Your legs are all jiggly from walking down the spiral staircase of La Sagrada Família. The corners of your eyes are still hazy from staring at the psychedelic buildings of Gaudi. Your head is throbbing because of the hangover you acquired after throwing back one too many iconic Barcelona cocktails. What do you do next? Eat at the very best restaurants Barcelona has to offer — and it offers a lot of them, even when it’s not white truffle season.
After plucking the best restaurants in Barcelona from our 101 Best Restaurants in Europe and 25 Best Restaurants in Spain and Portugal lists, we did some additional research, consulting critical and customer reviews, to make sure that the following restaurants have maintained the high standards they set when we voted for them. We are happy to report they have.
5. Ca l'Isidre
Isidre Gironès is a veteran Barcelona restaurateur, but he goes to the markets himself every morning and still shoots the game birds that end up on his table. This small, comfortable, and woody restaurant, with a mostly traditional Catalonian menu, offers a raw Catalan salt cod salad called esqueixada, soupy rice with seafood, beef fillet in Port sauce, and, of course, jamón. Some less common choices are whole ceps roasted in foie gras fat in parchment, langoustine ravioli with ginger and lime, pig's foot stuffed with mushrooms and truffles, and yogurt foam with raspberries and strawberries.
When the fun of Barcelona begins to take a toll on your body, Moments is where you go to unwind. The gold ceiling, white tablecloths, and surrounding greenery, all nestled within the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, provide a sense of peace and quiet. The menu begins with a series of "micro" appetizers, such as espardenyes (the sea cucumber much prized on the Catalan coast) with white bean cream and cauliflower foam and crawfish with pistachio sauce and green beans. Other items include red mullet with beluga lentils and dill cream, roasted veal cheeks with shallots and pineapple chutney, and a Japanese-inspired dessert of fresh cheese with blueberries and caramelized flowers. According to The Guardian, this is where you should go “if you want to taste a pea, a potato, or an artichoke as God intended.”
3. Cal Pep
Nestled in a small square just north of the Plaça de Palau since 1977, Cal Pep (run by chef and owner Josep "Pep" Manubens Figueras) serves the epitome of great tapas and seafood in Barcelona. Figueras doesn’t care much for modernist fare, sticking mainly to the classics. The tiny space means you’ll have to wait before you’re seated, but you’re in Spain, so just drink red wine by the doorway and make some new friends. When you do sit down, your waiter will give you three options — meat, vegetable, seafood — and if you know what’s good for your stomach, you’ll pick all three. Notable dishes: razor clams, fried artichokes, frito misto (anything fried, really), and tortilla Española speckled with onion and spicy bits of chorizo.
In a show home near the Tibidabo mountain that would make any modernist architect proud, chef Jordi Cruz, one of the most brilliant young chefs in Spain, lets the neo-traditional style of the building in which he cooks inspire his cooking. He delights and surprises diners with his sweet-and-salty oyster tartare with green apple, sorrel, and coriander; homemade pasta with sea cucumber, squid, Comté cheese, and lemon basil; guinea fowl with langoustines and veal tendon in roasted vegetable water; roasted and smoked apple with cardamom, fresh cream, and vanilla; and much more.
Tickets (named after its location in Barcelona’s old theater district) is a two-part tapas emporium run by Albert Adrià, brother of chef Ferran Adrià of the legendary elBulli. A predilection for molecular gastronomy clearly runs in the family: while Tickets serves classic tapas items like jamón and anchovies, it also boasts items like razor clams with refried sauce and lemon air; oysters with grilled watermelon consommé; Yauarcan charcoaled chicken; and black sesame and white chocolate lava rock. The theatrical food fits perfectly in these vaudevillian environs. It’s only fitting that the best restaurant in Barcelona is as creative as Gaudi himself.