Due to Barcelona’s location on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, seafood is an integral part of the culture. There are many places all over the city where you can get delicious and fresh seafood from tapas to paella to street food stalls. Specifically, octopus is a staple all over Spain. While it is a traditional food and national symbol in the northern region of Galicia, it’s just as popular and abundant in Barcelona.
Preparing fresh octopus can be difficult in order to avoid a rubbery texture. Tenderizing the tentacles, traditionally done by hitting it against a stone, and carefully checking the cooking time are important components in great octopus. It is typically boiled, and in Spain, copper pots are the preferred instrument. There are professional octopus cookers (called pulpeiros) who have this dish down to a science and have been training for years to perfect it.
We visited Tapes Barcelona Restaurant in the Gothic Quarter and ordered Pulpo a la Gallega which consists of octopus, potatoes, and paprika powder. It is a traditional dish from the Galician region, but this restaurant served it a bit differently than the traditional way of chopped tentacles atop a bed of potatoes. The dish we ordered had a whole tentacle, suckers and all! It was served alongside a mashed potato cake topped with paprika. The octopus was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The potatoes were a good compliment for the dish, however the octopus was definitely the star. We highly recommend trying this dish yourself, perfect for any seafood lover and undoubtedly fresh here in Barcelona.