Barcelona Restaurants

Barcelona's restaurant scene is an ongoing adventure. Between avant-garde culinary innovation and the more rustic dishes of traditional Catalan fare, there is a fleet of brilliant classical chefs producing some of Europe's finest Mediterranean cuisine.

Catalans are legendary lovers of fish, vegetables, rabbit, duck, lamb, game, and natural ingredients from the Pyrenees or the Mediterranean. The mar i muntanya (literally, "sea and mountain"—that is, surf and turf) is a standard. Combining salty and sweet tastes—a Moorish legacy—is another common theme.

The Mediterranean diet—based on olive oil, seafood, fibrous vegetables, onions, garlic, and red wine—is at home in Barcelona, embellished by Catalonia's four basic sauces: allioli (whipped garlic and olive oil), romesco (almonds, nyora peppers, hazelnuts, tomato, garlic, and olive oil), sofregit (fried onion, tomato, and garlic), and samfaina (a ratatouille-like vegetable mixture).

Typical entrées include faves a la catalana (a broad-bean stew), arròs caldós (a rice dish more typical of Catalonia than paella, often made with lobster), and espinacas a la catalana (spinach cooked with oil, garlic, pine nuts, raisins and cured ham). Toasted bread is often doused with olive oil and rubbed with squeezed tomato to make pa amb tomàquet—delicious on its own or as a side order.

Beware of the advice of hotel concierges and taxi drivers, who have been known to falsely warn that the place you are going is either closed or no good anymore, and to instead recommend places where they get kickbacks.

Aside from restaurants, Barcelona is brimming with bars and cafés, the latter of which can serve as an outdoor meeting spot or a place to socialize and enjoy a cocktail. Be advised that the sidewalk cafés along La Rambla are noisy, dusty, overpriced, and exposed to pickpockets.

Catalan wines from the nearby Penedès region, especially the local méthode champenoise (sparkling white wine, known in Catalonia as cava), pairs perfectly with regional cuisine. Meanwhile, winemakers from the Priorat, Montsant, Empordà, and Costers del Segre regions are producing some of Spain's most exciting new wines.

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  • 1. Au Port de la Lune

    $ | Eixample | French

    The stereotypical decor of this French bistro (think Serge Gainsbourg photos) verges on parody, but the authentic food is no joke. "There's...Read More

  • 2. El Vaso de Oro

    $ | Barceloneta | Spanish

    A favorite with gourmands, this often overcrowded little counter serves some of the best beer and tapas in town. The house-brewed artisanal...Read More

  • 3. La Cova Fumada

    $ | Barceloneta | Spanish

    There's no glitz, no glamour, and not even a sign on the wall, but the battered wooden doors of this old, family-owned tavern hide a tapas bar...Read More

  • 4. La Pastisseria

    $ | Eixample | Bakery

    This stylish pastisseria looks more like a designer jewelry store than a bakery. Rows of world-class cakes and pastries gleam temptingly in...Read More

  • 5. A Tu Bola

    $ | El Raval | Israeli

    Fresh, falafel-like balls of meat, fish, and vegetables in unique, mouthwatering combinations are prepared with laser-sharp focus by Israeli...Read More

  • 6. Bar Paris

    $ | Eixample | Café

    Always a popular place to hang out and watch barcelonins kill some time, this lively café has hosted everyone from local poets to King Felipe...Read More

  • 7. Bar Tomás

    $ | Sarrià | Spanish

    Famous for its patatas bravas amb allioli (potatoes with fiery hot sauce and allioli, an emulsion of crushed garlic and olive oil), accompanied...Read More

  • 8. Blau BCN

    $ | Eixample | Spanish

    Despite its name, there's nothing about Marc Roca's restaurant that will give you the blues; its stylish interior featuring black-and-white...Read More

  • 9. Cafè de l'Òpera

    $ | La Rambla | Café

    Directly across from the Liceu opera house, this high-ceiling Art Nouveau café has welcomed operagoers and performers for more than 100 years...Read More

  • 10. Cafè Zurich

    $ | La Rambla | Café

    This traditional café at the top of La Rambla and directly astride the main metro and transport hub remains the city's prime meeting point....Read More

  • 11. Can Culleretes

    $ | La Rambla | Spanish

    Just off La Rambla in the Barri Gòtic, this family-run restaurant founded in 1786 displays tradition in both decor and culinary offerings....Read More

  • 12. Cuines Santa Caterina

    $ | Born-Ribera | Eclectic

    A lovingly restored market designed by the late Enric Miralles and completed by his widow Benedetta Tagliabue provides a spectacular setting...Read More

  • 13. Dole Café

    $ | Sarrià | Café

    Little more than a slender slot on the corner of Capità Arenas and Manuel de Falla, this famous upper Barcelona café is absolutely vital to...Read More

  • 14. El Xampanyet

    $ | Born-Ribera | Spanish

    Just down the street from the Museu Picasso, dangling botas (leather wineskins) announce one of Barcelona's liveliest and most visually appealing...Read More

  • 15. La Bodegueta

    $ | Eixample | Spanish

    If you can find this dive (literally: it's a short drop below sidewalk level), you'll encounter a warm and cluttered space with a dozen small...Read More

  • 16. La Cerería

    $ | Barri Gòtic | Vegetarian

    At the corner of Baixada de Sant Miquel and Passatge de Crèdit, this humble terrace and musical instrument store/café has charm to spare. The...Read More

  • 17. La Flauta

    $ | Eixample | Spanish

    The name of this boisterous restaurant refers to the staple flutelike baguettes used for sandwiches here. There is also an infinite number of...Read More

  • 18. La Palma

    $ | Barri Gòtic | Café

    Behind the Plaça Sant Jaume's ajuntament (city hall), toward the post office, sits this cozy and ancient café. An old favorite of 20th-century...Read More

  • 19. La Plassohla

    $ | Barri Gòtic | Spanish

    A trendy international crowd packs this place, sampling tapas such as free-range eggs cooked at low temperature with mushrooms, and charcoal...Read More

  • 20. Laie

    $ | Eixample | Café

    More than a bookstore, the café and restaurant here serves an all-day buffet until 9 pm. Readings, concerts, and book presentations round out...Read More

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