Just its location is enough to make a visit to The River Café worth it - situated as it is in front of one of the most famous bottoms in Girona (the sculpture known as 'the bottom of the lioness', or 'el cul de la lleona') and the basilica of Sant Fèlix. However, if we add that you can go there for something to eat or drink from 9am until the early hours, that they play great music and that they have a various menus of food and drink, you'll doubtless already be on your way. The kitchen stays open throughout the day, so you can try their famous kebabs ('fletxes' or arrows) at any time, and you'll also find a menu of food suitable for coeliacs. If you just want a drink, you can choose between more than 60 types of beer and around 30 gins. Oh, and if you want, you can go there with your best friend, because they also welcome pets!
If you love snails or go mad for a great entrecote, then El Racó d'en Pep is just the place for you. This family restaurant, which serves home-made, fresh dishes, has been run by Pep and Joana since 1994. At El Racó it's the meat, always grilled and sourced locally, that's the star. Highlights include the boned pork cheek, 'secret' (special pork cut that is not always easy to locate, hence the name) of Iberian pork, and pork tenderloin grilled and gratinated with garlic mayonnaise with 'sobrassada' (spicy spreading sausage from Mallorca) and honey. We also recommend trying the snails and, when they're in season, the breaded 'calçots' (Catalan onions). If you're also a fan of desserts, you shouldn't miss the cream cheese and white chocolate cake with toffee and biscuit, or the chocolate mousse with milk and chocolate cream. In addition, they have a gluten-free and vegetarian menu.
Whether it's for breakfast, lunch or dinner, a crêpe is always welcome. Crep de Què? is a popular restaurant that can tempt anybody passing by, and regardless of whether you prefer sweet or savoury crêpes, you’re bound to return more than once. If you feel like opting for more traditional flavours, we suggest going for the 'escalivada' (grilled vegetables) or spinach ones. Bear in mind that the place is tiny inside, and there are usually queues of hungry punters outside - so to avoid waiting, the best thing is to go during the week. They also have crêpes suitable for coeliacs and those who are lactose intolerant.
The names of their burgers may appear somewhat random and uninformative, but don't let that put you off. The meat used at the hamburger joint Km0 comes from cows reared in the fields of Nastrus, a collective of companies from the valley of Bas in La Garrotxa. Using this quality product, the restaurant's owners play with gastronomic contrasts and serve combinations such as the AP-7, with soft cheese, a liqueur reduction, lettuce and bacon. And if meat isn't really your thing, check out their selection of veggie burgers, which prove that you don't have to be a carnivore to enjoy a good supper in a hamburger restaurant.
For some years now, this has been a great city-centre option for fast food at any time of the day. König has become a local favourite for anyone looking to fill their tummies quickly with good, well-priced food. In its early days, it had clear German leanings ('könig' means king in German), with sausages and hambugers their main dishes, but as time's passed, they've incorporated more local dishes. Tapas (their 'patates braves', fried potatoes served with spicy sauce, are renowned in Girona), salads, more Catalan-style sandwiches, foccacias and bagels complete an extensive, varied menu. They have eight restaurants including two in the centre of Girona, plus ones in Vilablareix, Figueres and Barcelona, and the kitchen is open non-stop. There's always time to 'have a König'!
Despite being by the sea, there's much more to the Empordà than fish. That's made clear at El Trull d'en Francesc, with its menu featuring traditional Empordà cuisine based mainly on meat from the county and surrounding areas. Duck is the protagonist: the leg is roasted and crispy, the magret cooked on the grill, and the foie comes in a terrine or in a pan with confit of apple and cabernet sauvignon sauce. Pork also plays a key role, and again El Trull makes the most of every part available - two examples to whet your appetite: pork cheeks roasted in the oven, and a stew of pig's trotters with cuttlefish. And to ensure you know that traditional delicacies can also be innovative, don't miss the warm carpaccio of pig's trotters with foie and olive vinaigrette. On the grill they also cook Empordà lamb and goat, and an 800g ox entrecote, which is only suitable for champion carnivores! However, it's only fair to give a special mention to the fish options, especially the cod. The wine and cava menu focuses largely on the Empordà Protection of Designated Origin varieties. They offer various set menus according to the time of year.
This is an excellent example of Asian cooking in Girona. When Umai opened its doors, there were few other restaurants of its kind in the city. The people behind it are a Mexican chef and his Chinese wife, who decided to create a restaurant featuring Oriental cuisine plus a sushi bar. The chef had the opportunity to work at different places in Tokyo for four years, where he learnt how to create top sushi. As well as Japan, Umai takes a culinary tour of south-east Asia, via India, Malaysia, Korea and China. As such, on the menu you'll find some familiar options but also other, less well-known creations like 'yukhoe', Korean-style veal tartare. Just next door, and connected via a terrace, is Izakaya, where there is a more informal style of cooking, such as dishes created with 'robatayaki', a typical Asian way of cooking using coal embers. The well-priced daily set lunch menu allows you to choose between various options from its range of dishes, and they also do tasting menus.
This is paradise for Girona vegans. The B-12 is a vegan and organic bar-restaurant located in the heart of Girona, just in front of City Hall. They have a wide range of tapas, vegan and vegetarian hamburgers, and Catalan artisan beers - in fact more than 30 types! The set lunch menu costs €12.50, and they have WiFi.
If you live on planet Earth, it's probably not necessary to mention that Girona is where you'll find a place considered, more than once, the best restaurant in the world: El Celler de Can Roca. The owners, the three Roca brothers, are totally committed to the city as well as being some of its most famous sons, and the fact that El Celler is not within the reach of all budgets gave them the idea to create somewhere where pretty much everybody could at least try some of their desserts. They wanted to rescue the concept of the ice cream cart but that didn't work out, so in the end they opened a workshop on C/ Santa Clara, a place that makes clients feel like Charlie in the chocolate factory. They serve six flavours that change with the seasons – the latest concoctions of lavender and coconut, and a mix of green vegetables, have been a big hit – and stock a 'wardrobe' of tubs so that you can take your cool treat away. The flavours run the spectrum of more or less conventional, such as chocolate with green tea, to real innovations like toast ice cream with olive oil.
In Banyoles they know what's what: that there's no need to go to Italy to enjoy great ice cream. You just have to head to Janeret, an artisanal ice cream shop run by Jaume Sitjà and Dolors Portell. About five years ago the pair decided to give up their work in charge of the desserts at Hotel Mirallac to open Janeret, and it's already established itself as a local landmark. That's thanks to their creative, artisanal ice creams made with quality, locally sourced ingredients, such as fresh milk from the Granja Mas Colomer d'Esponellà farm. If you're lactose intolerant, don't worry - they also make ice creams that you can enjoy.