BCNGuide

The Best Restaurants In Barcelona

25 great restaurants, tapas bars, and beachside joints in the Catalan capital.
Spread of tapas dishes on red windowsill at La Esquina

photo credit: La Esquina

Barcelona kinda has it all. You can find traditional tapas joints, fine dining restaurants that aren’t afraid to spherify an olive and call it dinner, and farm-to-table spots serving exciting twists on local dishes. International flavors are also taking off, with Latin American and Japanese food in particular giving locals something other than fútbol to chat about. The city’s food scene has never been more fun, making it harder to decide where to go, especially if you only have a few days in the city. That’s where we come in. We’ve selected the best of the best to help make sure you have no-dud dinners and make the most of your time. 

Just remember eating hours, which can be summarized as “late”—lunch is at 2pm and dinner starts no earlier than 9pm.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Colmado Wilmot

Spanish

Sarria-Sant Gervasi

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDrinking Good WineImpressing Out of Towners
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When you’ve had it with the dry ice and foam and want to see how real locals eat, go to Colmado Wilmot. This small tapas bar, deli, and grocery store in Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is busy and boisterous—you’re greeted by loud chatter and clinking glasses (they have an impressive wine list), and walls are full of shelves stacked with jars, bottles, and tins. This place does things the way they used to be done, which means great produce, friendly service, and not a squiggle of balsamic glaze or a decorative flower in sight. The menu is full of seafood, bought fresh from the market, like red Mediterranean prawns and plump baby scallops served mostly naked (lightly grilled with a pinch of garlic and salt). Catalunya is set between the mountains and the sea, and dishes reflect that, like the fricandó, a beef stew, with sea cucumber that has depth of flavor.

photo credit: Sara Larsson

“Casa de menjars,” which roughly translates to “food house,” refers to an old-school style of Catalan restaurant that served traditional home-cooked food to the working class during breakfast and lunch. While the modern-day versions are more refined and stay open for dinner, the way they serve traditional recipes and use high-quality ingredients hasn’t changed. Maleducat opened just a few years ago and quickly became a local favorite. The short, concise menu is broken down by small bites, bread, and plates made for sharing. We recommend the red tuna tartare with tomato sorbet, raw squid and pork cheek on toast, and beef tendon stew. Try them on their sidewalk patio (if you can get a spot).

Despite being one of the best restaurants in the world, you’d struggle to find a fine-dining spot more laid-back and actually pleasant than Disfrutar. The three owners were each previously head chefs at elBulli (the place where they started putting foam on plates), and they’ve brought all that expertise here, without any snobbishness. What you see on your plate during one of the tasting menu experiences is rarely what you taste in your mouth, whether that’s a panchino (or bao bun) filled with beluga caviar or a “gazpacho sandwich” that’s actually just sliced bread filled with tomato-flavored meringue and a refreshing gazpacho sorbet.

If you mention Bar Mut to anyone who’s been to this spot off Passeig de Gràcia, the response will invariably be “aaaaah” as they go all googly-eyed thinking about that excellent meal they had there. Bottles of wine line the walls in this classic, cramped, bistro-like bar with high wooden stools and marble countertops. You’ll find daily specials on the chalkboard, but a few staples include the seasonal croquettes, steak with either mushrooms or foie gras (depending on the time of year), or the lobster cooked with egg and brandy. They do take reservations, but if you get there on the earlier side, you can usually squeeze in before the crowds take over, or try your luck on the small patio.

You don’t hike up Montjuïc for any meal—you come for Martínez. People pilgrimage to this buzzy spot for the grilled seafood, lots of Spanish and Catalan wine, and arguably the prettiest views in town. While there’s plenty of paella (known as arroz here) on the beach, this spot somehow makes it taste more exclusive. That and the fact that the seafood is always fresh and local (not a given, sadly), and the rice has plenty of that toasty, slightly burnt-edge crunch called socarrat. You can taste it in the rice, and even more so in the fideuá, the Spanish twist on seafood spaghetti. During the day, book a table on the sun-drenched terrace surrounded by tropical greens and port views, but at night, opt for the slightly more formal dining room with dim lighting and the sexiest views.

From the team behind Besta, Batea is the fish joint Barcelona needs and deserves. Their secret to success is simple: great people, great produce, and not taking yourself too seriously. Kick things off with the seafood platter full of cockles and clams, and some fresh Galician oysters before getting into mains like the cured bonito tuna with red pepper emulsion, or the simple and perfectly grilled Mediterranean red prawns. Stick around after dinner and chat with the maître d’ over a gin and tonic. The décor is colorful, with pink-and-purple striped wallpaper, the service is warm (don’t be surprised if you’ve made friends with your server before the night is over), and the food is exceptional.

Between the fashionable location in El Borne, the well-dressed crowd, excellent lighting, and distressed wooden tables with bench seating, Fismuler kind of feels like a performance art studio that also happens to serve excellent food. The menu changes regularly, but staple favorites include the dorada tartare with almonds and grapes, the truffled escalope with low-temperature egg yolk, and an ultra-gooey cheesecake that looks more like a wedge of ripe, melty camembert than a confection that came to life in an oven. Take a seat in the light-filled dining room (it's in Hotel Rec), or book well in advance to bag one of the six tables on the small outdoor terrace.

“Bar Manolo” is a kind of bar, occasionally run by a senior fellow named Manolo (a typical Spanish grandpa’s name), and invariably frequented by many more Manolos. Señora Dolores does a modern take on that musty old-man feel. This natural wine joint in Sant Antoni will take you back to the bars of old with its long stainless-steel countertop and furniture that’s likely seen better days. It even has a churrera (but no churros on the menu), frying up lasagne, arancini, and patatas bravas so delicately that it gives them a light, fluffy texture that almost feels healthy. Almost. For the rest of the menu, if it’s not deep-fried, it’s raw, like the steak tartare that’s as meaty and spicy as it should be, or the marinated fresh anchovies with a tangy vinegar kick. Barcelona is known for its glass-of-wine-turns-into-three-bottles bar culture, and this one is as casual as they come.

There are a lot of tasting menus in this city, but one of our top picks is Caelis. Fine dining in Barcelona is generally more laid-back and affordable than say, London or Paris, so you can really go all out here on a 15-course meal plus a wine pairing for €185. Or, come at lunch when you can get the same exciting dishes on a three-course prix-fixe menu for €60. You'll get to feast on rich recipes like cured egg yolk tart with caviar or lobster and foie gras macaroni, all while being in one of the city’s most stylish hotels. Compared to other fine-dining options in the city, the crowd and atmosphere here can feel a touch more formal, but the mood definitely starts to relax a bit once all those businessmen reach the end of their wine pairing.

photo credit: Sara Larsson

Varmuteo, from the team behind Japanese-Mediterranean hotspot Alapar, is Sant Antoni’s take on Cheers. This bar is the size of a dressing room and fits 20-odd patrons, most of whom are neighborhood regulars. It checks all the boxes of a great local eating and drinking spot: friendly, knowledgeable staff, and an excellent selection of drinks, including at least 20 kinds of vermut. It also doesn’t hurt that a glass of wine is €3.50, and dishes are around €6-€8. Get here to vermutear (“to go for vermut,” a thing locals like to do several times a week), or for multiple rounds of drinks and tapas. You should stick around for dinner, too, as the food is unapologetically comforting—and ideal for soaking up all that fortified wine. Go in on the flavor-packed brioche loaded with fricandó.

If there’s one place you should prioritize while visiting Barcelona, it’s Besta. This fancy-ish restaurant on L'Esquerra de l'Eixample mixes Galician and Catalan influences on its constantly changing menu. Packed with unconventional combinations using seasonal produce and fresh seafood—think white Mediterranean shrimp tartare with aged Galician beef carpaccio, and calamari with swiss chard and black pudding jus—everything here is both surprising and will make you immediately want to order it again. Round it all out with a gin and tonic (or two) made with their very own gin, which is distilled with algae and oysters for a cool, cucumbery, and only very slightly salty finish.

Gaudí-influenced Casa Sayrach is possibly Barcelona’s most over-the-top work of modernist architecture that hasn’t been turned into a museum. It’s home to mezzanine-floor La Dama, a Mediterranean-French restaurant that looks like the elegant apartment of a nimble-footed socialite heiress of the same era, with its mirrored doorways, crimson velvet banquettes, and vintage floral wallpaper. Great design doesn’t always equate to great food, but La Dama is the exception. There are dishes like mushroom risotto, juicy whole-cooked roasted coquelet, and squid in the calamari carbonara that’s sliced like tagliatelle to give the classic pasta dish a beautifully textured twist. This spot offers a reasonably priced two- or three-course lunch (€21 or €26, respectively), but the evening, when the candles are lit, is when this place really impresses.

Entrepanes Díaz in upper Eixample is a sandwich spot from the Bar Mut team where all the waiters are old enough to actually remember when the pocket calculator was invented. They all wear pressed white dress shirts, waistcoats, and bow ties, and always take the time to get your order just right. Meanwhile, the sandwiches are pure joy, overflowing with classic Iberian ingredients like morcilla, tortilla, and squid. The juicy calamari baguette is the best in town, while the oxtail with spicy mayo, parmesan, and arugula is a fantastic meatier option. All of it, including the selection of tapas, makes for a great quick bite on your way back from Park Güell.

This is one of the few (if only) fine dining Mexican spots in Barcelona where top-notch Spanish ingredients are used with staple spices and techniques from Mexico to make traditional favorites like mole and cochinita pibil. There are two tasting menus, the difference being which main you’ll share with the table—pick one with dishes like Iberian pork or chicken, or opt for the other that comes with steak or lobster. But first, everyone is served a slew of solo appetizers like the seafood tostada, the tequila “cloud,” and the decadent triple pork bun. Each delightfully plated course is astoundingly tasty, especially with rounds of cervezas, micheladas, tequilas, mezcales, signature cocktails, and in-house fermented aguas frescas.

The area around La Rambla is probably known more for the dexterity of pickpockets than the quality of food, so we’re lucky to have La Esquina. The all-day cafe near the shopping strip off Plaça Catalunya serves onion-ier-than-average omelets, hearty butifarra, plump roast chicken croquettes, and sandwiches like the Bikini: grilled cheese with Iberian ham and irresistibly oozy gruyère. The ambiance is more café-bistro than a formal restaurant, so come as you are—no need for reservations. After dark, it turns into a romantically lit bistro with Catalan natural wines and hearty dishes like oxtail sandwiches with smoked Idiazábal cheese. They taste like they would at your Catalan friend’s house, which is why this is a rare spot in the neighborhood that gets the local seal of approval.

Located on a street that’s not particularly noteworthy, Alapar doesn’t come across as the kind of place you’d book weeks ahead of time. But Barcelonians fall all over themselves to snag a seat at the chef’s counter of this Japanese-inspired Mediterranean izakaya. The unpretentious, under-the-radar fine-dining joint uses only locally sourced ingredients for standouts like the eel and teriyaki nigiri, the montadito (an open sandwich loaded with squid and Iberian pancetta), and punchy mains like the red mullet Catalan fish stew with foie gras.

The Sant Antoni district is the hottest neighborhood in Barcelona these days, and Benzina’s lively terrace is perhaps the center of the whole scene. The owner is British, the chef is Italian, the playlist is from the ‘70s and ‘80s, and the feel is distinctly New York. The restaurant, which opened in 2018, serves unexpected takes on traditional Italian dishes, like eggplant parmigiana with parmesan ice cream or a sferamisu (a deconstructed spherical take on tiramisu), plus strong cocktails, and an excellent selection of Italian wine.

Despite being known for great seafood, Barcelona’s sushi scene wasn’t too thrilling until a few years ago, and El Japonés Escondido on the Borne-Barceloneta border stands out in particular as the trendiest and most fun of them all. Start with a steaming bowl of mussels served with a deliciously spicy, sticky sweet-chili sauce before getting into the blue-fin tuna moriawase selection that’s so silky smooth, you barely need to chew. Beyond incredibly fresh fish, what sets this place apart is the excellent service and a dining room that feels more like a late-night drinking joint than a restaurant.

Albé is what happens when a Lebanese restaurateur moves to Barcelona, falls in love with the produce, and starts combining Lebanese techniques with Catalan ingredients. The modern, plant-filled space is the perfect place for a daytime lunch (when the front dining area by the entrance fills with natural light), but it works equally well for a romantic, mood-lit dinner in the cozy interior room. Dishes include stuff like smoked labneh with pita, duck breast in a bitter orange sauce, and Iberian pork cheek over french toast and smoked sour cream.

If Xerta looks fancy, that’s because it is. Gentlemen in sharp suits and ladies with purses that look like they cost more than college tuition come to this restaurant surrounded by a terrarium-like garden for the over-the-top, seafood-forward tasting menus. The food, made with ingredients from the Delta del Ebro region south of Barcelona, is worthy of Willy Wonka’s factory: rice dishes emerge from a miniature thatched house with a smoking chimney and caviar-topped tuna sashimi is served on a bed of dry ice. You can try the highlights of the 8- and 11-course dinner (€105-€162) in a more down-to-earth format during weekday lunch, €45. It includes a selection of fresh-as-it-gets fishy snacks—like mussels, eel, or tuna, depending on what's available at Delta del Ebro market, followed by a rice option, a meat or fish dish, and dessert. It also includes bread, water, and two glasses of wine per person, because, Spain.

Run by the team behind Bar Alegria, one of the buzziest tapas bars in Barcelona, Casa Luz is a great place to kick off a night out with friends. The crowd here skews on the younger side, especially if you’re on the rooftop at sunset where you’ll see plenty of people wearing something by an up-and-coming local designer. The tapas include a bright-red tomato tartare with smoked butter and a decadent truffled omelet, while the wine is mainly Catalan.

While most public facilities and services at Barcelona’s beaches only operate during the high season from the end of May to the end of September, restaurants and bars stay open year-round. Barceloneta might be a well-known beach, but once you step away from the main drag along the boardwalk, it’s also one of the city’s most historic downtown neighborhoods. Locals come to Casa Maians for the freshly caught seafood, hearty rice dishes overflowing with pork shoulder, seasonal mushrooms and peppers, or black squid-ink rice with cuttlefish and artichokes, plus that feeling of going over to a friend’s place for a quick bite and chat. The restaurant is only open Wednesday through Saturday during lunch (as well as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for dinner), there are ten tables, and the entire show is run by the two owners who seem to know most of their guests personally.

Spain is notoriously averse to spice, so most of the tacos you’ll find in these parts taste like limp, greasy corn discs of blandness. Not so at Xuba Tacos. One bite of their blue corn tostada stacked with lemon-infused tuna and smothered in chipotle mayo will tell you why this fun, casual joint is the hottest Mexican in town. It’ll inspire you to immediately order the rest of the menu of unfussy tacos that highlight local produce, including the beer-battered sea bass with red cabbage, leek, and cilantro that you should zhuzh up with spicy salsa macha. Yes, the bar stools are uncomfortable and the harsh lighting feels like a dentist’s waiting room, but unlike most meals in town, this one won’t last for three hours, so for a quick, delicious lunch or dinner (that isn’t tapas), there’s nowhere better.

With a buzzing patio overlooking busy Bogatell Beach, this spot could easily be mistaken for a tourist trap. But, in reality, it’s the total opposite. Everyone comes here for the daily selection of grilled fresh fish and raw seafood, like oysters and red shrimp tartare, not to mention excellent seafood paella. The service is impeccable, and they’ll bring you wet wipes to clean your hands after you’ve finished your feast of anywhere from seven to 70 fishes.

The mostly industrial seaside suburb of Badalona doesn’t get as much foot traffic from visitors as other parts of the city, but that’s just because more people haven’t heard of L’Estupendu. Literally translated as “the stupendous,” lunch here is just that. Think of this place as “beach casual,” with a spacious patio that overlooks the waterfront and more seafood than you could ever eat in one sitting. Expect bowls overflowing with grilled mussels and clams à la marinière, along with huge portions of different paellas, like black rice with razor clams and crab. This is also a great place for fideuà.

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