A triangular-shaped neighbourhood located at the junction of Eixample, Raval and Poble Sec, Sant Antoni has become quite the gourmet destination in recent years. The popular Parlament Street has expanded from a brunch destination to see a number of modern bistros and tapas bars open up alongside the coffee houses. Then of course there’s the implantation of one of the most famous restaurants in Barcelona on the edge of Sant Antoni which has only encouraged others to follow its lead.
No mention of the best restaurants in Sant Antoni could omit Tickets Bar and yet it’s very much in a league of its own: this is the flagship restaurant of chef Albert Adrià, brother to the perhaps even more famous Ferran Adrià of elBulli. One of the most sought-after tables in town, Tickets is a spectacular ‘tapas bar’ with a cabaret-style theme. The food is very much in the continuation of the cuisine which made elBulli the culinary institution it is: creative, playful and yet clearly inspired by Spanish gastronomy.
A relatively recent addition to the Sant Antoni dining scene, Alkimia is no newcomer in Barcelona though. Once located not far from the Sagrada Família, where it stood since 2002, Alkimia recently reopened its doors inside the Fàbrica Moritz (flagship building of the local Moritz brewery). Chef Jordi Vilà is known as something of a ‘chefs’ chef’ and his restaurant is widely well-regarded by those in the business. Contemporary Spanish cuisine inspired by the local terroir, the tasting menu is designed around the four elements, starting with water and finishing on air – indeed the final feeling is very much that of floating on clouds.
Another member of the so-called ‘Barri Adrià’ or ‘Adrià neighbourhood’ – a collection of restaurants overseen by Albert Adrià – Hoja Santa is a Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant where even the Margaritas come with a twist. Mexican chef Paco Méndez draws on his experience at some of Spain’s best restaurants (including Arzak in San Sebastian and elBulli) to reinterpret the flavours and dishes of his native country. The result is both visually stunning without compromising on the soulfulness of traditional Mexican cuisine – yes, even quesadillas are on the menu.
Tucked away on a quiet side street alongside the popular Parlament street, Lando is a modern restaurant which draws its inspiration as much from Northern Europe as it does the Mediterranean. Its minimalist dining room with light wood furniture and decorative lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling has the aura of an old warehouse given new life. The menu doesn’t differentiate between dish sizes and you can as easily order dishes to share as choose your own starter and main course.
If you’re the kind of person who gets scared by the word ‘fusion’ then rest assured that the type of cuisine on offer at Ikibana has been tried and tested for over a century. In the early twentieth century Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil bringing with them their culinary traditions and techniques but eventually adapting to the local ingredients and flavours. This Japanese-Brazilian fusion is bright, bold and rich in flavour with exotic fruits such as papaya and passion fruit adding sweetness to sushi, or picanha steak getting a tangy soy sauce glazing. The dining room is just as bold as the food thanks to the modern design featuring custom-built wooden seating areas and colourful lighting.
Not too long ago Parlament Street was the go-to place for brunch at weekends and while this still very much is the case, a growing number of trendy bistros have opened up alongside. Agust Gastrobar is one such eatery run by two Frenchmen: Hicham Houmidide in the kitchen and Jean Christophe in the dining area. A cozy locale with a stylish industrial design, Agust serves an eclectic mix of dishes inspired by Spain, France and beyond. They have a particularly interesting offering of oysters, including a Mexican-style oyster with pico de gallo and a Rockefeller oyster grilled in butter and herbs.
Black Angus beef rib and Perigueux sauce | Courtesy of Sucursal Aceitera
Located on the intersection of Parlament Street and Comte Borell Street, the Sucursal Aceitera is an all-day bistro serving both a fantastic worker’s lunch during the week and an interesting à la carte selection of dishes in the evening. Inspired by Spanish and Catalan cuisine but served with a lot more finesse than your average traditional restaurant, dishes here focus on the vegetables and protein rather than the carbs – unless of course you opt for the mollete bread sandwiches. Bright and breezy during the daytime, cozy and elegant in the evening, this is a versatile neighbourhood favourite.
Last but not least, Bar Ramon may not have any Michelin stars or get mentioned in Eater but it’s full every night of the week and locals adore it. A casual tapas bar lined wall to wall with blues music memorabilia, Bar Ramon is a cheap and cheerful sort of place where you leave feeling full, happy and only negligibly poorer. Cured meats, tined seafood, croquetas, fried squid, salt cod salad and a wide variety of other classic tapas are all available on the menu but be sure to ask what the specials are as they tend to be seasonal and interesting.