Raül Balam, son of Carme Ruscalleda, earned his second Michelin star in 2013 with this leading hotel restaurant. Like the original in Sant Pau, the concept is impeccable, innovative – and very Catalan – cuisine. On the menu you'll find dishes such as the veal 'fricandó' (beef fillet with mushrooms) with Scotch bonnet mushrooms and the Maresme shrimp with glazed tomato petals, a vegetable medley and toasted pine nuts.
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.
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.
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.
This restaurant, located in a former textile factory in the Les Corts district, offers no fewer than 28 different rice dishes. And you can eat them straight from the pan with a wooden spoon. Also does take-away dishes.
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).
Hotel España is situated in a 19th-century building in central Barcelona, within 100 metres of the Ramblas and Liceu Theatre. Its Mediterranean restaurant is run by famous chef Martín Berasategui. There is free high-speed WiFi available throughout. The stylish and elegant rooms include a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. They also come with a modern bathroom. Hotel España’s Bar Arnau offers a cold buffet breakfast, snacks and cocktails in a contemporary space. There are also many restaurants, cafés and bars nearby, as well as the Boquería Market. Liceu Metro Station is 100 metres away and the Gothic Quarter is less than 5 minutes’ walk away.
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.
Manairó is not just a great place to eat well and experience high-quality gastronomy, it's also the laboratory where Jordi Herrera, a part-chef part-inventor eccentric, carries out his experiments with special equipment to get the best out of his concoctions. There's his grill with spikes to cook the food on the inside, and a device which uses centrifugal force to reduce the loss of moisture in cooking. This is science in the service of art.
Over the years, Osmosis has established itself as a place for affordable, creative and excellent cuisine – a fine-tuned machine when it comes to set menus made with immaculate products. Osmosis is among the ‘bistronomics’ restaurants that popped up around the city a few years back. A fairly minimalist interior where all the focus is on good food and service, and at reasonable prices. Osmosis is a laid-back place with lots of little nooks and crannies and private rooms for small groups or couples. The lunchtime menu is perfect for closing a deal without subsequent indigestion, and for romantic dinners.
As a master of the balancing act between elegance and cosiness, La Terraza del Claris is a safe bet for a great time. The view from the large rooftop is fairly good, but the true strength of this terrace is its unbeatable atmosphere of well-being and its stylish design. Unlike many other rooftop bars, La Terraza del Claris also boasts a top restaurant in the space. While there are certainly cheaper places to dine out, well-prepared Mediterranean specialities and the friendly wait staff make sure you get what you pay for.
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.
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.
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. The reward for all his hard work is a shiny Michelin star.
Barcelona now has the first dark restaurant in the South of Europe. Dans Le Noir, part of a chain that has restaurants in London and Moscow, offers a sensory dining experience in total darkness, where the waiters – who are blind – guide you through a set menu. An amazing experience, highly recommended.
La Taverna del Clínic sums up much that is good about the Spanish sense of priorities. The lighting is hideous, the decor is cheap and crappy, the TV is permanently on, the walls and floor are tiled in the ugliest terrazzo imaginable, and yet the care that goes into the food is the match of many a luxury dining room. The menu concept is somewhere between tapas and restaurant, so you'll probably order a stack of dishes to share. Try the creamy morels with foie; a sticky oxtail stew made with Priorat wine; or a tiny skillet of chips, fried egg and crispy 'jamón'. The octopus 'igloo' is also superb, and their patatas bravas are a work of art.
Zoologic is a restaurant that banks on wild and fun cheekiness and ambiguity. Along with dinner you'll take in a futuristic cabaret show, with characters who are elegant yet far from the norm; it's nothing like the sterotypical notion of stag or hen night outings. After dinner there are karaoke sessions. Definitely book in advance.
This is Yamashita Group's flagship restaurant, where you can order a 'kaiseki' meal, the ultimate expression of Japanese cuisine. 'Kaiseki' is a tasting of dishes that are eaten at an important dinner. It is a tasting menu, though not forced by the concept of fine cuisine, but – by definition – 'kaiseki' describes a meal of between 6 and 15 dishes that include vegetables, fish and a bit of meat. You can also eat in the 'kotatsu' (a room with tatami and floor-evel tables) of the renovated ground floor. Wonders of simple accuracy such as a delicate and tasty tofu with fish broth, or egg with wakame and crab are traditional and delicious here.
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.
At Murivecchi, whether it's the pizza or anything else on their menu, they've got everything a classic Italian restaurant ought to have. Their starters list is complete with mozzarella, burrata, scamorza, salads and antipasti. Beyond that, you'll also find, carpaccios, all the pasta options you could ask for, gnocchi, risotto, steak tartare. You can order á la carte or ask for the daily set lunch menu if you fancy.