We have to be honest: eating at the beach has never had a great reputation for the quality of the food. For years in the Girona area, in fact, it's been synonymous with sandwiches with plasticky fillings and sandy salads. But nowadays, if you visit these 'xiringuitos' (beach bars) that have clear gastronomic ambition, you're bound to eat well and can forget about inedible paellas, frozen chips and prawns that are only supposed to have come from Palamós. Bon appetit!
'All in one' – that could be the logo of Es Blanc, because it's a restaurant but also a café during the day, a cocktail bar at night, and a beach bar in the summer, with a splendid terrace overlooking the sand. The hybrid element also features in the menu, where Mediterranean cooking meets sushi and a range of tapas and Iberian cured meats – each type of cuisine is consumed in a different part of the restaurant. And it's an open secret that multiple Michelin-star-winning chef Carme Ruscalleda goes there expressly to eat the rice with lobster.
An authentic xiringuito with plastic awnings and metal chairs, all housed in a former fishermen's hut. It's located on the beach of Aiguablava, and we'd bet whatever you want that a good number of the people on that beach are drawn by what this restaurant has to offer: the aroma of oak burning in the oven that's used to grill fish caught that day by the boats from Begur, and to cook rice dishes made to traditional recipes. Three of our particular recommendations: the 'dark rice' of the Empordà, grilled octopus with 'romesco' (made with roasted red peppers and almonds) sauce and grilled fish. Bear in mind, however, that the price will vary according to weight.
Do you want to give yourself a treat? A grand lunch or supper in front of the sea? Then reserve a table at Tragamar. This restaurant, overlooking the beach of Canadell in the heart of the Costa Brava, specialises in seafood recipes and, in particular, rice dishes. Just imagine: in the background, the sound of waves, and in front of you, some grilled sardines or a tuna carpaccio. Or, even better, a stewy rice. Now add to the equation the fact that the restaurant is tranquil and welcoming, and you won't want to leave for hours. When, obviously, you'll want to head to the beach for a swim.
Looking for seclusion? An idyllic place of peace? Head for Garbet. This xiringuito, found at the centre of the tranquil beach of the same name, is almost 70 years old and has now been converted into a restaurant. It encompasses simplicity, a landscape that will stun you and, above all, excellent cooking based on top ingredients and traditional recipes. You can either sit in the small dining-room or (which would be our recommendation) choose one of the terraces in front of the sea. What's more, they have a boat-taxi service: if you're arriving at the bay, give them a call and they'll pick you up and take you to the restaurant. If you're still not quite convinced, then the taste of the shellfish paella with lobster will assure you that you've done the right thing by going there. And if you've got a sweet tooth, you must try the raviolis filled with vanilla cream served with caramel and Armagnac sauce.
In our opinion the xiringuito of Cala Jóncols is one of the best spots on the Costa Brava. Well, the former owners of that lovely place, the Gómez-Alvaz family, have, since 2005, been running La Pelosa. This restaurant-beach bar is found in the cove ('cala') of the same name (close to the Natural Park of Cap de Creus and the now-closed El Bulli restaurant), and in no time at all it's become one of the best on the Girona coast. Traditional home cooking where real love for the ingredients is clear: that's what you'll find there. Even though the menu is pretty long, their main specialities are rice dishes and, obviously, fish from the nearby Bay of Roses. Two unmissable options: the rice stew with lobster (you'll probably want to find out the recipe, but no matter how hard you try, they're never going to reveal it), and the 'fideuà' noodles. If you don't fancy either of those, whatever fish you order will definitely be delicious.
Yes, it's really good to eat tapas for just a few euros, but doubtless there are also times in your lives when you want to treat yourself to a bit of luxury. And, perhaps, that luxury could take the form of lunch or dinner at the Hostal Sa Tuna. This small hotel (it has just five bedrooms) has a restaurant that opens towards the middle of April and is an absolute treasure. To the joy of eating with your feet practically in the sea and of being on the edge of a cove that's so perfect it almost looks like a film set, the place adds haute cuisine dishes. And what dishes they are: they combine, in perfectly measured and balanced quantities, traditional fishermen's cooking (which has such strong links with the coves in this area) and avant-garde gastronomic techniques. On the menu you'll find dishes suitable for coeliacs and vegetarians, and they also have gluten-free bread. It's expensive, let's be honest, but it's also unique. We recommend the tartar of red tuna with chorizo and wasabi ice cream, and the Empordà-style rice stew.