’re introducing vegan products also!
    Hope next time you have more luck! =)

  18. Cris

    Sorry, the thing about the daughter of Mercadona’s owner I think is not true XD but anyway they have a good range of gluten free products ;)

  19. Cris

    Last thing (I guess) sorry for spaming but things are coming to my mind >_< I'm just trying to help. Maybe you know about this but it's a good website where you can find gluten free places and other allergies
    Hope it helps!!

    -Cloudstreet Bakery has gluten free Fridays.
    -Anima BCN has some gluten free choices and vegetarian and vegan also.
    -Viena has a little menu for coeliacs

  20. Joe

    Hi Julie,

    Thanks so much for your efforts in writing this blog. We will be visiting Barca in May and both my wife and sister in law are celiacs. Your blog has proved invaluable as a starting point in planning our visit to Barcelona.
    Scanning the comment I see that no one has found this little gem. It was last published in 2011 so further research is required. I wonder if you have any comments on it.


    • Thanks for adding this great resource, Joe – I hadn’t seen it before. I was reading a newspaper article the other day that said that less than 3% of restaurants in Catalonia are able to cater for gluten-free clients, so it seems there’s still some way to go. A discovery I’ve made recently is Italian restaurant Mammamia in Poblenou – the first Italian eatery I’ve ever found in Barcelona that offers gluten-free pasta. According to my Italian colleagues, they also do a mean authentic pizza, if you go with non-GF friends. I hope you have fun when you get here in May! Julie

  21. Great post! Just a couple tips, tough:

    – Mine is a great restaurant but I think they aren’t following the gluten protocol properly. I have been served normal bread and and ice cream topped with oreo there, for example, just because the chef forgot that I had ordered gluten-free dishes. I don’t think that place is safe.

    – About the paella, well, i SHOULD be naturally GF but often it is not. You have to watch out for 3 things in it: food colouring (cheap restaurants don’t use real saffron) wich has gluten, also “pimenton” (some kind of spanish paprika spice) which has to be GF certified and “picada”, a mash of bread, almonds, cinnamon, etc which is often added to the preparation (
    So paellas have to bee eaten on restaurants that are certified too, sorry :(

    • Hello Nadia, and thanks for commenting. I’m not sure what the criteria are for GF-certified restaurants in Catalonia, but I do know that Mine provides gluten-free bread. You would need to check as to each individual dish to make sure it’s safe for Coeliacs, though. I’ve never heard that paprika (pimentón) could contain gluten before, or indeed food colouring. I’ve had a quick look online and it seems there’s no reason why it would ( – is it something you’ve had problems with in the past?

  22. Nadia

    Well, quality paprika should never contain gluten. But truth is that some “special” flavoured ones do contain flour and vegetable oils, altough that is not very common.
    About Mine, yes, it was announced as a celiac friendly restaurant and the menu has indications for us celiacs, but sadly I have to say I have visited it several times and have witnessed mistakes such as bringing me the wrong kind of bread (this I noticed myself when I saw it), topping my ice cream with oreo cookies (the cook realised what he had done and sent the waiter running back to my table to retrieve it, hopefully I hadn’t started) and things like that… therefore it is not really safe.

  23. Maria

    Thanks for gluten-free restaurant tips!

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