Even though Casamar has long been a rural hotel-restaurant on the bay of Llafranc in the Costa Brava, it wasn't until 2000 that it started to gain the gastronomic momentum that carried it, in 2011, to win its first Michelin star. This was down in no small part to Quim Casellas, the chef and grandson of the founder. Without having shown any particular previous interest in cooking (although he did help out with the family business from a young age), he started to take advantage of Casamar being closed during the winter to undertake intensive training periods with culinary experts such as Jean Luc Figueres, Joan Bosch, Carles Gaig, Joan Roca and Fermí Puig.
According to Greek mythology, Galena was one of the 50 Nereids or sea nymphs, the daughters of Nereus who helped sailors not run their ships aground. It's also the name that the owners of this Begur restaurant – which is located in a traditional Catalan country house ('masia') from the 17th century and is also a hotel – chose as a synthesis of the venue's comfort and peace. It's built close to the coast but 220m above sea level, to offset the strong tramuntana wind that often blows in the area. The same tradition that is encapsulated in the stone walls of the dining-room is also captured in the restaurant's gastronomic options. The menu includes a wide range of meats and fish grilled over vegetable charcoal, and classic seafood dishes such as monkfish soup and rice stew with lobster. They also have a daily set lunch menu. In the summer, and on sunny winter days, the dining-room is extended with a large outdoor terrace that enjoys privileged views of Les Gavarres massif.
For about 30 years Can Pini has been serving a wide variety of traditional seafood dishes in its location just in front of the 'torre de les hores' (lit. tower of hours) in Tossa. The baby squid sautéed with garlic and parsley is a must, as is the range of rice dishes that includes casseroles of crab and crayfish, and Tossa lobster; the 'little boy's' paella with fish and shellfish. Don't miss the 'fideuada' with prawns and squid, and you have the chance to try a majestic 'senyora paella' if you pay a few extra euros as supplement. They also have a daily set menu that's based on Mediterranean cuisine.
This is one of the few restaurants in Palamós that remains unchanged from its origins as a classic fishermen's tavern in the centre of town. It opened in 1936, started by Maria, the late great-grandmother of the current generation of owners. The cooking is also inherited from her: 100-percent seafood, 100-percent simple. All the fish comes from the local market, and your best bet is to let them advise you about whatever fresh products they have. Obviously the star dish is grilled Palamós prawns, but you should also try the fish stew, rice casserole and European flying squid with onion. Apart from the standard menu, which is made up of small and full-size portions ('racions' and 'plats'), another good reason for going is the set gastronomic menus they sometimes offer, promoted by El Plat Blau, the association of restaurants from the Bay of Palamós.
Can Rafa is the descendant of two Cadaqués classics, the Casa Anita restaurant and the Meliton bar. It's easy to find as it's the only fish restaurant on the town's seafront. Unsurprisingly, given their location, the focus is on local seafood based on what's fished in the Cap de Creus area. They don't offer a set menu, and if you're not sure what to choose when you look at what's on offer, we highly recommend the rice dishes, especially the one made with crab or the one with prawns, the dish of clams from the Bay of Roses, and the anchovies salted at the resaturant for eight months with oil from their own harvest. It's worth bearing in mind that the owners of Can Rafa are also behind the Martín Faixó wine producers, so don't be surprised to find almost all their varieties on the wine list.
At Casa Anita, you'll share a table with strangers while you eat a great dish of fresh fish of the day, which has been cooked on the grill. Open since the '60s, they say that among the many celebrities who have passed through was Salvador Dalí, who often stopped for a chat with the owner. There's no set menu and the à la carte options will only be revealed once you've actually stepped across the threshold. They serve fish according to what's available and good at the market, but their specialities are sole, turbot and John Dory. You'll also find small prawns from Roses, sardines and anchovies that they salt themselves. If you order it in advance, they will prepare black rice for a minimum of ten people. The wine comes mainly from the family vineyard of Martín Faixó and other DO Empordà varieties. And for dessert, why not try a Catalan classic: toasted bread with chocolate and coarse salt.
If you're looking for a quality seafood restaurantin L'Estartit, you should head for Les Salines. With an amazing location in front of the port, you should do all you can to get a table on the terrace with magnificent views of la Platjeta. Having said that, the interior dining-room, which has been decorated with a sea theme including old fishing tools, is also an excellent spot for a great meal, especially if it's cold or wet outside. The cuisine focuses on fresh, local products from the sea – among the house specialities are stonefish stew, prawns with chicken, fish and shellfish snacks, and mussels 'a la marinera'. Apart from the main menu, you also have the option of enjoying a tasting menu.
Totsompops is a three-for-one place: hostel, restaurant and shop selling artisan products. In the restaurant, rice dishes are the strong point: they make them with crab, casseroles, with mushrooms and sausages, and with cod and wild mushrooms. They're made with seasonal products, creating tasty and original combinations, whereas the rest of the menu is made up of traditional Catalan recipes. The fish comes from the markets of Llançà and Port de la Selva, and the meat is also local. If you order in advance, they'll make you food to take away. In the hostel, they have four simple, welcoming bedrooms, while the shop stocks a small selection of home-made products, such as smoked sardines, anchovies, marinated mackerel, jams and marmalades.
In towns along the Costa Brava, especially in places as traditional as El Port de la Selva, you'll always find a classic seafood restaurant located close to the beach. Ca l'Herminda, which is made up of different levels, was once the cellar of a fisherman's house used for storing fishing tools. However, in 1963 with the arrival of the first tourists on the Costa Brava, the owners realised it was worth setting up tables and chairs where once fishing nets had been stacked up. Don't miss your opportunity to taste the house rice dishes: broth with crab and lobster, shellfish paella, and rice with cuttlefish and langostines. All the fish and shellfish they serve comes from Port de la Selva (e.g, grilled prawns, sea snails au gratin with garlic, fried crayfish and lobster), apart from the various products not found locallly, such as the oysters, which come from France.
Enjoy good fish at this restaurant that's situated just by the city wall in Tossa de Mar. Can Carlus is ideal for groups who want to share various dishes, with numerous fish-based starters, including prawns, squid, fried fish, 'marinera' clams and Orly monkfish. They're specialists in cooking sea bass and bream in the oven, in salt or on the grill, while always respecting the natural flavours of the fish. You should also try the hot shellfish dishes such as lobster, Tossa 'cim i tomba' (fish and vegetable stew), and stew of 'bestina' (skate of Tossa). Equally tempting is the black 'fideuà' (noodle dish) with turbot. Bear in mind that they have 40 years of knowledge and experience when it comes to getting the best out of the local seafood.