If you’re the type of traveller who likes to try local specalties every time you visit somewhere new, you won’t want to miss horchata de chufa! This unusual, summery drink is a great way to quench your thirst and surprise your tastebuds.
What is horchata de chufa?
Horchata de chufa
(pronounced “ortchata de tchoofa”) is a drink made from a washed, ground tuber (known as chufa sage or tigernuts), mixed with water and, often, sugar.
- Rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and vitamins C and E, it also contains a whole host of enzymes which promote digestion and enrich the intestinal flora.
- Its high energy content (91 kcal/ 100 ml) makes it ideal for sportspeople.
- Good news for allergy sufferers: it’s both gluten- and lactose-free!
At this point, you probably don’t have any more idea of what we’re talking about than when we started. That’s only to be expected, as you won’t find anything like horchata in other countries. It’s sometimes compared to almond milk, but those who have tried it generally agree that it’s like nothing else.
Curious? Follow us!
Horchata de chufa: will I like it?
Legend has it that the word orxata (horchata, in Spanish) comes from a statement made by Jaume I of Aragon who, on being served a glass of the drink by a young girl, exclaimed “Això és or, xata” – “that’s gold, sweetheart’! This gave rise to the expression Això és orxata: this is orxata.
Not everybody is as taken with the drink as Jaume I – there are even some people who hate it when they first try it. Like coffee or beer, it’s something that grows on you! Keep trying, and by the second or third glass, you may just have a new favourite drink.
We’ve compiled a list of our favourite orxaterias (horchaterías) for a first taste of the drink in Barcelona. There are a few rules to respect: only drink horchata de chufa on the day it’s made, and only if it’s created in the proper, traditional way. The simili-horchata you’ll find in bottles in supermarkets are worlds away from the healthy, natural, artisan product recommended in this article.
Our favourite destinations for horchata de chufa
Orxateria Verdú in the Eixample Dret: the best of the best!
This small, unassuming venue is located on the corner of Bruc and Mallorca, half-way between Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera. The owners make their star product fresh every day throughout the summer months, and it’s known to be one of the best you’ll find in Barcelona. There’s a second branch not too far away, on Passeig Sant Joan.
- Why do we love it? Essentially, because the horchata is totally natural, and truly delicious.
- There’s a full container of sugar-free horchata on offer, which we think is even better than the sweetened version when you’re thirsty.
- If you’d prefer a less sweet version of normal horchata, ask for half-normal, half-sugar free. There’s something for everyone!
- Top tip: take the time to enjoy your drink at one of the tables in the shop so you get a proper glass.
- Like most horchaterías, Verdú also serves homemade ice cream throughout the summer, and delicious turron during the winter months.
For the local vibe
How much? Around €2 a glass, €5 per litre (different sizes available)
When? Monday to Friday, 9am – 9pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9.30am – 10pm (Easter and All Saints)
Where? Bruc, 126 (Eixample Dret) metro Verdaguer, Girona or Diagonal;
Passeig Sant Joan, 132 (Eixample Dret) metro Verdaguer
Sirvent, Sant Antoni
This little shop is a typical horchateria and is very popular with the locals.
On arrival, take a “orxata” ticket and wait your turn – enjoy the atmosphere whilst your orxata arrives. The system is very efficient, so you won’t have long to wait.
On another visit (or the same day, but let’s be reasonable here), you may want to try the excellent homemade ice cream, which features in our article on the best ice cream spots in Barcelona.)
Why? For the authentic ambiance
How much? Around €2 a glass (different sizes available)
When? Tuesday to Friday, 9.30am – 12.30am
Where? Ronda de San Pau,67 (Sant Antoni) metro Sant Antoni (L2)
Tio Che, Poble Nou
If you fancy exploring an area of the city which isn’t particularly well-known to tourists, take a walk down the Rambla del Poblenou. Stop off at the orxateria Tio Che, one of the best-known horchata venues in Barcelona. As at Sirvant, the queue moves quickly thanks to a ticket system. Don’t worry if you see crowds in front of the door, you’ll still be served quickly.
- The horchata here is served in cardboard cups – we think the experience is better with a glass, which keeps the drink cool for longer.
Why? For horchata all year round
How much? Around €2 a glass (different sized available)
When? Summer: every day, 10am – midnight; Winter: 10am – 10pm. Closed Mondays.
Where? Rambla del Poble Nou, 56 (Poble Nou) metro Sant Antoni (L4)
Granja Viader, Raval
This is the only establishment on our list which isn’t just a orxatería. It’s a venue in its own right, and one of our favourite granjas in Barcelona – we’ve even written an article on it.
The orxata isn’t the only house speciality, but it’s still extremely good.
Served with style on a paper doily at one of the bistro tables, we thoroughly enjoyed our horchata here on a hot summer’s afternoon. The olde-worlde feel of the Granja Viader adds another level to the experience.
Why? For its retro charm
How much? Less than €3 a glass
When? Monday to Saturday, 9am – 1.15pm and 5pm – 9.15pm
Where? Carrer d’en Xuclà, 6 Raval, metro: Liceu