From some of the best restaurants in the world to classic taverns of another era, Barcelona has it all. There’s no better way to get to know the city than through its food, so here is a list of some of the best places to eat in Barcelona. We cover many food styles ranging from pure, traditional tapas to Michelin-star innovations with vibrant Mediterranean cuisine.
Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
Estimar is one of Barcelona's top Mediterranean seafood restaurants
When exquisite quality seafood, elegant surroundings and an immaculate plating presentation take priorities over price, Estimar and the cuisine of chef Rafa Zafra can’t be beat. Many refer to this refined restaurant, tucked away down a dark alley just steps from the Santa Maria del Mar church, as a temple; a temple dedicated to the worship of the finest products of the sea. The catch of the day is displayed on heaps of ice on the countertop of the open kitchen, and seasonal specialties like sea urchins, barnacles (percebes), and baby eels (angulas) are served to adventurous diners at a premium.
PUR restaurant has a strong Mediterranean identity that encompasses both land and sea. The tasting menu and à la carteoptions are both chock-full of local seafood — from salt-roasted jumbo prawns to fried Mediterranean lobster with cognac-braised onions — as well as unctuous meat dishes, like the bone marrow with caviar, or the Wagyu steak with locally produced fresh wasabi. This chic eatery is a project of acclaimed chef Nandu Jubany and also includes the IMPUR cocktail bar, for some pre-dinner aperitivos, or an after-dinner cocktail. The food menu is available à la carte, or as a full tasting menu.
Self-described simply as a “mid-range seafood restaurant, with a casual – even festive – atmosphere”, Lluritu’s humble words don’t do the restaurant justice. The menu of Spanish seafood (from the Mediterranean, as well as the northern Atlantic coasts) isn’t overly extensive but instead focuses on excellent quality and accessible prices presented in a lively atmosphere that many of the more fancy restaurants long for but often lack. The name ‘Lluritu’ is a Catalanised moniker for the fish also known as raor, galán, or lorito in Spanish (the English name, Pearly Razorfish, is far less elegant). Crispy-fried raor, with its tender white flesh and succulent skin, is the house specialty at Lluritu, when in season from September to March.
A long-time favourite among neighbours and visitors to the bohemian and historic neighbourhood of El Born, Bar del Pla is virtually always busy. The long, narrow restaurant resembles a low train tunnel, with a classic marble bar at the entrance and the typical floor tiles that embody the Barcelona Modernist movement of the early 20th century. The menu of Bar del Pla is a varied mix of meat and seafood, with a few vegetable dishes thrown in for good measure. In addition to the offering of both classic and creative tapas like crispy oxtail with foie gras and grilled octopus, there is a section of ‘grandma’ dishes – recipes and preparations inspired by traditional Catalan home cooking but served in a way befitting a gastro bar.
It seems no Barcelona restaurant list is complete without awarding a spot to Tickets, and with good reason. It may seem futile reading this once you try (and likely fail) to get a table at this Michelin-star tapas bar, but if you do get lucky, or plan at least a few months ahead of time, you’re truly in for one of the best meals in Barcelona. Of course, there are restaurants with more Michelin stars (Tickets currently has one), but the casual, colourful setting, theatrical presentations, frenetic energy of the dining room, and the ever-changing dishes of legendary chef Albert Adrià make it an experience that is truly unique. There’s no menu at Tickets. Instead, the server typically asks “How hungry are you?” (which is code for “How much money are you willing to spend?”). If you manage to get a table, go for the full menu and request the ‘dessert room’, which is a separate space where you are moved to for the dessert courses that feels like it’s straight out of Willy Wonka. You won’t be disappointed.
Taverna del Clínic offers excellent, modern-tasting menus in short, medium, and long menu formats at varying prices. The chefs use seasonal ingredients to create innovative spins on traditional dishes. This elegant restaurant got its start as a humble neighbourhood bar with a small selection of tapas prepared in a minuscule kitchen, but morphed over time into one of the city’s most highly-regarded fine dining establishments. In fact, sommelier and co-owner Manu Simoes was awarded the title of Best Sommelier Spain 2019. The restaurant is run by Simoes and his brother, chef Toni Simoes. The dishes on their seasonal menus range from scallops with chestnut purée and pig trotter roulades to orange-glazed veal sweetbreads with spring peas. Winter sees beef ravioli with wild mushrooms arrive on the menu, while Spring brings sweet and delicate green peas, garnished with Iberian ham and sea cucumbers.
Mano Rota is a restaurant that refuses to be defined. The cuisine of chef Bernat Bermudo borrows freely from Asia and Latin America (and even North Africa), with hints of his native Catalonia making the periodic appearance. The dishes change throughout the year, but the setting is always warm and welcoming, with casual energy. The minimal decor keeps the focus on the vibrant food, packed with bold flavour and vibrant colours. The dishes range from the India-inspired lamb curry with mustard and yogurt to the glazed monkfish tajine, or the lobster with buckwheat ubon, egg yolk, and bonito flakes to the Peruvian tiradito of Red Drum fish with yuzu and pickled vegetables. Mano Rota offers a tasting menu of four snacks, six dishes, and two desserts.
The Barra, from acclaimed chef Carles Abellan, is a one-Michelin-star restaurant on the second floor of the iconic W Barcelona hotel. Despite the Michelin rating, La Barra doesn’t feel overly fancy or restrained. Instead, there is a definite “loungy” vibe, with intimate booth seating available, as well as seats at the circular bar that surrounds the open kitchen at the centre of the dining room. The main focus at La Barra is seafood, with an ample offering of freshly grilled fish and shellfish, raw-bar tapas, and larger main course dishes. Notable options include the famous, fried and deboned Red Mullet and the classic “Scorpionfish stew of Cala Montjoi,” inspired by the location of the legendary restaurant elBullí, where Abellan cooked for six years in his youth. Diners can choose to order individual items from the à la carte menu, or trust in the chefs to guide you on a tasting of their star tapas, grilled items, mains, and desserts for a reasonable price.
Bodega 1900 is one of the most accessible restaurants of the Adrià group. Directly across from the world-famous Tickets restaurant is Albert Adrià’s nod to the classic tapas bars and vermuterias of his youth. It is true that Albert and his older brother Ferran Adrià are known for their pioneer work in the realm of creative cooking techniques and whimsical plating presentations. But Bodega 1900 is less molecular and more like a time capsule from 1950s Barcelona, with some modern updates and a few touches that remind diners of the four Michelin stars Adrìa holds between all his Barcelona restaurants.
The number of vegetarian options in Barcelona has grown exponentially over the last several years, but one of the first plant-based concepts in the city is still one of the best. Flax and Kale has a few different locations and sub-brands, but the best is the Flax and Kale Passage location on the street of Sant Pere Mes Alt. The restaurant is almost entirely vegetarian – in fact, most dishes are vegan. However, you also have options that feature oily fish such as salmon, anchovies and black sea bass. The menu’s influences span the Mediterranean before venturing deep into Asia with Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Indian flavours found throughout. One of the most popular offerings at Flax and Kale Passage is their range of pizzas — all gluten-free and all with nut-based vegan cheeses, popular with vegans and non-vegans alike.
At Lomo Alto they take beef seriously — if you’re looking to splash out on a swanky steak dinner in Barcelona, this is the place. Here the steaks are dry-aged in house and can range from a few weeks to many months, or even over one year. The stars of the menu are the grilled ribeyes and tenderloins from either dry-aged veal, or the more expensive, mature Galician cows and oxen. Lomo Alto serves beef from nine different prized cow breeds from Spain, Portugal, Holland, and Switzerland, and dinners are given the choices each day, as servers explain the flavour profiles, ageing history, and provenance of each available cut. The à la carte menu has the meat listed with per-kilo prices, or opt for the tasting menus.
Each year Disfrutar rises higher and higher in the echelons of the world’s best restaurants, and currently holds two Michelin stars. The operation is headed by three chefs — Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch, Mateu Castañas — who are all alumni of the famous elBulli restaurant team. The dining room of Disfrutar is a gorgeous blend of dark wood and brilliant white decor accents and features a full wall of windows looking to an outdoor dining area. The food is playful, precise, and full of happy surprises. Reservations at Disfrutar are highly coveted, with people often waiting months to get a table. If you don’t have months to plan, you may get luck closer to the date by requesting a seat at the bar during lunch service. Disfrutar offers four tasting menus — the short and long ‘Classics’ menus featuring the restaurant’s most famous dishes throughout the years, and the ‘Festival’ menus featuring dishes created during the current season.
Alkimia is the one-Michelin-star kitchen of chef Jordi Vilà, who focuses on elegant preparations of seasonal ingredients that elevate the familiar flavours of Catalan cuisine to a higher gastronomic level. Alkimia’s motto is “we like cuisine that looks to the future but knows where it came from”. The cooking at Alkimia is built on technique and precision in crafting pure flavours that allow each ingredient on the plate to shine. Dishes like mushrooms with caramelised cabbage and carrot ‘toffee’, white almond gazpacho with grilled sardines, and squid stuffed with oysters in meat sauce are just a few of the 18 dishes featured on the tasting menu. If you don’t want to go for a full degustación, there is an à la carte menu as well.
This Barcelona landmark is an ideal spot for a romantic dinner that’s not overly fancy, but also perfect for a small group looking for an indulgent gastronomic experience before a lively night on the town. Bar Mut is a small restaurant in which most of the seating consists of high stools pulled up to a smooth marble bar counter, offering views of the chefs as they prepare dishes. The menu of gastro-bar specialties ranges from jumbo seared scallops topped with a creamy homemade tartar sauce and grilled sirloin with foie gras to a tuna tataki with cauliflower purée and an upscale version of slow-roasted suckling pig with trinxat (a traditional Catalan preparation of potato and cabbage).
Meaning "the corner" in Spanish, La Esquina offers homey meals tucked into a corner of a building
It’s hard to say why exactly La Esquina is reminiscent of an autumn harvest – perhaps it’s the wooden tables combined with warm taupe walls, hanging dried herbs and woven baskets over the lights. Or perhaps it’s the seasonal approach they take to their menu, refreshing it as local ingredients become available. Or maybe it’s the fact that chef Olly Melhuish (previously helping lead the two-Michelin-star Enoteca) is from the chillier climate of England and attempts to bring the four seasons from his home country to the food, but with a Spanish flair. Either way, the resulting cuisine is equally fresh and charming. Melhuish uses intriguing twists on homey dishes, a concept they describe as ‘contemporary grandma’. Depending on the time of year, visitors may find a tuna filet that’s been pickled, bread with a primary ingredient of matcha, or creamy eggplant that’s served with an unexpected crunch of corn chips. Focusing on mornings and afternoons, La Esquina does a particularly excellent fixed-price lunch menu that’s very reasonably priced.
Designed and decorated like a vermouth bar and bodega, La Cuina d’en Garriga has vintage soda siphons lining the walls, heavy marble tables, wood countertops, and a bold red and black facade that instantly draws the eye of every passerby. A great choice for either lunch or dinner, the menu runs the gamut from light snacks, tapas, salads, and soups to more substantial main courses, as well as some excellent gourmet sandwiches. The menu encompasses classics of Catalan cuisine, as well as featuring products and preparations from the south of France and Italy, and has a variety of attractive options for vegetarians as well. There are currently two locations, one on the pedestrian street of Enric Granados, and the other (original) location on the street Consell de Cent, just around the corner from Gaudí’s Casa Batlló.
Bar, Restaurant, Spanish, Tapas, Beer, Pub Grub, $$$
This small bar, full of classic charm, is a local favourite in Barcelona’s Gràcia neighbourhood. Wine barrels line the walls, from which wine is sold per litre in typical bodega fashion, and a small kitchen sends out an array of classic tapas to a nearly always-packed house. The grilled octopus with potatoes is a must, and their wide selection of conservas (canned seafood, from razor clams and mussels to sardines and tuna) make this a perfect place to explore the phenomenon of gourmet fish from a tin, preferably paired with a bittersweet glass of the house vermouth on ice.
It’s fair to say that most visitors to Barcelona — or anywhere in Spain for that matter — have “eat paella” on their gastronomic to-do list. Paella is a rice dish traditionally from Valencia, but the Catalans love their rice just as much as their neighbours to the south. At Can Fisher, there are several varieties of rice dishes. There are the traditional Valencian-style paellas, with the crispy socarrat crust of almost-burned rice, made in four styles: chicken with beef ribs and artichokes, mixed shellfish, vegetables and mushrooms, and cuttlefish with squid ink. You can also find the popular Catalan-style rice dishes served in heavier metal crocks with more broth remaining on the rice (opposed to the dry Valencian style) with lobster, giant prawns, or sausage and mushroom. Can Fisher is right along the Bogatell beach (a calmer area than the chaotic Barceloneta neighbourhood) and also offers a wide range of main dishes and tapas, both modern and classic.
For seven years, Albert Raurich was the head chef of the famed elBullí restaurant. In 2008, Raurich set off on his own, opening Dos Palillos, an Asian-fusion restaurant currently with one Michelin star in downtown Barcelona, and then Dos Pebrots, a restaurant dedicated to telling the world’s culinary history, one plate at a time. The chefs plan the menus at Dos Pebrots, a multi-levelled gastro bar in the Raval neighbourhood of Barcelona, like a timeline. They start in the Palaeolithic era then move on through the Metal Ages, Ancient Times, Middles Ages, and Pre-Industrial Modern Ages, before arriving finally at the present day. Each dish has a unique cooking method and recipe based on history, and in addition to the à la cartemenu, there are three sizes of tasting menus for varying prices.
The refreshing atmosphere alone will draw visitors into The Greenhouse | Courtesy of Greenhouse
It’s not often that a restaurant’s concept is so harmoniously executed that the decor seems to match the food in tone. Both are light, delicate and refreshing. The interior is bright white and flooded with natural light that reflects off the window-pane mirrors, with green plants hanging all over. The food is likewise airy and fresh with dishes such as hummus broccoli with ginger and endives or the salmon tartar with pomegranate seeds and mustard—or some variation thereof, as the menu changes each week. Chef Olly Melhuish‘s focus on seasonal, local, and healthy ingredients is evident in every feel-good bite. Also the chef at La Esquina, the fare here differs from his second location as it’s less homey and more vegetable focussed. Mainly an upscale lunch restaurant, enjoy the well-curated atmosphere and bask in the glow of plants here at The Greenhouse.
On the Carrer del Parlament, a street at the epicentre of the trendy and food-rich barrio of Sant Antoni, nowhere is more classic than this popular tapas and vermouth bar. Grab a seat at one of the upturned wine barrels that serve as tables in the entrance of the bar, and enjoy a selection of hot tapas and cold tapas, as well as gourmet conservas, and a glass of the house vermouth. If you want a truly authentic experience, head to Carrer del Parlament on the weekend before lunchtime for a vermouth aperitivo (a drink with some light snacks before lunch) like the locals. Els Sortidors del Parlament is also a gourmet shop, selling local products and prepared food, wines, and craft beers to go.
When Michelin-star chefs offer a casual concept, diners win with excellent quality and creativity at a much more affordable price point. Xerta, in the Hotel Ohla Eixample, is a one-star restaurant dedicated to the ingredients and cuisine of the Terres de l’Ebre (the Ebro river delta south of Barcelona), and the Xerta Tapas Bar is its more relaxed younger sibling. The Xerta Tapas Bar contains a wide selection of cold and hot tapas, and main dishes of meat and seafood — from wild duck canelóns with béchamel mushrooms and a dish of braised beef with mustard, to blue crab rice and a pig trotter ‘carpaccio’ with foie gras and chanterelles – all served with the colourful creative presentations worthy of the restaurant’s modern hotel setting.