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Where to Eat in Barcelona’s Tourist-Heavy Old City

With the state of tourism fundamentally altered, the picturesque heart of Barcelona tourism has changed too — and even become more exciting in some ways

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Most trips to Barcelona start with a visit to the Old City — “Ciutat Vella” in Catalan. The historic center is home to the area’s main tourist attractions like La Rambla, La Boqueria, the Cathedral of Barcelona, and all the twisting, shaded alleyways and medieval architecture that many foreigners associate with the Catalan capital. Before COVID-19, these very charms and the tourists they would draw had begun to keep away many actual Catalonians, and even a certain type of traveler, for fear of succumbing to the sea of T-shirt shops, goblets of sangria, and less-than-stellar tapas. Savvier travelers were already spending more time in the northern neighborhood of Gràcia — and then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which predictably hit the Old City hardest of all. Visitors disappeared overnight and left an eerie quiet, with shops shuttering one after the other.

Now, Barcelona’s renewed enthusiasm for much-missed visitors and the closure of many eyesore, for-tourists-only places has once again refreshed the Old City’s status as an absolute, unavoidable — nay, critical — must-do. These rambling passages boast a uniquely quirky mashup of family-owned businesses that have been passed on from generation to generation, sharing the same block with new, design-conscious storefronts, and of course loads of memorable places to eat and drink.

Locals think of the Old City as containing three distinct neighborhoods: the Gothic Quarter, the historic heart of the city, where Barcelona as we now know it began to unfold in 230 BCE; El Born, with a comparatively high concentration of good spots for eating and drinking in the Old City; and El Raval, home to the famous, tourist-packed Boqueria market. They may feel similar at first, but each has a distinct personality:

The Gothic Quarter, where some of the streets and buildings date back to the 12th century, has a high concentration of architectural gems: the remains of the Roman walls; the stunning Cathedral of Barcelona, its facade teeming with sculptures and buttresses; and the Plaça del Rei, a reminder of Barcelona’s medieval wealth and splendor. But among those ancient sites, there’s a lot of stuff less rooted in local history to be found here — things like toddler flamenco dresses, ceramics of charging bulls, and FC Barça merch. The larger streets still have some remnants of the large tourist targeted laminated menus. But take a turn onto a quiet square like Placeta de Manuel Ribé, pick a sunny spot at one of the cafes, swirl your vermouth so that the large ice cubes clink — and you won’t want to be anywhere else.

Born” means “jousting field” in Catalan, and indeed, the tree-lined Passeig del Born used to host jousting matches, and was once home to the city’s largest fruit-and-vegetable wholesale market, which is now the El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria. The Passeig del Born leads up to the Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar, an example of Catalan Gothic architecture (identifiable by its hexagonal belfries and lack of flying buttresses) built with stones from the quarries of Montjuïc by the merchants that once lived here. Much of the neighborhood is pedestrian-only, which means it’s easy (well, easier) to float from shop to shop, and some of the cafes and restaurants offer outdoor seating, which can be fully enjoyed without the interruption of car traffic. Though there are some larger restaurants, the majority are small and independently owned.

Once known as a dangerous part of town for tourists, these days El Raval is finally gaining appreciation, thanks in part to its status as one of the most culturally diverse areas of the city, where a halal butcher, a Filipino grocer, and third-wave coffee shrine all inhabit the same block. This is where you’ll find hard-to-source ingredients like frozen curry leaves or Moroccan preserved lemons, beneath balconies heavy with colorful laundry and dangling plants.

Here, then, is a guide to making the most of each distinctly delicious neighborhood, and avoiding the riffraff in the process.

Suzy Taher is a Barcelona-based writer and founder of the blog Foodie in Barcelona.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Bar Central

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Carrer d'Elisabets, 6
08001 Barcelona, Spain

Take a breath and step off the street and into this green oasis, the ultimate find in El Raval. A gravel-filled courtyard is shaded by ancient trees surrounding a water feature that looks like a large meteor covered in green moss, and the soundtrack is wood pigeons serenading each other under the trickling fountain. And that’s just one of the beguiling spaces here. After marveling at the ambience, grab a coffee and a bikini sandwich, a popular quick snack of ham and cheese on toasted, square white bread. They also do drinks in the evening.

2. Caravelle

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Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 31
08001 Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona only discovered brunch within the last decade. Now, a number of places are vying to be the top spot. Caravelle was one of the first and maintains its elite status because the Australian chef-owner, Zim Sutton, insists on making his own sauces, pickles, and beers. Tacos, smoked ribs, and burgers make an appearance from lunchtime onward.

3. Chivuo's

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Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 15
08001 Barcelona, Spain

When you want a break from Spanish and Catalan fare, try a burger joint with a good pulled-pork sandwich. They care about sourcing and making things from scratch, hence their “slow street food” ethos. The fries with cheese and bacon might make you forget all about your burger; it’s hard to stop picking at them. Good craft beer selection, too.

4. Bacaro

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Carrer de Jerusalem, 6
08001 Barcelona, Spain

Find this more affordable, quirkier offshoot of the much-lauded Xemei in Poble Sec on one of the side streets that leads to la Boqueria. It’s small and rickety, but there is more than enough creativity coming out of this Italian kitchen to make up for it, like tender homemade gnocchi with wild asparagus smothered in shaved katsuobushi, a fermented fish.

5. Mercado de La Boqueria

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La Rambla, 91
08001 Barcelona, Spain

The area’s lodestar is La Boqueria, justifiably renowned for the variety, quality, and abundance of its products, as well as some top bars to eat in among the stalls. It’s accordingly packed, but there are some good hacks for getting the most out of a trip. Go early in the morning to avoid the tourists, or approach it from the back to find the most interesting stands. A telltale sign that this is still a locals’ market are the netted bags of snails sold at poultry stalls.

The entrance to the boqueria market. Gerard Moral

6. El Quim de la Boquería

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Mercado de La Boqueria, La Rambla, 91
08001 Barcelona, Spain

 One to try in the Boqueria, El Quim is at the heart of it all, identifiable by its wrap-around yellow slates at the top of the stall and fried egg logo. Quim has all the classics and some specials like chipirones (small squid) with a fried egg or saffron milk cap mushrooms that bleed blue in season, quickly seared with jamón crumbs. When everything was shut down during Spain’s brutal first COVID-19 wave, Quim Márquez was one of the chefs who stepped up to cook for Barcelona residents who needed a meal — that’s reason enough to pull up a stool. 

the counter at El Quim boqueria. Gerard Moral

7. Direkte Boqueria

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Carrer de les Cabres, 13
08001 Barcelona, Spain

This tiny fusion restaurant flanks La Boqueria, from which it sources its ingredients daily. The door practically brushes diners’ backs when it opens; that there are just eight seats wrapped around a kitchen bar hasn’t stopped this place from gathering accolades, starting with a 2018 Chef of the Year designation for Arnau Muñío from the Fòrum Gastrònomic Girona. The matcha cheesecake will ruin all forerunners: The size and shape of a small Camembert, with a generous layer of matcha powder on top, spooning into it will release a glossy ooze of white, just like when you score a perfectly ripe specimen — except this one is sweet and inexplicably light.

A tiny white pot holds a fancy dish topped with okra slices. Gerard Moral

8. Bar Cañete

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Carrer de la Unió, 17
08001 Barcelona, Spain

Bar Cañete, opened and run by Manolo and Mari from Sevilla, serves the most-refined tapas you will ever eat, cooked with precision in the open kitchen. Waiters in stiff, high-collared white jackets serve from behind the large bar. Dishes are an education in the best of Catalan produce, like peas from Maresme with blood sausage, or clams so fresh they spit water at each other in the refrigerated display. Though the bar is the best seat in the house, this is fine dining food.

9. Kak Koy

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Carrer de Ripoll, 16
08002 Barcelona, Spain

A Japanese restaurant with a robata as its focus pairs excellent local products such as vibrant red shrimp from Palamós encased in coarse salt with a lick of heat from the grill. The tapas format works well here. The best place to sit is at the bar, looking into the kitchen or across from other diners. Order a few dishes to start, and then let yourself be guided by what you see being cooked in the kitchen, although the eggplant with miso shouldn’t be missed.

10. Bistrot Levante

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Placeta de Manuel Ribé, 1
08002 Barcelona, Spain

This cafe is two-thirds glass, all the better to look out onto the quiet Placeta de Manuel Ribé. Inside, there is a constant play of light and shadow between the abundant plants and the sun streaming in. Cafe tables paired with iconic bentwood chairs make the whole affair feel Parisian. The aesthetic carries into the menu, which is filled with food in the Ottolenghi mold, like eggplant drizzled with tahini and scattered pomegranate, or a whole head of roasted, spiced cauliflower.

11. Grill Room Bar Thonet

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Carrer dels Escudellers, 8
08002 Barcelona, Spain

A beautiful modernist-style restaurant you will fall in love with. The open kitchen serves up Catalan and Spanish classics. Around Christmastime, locals preorder their excellent canelones, large hollow noodles filled with shredded meat and topped with bechamel. Their menu del día, the typical Catalan three-course lunch, is a steal. 

12. Bar Joan

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Carrer d'En Giralt el Pellicer, 2
08003 Barcelona, Spain
933 10 61 50

This simple, old-fashioned restaurant inside the Santa Caterina market in nearby La Ribera appeals to locals for its well-priced, high-quality Catalan classics. The ceramic trays displaying cooked snails or white beans and pork sausages are indicative of what’s on offer: hearty fare, particularly stews like cap i pota, a house specialty of beef head and feet cooked long and slow. Breakfast here is the best as they specialize in the local Catalan “esmorzar de forquilla,” literally a breakfast you have to eat with a fork, like beans with sausages. Also for breakfast, try one of their many tortilla francesas (fried potato omelets) served on bread. 

13. Capet Restaurant

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Carrer del Cometa, 5
08002 Barcelona, Spain

A Catalan market restaurant that liberally uses French cooking techniques from a Venezuelan chef who’s done the rounds at some of the best kitchens in Barcelona. The food is elegant and well thought out. For example, a rice dish with botifarra comes with a shallow layer of rice so that there is abundant “socarrat,” the much-coveted crispy rice that forms around the edges of the pan.

14. Can Cisa/Bar Brutal

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Carrer de la Princesa, 14
08003 Barcelona, Spain

A favorite of locals and visitors. In front, the wine bar Can Cisa emphasizes natural wines. In the back, Bar Brutal opens in the afternoons and evenings with a sharing-plate menu that uses lots of fish and local produce. Here you’ll find edgy preparations like the tuna heart with beetroot and raspberry, as well as familiar dishes like monkfish paired with white asparagus, a delicacy in these parts. 

15. Fismuler

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Carrer del Rec Comtal, 17
08003 Barcelona, Spain

This is the Barcelona outpost of a Madrid collaboration between three chefs with distinct backgrounds who all worked in the kitchens of El Bulli. The giant space nods to the Nordic influences on its menus in the blue-tinted windows and large jars of pickled vegetables. Mediterranean ingredients get some Northern European tweaks, exemplified in dishes like semi-cured sea bream with slivered almonds and red grapes sliced to the size and shape of a penny. Prices match the quality, pedigree, and decor, so don’t be afraid to ask for a half portion.

16. Bar del Pla

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Carrer de Montcada, 2
08003 Barcelona, Spain

Tapas with a twist: Think shaved mushrooms with wasabi sauce and strawberries next to thumb-length croquetes. The four (yes, four) sommeliers here have a particular interest in natural and biodynamic wines and have put together a selection of the ones they love most. One of them, Sergi Ruiz, was the winner of the local Nas d’Or (Golden Nose) prize in 2014.

A blue and white plate with a piece of toast topped with various ingredients Gerard Moral

17. Bar Mundial

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Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell, 1
08003 Barcelona, Spain

Perpetually busy, this old-timer bar has been going for almost a century. Some dishes are straightforward, ingredient-first affairs like razor clams with olive oil and pepper. Others, like the fried eggplant with goat cheese and honey, are unexpected but successful.

18. La Plata

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Carrer de la Mercè, 28
08002 Barcelona, Spain

No longer a secret, but that shouldn’t stop you from going. They do simple things like fried whitebait; eat it whole, head and all. Also a good place to try drinking from a porrón, a glass pitcher with a thin spout. You lift the porrón as far above your head as you dare and tip the contents into your open mouth. Pro tips include opening your mouth as wide as possible, opting for white wine, and wearing a busy top to hide any stains. 

19. Brunells

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Carrer de la Princesa, 22
08003 Barcelona, Spain

A collaboration between Cafés El Magnífico and Canal, a high-end patisserie. Their croissant won the prize for best butter croissant of 2020, while the high-backed banquette and that Tiffany shade of turquoise will have you lingering over your coffee. 

20. Cafés El Magnífico

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Carrer de l'Argenteria, 64
08003 Barcelona, Spain

The Sans family has coffee in their blood. Three generations have roasted single-origin beans since 1919, long before mainstream coffee culture was a thing They now offer all the newest brewing techniques; when ordering, they’ll ask you to specify your method and grind accordingly. When father Salvador and daughter Claudia are not in the shop, they are either visiting plantations or judging cupping competitions around the world.

People in coats standing in front of a storefront. Gerard Moral

21. Proper BCN

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Carrer dels Banys Vells, 20
08003 Barcelona, Spain

Recently decamped to Barcelona from Buenos Aires, where it was always on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant list, Proper is an instant Old City staple. The kitchen and dining space are one, with a self-built wood-fired oven as the focal point. As you might expect from a kitchen run by Argentinians, meat is the star here, but vegetables charred into submission are equally good. Whatever you order, you must start with the sourdough and end with the dulce de leche flan — which, for a spell, was the most Instagrammed dessert in Barcelona. 

22. Vila Viniteca

Copy Link
Carrer dels Agullers, 7
08003 Barcelona, Spain

Primarily a wine store with one of the best gourmet shops in the city. There are a few tables where you can sample the best of Catalunya and Spain, from Joselito jamón ibérico de bellota to one of the city’s top cheese boards.

23. El Chigre 1769

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Carrer dels Sombrerers, 7
08003 Barcelona, Spain

Facing the long nave of the Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar, this place specializes in both Catalan food and that of the Northern Spanish region of Asturias. Try cider poured from a height to aerate the drink, or simmered with chopped-up chorizo.

24. Bodega La Puntual

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Carrer de Montcada, 22
08003 Barcelona, Spain

All the classics are present here, like croquetes, ensaladilla rusa (potato salad), and Padron peppers. Alongside these, the menu is a celebration of well-made charcuterie and cheese. Rice dishes, like the one with botifarra sausage and trompetes de la mort (literally “trumpets of death,” or black chanterelles), are excellent.

25. Llamber

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Carrer de la Fusina, 5
08003 Barcelona, Spain

Across from what was formerly Barcelona’s main fruit-and-vegetable market, these digs were once a fruit warehouse. These days, Llamber is a large, comfortable restaurant, with fair prices that allow for plenty of flair: Roasted mushrooms are served on a ceramic log to look like they are growing on it, while a vegetarian dish of black rice studded with tiny vegetables looks like a miniature garden. 

1. Bar Central

Carrer d'Elisabets, 6, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

Take a breath and step off the street and into this green oasis, the ultimate find in El Raval. A gravel-filled courtyard is shaded by ancient trees surrounding a water feature that looks like a large meteor covered in green moss, and the soundtrack is wood pigeons serenading each other under the trickling fountain. And that’s just one of the beguiling spaces here. After marveling at the ambience, grab a coffee and a bikini sandwich, a popular quick snack of ham and cheese on toasted, square white bread. They also do drinks in the evening.

Carrer d'Elisabets, 6
08001 Barcelona, Spain

2. Caravelle

Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 31, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona only discovered brunch within the last decade. Now, a number of places are vying to be the top spot. Caravelle was one of the first and maintains its elite status because the Australian chef-owner, Zim Sutton, insists on making his own sauces, pickles, and beers. Tacos, smoked ribs, and burgers make an appearance from lunchtime onward.

Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 31
08001 Barcelona, Spain

3. Chivuo's

Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 15, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

When you want a break from Spanish and Catalan fare, try a burger joint with a good pulled-pork sandwich. They care about sourcing and making things from scratch, hence their “slow street food” ethos. The fries with cheese and bacon might make you forget all about your burger; it’s hard to stop picking at them. Good craft beer selection, too.

Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 15
08001 Barcelona, Spain

4. Bacaro

Carrer de Jerusalem, 6, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

Find this more affordable, quirkier offshoot of the much-lauded Xemei in Poble Sec on one of the side streets that leads to la Boqueria. It’s small and rickety, but there is more than enough creativity coming out of this Italian kitchen to make up for it, like tender homemade gnocchi with wild asparagus smothered in shaved katsuobushi, a fermented fish.

Carrer de Jerusalem, 6
08001 Barcelona, Spain

5. Mercado de La Boqueria

La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
The entrance to the boqueria market. Gerard Moral

The area’s lodestar is La Boqueria, justifiably renowned for the variety, quality, and abundance of its products, as well as some top bars to eat in among the stalls. It’s accordingly packed, but there are some good hacks for getting the most out of a trip. Go early in the morning to avoid the tourists, or approach it from the back to find the most interesting stands. A telltale sign that this is still a locals’ market are the netted bags of snails sold at poultry stalls.

La Rambla, 91
08001 Barcelona, Spain

6. El Quim de la Boquería

Mercado de La Boqueria, La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
the counter at El Quim boqueria. Gerard Moral

 One to try in the Boqueria, El Quim is at the heart of it all, identifiable by its wrap-around yellow slates at the top of the stall and fried egg logo. Quim has all the classics and some specials like chipirones (small squid) with a fried egg or saffron milk cap mushrooms that bleed blue in season, quickly seared with jamón crumbs. When everything was shut down during Spain’s brutal first COVID-19 wave, Quim Márquez was one of the chefs who stepped up to cook for Barcelona residents who needed a meal — that’s reason enough to pull up a stool. 

Mercado de La Boqueria, La Rambla, 91
08001 Barcelona, Spain

7. Direkte Boqueria

Carrer de les Cabres, 13, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
A tiny white pot holds a fancy dish topped with okra slices. Gerard Moral

This tiny fusion restaurant flanks La Boqueria, from which it sources its ingredients daily. The door practically brushes diners’ backs when it opens; that there are just eight seats wrapped around a kitchen bar hasn’t stopped this place from gathering accolades, starting with a 2018 Chef of the Year designation for Arnau Muñío from the Fòrum Gastrònomic Girona. The matcha cheesecake will ruin all forerunners: The size and shape of a small Camembert, with a generous layer of matcha powder on top, spooning into it will release a glossy ooze of white, just like when you score a perfectly ripe specimen — except this one is sweet and inexplicably light.

Carrer de les Cabres, 13
08001 Barcelona, Spain

8. Bar Cañete

Carrer de la Unió, 17, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

Bar Cañete, opened and run by Manolo and Mari from Sevilla, serves the most-refined tapas you will ever eat, cooked with precision in the open kitchen. Waiters in stiff, high-collared white jackets serve from behind the large bar. Dishes are an education in the best of Catalan produce, like peas from Maresme with blood sausage, or clams so fresh they spit water at each other in the refrigerated display. Though the bar is the best seat in the house, this is fine dining food.

Carrer de la Unió, 17
08001 Barcelona, Spain

9. Kak Koy

Carrer de Ripoll, 16, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

A Japanese restaurant with a robata as its focus pairs excellent local products such as vibrant red shrimp from Palamós encased in coarse salt with a lick of heat from the grill. The tapas format works well here. The best place to sit is at the bar, looking into the kitchen or across from other diners. Order a few dishes to start, and then let yourself be guided by what you see being cooked in the kitchen, although the eggplant with miso shouldn’t be missed.

Carrer de Ripoll, 16
08002 Barcelona, Spain

10. Bistrot Levante

Placeta de Manuel Ribé, 1, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

This cafe is two-thirds glass, all the better to look out onto the quiet Placeta de Manuel Ribé. Inside, there is a constant play of light and shadow between the abundant plants and the sun streaming in. Cafe tables paired with iconic bentwood chairs make the whole affair feel Parisian. The aesthetic carries into the menu, which is filled with food in the Ottolenghi mold, like eggplant drizzled with tahini and scattered pomegranate, or a whole head of roasted, spiced cauliflower.

Placeta de Manuel Ribé, 1
08002 Barcelona, Spain

11. Grill Room Bar Thonet

Carrer dels Escudellers, 8, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

A beautiful modernist-style restaurant you will fall in love with. The open kitchen serves up Catalan and Spanish classics. Around Christmastime, locals preorder their excellent canelones, large hollow noodles filled with shredded meat and topped with bechamel. Their menu del día, the typical Catalan three-course lunch, is a steal. 

Carrer dels Escudellers, 8
08002 Barcelona, Spain

12. Bar Joan

Carrer d'En Giralt el Pellicer, 2, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

This simple, old-fashioned restaurant inside the Santa Caterina market in nearby La Ribera appeals to locals for its well-priced, high-quality Catalan classics. The ceramic trays displaying cooked snails or white beans and pork sausages are indicative of what’s on offer: hearty fare, particularly stews like cap i pota, a house specialty of beef head and feet cooked long and slow. Breakfast here is the best as they specialize in the local Catalan “esmorzar de forquilla,” literally a breakfast you have to eat with a fork, like beans with sausages. Also for breakfast, try one of their many tortilla francesas (fried potato omelets) served on bread. 

Carrer d'En Giralt el Pellicer, 2
08003 Barcelona, Spain

13. Capet Restaurant

Carrer del Cometa, 5, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

A Catalan market restaurant that liberally uses French cooking techniques from a Venezuelan chef who’s done the rounds at some of the best kitchens in Barcelona. The food is elegant and well thought out. For example, a rice dish with botifarra comes with a shallow layer of rice so that there is abundant “socarrat,” the much-coveted crispy rice that forms around the edges of the pan.

Carrer del Cometa, 5
08002 Barcelona, Spain

14. Can Cisa/Bar Brutal

Carrer de la Princesa, 14, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

A favorite of locals and visitors. In front, the wine bar Can Cisa emphasizes natural wines. In the back, Bar Brutal opens in the afternoons and evenings with a sharing-plate menu that uses lots of fish and local produce. Here you’ll find edgy preparations like the tuna heart with beetroot and raspberry, as well as familiar dishes like monkfish paired with white asparagus, a delicacy in these parts. 

Carrer de la Princesa, 14
08003 Barcelona, Spain

15. Fismuler

Carrer del Rec Comtal, 17, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

This is the Barcelona outpost of a Madrid collaboration between three chefs with distinct backgrounds who all worked in the kitchens of El Bulli. The giant space nods to the Nordic influences on its menus in the blue-tinted windows and large jars of pickled vegetables. Mediterranean ingredients get some Northern European tweaks, exemplified in dishes like semi-cured sea bream with slivered almonds and red grapes sliced to the size and shape of a penny. Prices match the quality, pedigree, and decor, so don’t be afraid to ask for a half portion.

Carrer del Rec Comtal, 17
08003 Barcelona, Spain

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16. Bar del Pla

Carrer de Montcada, 2, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
A blue and white plate with a piece of toast topped with various ingredients Gerard Moral

Tapas with a twist: Think shaved mushrooms with wasabi sauce and strawberries next to thumb-length croquetes. The four (yes, four) sommeliers here have a particular interest in natural and biodynamic wines and have put together a selection of the ones they love most. One of them, Sergi Ruiz, was the winner of the local Nas d’Or (Golden Nose) prize in 2014.

Carrer de Montcada, 2
08003 Barcelona, Spain

17. Bar Mundial

Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Perpetually busy, this old-timer bar has been going for almost a century. Some dishes are straightforward, ingredient-first affairs like razor clams with olive oil and pepper. Others, like the fried eggplant with goat cheese and honey, are unexpected but successful.

Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell, 1
08003 Barcelona, Spain

18. La Plata

Carrer de la Mercè, 28, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

No longer a secret, but that shouldn’t stop you from going. They do simple things like fried whitebait; eat it whole, head and all. Also a good place to try drinking from a porrón, a glass pitcher with a thin spout. You lift the porrón as far above your head as you dare and tip the contents into your open mouth. Pro tips include opening your mouth as wide as possible, opting for white wine, and wearing a busy top to hide any stains. 

Carrer de la Mercè, 28
08002 Barcelona, Spain

19. Brunells

Carrer de la Princesa, 22, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

A collaboration between Cafés El Magnífico and Canal, a high-end patisserie. Their croissant won the prize for best butter croissant of 2020, while the high-backed banquette and that Tiffany shade of turquoise will have you lingering over your coffee. 

Carrer de la Princesa, 22
08003 Barcelona, Spain

20. Cafés El Magnífico

Carrer de l'Argenteria, 64, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
People in coats standing in front of a storefront. Gerard Moral

The Sans family has coffee in their blood. Three generations have roasted single-origin beans since 1919, long before mainstream coffee culture was a thing They now offer all the newest brewing techniques; when ordering, they’ll ask you to specify your method and grind accordingly. When father Salvador and daughter Claudia are not in the shop, they are either visiting plantations or judging cupping competitions around the world.

Carrer de l'Argenteria, 64
08003 Barcelona, Spain

21. Proper BCN

Carrer dels Banys Vells, 20, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Recently decamped to Barcelona from Buenos Aires, where it was always on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant list, Proper is an instant Old City staple. The kitchen and dining space are one, with a self-built wood-fired oven as the focal point. As you might expect from a kitchen run by Argentinians, meat is the star here, but vegetables charred into submission are equally good. Whatever you order, you must start with the sourdough and end with the dulce de leche flan — which, for a spell, was the most Instagrammed dessert in Barcelona. 

Carrer dels Banys Vells, 20
08003 Barcelona, Spain

22. Vila Viniteca

Carrer dels Agullers, 7, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Primarily a wine store with one of the best gourmet shops in the city. There are a few tables where you can sample the best of Catalunya and Spain, from Joselito jamón ibérico de bellota to one of the city’s top cheese boards.

Carrer dels Agullers, 7
08003 Barcelona, Spain

23. El Chigre 1769

Carrer dels Sombrerers, 7, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Facing the long nave of the Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar, this place specializes in both Catalan food and that of the Northern Spanish region of Asturias. Try cider poured from a height to aerate the drink, or simmered with chopped-up chorizo.

Carrer dels Sombrerers, 7
08003 Barcelona, Spain

24. Bodega La Puntual

Carrer de Montcada, 22, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

All the classics are present here, like croquetes, ensaladilla rusa (potato salad), and Padron peppers. Alongside these, the menu is a celebration of well-made charcuterie and cheese. Rice dishes, like the one with botifarra sausage and trompetes de la mort (literally “trumpets of death,” or black chanterelles), are excellent.

Carrer de Montcada, 22
08003 Barcelona, Spain

25. Llamber

Carrer de la Fusina, 5, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Across from what was formerly Barcelona’s main fruit-and-vegetable market, these digs were once a fruit warehouse. These days, Llamber is a large, comfortable restaurant, with fair prices that allow for plenty of flair: Roasted mushrooms are served on a ceramic log to look like they are growing on it, while a vegetarian dish of black rice studded with tiny vegetables looks like a miniature garden. 

Carrer de la Fusina, 5
08003 Barcelona, Spain

Related Maps