50 must-try Barcelona restaurants
What is it? One of the oldest and most authentic spots in town serving up traditional Catalan cuisine.
Why go? The food never disappoints, and you dine surrounded by artworks by great Catalan painters of the 20th century. You might disagree with our choice for Agut as the best restaurant in Barcelona, but you can't beat consistency in quality and flavour that's stood the test of time for over a century. If you want to experience true Catalan cuisine, this is it.
What is it? Martín Berasategui's space in the Monument hotel has become a must among restaurants not only in the city but in all of Catalonia and Spain, where diners flock to marvel at the head chef's creativity.
Why go? It's the first restaurant in Barcelona to boast three Michelin stars. In the kitchen daily is Italian chef Paolo Casagrande, who adds his own stamp of high elegance and creativity to dishes such as apple millefeuille, foie gras, and European eel. The surprising aesthetic never surpasses the combination of amazing flavours.
What is it? Can Boneta surprises with its highly imaginative treatment of Catalan tapas and small dishes.
Why go? Cuisine treated by the loving care of family and assisted into existence by modern technology. Their starter that's a sort of sampler plate and features three gorgeous items might include a glass of 'salmorejo' (similar to gazpacho), a garden-fresh tomato salad, and toast with brie and 'sobrasada' spread. For your main, you could opt for pasta with bacon and mushrooms or cod with ratatouille – always an excellent Catalan dish. At lunchtime you'll find a stunning set menu.
What is it? Gresca was once the leader of the 'bistronomic' movement, where those restaurants in an Eixample bar got as much as they could out of product quality and inspiration, with one eye on the set lunch menu and the other on the creativity of the dishes.
Why go? Rafa Penya has become an undisputed leader in the world of gastronomy, a daring chef with enormous creativity, yet his dishes are still consistently recognisable and delectable. Take the octopus with 'butifarra negra' (black sausage), for example. Or the ginger squab. Or the mouth-watering omelette made with herbs and wrapped with a paper-thin slice of Catalan bacon.
What is it? Ambitious Barcelona-based round-up of the Adrià brothers' philosophy of tapas.
Why go? Because it's a show. With four different sections – seafood, the grill, sweet treats, and little inventive surprises – you'll get El Bulli–style versions of tapas from all around Spain. Squids in their own ink with almond paste or grilled watermelon are just examples. Dining here means a trip through Ferran and Albert Adrià's culinary wisdom, emphasizing the playful nature of eating.
What is it? Chef Paco Pérez has earned two Michelin stars for Enoteca – no longer is it just another restaurant in the Hotel Arts, but a heavyweight in Barcelona in its own right.
Why go? Few chefs can translate the flavour of the sea into haute cuisine the way Pérez does, and his art speaks to the imagination and recalls the swell of the sea. The rice dishes will satisfy the biggest food snobs and Catalan cooking fundamentalists alike.
What is it? With El Bulli closed, what its former chefs Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas offer in Disfrutar is pure techno-emotional cooking that's a reminder of the mothership.
Why go? The dishes are incredibly imaginative and made with outstanding precision, such as the already famous macaroni à la carbonara made with ham jelly, for example. In their tasting menu you'll find an explosion of the senses carried out at just the right pace.
What is it? Alkimia is divided into two parts: a modern gastro restaurant that's not so much an exclusive eatery but a comfortable one, and a kitchen that carries on Alkimia's tradition of Catalan cuisine.
Why go? For the restaurant's signature Catalan cuisine with a modern, urban spirit. For example try the caramelised cabbage, with cheese and horseradish, or for the more carnivorous, baby squab with chard, and carrot and walnut 'toffee'.
What is it? The adaptation of Nikkei gastronomy – that resulting from the evolution of the gastronomy of Japanese immigrants who settled in Peru in the late twentieth century – to the universe of the highly hedonistic, playful and El Bulli–like cuisine of Albert Adrià.
Why go? Albert Adrià has managed to coherently reinvent a cuisine that started out as a happy accident. He created his own wonders like a smoked mackerel maki that has rolled Peruvian 'causa' standing in for the rice. Try the heavenly 'espardenyes' nigiris or give yourself over to their surprising tasting menu.
What is it? Can Ros is a great incentive to use Barceloneta as a place of to recharge and re-energize. A century-old seafood restaurant, and among the first that opened in the old fishing neighbourhood, Can Ros has adapted admirably to 21st-century tastes.
Why go? The menu features a special section for rice dishes, where you'll find an outstanding rice with 'capipota' (calf’s head and foot) and prawns, and a melt-in-your-mouth rice with lobster. The black rice is fantastic as well – tasty and intense, yet the ink isn't overpowering, and grains of rice that you can count like coins, one by one.
What is it? Raül Balam has earned his second Michelin star with this leading hotel restaurant. The concept is impeccable, innovative – but very Catalan.
Why go? For 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. Maximum-quality raw materials are treated with care, and they mix these ethics with creativity and indulgence for a top-notch 'gastro-artistic' extravaganza.
What is it? Simply put, it's one of the best Mexican restaurants in Barcelona.
Why go? 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.
What is it? Albert Raurich creatively demonstrates the close links between Asian and Spanish tapas, and at such a high level of quality and innovation that it earned the restaurant its first Michelin star.
Why go? Dos Palillos is a perfect fusion of a blue-collar bar and haute-cuisine Asian restaurant, a place where there are no tables and where, if they don’t have the time, they’re not going to come along to pour your wine. But consider this: part of the Michelin star is always based on service, so the fact that they still got one speaks volumes about their phenomenal Asian tapas.
What is it? JJordi Cruz has won a third Michelin star for Àbac, confirming his restaurant once again as the essential haute cuisine establishment in Barcelona.
Why go? For the cuisine, filled with expertise and sophistication, always reaching for the sky, while still replete with respect for Catalan traditions. The result is nothing less than spectacular.
What is it? It's 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.
Why go? There's Herrera's 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. But if you're looking for 'real food', whatever your definition of that is, never fear. His versions of local staples will never disappoint. Someone give this man a Michelin star.
What is it? The style of young chef Jordi Esteve is based on quality and creativity with a background of traditional cuisine. Take the scallops with truffle and fish foam, for example. For his great work, Esteve was awarded a Michelin star.
Why go? For excellent à la carte and tasting menus where Esteve's artistry shows a sensitivity for the interpreting the landscape into local dishes. His creations are surprising, succulent and full of finesse. There's also a menu for coeliacs, and a set lunch menu which gives you a chance to try a Michelin meal at a more affordable price.
What is it? Home cooking. Few places can say that about their cuisine these days, but Can Vilaró is among those that can. It's a classic, authentic restaurant that's earned its place in Barcelona's culinary history.
Why go? Every day Sisco and Dolors welcome a legion of faithful customers who know how to pick a good spot to eat. Located in front of the Sant Antoni market, Can Vilaró could be called a restaurant of true market cuisine, but what they really do well is home-made meals. There's no set lunch menu, but the à la carte menu has friendly prices and great daily specialities.
What is it? Albert Raurich puts his spin on ancient Mediterranean some from the Roman period, and most from before the arrival of tomatoes and peppers.
Why go? Though the dishes may seem basic, even primitive, Raurich manages to bring out primary flavours, with surprisingly successful results. Order the pork udders – a part of the animal that was eaten in the days of the Romans – caramelised with the fat from ham. It's an explosion of pure pork flavour.
What is it? Carme Ruscalleda, who shares two Michelin stars with her son Raül Balam at Moments (see above), is at the helm of Blanc, the most economical and everyday restaurant in the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Why go? Ruscalleda has created a menu of simple and fresh recipes based on the excellence of raw materials and seasonality. The mains have a strong Catalan footprint in recipes such as Barcelona-style cannelloni and a wholly Mediterranean salad with fresh burrata, tomato, basil and romesco. You'll also find tapas, many with an Asian touch, and all of which you can order from the hotel's Banker's Bar and Mimosa terrace as well, because Ruscalleda manages all of the Mandarin's gastro offerings.
What is it? Roser Asensio and Milanese chef Fabio Gambirasi have created a highly eco-friendly and sustainable restaurant that serves up healthy food.
Why go? The cuisine is loaded with flavour and charm – even the herbs and flowers they gather from their own rooftop garden and a nearby park work their way into the dishes in much more than mere decoration. The menu is is brief but outstanding, with no extra padding just to fill it out. And the excellent set lunch menu gives you great value for money.
What is it? One of the most landmark restaurants in all of Catalonia reopened in spring 2017. The owners announced they would respect the essence of the legendary Casa Leopoldo, but they've gone even further than that in staying true to the restaurant's identity.
Why go? There's a renewed attention to detail but the original feel remains, with that old bull-fighting memorabilia and other artwork adorning the walls. It's sparkling clean, yet you still get the feeling you're in a place full of history. And everything's as it should be: squid and prawn meatballs, pigs' trotters with 'espardenyes' (sea cucumbers), 'arroz del señorito' (think of it as a shell-free seafood paella), and some outstanding fried calamari.
What is it? Xavier Pellicer closed his restaurant Celerí, which featured a mostly plant-based menu with animal protein options, just after earning a Michelin star for it. He reopened a little while later in a new location under his own name, and was immediately awarded the title of the Best Vegetable Restaurant in the World in 2018 by the 'We're Smart Green Guide' in its 'Think Vegetables' contest.
Why go? Pellicer has more space, an oak grill and a wok fire. Dive into his experiments with the new setup, like the incredible cauliflower steak with massala spices. Or the glazed aubergines with wild watercress, to which carnivore types can add 'botifarra del perol' sausage. Or try the green beans with potatoes and chanterelles (you can add bacon), which is already a must in the world of Barcelona creative vegetarian creations.
What is it? The easiest way to describe what Marc and Raquel do is to call it fusion cooking. But that term has become so overused, and in their case it's more of a compilation of tastes they've learned in faraway (mostly Asian) lands with their own touch added to tempt even the fussiest of diners.
Why go? Rather than merging cuisines, they invent dishes with one foot on each shore. They do so with surprising creativity and, above all, flavour. Where else have you ever tried a pad Thai omelette? Or smoked eel with kimchi, eggs and Pyrenees trout? Don't miss the dish of the day with a drink and dessert for less than a tenner.
What is it? It's not the same to say you're going to an Italian restaurant as it is to say you're going to a Venetian restaurant. The Colombo twins (‘xemei’ means ‘twins’ in Venetian) have brought to Barcelona a transalpine cuisine that's finally gone above and behond pasta Bolognese and quattro stagioni pizzas.
Why go? They serve fish prepared just like it is in Venice, and it's an opportunity to learn why 'sarde in saor' and 'baccalà mantecato' render any other type Italian cuisine practically unacceptable. It's also not going to cost you a fortune. The place itself has a touch of glamour, and rumour has it that a certain Barça player is among the clientele.
What is it? Catalan chef Alain Guiard, with French roots and education, has taken over the restaurant of the Hotel Neri, declaring it a 'playful, straightforward and affordable dining option in a five-star Relais Chateaux hotel'.
Why go? Guiard shows off his strengths with a series of seafood and shellfish dishes, such as a sea bass ragout, cockles and mussels with orange and coconut. The crunchy potato tacos with crab, sour cream and caviar are unforgettable. Guiard and his team don't like to say no to much, and a restaurant's ingenious presentations and haute cuisine at affordable prices prove that's working for them.
What is it? 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.
Why go? The menu is brief, heavily focused on the tasting menu, and from Tuesday to Friday at midday they do a set lunch menu with spectacular value for money: appetizers, a starter, a main dish of meat or fish, dessert, wine, coffee and petit fours. The seafood menu is where Chef Fran López, who at age 25 won a Michelin star at his Villa Retiro restaurant in the Delta d'Ebre region, captures the true soul of his cooking, with dishes like the eel with cod cheeks, which gives off an amazing aroma to further tempt you.
What is it? A declaration of unconditional love for the pig as sustenance. And around here, nothing goes to waste.
Why go? The Rovira family carve up the parts of the animal on-site at Pork, and then present all, or almost all, of them right on your table. In the Sicilian oven, they cook exquisite bacon and sausages, and their pantry is full of cured pork products and cold cuts they make themselves from their farm in Berguedà. You can also order a good suckling pig and share it among four or five hungry diners.
What is it? One of the oldest restaurants in Barcelona, 7 Portes' eponymous seven doors open on to a restaurant kitted out in elegant 19th-century decor. Long-aproned waiters bring regional dishes, served in vast portions.
Why go? They offer a variety of dishes including a stewy fish 'zarzuela' with half a lobster, a different paella daily (shellfish, for example, or rabbit and snails), a wide array of fresh seafood, and heavier dishes such as herbed black-bean stew with pork sausage, and 'orujo' sorbet to finish.
What is it? One of the first Basque restaurants that opened in the city. The flagship of the Sagardi group is this restaurant in El Born, which opened in 1998, ages before the neighbourhood was as gastro-cool as it is today.
Why go? For their expertise when it comes to the raw materials for their 'pintxos' (Basque tapas) and a traditional Basque cuisine created with careful and modern execution (try the 'bacalao ajoarriero' cod dish). In more recent years, they've added some incredible veal to the menu, made with top-quality Galician beef.
What is it? What started as an expansion project at the owners' Rías de Galicia restaurant has evolved into one of the most personal haute cuisine offerings in Barcelona; they offer small dishes of some of the best seafood in the world.
Why go? As well as incredible products, when the elements put together on the plate by chef Ever Cubilla – such as the salad of lobster, avocado and coral mayonnaise, and razor clams from the Cíes Islands with mustard and ginger vinagrette – invade your mouth, the resulting emotion will feed both your stomach and your spirit.
What is it? The second-oldest Japanese restaurant in the city. The first one was opened by the owner of this one as well, Mr. Yamashita, when he arrived in Barcelona from Japan to teach martial arts.
Why go? Order the 'kaiseki' meal, the ultimate expression of Japanese cuisine. 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. 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.
What is it? A Venetian tavern that showcases Italian cuisine beyond the usual double act of pasta and pizza.
Why go? It's right near La Boqueria and the ingredients are carefully selected. The sardines in 'saor' (a slightly sweeter variety of brine) are a delight, and you can't go wrong with the cod 'mantecato' (creamed with butter). Do yourself a favour and accompany your meal with a glass or two of Prosecco to round out the pleasure of a Venetian dining experience.
What is it? From the outside, it's a bit difficult to imagine that behind the façade of a bar in the no-man's land that is Barcelona's Zona Franca neighbourhood stands one of the best restaurants in the city, but there you go.
Why go? The menu features hearty dishes with a strong Basque influence, and above all genius and creativity that see them going beyond tradition yet still preserving its spirit. So you'll find hake with asparragus juice, amontillado sherry and clams; as well as San Esteban canelloni with truffle bechamel sauce. If you can't decide, and you're an unyielding carnivore, they serve up one of the best 'capipota' dishes you'll ever eat. You can also start your day off with a superlative breakfast – they're open at 7am.
What is it? It's comforting to come across places like Le Cucine Mandarosso, a small space that more than does justice to true Italian cuisine. It's also got a genuine charm and decor that brings a smile to your face.
Why go? The set lunch menu (around €12) serves up a main dish, a drink, dessert and coffee. It features generous portions of magnificent dishes made with fresh market ingredients: a fillet of salmon with a buttery texture; a delicate gnocchi with tomato, ricotta and aubergine; al dente pasta of the day with a creamy yet subtle walnut sauce. And don't even get us started on that burrata cheese – we don't want to start crying again.
What is it? The pioneer of ramen in Barcelona. Since 2012 they've been making just three varieties of ramen in order to be tops in quality as well as speed.
Why go? The noodles are completely home-made (see the machine at the end of the bar) and are wonderful. You can put them on your plate and swirl them around your chopsticks tightly until the broth escapes and they’re still perfectly elastic. This combined with the incredible density and mixture of the two broths and the delicacy of the round cut of pork make this ramen unreal. Tip: get there early; there's always a queue and they don't take reservations.
What is it? Cambodian chef Ly Leap set out to reproduce the atmosphere and feel of a Vietnamese village, and the result is wild: a thousand square metres of jungle, where the tables are tiny islands suspended above water, with fish in and everything.
Why go? This is a frenzy of Asia-inspired tapas, in which Ly Leap shows off his expertise with spices, citrus and aromatic herbs. You'll practically swoon over dishes like the steamed rose of the desert dim sum filled with meat, prawns and herbs and served with sweet soy sauce.
What is it? Koku Kitchen Buns, Gyoza and Ramen specialises in these three Asian dishes that give the place its long name.
Why go? As for the buns, you choose a meat (or wild mushroom) filling and stuff them with savoury garnishes such as cucumber, fennel and celery. Upstairs 'don' rice dishes are also served, and the midday menu is of unbeatable quality and price: drink, salad and main with two buns or don and ahome-made desserts. Downstairs, the gyoza and ramen star. With at least five types of gyoza and seven ramen, you'll always get the highest of quality, and the flavours of gyoza aren't run-of-the-mill: the edamame one with a hint of spicy ginger, or the duck with orange are two they should never consider rotating off the menu.
What is it? Big fans of good food already consider Igueldo to be a model for traditional cuisine with a modern flair, and they're pleased to find that it's not over-the-top or pretentious.
Why go? The menu has a strong Basque flavour, and the meat and fish grills are a huge bonus. Most of the regulars go right to the Oiartzun rib, with a bowl of salad and piquillo peppers. This option is a combination of ingenuity and good taste, which also results in delicious starters like the anchovy and strawberry salad, steak tartare with beer yoghurt, and the fantastic barbecued artichokes with fresh foie gras.
What is it? An example of the merging of cultures with Japanese and Spanish and Peruvian fusion cuisine.
Why go? Prepare to be surprised: every Thursday is a test day, and you might find dishes such as nigiri with seered eel from the Delta d'Ebre or langoustine maki in tempura with 'huancaína' sauce (typical of Peruvian Creole cooking) and olive paste. Sushi master Nao is one of the Japanese chefs in Barcelona who also understands Catalan cuisine, and that shows in dishes such as the foie gras flambé.
What is it? Here's an Italian with home cooking and top-quality pasta that's also a lovely spot for a romantic dinner.
Why go? It's worth a visit for starters like fresh burrata and parmesan cheeses, and tasty mains like the linguine with cherry tomatoes and basil, or papardelle with ragout.
What is it? A French restaurant whose chefs and maître d' boast unbeatable credentials: they're from the gastronomy capital of France (Lyon), and they've got experience with traditional cooking as well as in kitchens that have earned Michelin stars both in France and in Barcelona.
Why go? You'll notice their ambition in the French lunch menu comprised of precise and refined, yet down-to-earth, dishes. For example, a cauliflower purée with a cod micuit and capers. At night their menu expands to include ten dishes, among them rillettes and French croquettes (with reblochon cheese!), purely home-made with their own spin on everything.
What is it? 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 beyond).
Why go? For the traditional dishes – fried fish and seafood, patatas bravas, Galician octopus, 'ensalada rusa' – and draught beer and wine. All of it is top-quality, and served in a laid-back venue.
What is it? A Chinese restaurant that's considered the most authentic in the city.
Why go? Chen Ji forgoes artificial decorations for exquisitely prepared dishes following the original traditions of the rich cuisine. You won't find fried-rice inventions or any other kind of fake Chinese food. Instead, you get handmade noodles that are nicely flavoured with vegetables or beef with cashews, and the guo tie is delicious. If you want to try anything out of the ordinary like jellyfish or duck tongue, just ask your server.
What is it? This twin sibling of Shunka (which by the way is perhaps the best traditional sushi restaurant in Barcelona) is the first Japanese restaurant to have received a Michelin star in Spain.
Why go? The kitchen is stratospheric, but here the greatness comes from the nigiris: they come directly from the hands of Hideki Matsuhisa and reach your plate without alteration in temperature. It's a ceremony where the exact cut of fish is controlled along with the amount of rice and texture. This place is absolutely inescapable for any Japanese cuisine lover.
What is it? Many fans of Basque restaurants will tell you that Taktika Berri is possibly the best in Barcelona, and the 'pintxos' have a lot to do with their reputation.
Why go? The cooks hail from San Sebastián and serve up some 25 different pintxos, hot and cold. They're classic and simple: cod omelette, sausage, battered hake, an unsurpassed cod with pepper... And since you have to elbow your way to the bar to get the much-coveted hot pintxos, we recommend a cold specialty: the scrambled egg with red peppers and garlic.
What is it? Traditional Catalan cuisine with a haute cuisine approach, headed up by Michelin-starred chef Nando Jubany, himself dedicated heart and soul to tradition.
Why go? The mixed-meat croquettes, the Russian salad and the fried calamari rings are excellent starters that show off what's to come. Jubany's original and creative cannelloni are some of the best in Barcelona: lovely bechamel sauce outside and perfectly prepared roast beef inside. And do not miss out on their 'fricandó' (a sort of beef stew) with chips.
What is it? Among the best spots for a pizza in town, where they're staunch promoters and defenders of a new way of making pizzas.
Why go? La Balmesina cooks up three different types of crust: the thin and crunchy classic, whole spelt, and the Pala. This last variety comes in the shape of a giant rectangle – perfect for sharing. Dive right in: the crispy base and the delicacy of the recipes like the one with cream of artichoke are out of this world.
What is it? Mosquito’s specialty is Chinese dumplings in myriad forms, but its Asian-inspired tapas comprise a grab bag from all over the continent.
Why go? They offer humble and economic tapas, without sacrificing creativity and taste. This is why you'll find a queue almost every day. The 'xiaolong bao' (steamed pork dumplings) and crispy duck are more than toothsome, and a steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho with noodles makes for a sturdy lunch on its own. Wash it down with a choice from the extensive list of craft beers, changed over from time to time.
What is it? Set in what was a 19th-century hostel way uptown (on that big hill you see up there, Tibidabo), Casa Trampa serves up fantastic Mediterranean and Spanish dishes.
Why go? For traditional local recipes like peas sautéed with ham, or Russian salad with Jabugo ham (a speciality here) mixed in. Rabbit with mushrooms, pig's trotters with green beans. Mixed-meat croquettes, meatballs with tomato and vegetable 'pisto', or macaroni that will calm even the most bounce-off-the-walls children. All are done excellently here in this Barcelona classic.
What is it? The gourmet area of Cervesa Moritz, in what used to be the old brewery, is a non-stop food and drink extravaganza.
Why go? Choose from a long menu of tapas from around the world, devised by Michelin-starred chef Jordi Vilà, which fuses the cuisines of Alsace and Spain. The building was completely renovated by Jean Nouvel, and you can also visit the microbrewery or just take a stroll around and discover the little architectural details that make the Fàbrica Moritz one of the city’s most amazing public buildings with a theme park for beer lovers. In the brewery area, which has the longest bar in town, you can try unpasteurised beer from a beer tap connected directly to a barrel in a microbrewery.