In Spain, it is more normal for people to eat a salad as a starter or as an accompaniment to other dishes. Therefore, finding a decent main course salad that is vegan- or vegetarian-friendly, and isn’t just iceberg lettuce with a tablespoon of tinned sweetcorn and a few slices of anemic tomato served with no dressing at all, is not as easy as you’d imagine. Spain is a country famous for its apparently healthy Mediterranean diet but outside of fish and olives, it’s easy to get the impression that the average diet here consists of deep fried fish, red meat and white bread.
Even in the dynamic and fashionable Catalan capital it can prove difficult to find a big and tasty salad that doesn’t involve goats cheese or tinned tuna fish.
Beware the ubiquitous ‘vegetable salad’ (ensalada vegetal) that you will encounter on most Spanish and Catalan menus, as this usually contains tuna fish. Vegetable salad, not vegetarian salad, sadly.
Luckily, however, there are great salads around, often vegan, raw-vegan or with options to modify to suit your dietary needs. The best we’ve found so far are as follows:
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Carrer de Jovellanos, 2
08001, El Raval
933 17 18 29
They have a choice of not particularly large but well-presented salads – they offer low calorie variants with seitan, tofu, roasted peppers, seaweed and all kinds of combinations. Vegan-friendly options include a delicious sweet and fruity (sweetened with agave) fashionable kale salad, Teresa Goes to Tokyo (which is one of the tastiest salads I’ve encountered in five years of trying to eat healthily and still be vegan in Barcelona) or a pumpkin and crispy tempeh salad.
All the menu items are labeled whether they are gluten-free, raw vegan or vegan, but you will find the staff can advise you further and it’s possible to modify where possible – like switching an ingredient around or exchange a vegetarian dressing for a vegan dressing.
Some great liquid salads (aka juices) are also available
The portion sizes aren’t massive but the ingredients are of a very good quality and there are some really interesting combinations to choose from. It’s a very nice environment, although it gets truly packed around lunchtime – during the busiest hours booking is advised or you may have to join the queue of hungry vegetarians and vegans who all had the same idea as you.
Related article: We like it raw
Carrer dels Àngels, 3
Veggie Garden is an offshoot of Juicy Jones and therefore the menu is almost identical. They serve a range of fairly simple and unimaginative but decent sized salads, including a Veggie Garden salad which is all raw vegan-friendly apart from the olives. You can also get a salad with cooked green beans and garlic, a cooked beetroot salad, a guacamole salad, or one with roasted vegetables.
Everything is vegan so you have lots of choices beyond salad and they also have a vast range of juices including a few green combos that give you an instant energy kick.
The emphasis is on Hindu cuisine as it is run by a lovely, smiley Nepalese couple.
Carrer de la Junta de Comerç, 11
Organic has a self-service salad bar here that is about 60% raw and includes ingredients such as cherry tomatoes, mixed leaves, olives, couscous salad, potato salad, lentils with garlic and a couple of dressings. Some are suitable for vegans. You can make yourself a fairly decent combo here and fill up on bio-deliciousness for around eight euros. The ambiance is very cool and airy – it’s especially pleasing during the hotter months.
Lots of other food options are available (many of which are vegan-friendly) but that’s not what this article is about. We’re talking salad, thank you very much!
Related article: The Best Summer Refreshments
Plaza Urquinaona, 14
Another new addition to the growing trend for all things bio that has finally hit Barcelona. While Organics is not vegan or vegetarian, everything they offer is – as the name suggests – organic.
Salad-wise there is a detox salad, a macrobiotic bowl, a quinoa and lentil salad, a couscous salad, a ‘from the farm’ salad – and all of these are vegan – hurrah!
There is also a design-your-own option where you choose a base of, for example sprouts or Mediterranean leaves, and then you have a choice of an array of toppings. Not all of these are vegan but there are 40 in total to choose from, so you won’t be leaving hungry or unsatisfied.
They do wheatgrass shots here as well, which are still very much a novelty in the city.
Flax and Kale
Carrer dels Tallers, 74
The love child of Teresa Carles’ vegetarian restaurant (just around the corner) and an upmarket fish restaurant, Flax and Kale is very new and business is already booming.
With a roasted carrot and avocado salad and two wonderful kale options (the superfood du jour), along with a red quinoa salad, there is plenty of choice for the hungry salad-loving vegan and raw vegan.
And if you like your salads liquefied, then there is a fantastic range of healthier than healthy juices (and nut milk) to enjoy before, with or after your salad. Of course you can always just take one from the adjoining juice bar.
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