Catalonia, Valencia, and the Costa Blanca Restaurants

Catalonia's eateries are deservedly famous. Girona’s Celler de Can Roca was voted the best restaurant in the world in 2015 in the annual critics’ poll conducted by British magazine Restaurant, and a host of other first-rate establishments continue to offer inspiring fine dining in Catalonia, which began in the hinterlands at the legendary Hotel Empordà. You needn’t go to an internationally acclaimed restaurant, however, to dine well. Superstar chef Ferran Adrià of the former foodie paradise elBulli dines regularly at dives in Roses, where straight-up fresh fish is the day-in, day-out attraction. Northern Catalonia's Empordà region is known not only for seafood, but also for a rich assortment of inland and upland products. Beef from Girona's verdant pastureland is prized throughout Catalonia, while wild mushrooms from the Pyrenees and game from the Alberes range offer seasonal depth and breadth to menus across the region. From a simple beachside paella or llobarro (sea bass) at a chiringuito (shack) with tables on the sand, to the splendor of a meal at El Celler de Can Roca, playing culinary hopscotch through Catalonia is a good way to organize a tour.

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  • 1. Casa Anita

    $$$$

    Simple, fresh, and generous dishes are the draw at this informal little eatery, an institution in Cadaqués. Tables are shared, and there is no menu;...

    Simple, fresh, and generous dishes are the draw at this informal little eatery, an institution in Cadaqués. Tables are shared, and there is no menu; the staff recite the offerings of the day, which might include local prawns and sardines a la plancha, mussels, and sea bass. The walls are plastered with pictures of the celebrities who have made the pilgrimage here, including Dalí himself. 

    Carrer Miquel Rosset 16, Cadaqués, Catalonia, 17488, Spain
    972-258471

    Known For

    • No menu
    • Regional wines
    • Convivial atmosphere

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No dinner Sun., Reservations essential
  • 2. Compartir

    $$$$

    The word "compartir" means “to share” and this excellent restaurant bases its menu on a small-plate sharing approach that has been taken to another level...

    The word "compartir" means “to share” and this excellent restaurant bases its menu on a small-plate sharing approach that has been taken to another level by the culinary team of Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro, and Eduard Xatruch (who also run Barcelona's two-Michelin-starred Disfrutar). Each dish is served by attentive staff within an 18th-century courtyard.

    Riera Sant Vicenç s/n, Cadaqués, Catalonia, 17488, Spain
    972-258482

    Known For

    • Sharing plates
    • Creative gastronomy
    • Beautiful courtyard setting

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.; opening days and hours vary by season
  • 3. El Cable

    $$

    There’s almost always a line outside this old-school, family-owned tapas bar, a local favorite since its founding in 1940. If you can’t get a table,...

    There’s almost always a line outside this old-school, family-owned tapas bar, a local favorite since its founding in 1940. If you can’t get a table, sidle up to the long wood bar, choose from the display of bite-sized, toothpick-speared pintxos, and eat them standing, just like a local.

    Carrer Barcelona 1, Sitges, Catalonia, 08870, Spain
    938-948761

    Known For

    • Patatas bravas
    • Variety of pintxos
    • Inexpensive food and drink

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No reservations
  • 4. El Celler de Can Roca

    $$$$

    Holder of three Michelin stars since 2009, El Celler de Can Roca, helmed by the Roca brothers—Joan, Josep, and Jordi—is a life-changing culinary experience. Its...

    Holder of three Michelin stars since 2009, El Celler de Can Roca, helmed by the Roca brothers—Joan, Josep, and Jordi—is a life-changing culinary experience. Its two tasting menus, ranging from 14 to 22 courses and priced in the €250 range, feature wildly inventive dishes and daring presentations.

    Can Sunyer 48, Girona, Catalonia, 17007, Spain
    972-222157

    Known For

    • Considered one of the best restaurants in the world
    • Expansive wine list
    • Reservations required many months or even a year ahead

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon., Easter and Christmas holidays, and most of Aug., Reservations essential and available via the website only
  • 5. El Motel

    $$$$

    Just 1½ km (1 mile) north of town, this restaurant—housed within a rather nondescript hotel—has been hailed as the birthplace of modern Catalan cuisine and...

    Just 1½ km (1 mile) north of town, this restaurant—housed within a rather nondescript hotel—has been hailed as the birthplace of modern Catalan cuisine and is a beacon for gourmands. The hyper-local menu changes with the seasons and features such dishes as eggplant with anchovies from Cadaqués, stewed chicken with morels plucked from the Collserola mountains, and a vanilla tart topped with strawberries from nearby Vilafant.

    Av. Salvador Dalí i Domènech 170, Figueres, Catalonia, 17600, Spain
    972-500562

    Known For

    • Historic culinary destination
    • Marvelous cheese selection
    • Impeccable service

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Reservations essential, no dinner
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  • 6. Hostal Restaurant Sa Rascassa

    $$$

    Dine on fresh seafood, grilled meats, and pasta on the tranquil, tree-shaded patio or inside the rustic-chic dining room. From here, it’s a short stroll...

    Dine on fresh seafood, grilled meats, and pasta on the tranquil, tree-shaded patio or inside the rustic-chic dining room. From here, it’s a short stroll to the secluded Aiguafreda swimming cove. It’s a great alternative in summer to Begur’s perpetually packed beachfront restaurants.

    Cala Aiguafreda 3, Begur, Catalonia, 17255, Spain
    972-622845

    Known For

    • Variety of seafood tapas
    • Grilled specialties
    • Attractive patio

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Tues. and Nov.–mid-Mar.
  • 7. La Seu

    $$$

    Under co-owners Fede and Diana Cervera and chef Xicu Ramón, this distinguished restaurant in the center of town continues to reinvent and deconstruct traditional Valencian...

    Under co-owners Fede and Diana Cervera and chef Xicu Ramón, this distinguished restaurant in the center of town continues to reinvent and deconstruct traditional Valencian cuisine. The setting is an architectural tour de force: a 16th-century town house transformed into a sunlit modern space with an open kitchen and a three-story-high wall sculpted to resemble a billowing white curtain. The midweek menus, available for lunch or dinner, include a selection of creative tapas—minicourses, really, that might include a soup or a salad—and one rice dish or other main course, giving you a good idea of the chef's repertoire at an unbeatable price.

    Calle Loreto 59, Dénia, Valencia, 03700, Spain
    966-424478

    Known For

    • Creative tapas
    • Unbeatable midweek menu prices
    • Inventive take on Valencian cuisine

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed early Jan.–early Feb. Closed Mon., Credit cards accepted
  • 8. Pa i Raïm

    $$$

    "Bread and Grapes" in Catalan, Pa i Raïm is an excellent restaurant set in writer Josep Pla's ancestral family home in Palafrugell. It has one...

    "Bread and Grapes" in Catalan, Pa i Raïm is an excellent restaurant set in writer Josep Pla's ancestral family home in Palafrugell. It has one rustic dining room as well as another in a glassed-in winter garden, plus a leafy terrace, which is the place to be in summer. 

    Torres i Jonama 56, Palafrugell, Catalonia, 17200, Spain
    972-447278

    Known For

    • Grilled whole fish
    • Traditional and contemporary menu
    • Garden terrace

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.–Wed., No dinner Sun.
  • 9. Restaurant Pont Vell

    $$$$

    Book in advance for a table on the romantic riverfront terrace and you’ll be rewarded with exceptional views of Besalú’s medieval bridge. The prix-fixe menu...

    Book in advance for a table on the romantic riverfront terrace and you’ll be rewarded with exceptional views of Besalú’s medieval bridge. The prix-fixe menu changes monthly and offers a wide array of traditional Catalan dishes of superb quality, with seasonal ingredients sourced from the nearby Banyols market.

    Pont Vell 24, Besalú, Catalonia, 17850, Spain
    972-591027

    Known For

    • Warm, friendly service
    • Terrace with views
    • Seasonal menu

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues. Dinner Fri. and Sat. only
  • 10. Arcs

    $$$

    Stone arches dating from the 14th-century frame the tables at this atmospheric restaurant in the historical Part Alta (Old Town). The cooking is smart and...

    Stone arches dating from the 14th-century frame the tables at this atmospheric restaurant in the historical Part Alta (Old Town). The cooking is smart and modern, with a focus on seasonal, local ingredients, like the crispy veal cannelloni topped with a reduction of Priorat, an intense red wine from the Tarragona province.

    Carrer Misser Sitges 13, Tarragona, Catalonia, 43003, Spain
    977-218040

    Known For

    • Innovative cooking
    • Dramatic setting
    • Great service

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 11. Bocam

    $$

    This stylish restaurant, just around the corner from the Teatre-Museu Dalí, focuses on seasonal Empordà ingredients from the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. Look for classic...

    This stylish restaurant, just around the corner from the Teatre-Museu Dalí, focuses on seasonal Empordà ingredients from the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. Look for classic Catalan fare like prawn and cuttlefish fideuá alongside more modern dishes such as tuna tataki with black garlic.

    Carrer de la Jonquera 18, Figueres, Catalonia, 17600, Spain
    972-539494

    Known For

    • Seasonal ingredients
    • Local Empordà wines
    • Pleasant terrace

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.
  • 12. Botafumeria

    $ | Gràcia

    For an upscale treat, Botafumeiro never disappoints; the counter is the place to be for icy Albariño white wine and pop a feira (octopus on...

    For an upscale treat, Botafumeiro never disappoints; the counter is the place to be for icy Albariño white wine and pop a feira (octopus on potato slices with smoked paprika), a Galician favorite.

    Carrer Gran de Gràcia 81, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08012, Spain

    Known For

    • Tk
    • TK
    • TK
  • 13. Café le Bistrot

    $

    This bistro’s menu includes a 20-strong list of Catalan-style pizzas, served on peasant bread and incorporating regional ingredients like botifarra (sausage) and seasonal mushrooms. The...

    This bistro’s menu includes a 20-strong list of Catalan-style pizzas, served on peasant bread and incorporating regional ingredients like botifarra (sausage) and seasonal mushrooms. The delightful terrace is situated below a flight of stone stairs leading to the 17th-century Sant Martí church.

    Pujada de Sant Domènec 4, Girona, Catalonia, 17004, Spain
    972-218803

    Known For

    • Affordable pizzas
    • Regional cheese plate
    • Lovely terrace
  • 14. Can Segura

    $$

    Half a block in from the town's beach, this restaurant serves house-cooked seafood and upland specialties. The pimientos de piquillos rellenos de brandada (sweet red...

    Half a block in from the town's beach, this restaurant serves house-cooked seafood and upland specialties. The pimientos de piquillos rellenos de brandada (sweet red peppers stuffed with codfish mousse) are first-rate, as are the rice dishes.

    Carrer de Sant Pere 11, Sant Feliu de Guixols, Catalonia, 17220, Spain
    972-321009

    Known For

    • First-rate seafood
    • Daily menu specials
    • Excellent rice dishes
  • 15. Chiringuito

    $$$

    Spelled with a capital C, this legendary seaside spot opened in 1913 and spawned the term that’s given to similar bars dotting the Spanish coast....

    Spelled with a capital C, this legendary seaside spot opened in 1913 and spawned the term that’s given to similar bars dotting the Spanish coast. There’s nothing particularly outstanding about the food—typical seafood tapas, much of it fried—but the waterfront terrace is ideal for soaking up the sun and more than a century of history.

    Passeig de la Ribera 31, Sitges, Catalonia, 08870, Spain
    938-947596

    Known For

    • Sea views
    • Historical eatery
    • So-so food
  • 16. El Buen Comer

    $$

    On the edge of the old town, this relaxed bi-level restaurant serves enticing dishes in plentiful portions. Downstairs, indulge in tapas and simpler dishes, or...

    On the edge of the old town, this relaxed bi-level restaurant serves enticing dishes in plentiful portions. Downstairs, indulge in tapas and simpler dishes, or head to the fancier dining space upstairs for specialties like roast suckling pig, lamb chops, and sea bass baked in rock salt.

    Calle Mayor 8, Alicante, Valencia, 03002, Spain
    965-213103

    Known For

    • Rice dishes
    • Well-priced prix-fixe menus
    • Specialty meat and seafood dishes
  • 17. El Dorado Mar

    $$$

    Around the southern end of the beach at Sant Feliu de Guixols, perched over the entrance to the harbor, this family seafood restaurant offers superb...

    Around the southern end of the beach at Sant Feliu de Guixols, perched over the entrance to the harbor, this family seafood restaurant offers superb sea views as well as fine fare at unbeatable prices. Whether straight seafood such as lubina (sea bass) or dorada (gilt-head bream) or revuelto de setas (eggs scrambled with wild mushrooms), everything served here is fresh and flavorful.

    Passeig President Irla 15, Sant Feliu de Guixols, Catalonia, 17220, Spain
    972-321818

    Known For

    • Affordable cuisine
    • Knockout egg scramble
    • Fresh seafood

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner Tues. Closed Wed., Credit cards accepted
  • 18. El Raset

    $$$

    Set alongside the harbor, this Valencian favorite has been serving traditional cuisine with a modern twist for more than 30 years. From a terrace with...

    Set alongside the harbor, this Valencian favorite has been serving traditional cuisine with a modern twist for more than 30 years. From a terrace with views of the water you can choose from an array of excellent seafood dishes, including house specialties such as arroz en caldero (rice with monkfish, lobster, or prawns) and gambas rojas (local red prawns). À la carte dining can be expensive, while set menus are easier on your wallet. 

    Calle Bellavista 7, Dénia, Valencia, 03700, Spain
    965-785040

    Known For

    • Excellent seafood dishes
    • Reasonably priced set menus
    • Tasty paella
  • 19. Hotel Restaurant Sant Pol

    $$$

    This casual restaurant with a beachfront terrace serves fresh seafood and rice dishes, plus an affordable three-course lunch menu (€16.50)....

    This casual restaurant with a beachfront terrace serves fresh seafood and rice dishes, plus an affordable three-course lunch menu (€16.50).

    Passeig de Sant Pol 125, Sant Feliu de Guixols, Catalonia, 17220, Spain
    972-321070

    Known For

    • Paella and fideuà
    • Local fish
    • Sea views

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Thurs.
  • 20. La Costera

    $$$

    This popular restaurant focuses on fine French fare, with such specialties as house-made foie gras, fillet of turbot, and beef entrecôte. There's also a variety...

    This popular restaurant focuses on fine French fare, with such specialties as house-made foie gras, fillet of turbot, and beef entrecôte. There's also a variety of game in season, including venison and partridge.

    Costera Mestre de Música 8, Altea, Valencia, 03590, Spain
    965-840230

    Known For

    • Bucolic outdoor terrace
    • In-season game
    • French specialties

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues., No lunch weekdays., No dinner Sun.

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