OCTOBER 2019: We value what’s older, established, experienced, and we praise what’s new, modern, exciting. So with this season’s update of the ‘best restaurants in Barcelona’, we’ve kept our favourite, Agut, in the top spot, as it never fails us, and you’ll also find we’ve added the likes of Casa Agustí and Windsor, the alpha and omega of traditional Catalan cuisine. But the winds out of south-east Asia are blowing with force in Barcelona, and this is evidenced by the addition of the phenomenal Last Monkey (which is well worth the prices). We haven’t forgotten the new major players in Catalan haute cuisine, either – the tiny Direkte Boqueria and the majestic Aürt are our latest faves, and they’re about to be yours too.
Welcome to the Time Out EAT List, our handpicked ‘best of’ Barcelona’s food scene. Tucking into Catalan cuisine is one of the best things to do in Barcelona, itself one of the world’s best cities when it comes to eating and drinking. The locals already know that, and so do the gastronomy pros who, year after year, award Barcelona restaurants with distinctions that must put the city among the world’s great gourmet capitals. The offer is varied, high-quality, monumental – from the neighbourhood tapas bar that’s been around for ever to the more than 20 restaurants boasting Michelin stars, as well as some stellar street food. Though it’s been quite the task, we’ve risen to the challenge and come up with a list of the 50 best restaurants in Barcelona, those with the most trusted menus among the multitude of hot tables in town. Pull up a chair, order a nice vintage, and enjoy!
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Best restaurants in Barcelona
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? Arnau Muñío, the former head of the kitchen at Comerç24, opened this small restaurant just behind the Boqueria market in February 2018. One bar, eight diners, two sittings, 16 set menus.
Why go? For the incredible tasting menus of either seven or ten dishes, with two desserts, all carried out with maximum precision and that change with the seasons. Examples of what you might get to taste: Asian Catalan delight like an oyster gyoza with 'capipota' sauce, an explosion of sea meeting land; or a pure Catalan dish such as peas with squid and Iberian bacon, or a gorgeous cod with tripe and a stunning pil-pil sauce.
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? A lovely space with an imaginative cuisine that stimulates all five senses (hence the name).
Why go? You’ll be blown away by their range of superb, original dishes, such as their surf ’n’ turf platter with crispy pork cheeks, saffron alioli and grilled squid. Or try chef Jordi Artal's ember-roasted sweet potato. After being roasted for a full hour, it's then stuffed with the foam of its own pulp, herbal bread, and butter and hazelnut cream. In the centre are two quail eggs cooked for exactly 100 seconds. And finally, an injection of oaky smoke.
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? The traditional cuisine of Casa Agustí, a Barcelona classic, is a joyful reminder of past times – it first opened in 1936!
Why go? This vintage space is also worth every bite: the praise for the 'canelons' is more than well-deserved, with gorgeous gratin, perfectly cooked pasta and well-ground beef; the cod 'a la llauna' with white 'mongeta' beans is a delicate miracle of flavour; the mussels in marinara sauce, a lesson in gastronomy. You'll enjoy excellent details that might go unnoticed but have to be appreciated, such as Graupera de Vidreres cookies that go with the ice cream, and honey from Setcases used in the 'mel i mató'.
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? 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? The only French restaurant in Barcelona with a Michelin star, thanks to chef Romain Fornell, a child prodigy of haute cuisine in Barcelona.
Why go? 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 around €45 with a drink, dessert and coffee included – quite generous for such a prestigious place.
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? Marimorena has the talent and the potential to make the whole world happy. Albert Mendiola has created a menu of Catalan cuisine where there's also room for vegetarian dishes.
Why go? You get a lot for a little, with the chef's spectacular tasting menu set at €35. The eight dishes show off Mendiola's passion for using ultra local Catalan products, where you'll savour beef, tuna, prawns, sardines, monkfish oysters and veg.
What is it? An Italian restaurant that's set in a chrome body with the feel of a New York club.
Why go? You get abundant portions made with excellent products for a price that's not excessive at all. Roman chef Daniele Moretti rights wrongs, like the oft-mistreated – or dripping in cream – spaghetti carbonara: theirs is made of just simple emulsion of beaten egg yolks, heated with the pasta so it doesn't dry out, pecorino cheese, guanciale (stunning!) and a spicy touch of black pepper. You can also get great joy from discovering a good 'vitello tonnato' that doesn't cost the same as caviar. Plus, the fried cod is a salty delight that melts in your mouth and will satisfy the most demanding palates.
What is it? The theory here is that technique, good local products, tradition and innovation shouldn't be at odds with the budget of the clientele. And without getting too lofty, they give a young, fresh rereading of the traditional Catalan recipe book.
Why go? The home-made croquettes with emulsion of saffron alioli is their iconic Catalan dish. The octopus with pork cheeks, kale 'trinxat' and spicy 'sobrasada' takes you to Galicia, La Cerdanya and Mallorca in one bite. And you're back to Barcelona with a creamy Parellada rice with chicken, sepia and prawns, and a light parsley alioli that gives the exact right contrast. Book in advance!
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? Hot, hot, hot: this is the sixth food-and-drink venture for the Colombo twins, and it's all about extremely local and stripped-down products with an Asian twist. Plus natural wines, which they're also known for.
Why go? With inspirations from Asia, South America and Africa, the idea is to have the kick of chilli yet also the mild flavours of herbs. A magnificent example is the grilled sweetbreads, with Sichuan pepper, shallot and watercress. Or the battered soft-shell crab in a creamy and spicy chilli sauce. The menu was created for diners to share dishes, you won't leave hungry, and the prices are right.
What is it? There's a hint in the name that this restaurant celebrates eggs, and they feature as the main ingredient in most of the dishes, though there's also room on the menu for more as well.
Why go? Because you're a big fan of eggs in all its amazing forms. Typical of Catalonia and Spain is the 'truita' or 'tortilla', depending on the language of the menu, what you might know as the 'Spanish omelette'. Here they do a 'truita mandrosa' that's cooked to perfection, with bits of black 'botifarra' sausage on a bed of tender veal, contrasting a bit of sweet with the spiciness of the 'piparra' pepper. There are also plenty of meat-free options.
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? Chef Dani Lechuga's little meat-lover's eatery. The irony is not lost on anyone that his surname means 'lettuce'. You can't book ahead, just show up, hope for a table, and dig in.
Why go? Because you're a diehard carnivore, doctor's orders be damned! You won't find trends like avocado tartare, craft beers or a mile-long wine list, but you will enjoy pleasures such as the ravioli with apple, foie and black botifarra sausage that's so tender it practically turns to liquid in your mouth; tacos made of picanha (sirloin cap) cut as fine as roast beef, with foie, where the chilli doesn't take away from the smoothness of the meat; or an oxtail 'canelon' that sends you straight to heaven.
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? Local products make up simple recipes put together to make creative combinations in a space where the kitchen is out in the open and there's room for just 20 diners at a time.
Why go? For the ultra-fresh menu that's 80 percent organic, the transparency of a kitchen in the dining area, and bread to write home about. With humble seasonal ingredients, everything you sample will put a smile on your face, whether you opt for the veal cheek with a delicious wine, an imaginative dish of trofie pasta with shrimp and bottarga, or a sensational potato omelette. You could eat like royalty at lunchtime for around 20 euros, and at night you can explore the menu more thoroughly.
What is it? Artur Martínez wanted to re-create his El Capritx in Terrassa (with seating for 12, the smallest Michelin-starred restaurant in Europe) in Barcelona, but ended up with Aürt at the Hilton Diagonal Mar, where his does a fancy evolution of street food, or 'lobby food'.
Why go? For the tasting menu, where you get 16 dishes for 89 euros, where after some obvious choices such as a bonito with vinaigrette or prawn salmorejo, Martínez and his team start playing with dishes in and out of context and rebuilding them into wonders that you can understand but at the same time open new worlds in terms of using all the senses.
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? A restaurant that takes you from Southeast Asia to Italy, where you don't have to spend a lot to sample flavours from around the world.
Why go? For the excellent and unpretentious Asian tapas and Mediterranean fusion. There are plenty of flavourful examples: splendid 'gyozellini' – tortellini, formed as if they were 'gyoza', stuffed with spinach, ricotta, Korean soy and kimchi mayonnaise, steamed and then quickly fried for a crunchy touch; the tagaloc cheeks are a Filipino-style stew of tender beef with ginger, lemongrass and cumin; and the big hit on the menu are the aubergines candied with soy and oil, with a sweet chilli sauce.
What is it? The name translates roughtly to 'absolutely zero', and that's what's behind their philosophy of using products that have travelled zero kilometres, generating zero waste, and carrying wines with zero sulphites.
Why go? For the well-crafted dishes that reach heights amazing complexity without the boastful pat on the back of of 'look at everything I can do with a sweet potato'. They construct and deconstruct the product, resulting in recipes bursting with flavour. Cauliflower's never boring when it's roasted and its florets made into a savoury praline cream with toasted almonds. They also do a delectable spaghetti carbonara minus the pasta, made with squash noodles, parmesan foam and Orrius egg.
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? 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? A bit more than a taquería, pull up a stool and dive in to the Mexican food inspired by chef José Luís's memories of his childhood.
Why go? For the incredible creations such as the chicken taco with mole, a nutty chocolate sauce that's crafted with at least 30 ingredients. For the 'carnitas' tacos you already know and love, but also the toasted ones with marinated tuna covered with a slab of guacamole, chipotle mayonnaise and crispy onions you won't be able to avoid devouring in record time. For the huitlacoche quesadillas, and so many more authentic Mexican delights that you get to wash down with a michelada or even a clamato if you're so inclined.
What is it? Refined, elegant and exclusive, Windsor combines an air of modernity and noble traditions with an impeccable seasonal menu. They're also the kings of game cuisine.
Why go? For delicacies such as deer cannelloni with cream of wild mushrooms and truffles, hake with artichokes, or pig's trotters stuffed with black 'botifarra' sausage. The complete wine list provides that added pleasure, though keep your eye on the prices, as they do correspond to the top quality and renown of the labels.
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.