The rambling dining rooms at the ‘house of teaspoons’ have been packing ’em in since 1786. The secret to this restaurant’s longevity is a straightforward one: honest, hearty cooking and decent wine served at the lowest possible prices. Under huge oil paintings and a thousand signed black-and-white photos, diners munch sticky boar stew, tender pork with prunes and dates, goose with apples, partridge escabeche and superbly fresh seafood.
This is Sergi’s restaurant, a young chef with a vast range of experience and expertise. He’s a constant source of surprises, with a cuisine that mixes technique with tradition, resulting in surprising dishes like mille-feuille with fried egg or chick peas with scallops. And you won’t find many 'lletons d'Aranda' (suckling pig) as good as his in Barcelona.
The return of Josep Maria Freixa to his family home, now that Ramon has gone off to enjoy fame in Madrid, has resulted in an authentic festival of traditional cuisine: pig’s trotters with prunes and pine nuts, cuttlefish with artichokes, and perhaps the finest macaroni in Barcelona.
A charming restaurant with a range of classic dishes from Catalonia’s culinary culture that are always good to revisit or discover. There's not a Catalan chef who has never made cuttlefish meatballs. And any good traditional Catalan restaurant will serve them. At Senyor Parellada, they pass the test with flying colours. The 'croquetes de l’àvia', French beans and cod casserole are also among their standout dishes from the Catalan cookbook.
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. Every day Sisco and Dolors welcome a legion of faithful customers who know how to pick a good spot to eat as though welcoming them into their own home. 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, like traditional Catalan 'escudella' soup and stew, 'fideuà a la cassola' (a hearty and meaty vermicelli-type dish), lentils with chorizo sausage, and plenty of traditional offal delicacies.
Few restaurants in Barcelona that opened in 1897 are still around. In 1945, a family took over one such restaurant, L’Havana, keeping its name and its commitment to home-made Catalan cuisine. Now two sisters and their families boast a faithful following of regular customers. The restaurant offers a variety of traditional Catalan starters that are prepared and presented well, and ideal for sharing. The battered artichokes and aubergines are superb, as are the battered squid rings, which are sometimes hard to find done just right. The tripe, the meatballs with cuttlefish and the stuffed calamari are specialities that attract the local clientele and are always in high demand. You have to try the Catalan cannelloni with béchamel and excellent filling. I'm ashamed to be just discovering this restaurant now despite my many years of existence, but I'm glad I finally have.
The great-grandson of Casa Agustí has opened a new restaurant that has a distinctly traditional feel to it: white tablecloths on every table, and classic dishes that had all but died out. Such as lamb’s brain in breadcrumbs and pig’s trotters. And especially escudella i carn d'olla, which is excellent with a good red wine.
The popular Asian dumpling you might know as 'dim sum' has a different name nearly everywhere you go: ‘gyoza’, ‘momo’, ‘siomay’... Josep Maria Kao approaches his dim sum from the perspective of haute cuisine. The idea is to offer ambitious cuisine at reasonable prices, and there are some spectacular results, such as the fried rooster crest with beef, courgette and ginger. Kao doesn’t just make dim sum: you can also try dishes with Chinese and Catalan touches, such as the rib roast with sweet-and-sour sauce or the green beans sautéed with bacon and Maresme peas.
Yashima is a traditional luxury restaurant where you sit at low tables as if you were in Japan. They've also got a coveted 'teppan' (grill) that diners sit around, while the chef offers you whatever he's just cooked. It’s not cheap here, but the quality of the food and service make it worth the expense. Eating at Yashima is a real experience.
Japanese cuisine has taken a firm hold on the Barcelona palate. Nao Haginoya is the mastermind behind Kuo, and what he's set up is fantastic just as much for experts at using chopsticks as well as anyone who might still need a fork. The menu is extensive, and the sushi and sashimi are of the highest quality. I tend to favour the spicy tuna maki and the crispy toro maki roll, though Kuo also offers a variety of house specialities. For example, they prepare an ‘age dashi Ankou’ – a bowl with monkfish, foamed egg and dashi broth (a broth made with dried bonito and seaweed). But because I’ve fallen in love with real crab ever since I tried some in Boston, I order the ‘king crab no tempura'. If you're a fan of rice dishes, tartares, or ‘gyozas’, Kuo is highly recommended.
Bangkok Café is a small space on whose walls the different types of curries are written – yellow, green and red curry, panang, massamang – showing off a cuisine that is sandwiched between the Japanese and Chinese culinary empires that reign supreme in Barcelona. Definitely get to this top Thai restaurant, but just be sure you're ready if you order spicy.
For some time now, Chen Ji has been known as the Chinese-Chinese of Barcelona – that is, an authentic restaurant without the usual ornaments such as red balls, dragons or illuminated panels with waterfalls. It’s the most normal place you could imagine, all very simple and practical. They have long opening hours. From 9am to well past midnight you can stop off for a bowl of noodles or soup, or try the self-service menu for about €5. What's that? You've never had steamed dumplings for breakfast? What are you waiting for?
Mosquito is the height of exoticism. They prepare excellent Cantonese cuisine, especially the lovely Chinese dumplings known as dim sum. Owner Giles is an Englishman who, after travelling round Asia for years, decided to open a Chinese restaurant in Barcelona, while avoiding clichés. To make it even more different from the norm, he's got four taps of exquisite English beers and an offer of more than 70 brands of bottled craft beer from Catalonia and around the world. If you're in the mood for a certain type of beer, just ask. Giles seems to have written the encyclopaedia on the stuff.
Enthusiasts of fine Basque cuisine will love this place. A cosy restaurant in Gràcia. The dishes of the day are read out (and in a Basque accent) by the owner, Miguel. The highlights include the excellent T-bone steak, the hake nape and a range of starters such as clams, squid and their unbeatable cod omelette.
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 too over-the-top or pretentious. The cooking, with a strong Basque flavour, is expertly overseen by Gonzalo Calvete, and the other owner, Ana López, is a splendid sommelier and hostess. This place will always put you in a good mood, thanks to the simple, elegant décor, including a bright hardwood floor and white walls and columns. The back is available for reservations of up to 10 people. Ana and Gonzalo, with backgrounds in big restaurants, live up to the high expectations they created for this one.
If you ask fans of Basque restaurants, many will tell you that Taktika Berri is possibly the best in Barcelona, and their pintxos have a lot to do with their reputation. 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 speciality: the scrambled egg with red peppers and garlic.
When people talk about where the best pintxos are, the phrase 'haute cuisine in miniature' often comes up. And after 15 years in the business, Irati most definitely tops the rankings in this field. Restaurant manager Alex Monjas says that each of their pintxos has at least four ingredients, and that they have carefully studied the best ways to combine all of them. The elongated bar, free of stools, is topped by some 50 varieties of tapas, both hot and cold. On a good night they can dish up 600. A marvel among them is a hot tapa made of scorpionfish cake on a base of sour cream and egg. And definitely try the slice of bread that becomes a tiny empire of sobrassada sausage, with honey, apple and crispy Idiazabal cheese.
Au Port de la Lune has reopened in the Eixample. And although the new space might not have the charme of the old location in the Boqueria market, you'll still dine on great French cuisine. Their lunchtime menu is varied, with an excellent paté and steak tartare. At night, the menu offers a wider range of this menu, and you can feast on 'rillettes', patés, and French cheeses at a price that will make your wallet as happy as your stomach.
Caelis is not suitable for all pockets, but it does have an amazing sampling menu devised by the talented Michelin-star chef Romain Fornell. They have a lunch menu that includes two snacks, a starter, a main course, dessert and coffee. Michelin-star quality served in the spectacular setting of the Hotel Palace.
Gouthier is a restaurant located in old Sarrià, in a square that gives visitors an atmosphere of ancient villages. For years it’s been the standard for ‘bivalvos’, that is to say, oysters brought from Marennes, Normandy, Brittany, Ireland and the Ebro delta. But this restaurant doesn’t just survive on oysters. Gouthier is also a benchmark for gourmet tinned food, among them a magnificent cod belly, and a smoky monkfish liver with cucumber and wakame seaweed; there's also a selection of some of the highest-quality cheeses for the most discerning palate. At Gouthier you can close your eyes and travel to France for the small price of a few oysters.
Cafe Emma is the bistro of the moment in Barcelona. Two Michelin-starred chefs, Romain Fornell and Michel Sarran, have come together and entrusted their kitchen to Daniel Brin, who previously worked in the gone-but-not-forgotten Maison du Languedoc Roussillon. A true bistro, Cafe Emma offers a daily set lunch menu featuring traditional French cusine. Among their top dishes are the 'blanquette de veau' (veal stew), the punchy onion soup, the onglet with challots, the macaroni with lobster and the steak tartare.
Good news for lovers of French bistro cuisine: two Parisian entrepreneurs, Julien and Valérie Boillot, have set out to conquer the most discerning palates in Barcelona with their restaurant, L’Atelier. Their goal is to offer traditional French bistro cuisine that's simple, quick and very tasty. During my visit, I ordered from the well-priced set lunch menu, which doesn't feature every dish on the main menu, of course, but Vincent Tommasini, the young but experienced Catalan-French chef, promises there will be increasingly more options. On the regular menu, dishes that are worth special mention because they're so well-executed include the starter of duck rillettes – tender, well-crafted and served with excellent bread.
Besides enjoying their great range of exquisite Italian pasta dishes, you can enjoy watching some of Italy’s best-known films, at this highly original 'cinematic' restaurant designed by Toni Greco. Apart from the pleasant atmosphere and spectacular decor, the excellent service and good food will make your meal at Da Greco an unforgettable experience. As for ordering, the best thing is to take the chef and owner’s advice.
Il Giardinetto is frequented not only by those with great palates who know quality when they taste it, but also by romantics as well as those nostalgic for a Barcelona of days gone by. Recently the place has been slapped with a makeover to modern it up a bit to accompany the excellent work the kitchen staff has always done and continues to do. Chef Jesus leads the team with his Italian cuisine, and notable fresh pastas that are made by hand daily. There is also, of course, a range of pleasing dishes created by young chef Sergio “Chiqui” Millet. One offering that’s not always on the menu (so do ask) is the paglia e fieno tagliolini al pomodoro, which many an Italian restaurant would love to be able to prepare and present with fanfare. (read more)
All the staff at this restaurant are from Puglia, but the place has a number of features that don’t derive from that region. These include many dishes, but let's start with their typical orecchiette, which they make with clams, arugula and tomato. For starters there’s a wonderful burrata pugliesa (a mild cheese, creamier than mozzarella) served with arugula, cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They also serve a lightly-fried tuna with cumin, mushrooms and onion confit which is just sensational. A very good wine list, headed by the magnificent Nero di Troia, a wine from Puglia.
It's incredible how easy it is to make guests happy with little details and, above all, with an authentic cuisine made with love. That's the philosophy at this Italian restaurant. There’s only one thing they want: to please you. Located near the majestic Palau de la Música, this restaurant with its Neapolitan flavours and colours is a delight, especially for those who have had the good fortune to visit Naples and try its many tasty dishes. You might be surprised when a friendly Neapolitan waiter comes to show you the packet of pasta he suggests you try. The care they put into their dishes makes this place better than most other Italian eateries. It’s no coincidence that it’s a favourite among young Italians living in Barcelona.
Chef Paco Pérez 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. 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. The heights Enoteca's 'espardenyes' (Mediterranean sea cucumbers) have hit make them deserving of their own chapter in Catalan avant-garde cuisine, and their rice dishes will satisfy the biggest food snobs and Catalan cooking fundamentalists alike. Surrendering to their fragrant rice with lobster is the best way to pay tribute.
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. 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 serve you 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.
Jordi Cruz has regained Àbac’s second Michelin star, making his restaurant once again 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.
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.
Manairó is not just a great place to eat well and experience high-qualitygastronomy, it's also the laboratory where Jordi Herrera, a part-chef part-inventor eccentric, carries out his experiments with special equipment toget the best out of his concoctions. There's his grill with spikes tocook the food on the inside, and a device which uses centrifugal force to reducethe loss of moisture in cooking. This is science in the service of art.
This restaurant offers high-level cuisine, produced by the twins Javier and Sergio Torres, on the top floor of the hotel Me. Very original cuisine with flavours from distant countries, including dishes like cream of Amazonian roots with sagu caviar. Winners of the Time Out Special Jury Award 2009.
The Adrià brothers have triumphed again with this ambitious Barcelona-based round-up of their philosophy of tapas. With four different sections – seafood, the grill, sweet treats, and little inventive surprises – you'll get 'El Bulli' versions of all tapas from all over Spain. Squid in its ink with almond paste or grilled watermelon are just a couple examples. And the Tickets cocktail bar, 41, offers a nightly tasting menu which is as close as you'll get to El Bulli.
Jordi Cruz has taken Angle from Bages to C/Aragó. Like he says, it's 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 Eastern touches as well. Examples of Cruz's imagination and undisputed creativity include lemon fish ceviche with grated cucumber and cherries.
The Roca brothers have reinvented their Michelin-starred Barcelona restaurant. It used to be Moo, and now it's Roca Moo: with the kitchen now in the main room, chef Juan Pretel has fewer barriers between the cooking and serving spaces so he can finish dishes right at the table before your eyes. There's also a bar where you can see how they prepare the house specialities, which are their own interpretation of Catalan cooking. In addition to the menu, you can choose between two tasting menus with pairings: the Joan Roca menu and the lunchtime Roca Moo menu.
A tiny space with a small kitchen staff produces first-class dishes. A must. Rafa Penya is now an indisputable leader in bistronomics. The dishes are creative, but always tasty and recognisable, such as the octopus with Catalan black sausage, the pigeon with ginger, or the mouth-watering omelette made with herbs and wrapped with a paper-thin slice of Catalan bacon.