It’s a brisk winter morning in Barcelona. The air is fresh and the sun is peeking out from behind the clearing clouds. Glancing at your watch, you notice you’ve got a rare moment to spare. Why not pop into the hole in the wall with the faded awning, take a seat at the bar between two retired Barceloneses, and place an order for a steaming cup of hot chocolate and freshly fried churros to dip in it.
A breakfast staple throughout the Iberian Peninsula, xurros (in Catalan) are star-shaped cylinders of fried dough, often served with thick hot chocolate. Restaurants serving churros, called xurrerías, are scattered throughout the city, and are some of Barcelona’s longest-standing establishments. With a rich history, the xurro and the xurrería have become an integral part of Catalunya’s cultural fabric.
The precise origin of the churro is debated, with historians arguing one of two possible explanations. The first, and most common theory is that they were invented by Spanish shepherds as an alternative to bread, which needed to be pre-baked and could easily rot, making it impractical for their nomadic lifestyle. The churro, on the other hand, could be cooked immediately prior to consumption with oil over an open fire. These roaming shepherds often worked with the ‘churra’ breed of sheep, whose horns resemble the shape of the modern-day churro, lending validity to this origin story.
The other theory is that Portuguese traders brought back a salty pastry called the ‘Youtiao’ from China, which they modified by adding sugar rather than salt. No matter which theory you subscribe to, what is agreed upon is that the churro was combined with chocolate from Latin America at the end of the 19th century to make the treat we know and love today.
For more than 100 years, the churro experienced virtually no alterations. However, the 21st century has represented a renaissance for it, with Barcelona playing a role as a top creative hub. Pastry chefs across the city are putting their own creative spin on the snack, developing a new local standard. Whether you’d like the traditional cultural experience of the original, or an innovative Barcelona twist on the old classic, the city has a place for you to taste this culinary delight.
Here are our top picks for churros and chocolate in Barcelona:
If you’re looking for a place teeming with working locals and Catalan pride, this is your spot. The shop is authentic, with a strict no-frills policy, and cooks up some of the crispiest, lightest churros in the city. The chocolate is extra thick, dark and bitter, served with sugar on the side for anyone with a stronger sweet tooth. Petritxol 11.
Neon pink lighting and animations covering the walls signal the uniqueness of this locale. Indeed, innovative and one-of-a-kind flavours are Comaxurro’s speciality. From passion fruit to raspberry, vanilla cream to cheese and honey, Comaxurros stuffs just about every popular filling into its churros. More adventurous patrons may even want to taste one of the savoury options on offer: salsa brava xurros, anyone? Muntaner 562.
This xurrería is easily the most scenic place to enjoy traditional churros in Barcelona. The family-owned shop offers direct views of the Sagrada Família and most of its seating is outside. Established in 1950, it has been serving churros since before the Gaudí church was much more than a floor plan. The churros come in the classic form, or with Nutella or dulce de leche filling. Plaça de la Sagrada Família 26.
At chök, the churro is a crunchy accompaniment to the main event: 100% natural, additive-free molten chocolate. The self-proclaimed ‘home to all things chocolate’, chök is a Brazilian-Catalan confectionary with one location in an abandoned 19th-century chocolate factory. With its transatlantic roots, it is the perfect embodiment of the history of xocolata amb xurros. Carme 3. Ramelleres 26.
Located on one of the busiest street corners in Ciutat Vella, Churrería Laietana is bursting with mom-and-pop charm. Run by the same couple for decades—he works the fryer, she takes the orders and prepares the drinks—their churros are crispy on the outside and amazingly soft inside. As is the case for many of the most authentic restaurants in Barcelona, they accept cash only. Via Laietana 46.
As far as true cultural experiences in Barcelona go, spending time with friends and family over a round of churros and chocolate can’t be beat. Pull up a barstool and enjoy this piping hot, deliciously sugary culinary tradition.
For more seasonal experiences, check our article Bundle up and join in these winter activities in Barcelona.