Restaurants with three stars
Martín Berasategui’s embassy at the Condes de Barcelona hotel has become one of the essential restaurants not only in the city but in all of Catalonia and Spain, where people flock to marvel at the creativity of the chef. The sampling menu is a treat that everyone should have the chance to enjoy, at least once in a lifetime, and if possible, once a year. Such excellence has earned the Lasarte the top prize in the restaurant world, and as of November 2016 the restaurant is the first in Barcelona to boast three Michelin stars. In addition to Berasategui, the man responsible for the day-to-day operations is Italian chef Paolo Casagrande. His elegance and creativity are seen in dishes such as apple millefeuille, foie gras, and European eel, and the surprising aesthetic of the dishes never surpasses the combination of amazing flavours.
Jordi Cruz has won a third Michelin star for Àbac, confirming his restaurant once again as the essential haute cuisine establishment in Barcelona. He reached such heights by creating cuisine filled with expertise and sophistication. Take, for example, the egg with asparagus. Sounds simple enough, but Cruz has done a number on the egg that is something out of an R&D think tank. First the yolk is cooked at 62°C, then cured in salt water to give it just the exact subtle touch of salt. Served with white asparagus, a divinely thin slice of Serrano ham and a spoonful of caviar, it's nothing less than spectacular.
Restaurants with two stars
With El Bulli closed, what its former chefs Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas offer in Distrutar is pure techno-emotional cooking that's a reminder of the mothership. The dishes are incredibly imaginative and made with tremendous precision, such as, for example, the already famous macaroni à la carbonara made with ham jelly. Here you'll find an explosion of the senses carried out with the perfect speed.
This restaurant offers high-level cuisine, produced by the twins Javier and Sergio Torres, on the top floor of the hotel Melià Barcelona Sky. Very original cuisine with flavours from distant countries, including dishes like cream of Amazonian roots with sagu caviar. And they've got two very well-deserved Michelin stars to their name.
Raül Balam, son of Carme Ruscalleda, has earned his second Michelin star with this leading hotel restaurant. Like the original in Sant Pau, the concept is impeccable, innovative – but very Catalan – cuisine, with 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.
Chef Paco Pérez has earned two Michelin stars for his Enoteca – no longer is it just another restaurant in the Hotel Arts, but a heavyweight in Barcelona in its own right. Pérez also saw his Miramar restaurant in the Catalan city of Llançà get its second Michelin star. Few chefs can translate the flavour of the sea into haute cuisine the way he does, and his art speaks to the imagination and recalls the swell of the sea.
Restaurants with one star
Albert Adrià has done it again with a space that's so ambitious it breaks all the moulds. He didn't want to create another El Bulli, but rather to imagine (and make that a reality) how El Bulli would be today. Like its predecessor in the nearby town of Roses, Enigma blows what we think of a conventional restaurant out of the water. It's located in a majestic space with seven zones that combines Japanese minimalism that the Adrià brothers seem to love with vintage science fiction along the lines of the first Superman film: ceramic metal, glass and lots of white. You won't know what you're going to eat or even what you're going to see before you go – they don't even show the front door on the website.
Xavier Pellicer is one of the great Catalan chefs, and he's earned his stripes all around Catalonia: he left Àbac with two Michelin stars, and sufferend the sad and unjust collapse of Can Fabes. Outside of the pressure of the race for Michelin stars, Pellicer found his path in the consultancy for restaurants in the Tribu Woki group (Barraca, Barracuda, Carmelitas). And now with Céleri, where he's not only a consultant but also a partner, he's managed to return to the world of signature cusine in a profoundly personal way. And it's paid off: away from media pressure, Céleri has earned its first Michelin star. Pellicer has raised a restaurant where every plate of vegetables – organic and seasonal – has an interpretation with a vegan, carnivore or marine touch. That is, each one has three derivations. Here the vegetable rules, except for a small selection of organic meats.
In Xerta, the restaurant in the Ohla hotel, you'll find the champion of Barcelona haute cuisine for delving into the great unknown of Catalan gastronomy by using raw materials and recipes from the Delta d'Ebre. Chef Fran López, who at age 25 won a Michelin star at his Villa Retiro restaurant in Xerta, a town in the Delta d'Ebre region, now offers dishes in Barcelona that combine the raw power of the sea with gastronomic creativity. As López himself explains, 'We're the only gastro restaurant with a Delta seal in Barcelona. And that's what makes us so different and interesting in a city where there are great Peruvian, Mexican and Japanese restaurants, and also all sorts of Catalan cooking. But from the south there's nothing. We're from the Delta, we have access to all the raw materials from there, and we're experts in the regional cooking techniques. Here we've got a singular and little-known cuisine – European eels, baby eels, 'cajitas', Delta oysters, sea anemones in batter...'.
For 13 years Alkimia operated from C/Indústria, 79, and after a year in the works, Jordi Vilà and Sonia Profitós reopened their restaurant in the Fábrica Moritz. On Indústria it was a good spot for getting to know the basic concept of a modern Barcelona restaurant, but for the reopening, from the first floor where the Mortiz family once lived, Vilà made a surprising announcement of the great offerings they'll have in a minimal space. 'Six tables for 18 people. We all know what they say about gastro restaurants not being profitable. If it's not profitable, why make it bigger? We'll make it better,' he said. In fact, their move to the former flat in Sant Antoni wasn't about expanding (though they do have a fantastic open kitchen) but rather about redefining.
Hisop is a restaurant that mixes experience and innovation with a high level of quality. They specialise in contemporary Catalan cuisine using top-quality products to come up with new flavours, plus an original and sophisticated touch in the exquisite presentation of their dishes. Throughout the restaurant's history, it has been awarded, among other prizes, with a Michelin star (in 2010), a Sol in the Repsol Guide (2009), and the award for best young chef in 2007 by the Catalan Academy of Gastronomy.
Romain Fornell, a child prodigy of haute cuisine in Barcelona, is the only French chef in Barcelona with a Michelin star. Fornell – who's also owner of the restaurant – has moved Caelis from the hotel El Palace, where it was for years, to the Hotel Ohla, where he has carried on with the work he's done in this spot that earned its Michelin star in 2005. You'll find a bold kitchen that's willing to take risks but that also boasts an impeccable classic spirit, conveyed in two tasting menus. And during the week, you can even get a set lunch menu, for €39 with a drink, dessert and coffee included – quite generous for such a prestigious place.
Carles Gaig has moved his namesake restaurant, along with its Michelin star, to where Fonda Gaig once stood, resulting in the disappearance of Fonda Gaig such as it was. The Gaig name stays, however, along with its star, and Carles now has the freedom to be more creative, while still serving up classics like his cannelloni with truffle cream, as well as some of the dishes that were on the Fonda Gaig menu, including meatballs with cuttlefish and 'cardinal' macaroni.
Hoja Santa, plainly and simply put, is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Barcelona. Albert Adrià and Mexican chef Paco Méndez approach popular Mexican tradition with an outlook and products that are both haute cuisine, and from there they manage to get surprising dishes such as the cep mushroom and truffle quesadilla, and the wagyu veal with chichilo mole. Where they really shine is in the gourmet work with vegetables, with dishes that play with the classics – try the pasilla mole with crunchy baby veg. Attached next door is Albert Adrià's taco bar, Niño Viejo, which is pure fun: scrumptious tacos include the 'huitlacoche' (the corn smut fungus is a delicacy), as well as pork 'carnitas', ribs and scratchings.
Jordi Cruz has taken Angle from Bages to C/Aragó. Like he says, it is a garden-variety restaurant with a Michelin star, meaning you can have a set lunch menu that gives you great value for money with high-quality cuisine. They use good local produce, like roasted guinea fowl with foie gras, and oriental touches as well. Examples of Cruz's imagination and undisputed creativity include, lemon fish ceviche with grated cucumber and cherries.
New haute cuisine with distinct Catalan influences and beautiful desserts, all presented impeccably. How does chef Mey Hofmann's calamari with Catalan blood sausage and praline sauce sound? The late chef herself called it 'simple and not overthought', with the praline sauce making an unexpected appearance. The squid are stuffed with the sausage, which was previously heated in the microwave in order to soften it up, the not-quite-boiled praline sauce is added, and then it's grilled. The result is fantastically crunchy and quite the combination.