The Catalan capital is a haven of fine dining, with everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to small ethnic hideaways. Here’s a guide to some of the best restaurants in Barcelona.
1. Hip and creative in El Born
Bar Brutal/Can Cisa is a combined bar/restaurant, and it became my regular restaurant when I lived just around the corner for four months in the summer of 2018. It was recommended to me by my landlord, who had El Born’s hippest restaurant among the locals as number one on his list of good restaurants in Barcelona.
The décor is rustic and urban, with raw wooden tables, metal chairs with wooden seats and floor-to-ceiling wine racks. Decorated with eccentric features like fish heads, a pig and a brain, you can draw and write on the walls.
The wines are organic and exquisite, and with over 300 wines in the cellar, there is plenty of opportunity to try labels that stand out and surprise. Order your wine by the glass so you can taste several different ones. The servants’ recommendations are worth following.
The menu consists of dishes that are meant to be shared, so you can taste something different. You can get raw tuna, sea bass, chicken liver in creative company with melon, almonds and butternut, Iberian pork with white grapefruit and chicken liver with romesco sauce and dried fruit. My favourites are grilled octopus with root vegetable puree and beetroot salad with fresh peaches and mascarpone.
2. Mexican gourmet food
Niño Viejo is definitely the best Mexican restaurant in Barcelona. Chefs Albert Adriá and Paco Méndez opened Niño Viejo in 2014, and it quickly made the list of Barcelona’s most visited restaurants, along with Adriá’s others like Tickets (read about it in my guide to Barcelona’s best tapas bars), Bodega 1900 and Paka.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has helped boost the place’s popularity after she praised the food, and the walls are covered with autographs of her and other celebrities who have eaten at the restaurant.
The food stands out above other Mexican restaurants in the city, and the dishes are classic with a modern twist. The restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere with brightly coloured floral wax cloths on the tables, and food is served on wooden platters with paper napkins bearing the restaurant’s logo.
The dishes are made to share. Start with one of the really good drinks and guacamole. Then tuck into tasty Mexican dishes like tacos with homemade dips, ceviche with cactus and quesadillas. Also try one of the delicious desserts. Book a table in advance.
3. Fresh fish with sea view
Seats are scarce on the terrace overlooking the beach and sea at Can Majó, one of the town’s most sought-after seafood restaurants. If you can’t find space on the terrace, you can also enjoy the maritime atmosphere inside the blue-painted rooms with wooden floors and white tablecloths.
Can Majó does not let itself be dictated by the food trends of the time. It serves classic and simple fish dishes, as it has done for 40 years. And that concept has gotten them on many people’s lists of great restaurants in Barcelona.
The seafood dishes are fresh from the sea and taste fantastic. Among the house specialities you will find. “Caldero de arroz con Bogavante” (rice dish with lobster), paella and and a variety of appetizers. stews with rice, fish and seafood (highly recommended), grilled lobster and fish, bouillabaise and paella. Book a table in advance.
4. Panoramic views and good rice dishes
Located at the top of Montjuïc Hill, Restaurant Martínez offers impressive views of the sea and the port. Both the view and the good food attract many people.
The view is best in the VIP lounge, where you have a harbour view from your table, but you’ll also be superbly seated in the rest of the restaurant and on the outdoor terrace. Here you just have to stand up to get the best view.
The owner is Jose María Parrado, who also runs one of my favourite tapas bars in town, Cañete.
On the menu Martínez offers rice dishes, ex paella, which is especially good with rabbit and chicken, the fish speciality “Canzuelas” – a stew with Galician lobster and monkfish, grilled fish and mussels, red steaks, lamb available with chicken and rabbit or seafood. In addition, you can get a variety of tapas and salads. The dishes are simple and the ingredients fresh from Catalonia and Galicia.
If you want to make Martínez’s special lobster and monkfish stew at home, you’ll find the recipe here.
5. Creative fusion dishes in intimate surroundings
In a narrow side street in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter you will find restaurant Pla. The décor is cosy and romantic, perfect for a romantic dinner. The waiters sit at the tables and explain the menu, and it’s easy to feel at home in the intimate surroundings.
Pla serves Mediterranean dishes in modern, creative fusion versions. Start with a snack and a glass of cava, dry sherry or vermouth. Sweet potato chips with yoghurt and Iberian ham are recommended. Dishes include beetroot tartare with black garlic, smoked mackerel and various ham dishes. For the main course, you can choose from grilled fish, pork jowls, roast Iberian pig, duck and beef. I’ve had the duck and the steak with sweet wasabi potatoes, and both are really good. The dessert menu consists of creative ice cream, fruit and cheeses.
The wine list is filled with carefully selected local labels, and the waiters are happy to recommend suitable wines to accompany the dishes.
6. Food like a Spanish mother
Petra is located next to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar (Cathedral of the Sea) in the El Born district. The restaurant is decorated like a Spanish mamas dining room in the countryside. There are blue-painted walls with coloured tiles and family photos, tiled floors, dark wooden tables, lamps made of cutlery and decorated windows in bright colours.
The menu is written on the wine bottles, which are placed on the tables among the coloured plates. The dishes are simple and tasty and prepared without frills and fancy sensations. They are served simply, as if you were having dinner with your mother. You can choose from a selection of salads, pasta dishes, egg dishes, fish, meat and chicken.
Try the Menu del dia (menu of the day), which consists of three simple dishes – usually soup, chicken or meat and a dessert – or try Petra’s albondigas (meatballs), which are really good. Petra has both a lunch and an evening menu.
Petra, Carrer dels Sombrerers 13 (show on map)
7. Pakistani gem in the Raval district
Barcelona’s multicultural El Raval neighbourhood has a wealth of Pakistani restaurants, and Adil Tandoori stands out from the crowd. That’s why it’s on my list of great restaurants in Barcelona. The small restaurant with wine-red plastic tables is not pretty, but the food tastes heavenly.
The menu is huge and you can choose from chicken, lamb and beef in a variety of Pakistani spices such as tikki, kadhai and karela, as well as fragrant, delicious freshly baked naan bread with a variety of homemade dips, all at very good prices. Adil also serves good beer, good tea and mango lassi.
The restaurant has a few tables outside on the terrace, but they are in short supply.
Adil Tandoori, Carrer de l’Est 9 (show on map)
8. Gastromad in the old oil mill
Sucursal Aceitera is housed in a former oil mill in Barcelona’s hip Sant Antoni district. The restaurant is run by three friends who bring history into their restaurant. You can see the old oil mills through the floor of the restaurant, and there is a large selection of olive oils.
Sucursal Aceitera is a great place for lunch, dinner and a tapa and vermouth in the late afternoon. Sucursal Aceitera is one of my favourite restaurants in Barcelona because it also has a nice selection of vegetarian dishes. The menu offers a selection of tapas such as cheeses and hams as well as dishes such as sautéed mushrooms with poached egg and Iberian bacon, octopus with sweet potato, Polish lamb with small vegetables, chicken cannelloni with truffle and foie gras, cod, orange and pomegranate salad and honey fried aubergines with pistachios.
The restaurant has its own garden outside Barcelona and seasonal fresh vegetables from the garden are used in the dishes.