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. Ca l'Isidre

    $$$$ | El Raval | Spanish

    A throwback to an age before foams and food science took over the gastronomic world, this restaurant has elevated simplicity to the level of...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 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

  • 4. Moments

    $$$$ | Eixample | Spanish

    Inside the ultrasleek Hotel Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, this restaurant continues the glamour with mod white chairs and glinting goldleaf on...Read More

  • 5. Via Veneto

    $$$$ | Sant Gervasi | Spanish

    Open since 1967, this family-owned temple of fine Catalan dining offers a contemporary menu punctuated by old-school classics. Service from...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Barceloneta

    $$$ | Barceloneta | Seafood

    This restaurant in an enormous riverboat-like building at the end of the yacht marina in Barceloneta is definitely geared up for high-volume...Read More

  • 8. Cera 23

    $$ | El Raval | Spanish

    Top pick among a crop of modern restaurants putting the razzle back into the run-down Raval, Cera 23 offers a winning combination of great service...Read More

  • 9. El Passadís d'en Pep

    $$$ | Born-Ribera | Seafood

    Hidden away at the end of a narrow unmarked passageway off the Pla del Palau, near the Santa Maria del Mar church, this restaurant is a favorite...Read More

  • 10. Etapes

    $$ | Eixample | Spanish

    By concentrating on sophisticated execution rather than groundbreaking creativity, the family-run Etapes provides a reliably satisfying dining...Read More

  • 11. Hispania

    $$$$ | Spanish

    This famous pilgrimage—one of the best restaurants in Catalonia for the last 50 years—is 39 km (24 miles) up the beach north of Barcelona. Sisters...Read More

  • 12. Hofmann

    $$$$ | Gràcia | Mediterranean

    The late Mey Hofmann, German-born and Catalonia-trained, was revered for decades for her creative Mediterranean and international cuisine based...Read More

  • 13. L'Olivé

    $$ | Eixample | Spanish

    Streamlined but traditional Catalan cooking means this busy and attractive spot is always packed. The crowd may be boisterous, but the dining...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Roig Robí

    $$$ | Gràcia | Spanish

    Rattan chairs and a garden terrace characterize this polished dining spot in the bottom corner of Gràcia just above the Diagonal (near Vía Augusta...Read More

  • 16. Silvestre

    $$ | Sant Gervasi | Spanish

    A graceful and easygoing mainstay in Barcelona's culinary landscape, this restaurant serves modern market cuisine to discerning diners. Look...Read More

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