Get ready to congratulate yourself, because if you've come to the Costa Brava, you've come to one of the best places for quality shellfish. And as we know that just because a restaurant is by the sea doesn't mean that it serves great seafood, we've selected some of the places where the shellfish is fresh, seasonal and (more or less) well-priced. Enjoy your meal!
Shellfish and sea views - what more could you ask for? The shellfish platters served on the terrace of Sodemar in summer are as renowned as their lobster and langoustine casseroles. The seafood options are endless at this restaurant: they have tanks with crabs, langoustine, oysters, clams, sea urchins and more. They also offer all kinds of fish from the Roses fish market, cooked however customers want it: in salt, in the oven, San Sebastian-style, or grilled. It's also an excellent place for enjoying a rice dish close to the sea. They make stew with langoustine, paella with red prawns from Roses, and black 'fideuà' (noodles) with garlic mousseline, while the menu also features traditional fish stew. For dessert, there are Cadaqués 'taps' - small sponge cakes in the form of wine corks, which are a local speciality and definitely worth trying. And if you're interested in making a real night of it, check out the menu of mojitos and gin and tonics.
This place is a classic in L'Escala that has kept going despite the passing of time. When seafood platters were all the rage, Myriam was one of the key places to go to enjoy them. Today, it's modernised its dishes to create a menu of Catalan cuisine that features lots of quality fish and seafood recipes. They still do shellfish platters, and they're still one of their specialities, with both cold and hot elements - you'll have to work hard to finish them all. The fish stew that they offer is a very typical dish from L'Escala, and you'll also find first-rate cuttlefish, squid, prawns and langoustines, turbot, monkfish and hake, and the famous L'Escala salted anchovies with bread and tomato (a typical Catalan side dish). The set menu of the day incorporates many of these delicious recipes at an affordable price. The cherries on the cake are the home-made desserts, which come on a special trolley.
This is one of the most famous shellfish restaurants ('marisqueries') in the area. The history of the Marisqueria Xaco started in 1988, when the eponymous Xaco opened a fishmonger's which, a short time later, was turned into a restaurant. The premises have been redesigned and the business remodelled on various occasions, but there's one thing that hasn't changed: the cooking. The key at Xaco continues to be the ingredients - they're high quality and locally sourced. In the dining-room itself there's a fish and shellfish stall, which is replenished twice a day, and the clients get to choose which they want to eat. They generally have line-caught fish, trawled fish, shellfish from rocks, from the beach and some specimens from the seabed, such as small monkfish. Their other specialities are grilled fish and seafood dishes such as rice in broth and fish stews like 'suquet' and 'sarsuela'. Another recommendation is the sea cucumbers ('espardenya'), and it's worth mentioning that they have a great wine selection.
Els Pescadors was an old tavern in the port of Llançà until, some 30 years ago, the Fernández-Punset family transformed it into a creative seafood restaurant. They come up with 'mar i muntanya' (surf and turf) combinations in line with what's in season. To update the traditional seafood dishes that everyone in the area have been brought up with, Lluís, the chef, brings to bear everything he's learnt from various haute cuisine restaurants around Catalonia, such as Girona's El Celler de Can Roca, and further afield. His dishes include rice with crab, lobster stew, sea cucumbers with cod tripe and black sausage, and king prawns au gratin with confit of wild mushrooms. In the summer, if you can't bear to spend more than a few minutes away from the beach, you can always get a rice dish from Els Pescadors to take away - it's the perfect option for picnics on the sand!
La Proa might seem like just another seafood restaurant, and while that is one of its specialities, it also has more to offer, which can be somewhat hidden but comes to the fore in particular in the weekend set menus, in the form of dishes that are a tad more elaborately put together. It's all seasonal Catalan cooking, but created and presented with style, and featuring dishes that come and go from the blackboard - these might be squid stuffed with wild mushrooms; cannelloni with cod brandade; cold terrine of anchovies and piquillo peppers; artichokes with beans, asparagus and cuttlefish strips; and raviolis of vegetable with prawn tails. On weekdays there's an affordable set lunch menu that seeks to follow the same philosophy, and regulars are a mix of workers on their midday break and couples who occasionally treat themselves to a quality mixed grill of fish and shellfish. La Proa is located just opposite the Sant Feliu de Guíxols fish market, which means that the oily fish (which is what the local fishing boats catch) is as fresh as it can be. The rest of the fish selection comes from the port of Palamós.
Quality primary material that's freshly cooked - that's the magic formula of El Jovent in Colera. They work with fresh ingredients in their natural state, and use traditional recipes. They're well-known for their rice dishes, which are the speciality of the house - the mixed paella is the most requested but they also make one with just fish, and another with wild mushrooms and cod. They salt their own anchovies. The fried calamari are also their own, and for the monkfish stew they follow the old-school style with garlic mayonnaise and 'picada' (a traditional Catalan base for stews made by crushing ingredients in a mortar to create a sauce). The grilled vegetables ('escalivada') are made over a wood fire, and the meat is slow cooked in dishes such as pork cheeks with raisins and pine nuts. They also create seasonal menus - you might find jugged wild boar, wild mushroom cannelloni, beans with anchovies and almond sauce. Finally don't miss the extensive range of wines from the Empordà region.
This is one of the most emblematic and historical restaurants in Sant Antoni de Calonge. Its history starts in 1865, when Fernando Vilardell bought the house that his son, Ramon Vilardell, would later convert into a café. The café was known as Can Vilardell, and popular among locals. In 1963, Ramon's grandson, Joan Ferrer Vilardell, together with his wife, Hilda Clarà, converted the bar into a restaurant: Refugi de Pescadors. It's an establishment with a traditional marine ambience, and the cooking is just as traditional and sea-based. The fish and seafood are sourced from the bay of Palamós, and they're kept alive thanks to the tanks they have in the restaurant. The most popular dishes are the rice in broth ('arròs caldós') with lobster, stewed noodles with crayfish and cuttlefish, and, of course, the shellfish. If you just can't choose, then try the house speciality: sea bass with fennel.
Located at some distance from the bustling centre of Lloret, for more than 25 years Sybius has been serving Mediterranean cuisine and fresh ingredients in a spot close to Cala Canyelles. On its menu, fish is the star, and, like the meat they serve, it's cooked on a firewood grill. They also excel at rice dishes and paellas, with a range of options on offer such as 'mar i muntanya' (surf and turf), shellfish and more. They also have an extensive range of typical fresh-from-the-market and seasonal products, and even pizzas. If you like the setting and you're looking for a place to host a special event, they have more than enough space.
Let's keep it simple: grilled fish. At Rafa's they don't bother with menus or set meals. Instead, everything depends on the market, and keeping it straightforward with just the grill. The restaurant is in the heart of Roses, by Plaça de l'Església. It's said that its tables (just the five of them) have played host to the likes of Ferran Adrià and Juli Solé, but Rafa, who rules the roost, insists he works in the same way every day the restaurant's open. Prawns, langostines, sea cucumbers and more all come from the area: Llançà, Port de la Selva and Roses. The razor clams originate from Delta de l'Ebre in southern Catalonia, the clams are from Galicia, and the oysters from France. There's a small terrace outside, and it's certainly worth calling in advance to reserve.
Eating fish at Can Flores is a guarantee of eating well. We might almost say that the fish swims straight from the sea to this Blanes restaurant - well, maybe not literally, but the restaurant is just 100 metres from the town's fish market, which means the products they serve couldn't be fresher. Open since 1958, Can Flores is one of the most famous fish restaurants in Blanes. Particularly popular among customers is the seafood paella, as well as the fried squid rings and plates of shellfish they serve. The list of fish on offer at Can Flores is seemingly endless: mussels, octopus, coquina clams, langoustines, prawns, hake and razor clams, among many other seafood delicacies. If you visit during the festival of Santa Anna, the patron saint of Blanes, in late July, you can watch the popular firework shows from the tables that they set up outside - it's a great sight!