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. Disfrutar

    $$$$ | Eixample | Eclectic

    Three former head chefs from the now-closed "World's Best Restaurant" elBulli have combined their considerable talents to create this roller...Read More

  • 3. El Asador de Aranda

    $$$ | Tibidabo | Spanish

    It's a hike to get to this immense palace a few minutes' walk above the Avenida Tibidabo train station—but it's worth it. The kitchen, featuring...Read More

  • 4. El Celler de Can Roca

    $$$$ | Spanish

    Diners who can plan far enough ahead to deal with the waiting list for tables at this multiple-time winner of Restaurant magazine's World...Read More

  • 5. Hisop

    $$$ | Sant Gervasi | Spanish

    The minimalist interior design of Oriol Ivern's small restaurant is undistinguished, but his cooking is stellar. This is budget-conscious fine...Read More

  • 6. Manairó

    $$$ | Eixample | Spanish

    A manairó is a mysterious Pyrenean elf, and Jordi Herrera may be the culinary version; his ingenious meat-cooking methods—such as filet mignon...Read More

  • 7. Tram-Tram

    $$$ | Sarrià | Spanish

    At the end of the old tram line above the village of Sarrià, this restaurant offers one of Barcelona's finest culinary stops, with Isidre Soler...Read More

  • 8. ABaC

    $$$$ | Tibidabo | Spanish

    Jordi Cruz is a culinary phenomenon in Spain. The only choice here is between the two tasting menus, and you can trust this chef to give you...Read More

  • 9. Dos Palillos

    $$$$ | El Raval | Eclectic

    After 10 years as the chief cook and favored disciple of pioneering chef Ferran Adrià, Albert Raurich opened this outstanding Asian-fusion restaurant...Read More

  • 10. El Foro

    $$ | Born-Ribera | Eclectic

    Painting and photographic exhibits line the walls of this large and lively Born restaurant, and the menu is dominated by meat cooked over coals...Read More

  • 11. En Ville

    $$ | El Raval | French

    With pan-Mediterranean cuisine and reasonable prices, this attractive bistro 100 yards west of the Rambla in the MACBA section of El Raval is...Read More

  • 12. Igueldo

    $$$ | Eixample | Spanish

    Basque dishes are competently updated and delivered with a dash of style at this smart, white-walled Eixample establishment. A fiery grill turns...Read More

  • 13. La Yaya Amelia

    $$ | Eixample | Spanish

    Just two blocks uphill from Gaudí's Sagrada Família church, this kitchen serves lovingly prepared and clued-in dishes ranging from warm goat...Read More

  • 14. MariscCO

    $$ | La Rambla | Seafood

    The only tolerable dining choice in the elegant Plaça Reial—a square filled with sunny cafés serving mediocre fare—this restaurant specializes...Read More

  • 15. Sant Pau

    $$$$ | Spanish

    One of the best restaurants below the Pyrenees, this Sant Pol de Mar treasure is a scenic 40-minute train ride along the beach from Barcelona...Read More

  • 16. Espai Sucre

    $$$ | Sant Pere | Eclectic

    The world's first dessert-only restaurant sounds like a terrible idea , but Espai Sucre has been making a success of this distinctive concept...Read More

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