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.
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.
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.
This is one of the city's first pintxo bars – and they know how to keep a good thing going. Help yourself to dainty 'jamón serrano' croissants, chicken tempura with saffron mayonnaise, melted provolone with mango and crispy ham, or a mini-brochette of pork. They've also got vegetarian and gluten-free options among their nearly 30 varieties of cold and warm pintxos available throughout the day and night. Hang on to the toothpicks spearing each one: they'll be counted up and charged for at the end. And if the jungle of elbows at the bar is too wild for you, be sure to head for a table in the dining room at the back.
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.
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.
This quirky, original restaurant that bears a resemblance to a New York eatery combines American dishes like barbecue pork rib burgers with a touch of the Mediterranean, like the tuna with wasabi mayonnaise variety. Have a slice of cheesecake for breakfast á la 'Sex and the City', or drop in for lunch or dinner.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 award for his hard work is that Esteve has earned himself a Michelin star.