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Costa Brava food is a wonderful fusion of flavors from the “Sea and Mountain,” or Mar i Muntanya.
While mostly Mediterranean, Catalan food has been shaped over centuries. Greeks, Romans, Italians, and the French have each left their mark on this complex cuisine.
While in Costa Brava, Spain, traditional Catalan food was at the core of our exploration.
In collaboration with the Tourism board, we explored Costa Brava foods and wines including local producer visits.
To help guide your culinary adventures in Costa Brava, we share the top foods not to miss, and the best culinary experiences to partake in.
Discover the best Catalan food in Costa Brava.
Top 10 Costa Brava Food Not to Miss
The food in Catalonia has a distinct identity: simple cuisine made with the freshest ingredients in unexpected combinations.
Passionate chefs, artisans, and winemakers bring these gastronomic offerings to life in delicious and creative ways.
For bites of Catalan cuisine, here are 10 local must-try foods.
1. Pan con Tomate or Pa amb Tomàquet – Spanish Tomato Bread
Pan con tomate, which translates to bread with tomato is a signature Spanish tapas from Catalonia.
Made simply with crusty bread, tomatoes, garlic, salt, and ample olive oil, it’s a humble dish, though its draw is in its simplicity!
2. Anchovies – Olives Stuffed with Escala Anchovies
This flavorful snack is a popoular tapas or small plate offered on most Costa Brava food menus.
The anchovies come from the seaside town of l’Escala in Costa Brava which is renowned for this emblematic food.
These anchovies are pulpy and exquisite and delicious paired with the olives.
We visited an anchovy factory in L’Escala and were impressed by the history, craft, and tradition.
Don’t hesitate to savor the intense flavors of olives stuffed with anchovies in Costa Brava.
3. Catalan Botifarra or Butifarra – Catalan Pork Sausage
Botifarra or Butifarra is a traditional Catalan food you’ll find commonly at restaurants and butchers.
This traditional pork sausage comes in several varieties. You’ll find black botifarra, white botifarra, one that you can eat raw, and even a sweet one we tasted at the local market in Girona.
This Costa Brava food is used in many traditional dishes like stews, with beans, grilled, and more.
4. Calamars Planxa – Fried Squid
Seafood is a staple in Catalan food and Spanish cuisine in general. With easy access to fresh fish and seafood from the Mediterranean, you’ll find squid and other seafood dishes quite popular.
Calamars à la planxa is fresh squid seared on a hot metal plate sprinkled with just a few seasonings.
The juicy flavors enhanced with garlic and parsley shine through cooked briefly on the hot plate or plancha.
This light and flavorful Catalan food is a popular starter or tapas to savor.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: From Barcelona, you can enjoy a full day exploring Costa Brava, including the food. This Barcelona to Girona and Costa Brava tour takes you to discover the medieval town of Girona and the breathtaking landscapes and villages in Costa Brava.
5. Jamón Serrano, Jamon Serrano – Serrano Ham
Jamon Serrano is a dry-cured ham and Catalan specialty. It is one of the most popular cured meats along with Jamon Iberico.
The Jamon is thinly sliced and used in many regional specialties. You’ll find it served as tapas, on pizza, in croquettes, and more.
The ham itself is quite thin and delicate, with flavors ranging from salty, to earthy, to slightly sour.
Considered a delicacy in Catalan cuisine, savor Jamon Serrano at home when you have it delivered via Amazon.
6. Paella Catalunya, Arros de Mar – Catalan Style Paella
Paella is a popular Spanish rice dish found throughout the country. It is most often associated with Valencia in eastern Spain, where it is said to have originated.
Catalan-style paella, however, is in a class of its own where seafood features prominently.
The ingredients draw on the region’s proximity to the sea and includes delicious seafood like clams, monkfish, mussels, and prawns.
Made in a paellera, a large, flat pan with two handles, the base of this dish is rice, flavored with aromatic spices and fish broth.
7. Suquet de Peix – Catalan Fish Stew
Suquet de peix or Catatalan fish stew is a traditional food in Catalonia that you’ll find in many local restaurants.
It is a dish originally prepared by fishermen along Costa Brava beaches using the unsold parts of the day’s catch.
While ingredients vary, the most commonly used are monkfish, Scorpion fish, prawns, squid, or clams.
An almond paste known as Picada is also important in this savory broth.
Soak up each drop of this savory Catalan fish stew with plenty of thick-cut, crusty bread.
8. Gamba de Palamós, Gambas de Palamos – Red Prawns
Gamba de Palamos, also known as red prawns, are a prized jewel from the town of Palamos in Costa Brava,
The prawns have an intense bright red color and are highly valued for their amazing flavor and succulent meat.
Known to be among the best prawns in the world, don’t miss gambas de Palamos in rice dishes while exploring Costa Brava food.
9. Xuixo – Catalan Pastry from Girona
Xuixo, the legendary breakfast pasty from Girona, is a traditional Catalan breakfast food pastry not to be missed.
This delectable pastry is cylindrical in shape deep-fried and rolled in crystalized sugar for an absolutely decadent treat.
It is surprisingly light and pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee. Start your day like a local with Xuixo in Girona.
10. Crema Catalan – Traditional Catalan Custard or Burnt Cream Dessert
Originating from Catalonia, crema Catalana is one of the most popular and traditional desserts in Catalan cooking.
It is often compared to the French “crème brûlée, as they are both custard-based, served in ramekins, and torched for a caramelized sugar topping.
Crema Catalana, however, includes refreshing lemon and orange citrus flavors, with a hint of cinnamon. Savor the crunchy layers of burnt sugar and taste why it is so popular.
Where to Eat Amazing Costa Brava Food
Costa Brava is known for its density of gastronomic restaurants with El Celler de Can Roca as the leading three Michelin star restaurant.
With many restaurants to choose from, we highlight five authentic Costa Brava restaurants that stand out.
You might not find them on the Michelin star list. However, they excel by the way they bring Catalan regional cuisine and wine to the forefront.
At Casa Marieta, you’ll dive into traditional Catalan food made seasonally. One of our favorites was botifarra or Catalan pork sausages. The iconic 19th-century restaurant is recognized as a Centennial Restaurant in Spain and is an experience worth savoring.
Vicus, located in the medieval city of Pals, offers gourmet seasonal and local delicacies with a creative twist. The rice dishes from the rice fields in Pals are not to be missed.
Mooma is a restaurant as well as a cidery and is the perfect place for a casual gathering. With apples at the core of the menu, taste flavorful Catalan dishes along with cider.
Es Baluard, a family restaurant, brings fish and shellfish freshly caught to its tables. The Mediterranean views and the excellent seafood will definitely seduce you.
El Molí de L’Escala is located in an ancient flour mill and offers contemporary Catalan cuisine with international flavors. One standout meal we savored was the flavorful traditional fisherman rice made with locally grown rice of L’Escala.
Costa Brava Culinary Experiences
In addition to the local cuisine and Costa Brava food not to miss, there are other culinary activities to enjoy.
Food lovers will enjoy a delicious journey through food tours, winery visits, cooking classes, and more.
Take a Girona Food Tour To Learn About Costa Brava Food
One of the best ways to sample local foods is to experience them with a local guide. A food tour will take you on a delicious culinary journey rooted in place and culture.
On our trip to Girona, we started our travels with a Girona food tour. Pat, our guide with a bubbly personality, regaled us with stories about the food intertwined with Catalan legends and tales.
We sampled legendary Catalan foods, ate at local restaurants, and visited the local market and artisan producers.
A Girona food tour is a wonderful introduction to Costa Brava food and regional specialties.
Cook Catalan Food in A Cooking Class
When you take a cooking class, you get a deeper appreciation of local cuisine. It is the perfect way to have fun and enjoy learning about the culture and discovering new flavors.
We took a Catalan cooking class and highly recommend it. Catalan Paella and Crema Catalana, similar to crème brûlée, were among the iconic Catalan dishes we made.
The experience ended with savoring our delicious creations along with local Empordà wine.
Enjoy Catalan Wines at the Best Wineries in Costa Brava
Catalan wines are as important as Catalan food when it comes to Catalonia’s rich gastronomy heritage.
The Empordà is the wine region that characterizes the wines of Costa Brava, in the northeastern part of Spain.
We had the opportunity to visit several wineries each with their unique charm and stunning vineyards.
Eccocivi Cellar: This winery, closest to Girona, grows vineyards and produces wines in a protected natural area.
This eco-friendly winery produces impressive wines, working with nature and supporting the local community.
Wine tastings are offered paired with regional cheeses, local Spanish ham, and an assortment of nuts, dried fruits, and local bread.
Mas Geli Winery: A beautiful vineyard set in the middle of the rice fields near the medieval town of Pals. It was the first winery in the Empordà region to get organic certification from the start.
Wine visits and tastings take place in the vineyards with views of the Montgrí mountain in the background.
Martin Faixo Winery Nestled high in the hills overlooking the town of Cadaqués is Martin Faixo Winery.
The winery has the distinct honor of being the only winery located in the middle of Cap de Creus, a natural park.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: From Girona, you can take a half-day wine-tasting tour to select wineries in the Empordà region. With transportation provided, this wine tasting small group tour from Girona is ideal for those who want to learn more about Catalan wines.
Taste Goat Cheese from Spain
The region of Costa Brava produces a large variety of artisanal cheeses, emblematic of Catalan food.
After sampling tasty local cheese on our Girona food tour, we were excited to visit Mas Alba, a local dairy.
Located in the small village of Terradelles, Casa Mal Alba is a farmhouse and local dairy, 30 minutes drive north of Girona.
Owned by the Huguet family for five generations, Martí, the cheesemaker, makes amazing goat cheese from Spain.
Savor Gambas de Palamos and Fish for the Best Prawns in the World
Gambas de Palamós, or red prawns, are the local delicacy in Palamós, a coastal city along the Mediterranean.
Highly valued for their exquisite flavor and succulent meat, Palamos gambas are said to be the best in the world.
We went fishing for these prized prawns and highly recommend the experience. Consider spending a day on a fishing trawler learning about and fishing for the famous red prawns.
Costa Brava Food Guide – The Book
For a handy PDF guide and to get all this information in one place, download our ebook “Taste the Terroir: A Gastronomy Pilgrimage Through Costa Brava” for free.
In collaboration with the Costa Brava Tourism Board, we wrote this ebook to take you on a culinary tour of Costa Brava’s popular regions.
We start in Girona, the capital, then Baix Empordà (low Empordà) ending in Alt Empordà (high Empordà)
Discover the local cuisine and wine specialties and meet the passionate producers dedicated to preserving this rich culinary heritage.
On your travels to Costa Brava, we invite you to taste the terroir.
A Peek Inside the Book
This book takes you on a delicious journey through Costa Brava foods. Within the 72 pages are stories from local producers, appetizing food imagery, and a few simple recipes.
Find an overview of local restaurants, wineries, unique food experiences, cooking demonstrations, and markets. It’s everything you need to savor Catalan flavors on your travels.
The book ends with tips for eating in Costa Brava like a local.
Get the Costa Brava Gastronomy Ebook
The book is FREE for you to download today. Simply click on the link and get instant access now.
Where to Stay in Girona
Girona is a charming and quaint Medieval city. For a stay with all the modern amenities and conveniences, check the boutique hotels we recommend.
Girona also offers amazing apartments to stay in the old town. We had the chance to stay at the two exceptional locations mentioned below.
Girona Boutique Hotels
La Comuna Residence Boutique – Nestled in the old town of Girona, La Comuna Residence offers Catalan charm in each of the quaint rooms.
The onsite specialty coffee shop with locally grown organic food should not be missed. Rooms include air-conditioning, onsite parking, and stunning exposed stone walls.
Hotel Nord 1901 – Located just steps from Girona Cathedral, the charming hotel is centrally located to popular restaurants and cafes.
This family-run hotel has a beautiful garden terrace and a garden-lined swimming pool.
With a delicious breakfast buffet, room service, and access to massages in your room, the amenities are unbeatable.
Girona Luxury Appartments
Salieti Palace – This striking 14th-century house was renovated by the architect Rafael Masó in 1911.
The architecture of the building is quite exceptional, with an inner courtyard, a staircase, arches, and windows in a neo-gothic style.
If you love the medieval architecture of the Game of Thrones, this is your ideal place.
Plaça Catalunya is located near the Medieval Wall stairs and Mercat del Lleo, the local market.
This well-equipped and modern two-bedroom apartment has a wonderful patio to enjoy the views of the Medieval walls.
A fully equipped kitchen including a coffee machine and free Wi-Fi, makes it a comfortable home away from home.
FAQs – Costa Brava Foods
What Food is Costa Brava Known For?
Costa Brava food is a wonderful fusion of flavors from the “Sea and Mountain,” or Mar i Muntanya. You’ll find Mediterranean flavors and ingredients from the mountainous regions all influencing the local food.
Traditional Catalan paella, pan con tomate, Catalan tapas, xuixo pastry, botifarra pork sausages are some unmissable delicacies.
What is La Costa Brava Known For?
This coastal region is known for stunning seaside views, beaches, vineyards, and medieval villages. Costa Brava was also famously home to world-renowned artists including Salvador Dalí.
What Language Do They Speak in Costa Brava?
In Costa Brava, Catalan and Castilian Spanish are the main languages spoken. Though the use of Catalan is quite common.
Have you had any of these Costa Brava foods? Please let us know in the comments below.
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Disclosure: Special thanks to Costa Brava Tourism Board for having us on these amazing local food and wine experiences. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too.
Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
Find out more about Authentic Food Quest