Since we started offering the option to make a restaurant reservation online, you, our readers, have been defining and refining your preferences. Here are your current favourite 20 restaurants as determined by those establishments with the most online bookings by Time Out Barcelona users.
El Cañota is a Galicia-inspired seafood tapas bar, and it comes with a pedigree. It's the younger brother of the renowned Rías de Galicia, one of the greatest Galician restaurants in the city and the country. El Cañota serves traditional dishes: fried fish and seafood, patatas bravas, Galician octopus, 'ensaladilla rusa', and draught beer and wine. All of it is top-quality, and served in a laid-back venue that's perfect for a celebratory meal, or for dinner after taking in a show at the Teatre Lliure, Mercat de les Flors or BTM, which are all nearby.
Mediterranean fish cuisine with modern touches, and in a chic setting: the cable car tower that looks down over the port. As you can imagine, bringing lobsters, wine and oil 75 metres uphill is not easy or cheap. So you can calculate about €80 per head, at least. Treat yourself, just for a day. Another, cheaper option is to book during the week and try their lunchtime menu.
The best thing you can say about a vegetarian restaurant is that it doesn’t seem like one. Forget about the vegetarian clichés of sad tofu salads, here they offer a lunch menu featuring imaginative, tasty, nutritious dishes such as beans with cream of polenta and sage or home-made stuffed pasta, and always with an aperitif tapa included. In the evenings they unveil a range of tapas such as papas arrugas, Argentinean pies, burritos and fajitas. A small, well-chosen selection of wine and beer is available.
One of the pioneers among the city's vegetarian restaurants, Biocenter's been around for 30 years and still going strong. You may have heard of Biocenter references as a 'quiet place', but 'quiet' isn't exactly how we would describe it. And that's not a criticism. We found it to be spacious, lively, decorated with care, and ultimately enjoyable. When you enter you have the feeling that it's not a restaurant that's just for vegetarians, but for anyone who wants to eat well, with generous portions, healthy options, fast and cheerful service and at an incredibly good price. Lunchtime features a self-service salad bar with much more than your typical lettuce-and-tomato options, followed by a main dish that you choose from among the daily specials. At night you get a bit more intimate lighting, good music and waiter service. In addition to a quality range of vegetarian and vegan options for traditional and ovo-lacto-vegetarians, it's worth noting that they use all natural and organic products.
Little Italy is the only restaurant in town committed 100% to jazz. And they've got experience to back it up as well, having opened in 1988. As owner Vicente Gómez explains, the place started out as a traditional Italian restaurant, at a time when 'the neighbourhood was still alive with the last gasps of Zeleste on C/Argenteria'. And the live jazz formula came to them when they saw that the neighbouring art galleries were open late. They started offering dinner concerts once a month and, by popular demand, those changed to once a week, and now they're every Wednesday and Thursday night. What they did at first to liven up slow weeknights is now essential, and their Italian cuisine is as reliable as their music programme. You'll gobble down jazz standards and bossa nova quartets, led by professional musicians. The acoustic format, Gómez says, 'allows you to have a conversation at your table without having to shout, but at the same time, those dining at the next table won't hear you', so it's perfect for a romantic dinner, but not for spying on your fellow patrons.
Escairón is particularly remarkable for its Galician entrecot (sirloin steak) and caldo gallego (Galician broth). Jorge and Pilar make you feel at home, while the clientele are mostly regulars. Aside from the entrecot, main dishes include barbecue, stews, and especially the eponymous dessert, Escairón (crème caramel with a kind of nougat ice cream). Unforgettable fried potatoes accompany the meat dishes. This is the perfect place to delight your palate with the very best of Galician cuisine and fresh, quality market fare at reasonable prices and with excellent service.
Tucked away in the 'barrio' of Barceloneta, this quaint space with two quiet terraces is mostly overlooked by tourists, and consequently suffers none of the drop in standards of some of the paella joints on the seafront. Spectacular displays of fresh seafood show what’s on offer that day, but it’s also worth sampling the velvety fish soup and the generous paellas. Other locations El Nou Ramonet, C/Carbonell 5, Barceloneta (93 268 33 13).
Il Giardinetto is frequented not only by those with great palates who know quality when they taste it, but also by romantics as well as those nostalgic for a Barcelona of days gone by. Recently the place has been slapped with a makeover to modern it up a bit to accompany the excellent work the kitchen staff has always done and continues to do. Chef Jesus leads the team with his Italian cuisine, and notable fresh pastas that are made by hand daily. There is also, of course, a range of pleasing dishes created by young chef Sergio “Chiqui” Millet. One offering that’s not always on the menu (so do ask) is the paglia e fieno tagliolini al pomodoro, which many an Italian restaurant would love to be able to prepare and present with fanfare. We tried some of Chiqui’s creations in the bar, such as the Iberian egg roll, one of the star dishes: a type of round bread roll filled with ham or sausage and a free-range poached egg that does a magnificent job of topping off the dish. We then tried the parmesan rocks – two chunks of the king of Italian cheeses shared a plate with mortadella, bresaola and breadsticks. We followed that with a delectable lentil salad, but it was the spicy tuna tartare that earned itself the most gushing compliments of the night. Two glasses of house red accompanied the light dinner, and three fruit skewers with warm chocolate sauce topped it all off. Our digestion was then aided by G&Ts and pisco sours. The kitchen closes at one in the morning, and you’ll always
An exclusive Argentinean restaurant with meat from all over the world and handmade pasta. You’ll often find familiar faces from the world of sport here – one of the owners is former Espanyol footballer Martín Posse. The menu is extensive and filled with classics: you'll find starters such as chorizo and Creole 'morcilla' sausages, 'empanada' savoury pies and much more), and popular cuts of meat for Argentine grills, such as 'entraña' and 'matambre'. And for discerning carnivorous palates, they've got meat that's been imported from other parts of the globe as well. In addition to Argentine beef, of course (try the famous 'bife de quadril', or cuadril steak), you can get wagyu cuts. They've got a private room that can be adapted for many different kinds of events, whether it's meetings or just getting together to watch sporting events while you eat top-quality meat dishes and drink good wine.
The young chef Jordi Esteve’s style is based on quality and creativity, and underpinned with tradition. How about some scallops with truffle and fish foam? And save room for dessert, as Esteve's coconut-infused creations, which he came up with when looking for a dish that 'gives the feeling of sitting near a wood fire to stave off a winter's chill'. In more good news for everyone, there's also a menu for coeliacs.
Manairó is not just a great place to eat well and experience high-qualitygastronomy, it's also the laboratory where Jordi Herrera, a part-chef part-inventor eccentric, carries out his experiments with special equipment toget the best out of his concoctions. There's his grill with spikes tocook the food on the inside, and a device which uses centrifugal force to reducethe loss of moisture in cooking. This is science in the service of art.
Ah, hanging out at the Surf House, breathing in the salty sea air and sampling all the menu has to offer has got to be a favourite thing to do in Barceloneta. The burgers, tuna tartare, sandwiches, salads, nachos and cakes are outstanding, and a great reward after running, cycling, walking or just lying around at the beach nearby. Definitely check the place out at night too, when the friendly bar staff serve up an array of scrumptious cocktails. At Surf House you get the feel you're in a Southern California surfer hangout where there's a huge dose of a good time. The best thing about it is the mega terrace: a space touched by the hand of God just metres from the beach with a view that could make you happy just to be in the moment.Don't turn your nose up at strange-sounding concoctions at the bar: the lychee, watermelon and ginger infused with rosemary is invigorating, refreshing and a big dangerous since the taste of the alcohol is perfectly masked. This is one of the jewels on the short but imaginative drinks menu. They also mix up the classics, but if you open yourself up to suggestions, you'll enjoy a colourful and stimulating beverage the poshest places would be happy to create. If you're abstaining, the smoothies and shakes are excellent as well.
Located on the Bac de Roda jetty, Boo has bragging rights to seafront dining, and has become one of the top restaurants on the Barcelona coastline. The party is at Nova Mar Bella, where you can enjoy the unbelievable terrace-lounge and a sophisticated seafood and fresh market menu that'll make your taste buds dance. They have an extensive selection of wines and cocktails that go perfectly with seaside dining, especially in the longer days of summer. It must be true what they say about location.
Down a little street right near Plaça Catalunya you can enjoy a lunch menu that offers so many dishes to choose from, it's not nearly as limiting as many lunch specials. Bear in mind the restaurant is open only for lunch and a drink is not included. Their timbal (pie) of potato and botifarra negra (black sausage) is already a classic.