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The 5 Best Restaurants in Barcelona

The 5 Best Restaurants in Barcelona


Your legs are all jiggly from walking down the spiral staircase of La Sagrada Família. Your head is throbbing because of the hangover you acquired after throwing back one too many iconic Barcelona cocktails. What do you do next? Eat at the very best restaurants Barcelona has to offer — and it offers a lot of them, even when it’s not white truffle season.

After plucking the best restaurants in Barcelona from our 101 Best Restaurants in Europe and 25 Best Restaurants in Spain and Portugal lists, we did some additional research, consulting critical and customer reviews, to make sure that the following restaurants have maintained the high standards they set when we voted for them. We are happy to report they have.

5. Ca l'Isidre

Isidre Gironès is a veteran Barcelona restaurateur, but he goes to the markets himself every morning and still shoots the game birds that end up on his table. This small, comfortable, and woody restaurant, with a mostly traditional Catalonian menu, offers a raw Catalan salt cod salad called esqueixada, soupy rice with seafood, beef fillet in Port sauce, and, of course, jamón. Some less common choices are whole ceps roasted in foie gras fat in parchment, langoustine ravioli with ginger and lime, pig's foot stuffed with mushrooms and truffles, and yogurt foam with raspberries and strawberries.

4. Moments

When the fun of Barcelona begins to take a toll on your body, Moments is where you go to unwind. The gold ceiling, white tablecloths, and surrounding greenery, all nestled within the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, provide a sense of peace and quiet. The menu begins with a series of "micro" appetizers, such as espardenyes (the sea cucumber much prized on the Catalan coast) with white bean cream and cauliflower foam and crawfish with pistachio sauce and green beans. Other items include red mullet with beluga lentils and dill cream, roasted veal cheeks with shallots and pineapple chutney, and a Japanese-inspired dessert of fresh cheese with blueberries and caramelized flowers. According to The Guardian, this is where you should go “if you want to taste a pea, a potato, or an artichoke as God intended.”

3. Cal Pep

Nestled in a small square just north of the Plaça de Palau since 1977, Cal Pep (run by chef and owner Josep "Pep" Manubens Figueras) serves the epitome of great tapas and seafood in Barcelona. Figueras doesn’t care much for modernist fare, sticking mainly to the classics. The tiny space means you’ll have to wait before you’re seated, but you’re in Spain, so just drink red wine by the doorway and make some new friends. When you do sit down, your waiter will give you three options — meat, vegetable, seafood — and if you know what’s good for your stomach, you’ll pick all three. Notable dishes: razor clams, fried artichokes, frito misto (anything fried, really), and tortilla Española speckled with onion and spicy bits of chorizo.

2. ABaC

In a show home near the Tibidabo mountain that would make any modernist architect proud, chef Jordi Cruz, one of the most brilliant young chefs in Spain, lets the neo-traditional style of the building in which he cooks inspire his cooking. He delights and surprises diners with his sweet-and-salty oyster tartare with green apple, sorrel, and coriander; homemade pasta with sea cucumber, squid, Comté cheese, and lemon basil; guinea fowl with langoustines and veal tendon in roasted vegetable water; roasted and smoked apple with cardamom, fresh cream, and vanilla; and much more.

1. Tickets

Tickets (named after its location in Barcelona’s old theater district) is a two-part tapas emporium run by Albert Adrià, brother of chef Ferran Adrià of the legendary elBulli. A predilection for molecular gastronomy clearly runs in the family: while Tickets serves classic tapas items like jamón and anchovies, it also boasts items like razor clams with refried sauce and lemon air; oysters with grilled watermelon consommé; Yauarcan charcoaled chicken; and black sesame and white chocolate lava rock. The theatrical food fits perfectly in these vaudevillian environs. It’s only fitting that the best restaurant in Barcelona is as creative as Gaudi himself.


When Ferran and Albert Adrià launched Tickets Bar in 2011, expectations were high. The brothers earned fame at the legendary elBulli, which received 3 Michelin stars and was named best restaurant in the world 5 times by Restaurant magazine. The Adriàs are known for their ‘deconstructivist’ style of cooking and classics such as the elBulli liquid olives remain available at Tickets.


Now on to some essential foods to try in Barcelona:

A bomba is similar to croquettas, and is made of meat and mashed potatoes that are formed in to ball, covered in breadcrumbs and fried. They can be small two bite snacks or larger tennis ball sized bombas (like this one) that are meant for sharing. It is served with a pair of aoilis, one on the bottom and another on the top.


Cinc Sentits

When Cinc Sentits opened in May 2004 it fast established itself as one of the top places in town – both in terms of quality and price – to sample modern Catalan cooking from Jordi Artal, a self-taught chef who grew up in Canada, but returned to his roots to open the restaurant in Eixample Esquerra. The minimal decor provides a great frame to his elegant, new wave cooking based on local, mostly organic and wild ingredients. Dishes such as Catalan caviar with smoked sturgeon and poached quail's egg, tomato sorbet with garlic "bubbles", and chocolate mousse with arbequina olive oil ice cream and roast macadamias form the foundation of the oft-changing tasting menu. He picked up a well-deserved Michelin star in November 2008.
Carrer d'Aribau 58, +34 93 323 9490, cincsentits.com, tasting menus €49-€69. Open Tue-Thu 1.30pm-3pm, 8.30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 1.30pm-3pm, 8.30pm-10.30pm


Barcelona restaurants with one Michelin star

Chef Artur Martínez and his Aürt in the Diagonal Mar Hotel, earned their first Michelin star in November 2019 with their stellar &lsquoposh street food&rsquo or &lsquolobby food&rsquo where local products are the star. All the cooking is done before your eyes, as each table or bar area features an induction cooker, a griddle, oven, grill and a wood-burning stove (Martínez is a fan of sharing information with diners about the tasting menu being served). Another surprise is what&rsquos on offer in the lobby, where Martínez has reinvented the concept of the hotel bar/restaurant with signature tapas, and a drinks menu light-years from the dull, overpriced, and just plain poor execution you often find in hotel bars (even luxury ones).

Koy Shunka

It's an understatement to say their Michelin star is well-deserved. Everything on the menu is out of this world, but the nigiris really steal the show: they come directly from the hands of chef Hideki Matsuhisa, and arrive on your plate with no change in temperature. And they practically melt in your mouth. It's a ceremony where everything is done with precision and control: the cut of the fish, the amount of rice, and the texture. An absolute must for any lover of Japanese cuisine .

Caelis

Romain Fornell, a child prodigy of haute cuisine in Barcelona, is the only French chef in Barcelona with a Michelin star. Fornell &ndash who's also owner of the restaurant &ndash has moved Caelis from the hotel El Palace, where it was for years, to the Hotel Ohla, where he has carried on with the work he's done in this spot that earned its Michelin star in 2005. You'll find a bold kitchen that's willing to take risks but that also boasts an impeccable classic spirit, conveyed in two tasting menus. And during the week, you can even get a set lunch menu, for &euro42 with a drink, dessert and coffee included &ndash quite generous for such a prestigious place.

Enigma

Albert Adrià has done it again with a space so ambitious that it breaks all the moulds. He didn't want to create another El Bulli, but rather to imagine how El Bulli would be today and make that a reality. Like its predecessor in the nearby town of Roses, Enigma blows what we think of a conventional restaurant out of the water. It's located in a majestic space with seven zones that combines Japanese minimalism that the Adrià brothers seem to love, with vintage science fiction along the lines of the first Superman film: ceramic metal, glass and lots of white. You won't know what you're going to eat or even what you're going to see before you go &ndash they don't even show the front door on the website.

Xerta

In Xerta, the restaurant in the Ohla hotel, you'll find the champion of Barcelona haute cuisine for delving into the great unknown of Catalan gastronomy by using raw materials and recipes from the Delta d'Ebre. Chef Fran López, who at age 25 won a Michelin star at his Villa Retiro restaurant in Xerta, a town in the Delta d'Ebre region, now offers dishes in Barcelona that combine the raw power of the sea with gastronomic creativity. As López himself explains, 'We're the only gastro restaurant with a Delta seal in Barcelona. And that's what makes us so different and interesting in a city where there are great Peruvian, Mexican and Japanese restaurants, and also all sorts of Catalan cooking. But from the south there's nothing. We're from the Delta, we have access to all the raw materials from there, and we're experts in the regional cooking techniques. Here we've got a singular and little-known cuisine &ndash European eels, baby eels, "cajitas", Delta oysters, sea anemones in batter. '. It all sounds delicious to us, Fran.


… and food tours to soak it all up

When it comes to food tours, the offer in Barcelona is huge. You probably wonder: “with so many options, which food tour do I choose?”. Our advice is to always go with a real local company.

Nowadays there are many multi-city operators that offer their food tours in different parts of Spain or even Europe, sometimes disguised as “supporting local businesses”. Great marketing strategy. But the reality is quite different as your money will end up in Madrid, Rome or Paris but not in the place you are visiting: Barcelona.

Most importantly, only a true Barcelona company can show you the soul of the city’s food that others can’t compete with.

If looking for a food tour here, always ask yourself this question: Do they offer tours in other cities? If the answer is yes, think twice about joining them and choose a real Barcelona company instead.

Our recommendation is joining Lorea and Michael from The Barcelona Taste at one of their fabulous food and tapas tours in Barcelona. What makes this company stand out in Barcelona is that their food tours are limited to 6 people maximum. While others take up to 12 people, which is too large for a nice group to interact with the guide and have a nice conversation, these guys pride themselves in keeping it as small and personal as you can get. You can be sure that your guide will become a friend by the end of your experience.

The Barcelona Taste is the first company who offered these type of food tours in the city and still the best. Their philosophy is to awe their clients with the best food at the best local restaurants in town. They have been recommended by Rick Steves, The Guardian or Time Out. And yes, they are only in Barcelona as that is the city of their expertise. Bon profit!

Having fun on a Tapas Tour in Barcelona

I hope you will have fun giving some of these foods a whirl. But a meal in Barcelona is not complete without something sweet so why not check out our post about Catalan desserts? Looking to learn about the city before engulfing all this fantastic food? Check out our award-winning Barcelona Free Walking Tours and Barcelona Private Tours. A great way to make the most of your Barcelona trip! Finally, if you are here for a few days, you can take a look at our very complete article with things to do in Barcelona.

Spain is full of wonderful gastronomic experiences. If you are travelling outside Barcelona, you can check out our friends’ posts for traditional food of Madrid and typical dishes in Malaga.

Post originally published on July 28th 2014. Updated on January 2nd 2020


Best Dessert in Barcelona

Barcelona restaurants are not only amazing at tapas, local and international food, but they are also fantastic at making desserts.

Practically every restaurant we went to had cheesecake, which is in my top three favorite desserts, but my favorite cheesecake by far had to be at Robata. It’s an excellent place to go for both dinner and dessert if you like sushi and cheesecake!

For an excellent donut, I recommend getting one at La Roseta. I found this place the first time I went to Barcelona by accident. My friend and I got a simple donut for 1,15 euros and were quite surprised with how delicious, soft, and flaky it was!

While Mike and I were in the Barceloneta neighborhood, we wandered the streets so I could by chance find this cute little cafe again and validate how good their pastries were. Welp, we found it, and I enjoyed yet another soft and flaky donut.

American brownie and cookies from Sil’s Cakes carrot cheesecake from Sil’s Cakes

For excellent cakes and cookies, check out Sil’s Cakes American Pastry in the Gracia neighborhood, which is worth carving out time to walk around at night. It’s a less touristy, local neighborhood!


ElBulli 2005–2011 Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià

Price AUD$750.00 Price CAD$625.00 Price &euro525.00 Price £425.00 Price T625.00 Price USD$625.00

Gift options available at checkout

elBulli 2005-2011 is the catalogue raisonné of elBulli, which was widely regarded as the world's best restaurant until its closure in 2011. Having held three Michelin stars from 1997 to 2011, and regularly voted "Best Restaurant in the World" by a panel of 500 industry professionals, elBulli was at the forefront of the restaurant scene from when Ferran Adrià became sole head chef in 1987. The restaurant only opened for six months every year in order that the rest of the year could be spent developing a completely new menu for each season. Many hours of development work went into the creation of each spectacular dish at the purpose-built elBulli workshop in Barcelona, and the gastronomic innovations of the creative team have influenced restaurants and chefs around the world.

elBulli 2005-2011 is made up of seven volumes, one for each season that the restaurant was open between 2005 and 2011. Each volume starts with a catalogue of photographs of every dish that was served at the restaurant during that year and finishes with detailed recipes explaining how to make every component. There are also notes on hard-to-find ingredients, new techniques, finishing and presentation. The recipes are divided by course, following the unique structure of the elBulli menu: cocktails, snacks, tapas, pre-desserts, desserts and morphings.

The final volume, Evolutionary Analysis, focuses on the creative evolution of the restaurant, key discoveries, produce and analysis of the influences and creative methods that were prominent during each season. Chapters will cover new products, techniques and technologies on a year-to-year basis, looking in depth at how all of the processes combined to continually drive the cuisine at elBulli forward.

Beautifully presented in an elegant Perspex slipcase, these comprehensive volumes allow unprecedented access to the genius of Ferran Adrià and the creativity that made elBulli legendary. An essential addition to the shelves of anyone interested in modern gastronomy, this is the last chance to uncover the secrets of the world's most-innovative kitchen, now closed forever.

Specifications:

  • Format: 7 Volume, Hardback
  • Size: 315 x 240 mm (12 3/8 x 9 1/2 in)
  • Pages: 2720 pp
  • Illustrations: 1400 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9780714865485

Ferran Adrià joined the staff of elBulli in 1984 and rapidly progressed to become head chef. Famous for his pioneering culinary techniques, he has been applauded - and imitated - around the world, and won three Michelin stars for elBulli, along with many other accolades. Since elBulli's closure in 2011, Ferran has been lecturing around the world and developing the elBullifoundation, a culinary academy and think tank, on the site of the former restaurant. The foundation is due to open in 2015.

Juli Soler worked in the dining rooms of many restaurants in Spain before joining elBulli as restaurant manager in 1981. As well as hiring Ferran Adrià, he brought the front of house service to a standard never before seen in Spain. He is also a great authority on wine.

Albert Adrià joined elBulli in 1985 and quickly developed a passion for pastry. He was creative director of the elBulli workshop, as well as being responsible for the sweet world. Since the closure of elBulli in 2011, Albert has gone on to open two new venues in Barcelona Tickets, a tapas bar and restaurant, and 41°, a cocktail bar, both to great acclaim.

"elBulli 2005 – 2011 continues Ferran’s impressive, contemporary legacy. These volumes are not about who you are or what you cook – this is about understanding a new theory of cooking and cuisine. No one has ever come close to accomplishing what he has done for this industry. A must for any passionate cook." —Daniel Bouloud, Chef and Owner, The Dinex Group

"elBulli 2005 – 2011 is an inspiration to cooks to continually question the status quo." —David Chang, Chef and Founder, Momofuku

"The catalogue raisonné digs into some of elBulli’s most influential years, charting its groundbreaking techniques and presentations. Cerebral stuff, for sure, but we’d expect no less from a man who once dreamed about making hot ice cream." —Bon Appetit

"One of the most hotly anticipated cookbooks of 2014." —Good Morning America

"One hundred years from now, cooking will not be understood without the presence of Ferran Adriá. This astonishing collection of ideas, flavors, and design is a window into one of the world’s most creative minds and reveals the legacy that Ferran and the elBulli team leave behind in the worlds of cuisine and art." —Jose Andres, Chef and Restaurateur, Think Food Group

"Monumental. For many chefs, an 18–kilogram recipe compendium would document a life’s work. In Mr. Adriá’s case, it is merely a slice." —The Economist

"It’s a rare master magician who will willingly part the curtain." —Forbes Life

"Ferran Adriá’s elBulli changed the food world. Then it closed. But Adriá has found a way to bring back epic dishes." —Food & Wine

"An incredible collection of recipes and techniques from a team that forever changed the way I look at food. Insanely inspiring." —Sean Brock, Executive Chef, Husk, McCrady's and Minero, and author of the bestselling book Heritage


Most Authentic Spanish Soups

When you visit Spain, don’t stick only to tapas: get your spoon ready to try some authentic Spanish soup recipes. When someone thinks about Spanish food, tapas and paella seem to be like the only thing that’s worth trying.

However, if anything characterizes the Spanish gastronomy in the cold months are warm and soupy dishes eaten with a spoon. Some are definitely soups and creams, while some other contain liquid enough to require a spoon to be eaten, hence we consider them “spoon” dishes.

And they are a great to warm you up before continuing sightseeing or after a long day walking around the city! Every region has it’s own typical “spoon dish”, so there are options for all tastes: from the earthiest ones to the lighter. Today we’ll talk about the ones no visitor should miss: take note of the name of these Spanish soups and don’t hesitate to order them in your next winter trip to Spain.

This is our recommended list of Spanish soups:

Potaje – Spanish bean soup

If you love vegetables and legumes you’ll love this option. It is a dish based on legumes (usually chickpeas, but sometimes lentils or white beans) to which we add a vegetable styr-fry and stock. It must be soupy but not as liquid as a soup. Then every cook gives it their own personal touch with the addition of different veggies and meats such as chorizo, pork and some bones.

By the way, the Spanish potaje has nothing to do with the French potage, except maybe that both words come from the Latin word pottus (pot) that eventually ended up referring not just to the container but also the content of it. In French, potage means any type of veggie soup, while the Spanish potage is, as you’ve seen now, is earthier, meatier and fattier (yet delicious).

Sopa de Ajo – the Spanish garlic soup

Garlic soup is a typical soup from the Castilla y León region (center of Spain, North of Madrid), and it’s traditionally eaten during Easter probably because it doesn’t include meat. This popular recipe of humble origins is made with water, old bread, paprika, bay leaf, garlic and oil, and often a poached egg is added.

In the old times, it was commonly eaten by the working class half way through the morning as a pick-me-up, after a long night of hard work, or after participating in Easter processions carrying the heavy wooden religious sculptures down the streets, as it’d warm up their bodies and it’s easy to digest.

It’s such a simple recipe that in Catalan when someone all of a sudden realizes something very obvious, we say “this one has just discovered garlic soup” (Aquest ha descobert la sopa d’all).


Method

◦ Heat oil in a 40 cm (16 in) paella or 4 litre (7 pint) wide shallow
casserole pan.
◦ Add chicken and cook for about 10 minutes until lightly browned.
◦ Add onions and garlic and fry for 5 minutes, then stir in paprika
followed by rice.
◦ Stir for 2-3 minutes.
◦ Stir tomatoes into paella with stock, rosemary and salt and pepper.
◦ Dissolve saffron in 2 tablespoons stock then add to paella.
◦ Boil for 8-10 minutes.
◦ Prepare squid cut bodies into rings and chop tentacles.
◦ Cut green beans into short lengths.
◦ Scatter all seafood, green beans and broad beans into paella – do not stir.
◦ Gradually turn down heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until rice is tender and liquid absorbed.
◦ Cover, remove from heat and leave for 5-10 minutes.
◦ Serves 4.