Barcelona is one of the best European cities for foodies. You’ll find Michelin starred greatness from the likes of Mey Hofmann, Xavier Franco, Carme Ruscalleda and of course, Ferran Adrià; yet around the corner a restaurant that has been in the same family, serving the same great food for generations.
Barcelona features cuisine from around the world and restaurants are fusing Catalan, Japanese, Brazilian, Vietnamese and everything in between.
The list below is by no means definitive. But hopefully there are a few places you haven’t read about in your average guidebook that you fancy trying the next time you’re here.
1. El Vaso de Oro, Barceloneta
This bustling tapas place at the top of Barceloneta has been serving great tapas for over 50 years so they must be doing something right. The bar is long and narrow and chances are you’ll be eating standing up while jostling with other customers for the attention of the busy staff. This place is all about the food and the atmosphere.
2. Saboc, El Born
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Saboc is a relatively new restaurant in El Born serving above average tapas dishes. The menu is split into food served at different temperatures and is based on four types of cooking: raw, low temperature, with stoves, and with griddles. Everything is beautifully presented and the flavours are stunning.
3. Caravelle, El Raval
Barcelona's new fad is is all about brunch and Caravelle is one of the stars. But this is no ordinary café. Owner Zim is constantly on the move, brewing, baking, brining or pickling. Breakfast, lunch, coffee, cocktails and dinner are on offer. Be sure to check out Galactic Sundays for tacos, crispy squid tostadas and the delicious house brew, Galactic Pale Ale.
4. Casa Lucio, Sant Antoni
Only go to Casa Lucio if you are happy to be led. There are no menus and even the blackboard is short of any prices. The wine is excellent and never more than about €20 a bottle. Patrick (who speaks English) and Lucio (who doesn’t) will ask you what you like and suggest some dishes from what’s being made that night and they will choose the wine for you too. The bar area has an eclectic selection of cheeses and cold tapas for you to try too. The restaurant at the back is the same deal. Home cooked food served with passion. If a little on the pricey side.
5. La Muscleria, Eixample
If you like mussels then La Muscleria is well worth a visit. This basement restaurant in the Eixample is homage to the little molluscs that come with a long list of preparations. Among them is cider, wine, cava or beer; ginger, curry, pesto or mustard. The curried ones are a particular favourite.
6. Maitea, Eixample
If you’ve never tried pinchos before then Maitea is the place to discover them. Pintxos (in Basque) are small slices of baguette with a variety of toppings held together by a cocktail stick (the pincho in question). At the end of your feed the waiter will count up the sticks and charge accordingly. All very honest and civilised. The array and quality of the toppings is what makes this Basque restaurant one of the best pincho places in Barcelona.
7. Taverna Hoffman, Eixample
The restaurant of the great Mey Hofmann, this is modern Catalan cuisine at its best. The staff here are excellent – friendly, knowledgeable, attentive – and the food just makes you smile. For a special meal with food that you want to talk about but is not outrageously priced, make a point of visiting Taverna Hofmann.
8. Can Kenji, Eixample
If you love sushi and you also enjoy watching it be prepared then sit at the bar at Can Kenji. This small Japanese restaurant serves some of the best sushi in town and their other Japanese dishes are equally good. This place feels like a Japanese kitchen and often with a fair share of Japanese, which is always a good sign. They offer good value lunch menus during the week too.
9. La Pubilla, Gràcia
And while we’re talking of good value lunch menus they don’t come much better than La Pubilla in Gràcia. The quality of the food on offer at this small Catalan restaurant next to Mercat de la Llibertat is simply stunning. Get there early as by 1.30 the place starts to fill up and the line often goes out the door. If you can’t get there for the lunch menu do not worry, it’s open in the evening too.
10. La Royale, La Bonanova
We end with a hamburger restaurant. But this isn’t just any hamburger restaurant. La Royale likes to pair its burgers with 'gintonics' and has an array of gins that any gin bar would be proud of. The burgers from around the world using Wagyu beef, Angus beef, ostrich, bison and tuna that is minced on the premises at 0°C. Accompany this with some great starters and three different types of potato offerings and you’re on to a winner.
So there you have it. Ten places in Barcelona where you’re sure to experience good food in a great setting.
Bon profit! (as they say in Catalan).