The Best Restaurants In Barcelona
photo credit: Vilma Ek
Barcelona kinda has it all. You can find traditional tapas joints, some of the best fine dining in the world, and farm-to-table spots serving exciting twists on local dishes. An influx of foreign chefs and creative Catalans have opened new restaurants in areas like Sant Antoni, and in places like Barceloneta’s old village and the Gothic Quarter, many of them have taken over old touristy joints. In short, Barcelona’s food scene has never been more fun, and as long as you respect the local eating hours (which can be summarized as “late”—lunch is at 2pm and dinner starts no earlier than 9pm)—you’re guaranteed never to go hungry.
TAPAS/CLASSIC SPANISH & CATALAN
photo credit: Sebastián Gómez
Located just off Passeig de Gràcia, Bar Mut is the kind of place that, if you mention it to anyone who’s been, the response will invariably be “aaaaaah” as they go all googly-eyed thinking about that excellent meal they had there. Bottles of wine line the walls in this classic, cramped bar with its 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.
Situated in a residential area on the quieter side of the Eixample, this tapas bar is the kind of neighborhood spot that everyone coming to Barcelona for the first time hopes to find but rarely does. Everything here is delicious and affordable, the staff is friendly, and it’s just one of those places where you’ll want to spend as much time as possible. Grab a stool at the window inside or at one of the outdoor tables and order a few staples like fried calamari and Iberian jamón croquetas. Betlem also serves creative specials like steak tartare with smoked eel, and an omelet with black pudding and seasonal mushrooms, if you feel like mixing things up.
photo credit: Jordi Garcia
Hang out with the coolest locals and tourists at La Pepita, where you’ll all endorse the great meal you just had by scribbling on the walls with a Sharpie. Start things off with a round of vermut or white wine while making a game plan for sharing plates—all typical tapas with a little creative spin. The green salad with apple, edamame, and snow peas is a nice starter for those seeking a break from fried croquetas, and the duck breast sashimi is deliciously salty without going overboard. Grilled octopus on potato mash is a guaranteed table pleaser, and you’ll want to slurp up the sweet and sour green curry vinaigrette that comes with the Can Pepi Fried Chicken.
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.
photo credit: Alex Froloff
“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).
photo credit: Vilma Ek
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.
photo credit: Sebastián Gómez
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 here 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.
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 €175. Or, come at lunch when you can get the same exciting dishes on a three-course prix-fixe menu for €55.
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: Adrián Profumo
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.
photo credit: Corina Landa
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 tavern. 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.
SIT-DOWN SPOTS THAT AREN’T FINE DINING
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, or book well in advance to bag one of the six tables on the small outdoor terrace.
If there’s one place you should prioritize while visiting Barcelona, it’s Besta. This newish restaurant on the “left” side of the Eixample district mixes Galician and Catalonian 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.
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.
photo credit: Sara Larsson
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.
photo credit: Sara Larsson
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.
photo credit: Anel González
Doppietta isn’t your typical Italian trattoria, but rather a spot where you’ll find familiar favorites served tapas-style for sharing. They do hearty pastas like gnocchi with red shrimp and peas, and a superb cappelletti filled with meat, butter, and sage. Everything is served family style, and the stars of the show are the platters overflowing with cheese and cold cuts, mainly from the chef’s home region of Brescia. Another thing we love about Doppietta: with its buzzy outdoor terrace, affordable cocktails, and playlist that mixes rock n’ roll with ‘50s and ‘60s soul, it’s always a super fun night out—which isn’t surprising, given that it’s run by the same team behind Benzina next door.
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 Sferamisu, a deconstructed spherical take on tiramisu), strong cocktails, and an excellent selection of Italian wine.
BY THE BEACH
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.
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 to sample fideuà: a uniquely Valencian and Catalan take on seafood paella, in which the rice is replaced by short, toasty noodles.
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.
photo credit: Sara Larsson
Unlike the many tourist traps at the nearby beachfront, this place in Sitges isn’t the kind of place you stumble upon by accident. La Zorra makes some of the best paella around—not just in Catalonia, but in all of Spain. Their versions don't stick to traditions, so you can dig into a giant pan of seabass and Iberian ham paella or even one packed with crab meat, bottarga, and served with a whole spider crab on top. You’ll most likely need a reservation weeks in advance, especially during summer weekends when the day-trippers come to town.