The Best Restaurants in Barcelona
There’s so much more to Catalan cuisine than croquettes, paella, and tapas. (Although, don’t get us wrong, we still love all three.) Barcelona’s food scene is on fire right now, with Michelin-star stunners and a surprising number of fusion restaurants. Read on for the 10 best spots to dig in.
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From the team behind El Bulli—arguably Spain’s most famous restaurant and the pioneer of the molecular gastronomy movement—comes the newest concept, Enigma. True to its name, this dining experience is nothing short of surprising. To get there, you have to unlock its door using a secret code given to you via your reservation, then you walk through a shimmering maze of glass walls, and end up in a futuristic silver dining room that resembles the inside of an ice castle. The menu—courtesy of celeb chef Albert Adrià (who you may have seen on the latest season of Tasting Table)—also remains a mystery. Throughout the four-hour meal, guests eat 40 courses within six different rooms. Expect to taste seafood-focused fare, such as baby squid filled with caviar and brutesca tentacles, or oxidized and char-grilled cep with shallots.
With Michelin-starred chef Nandu Jubany at the helm, it’s no wonder this Eixample restaurant is the district’s next hotspot. PUR—Catalan for “pure”—puts the emphasis on refined, locally-sourced plates, such as figs grilled with Iberian ham and grated mullet; Escala anchovies on stracciatella and candied almonds; or cognac-fried lobster with onion from Figueres. The best part: the open-concept kitchen allows diners to watch the chefs in action. Just make sure to save room for a nightcap at the Impur cocktail bar downstairs.
The recently reopened La Dama restaurant is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Housed within Casa Sayrach—a Gaudí-esque modernist mansion—this high-end French bistro is a vision with its Belle Époque design, rich velvet seating areas, and a striking jewel tone color palette. The revamped menu features truffled pâté, grilled galician razor clams, and wild sea bass with ratatouille. Bon appétit.
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This Michelin-starred mainstay in Eixample is more than just a restaurant—it’s an art show. As the brainchild of three former El Bulli masters, Disfrutar draws attention to its modern Mediterranean cuisine served from a ceramic-tiled open kitchen, a nod to the seaside villages of Catalonia. But you won’t find any boring branzino here; the tasting menu is a mix of avant-garde recipes like crispy egg yolk with mushrooms, panchino filled with beluga caviar, and macaroni à la carbonara made from ham gelatin, which is tossed in truffle foam and sprinkled with parmesan table-side. The whole experience is playful, from the smiley-face D in the Disfrutar logo (disfrutar, after all, means “enjoy” in Spanish) to the imaginative performance-like preparation, using smoke, fire, and water elements.
La Barra de Carles Abellan
Everyone in Catalonia knows the Carles Abellán name, famous in the city’s food scene. After raising the standard with his other eateries Tapas 24, Bravo, and Suculent, the celeb chef is back at it again with this seafood-heavy affair in Barceloneta. Snag a seat at the massive gold bar and start off with some tapas—the baby pickled octopus, fried oyster with spicy salmon roe, and avocado gazpacho with king crab are highlights. Still hungry? Mains like spicy stir-fried sea cucumber and cuttlefish soasada stew are sure to satisfy.
Lomo Alto is a carnivore castle. But we’re not just talking about pork (a staple in this Spanish region). Instead, it’s all about the beef, ox, and veal. A monstrous slab of Leonese ox hangs above the hostess area, aging for over a year before being cooked over a charcoal flame Josper grill. Flintstone-size flanks are crowd favorites as is the 150-day aged Rubia Gallega T-bone steak, which is carved table-side for extra drama. If you’d rather have something smaller, opt for the cured ox tongue or beef carpaccio with Idiazebal cheese. There’s also other meat options, including roasted rabbit, lamb shoulder, Catalan sausage, and more.
The Green Spot
In the land of Iberian ham, you wouldn’t think to find a cutting-edge vegetarian restaurant. And yet, The Green Spot delivers. The dishes are more focused on healthy comfort food—think: beet gnocchi with nettle pesto or black pizza with roasted corn, summer squash, brazil nut, and smoked burrata. However, there’s also an intriguing From the World section of the menu that adds in Asian and Mexican influences, such as the Curry Spot (black rice with a Thai-style coconut curry, asparagus, carrots, and mushrooms) and the quesadillas with kimchi and avocado. The organic, simple plates blend seamlessly with the understated setting of blonde wood accent walls, Eames-style chairs, and plants galore.
Enoteca Paco Pérez
Leave it to Hotel Arts Barcelona, one of the city’s grand dames, to be home to Paco Pérez’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant. The bright, whitewashed space leads to an inviting terrace where guests and locals alike tuck into haute locavore dishes, sourced from the Mediterranean and the mountains. The creamy rice of lobster—Pérez’s take on paella—is a must-order, especially when paired with one of the 700 wines from their impressive cellar. Other standouts include: truffled brie crunch, squab bonbon, and sole meunière with almonds and citrus.
Albert Raurich has given traditional Spanish tapas a unique Asian-inspired twist, fusing Japanese, Chinese, and Thai flavors into his meals. Located within the Casa Camper Hotel, Dos Palillos may be casual, but its innovative eats have earned it endless awards. Sidle up to either of the two communal bars and pour yourself a drink before diving into plates of genshiyaki chicken sasami, squid nigiri, bone marrow sembei, green tea udon, and Iberian-Cantonese pork jowl. There’s also an extensive kaiseki-ryōri course of the tasting menu that’s to die for.
SOFIA Be So
Opened last summer, the new SOFIA hotel is a stunner thanks to its Mediterranean eatery, book cafe (cheekily called PhiloSofia), and sultry, burlesque-style dinner theater. But the crown culinary jewel is chef Carles Tejedor’s restaurant, SOFIA Be So. Here, you’ll feast on specials like scallops au gratin with smoked cauliflower purée; hake and lemongrass pil pil with steamed veggie ravioli; or duck foie gras with rum-toffee infused banana. It’s worth splurging on the aromatic experience, where a sommelier will give you seven perfume bottles and recommend wines to match the scent you like best.
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