The Harper Notebook: Best Restaurants in Barcelona


Barcelona has a leading role on the world’s gastronomic stage thanks to both the inventiveness of its chefs and the variety of its dining venues — from casual tapas bars to temples of cutting-edge cuisine. Here are eight of Andrew Harper's favorites.


Open kitchen at <em>ABaC</em>
Open kitchen at ABaC - Marco Pastori

Chef Jordi Cruz was the youngest Spanish chef ever to win a Michelin star, at the restaurant Estany Clar. In this sleek and stylish space, Cruz, a culinary celebrity in Catalonia, showcases local produce in dishes such as dried tomatoes with grilled sardines, garlic confit and chargrilled bread; pine nuts “carbonara” with egg yolk and truffle; and sea bass with caviar, buttered potatoes and Bataks berries.

Avenida Tibidabo 1. Tel. 93-319-6600

Cinc Sentits

Lobster tapas dish at <em>Cinc Sentits</em>
Lobster tapas dish at Cinc Sentits - Jordi Artal

Chef Jordi Artal grew up in Canada before returning to his parents’ native Catalonia and opening this excellent restaurant with low-lit contemporary décor. Artal uses only the finest local produce to create beautifully presented seasonal dishes such as pork belly with sweet potato purée and grilled spice bread; shrimp and carrots with mustard and licorice; and sea bream with green-bean broth and roasted tomatoes, all of which we enjoyed at our most recent meal.

Cinc Sentits
Carrer D'Aribau 58. Tel. 93-323-9490


Macaroni carbonara at <em>Disfrutar</em>
Macaroni carbonara at Disfrutar - Francesc Guillamet

In December 2014, three chefs who had previously worked at the celebrated elBulli (now closed) came together to create a wonderful new restaurant. Reflecting the surrounding neighborhood, the interior of this Michelin-starred restaurant brings together a delightful interplay of wrought elements and ceramics, all brightly illuminated through skylights. As you would expect, the menu is full of an ever-changing array of inventive dishes. Look for such creations as the red mullet with pork belly and eggplant gnocchi; dashi semolina with sea urchin; macaroni carbonara; and razor clams with seaweed in salt. Disfrutar is Spanish for “to enjoy,” and that is just what this stylish restaurant inspires its guests to do.

Carrer de Villarroel 163. Tel. 93-348-6896

Paco Meralgo

Tapas at <em>Paco Meralgo</em>
Tapas at Paco Meralgo - Paco Meralgo

Conveniently located in the central Eixample neighborhood, this attractive modern tapas bar takes reservations, and most of its staff speak English. Try the rich assortment of Iberian sausages; cod fritters; fresh prawns with garlic sauce; oxtail stew with potatoes; and deep-fried baby squid.

Paco Meralgo
Calle Muntaner 171. Tel. 93-430-9027


Wine cellar at <em>Monvínic</em>
Wine cellar at Monvínic - VCrown

This Catalan take on a French bistrot à vins, or a bistro specializing in wines, reflects Barcelona’s obsession with design. A high-tech interior allows patrons to peruse some 3,600 available bottles on a computer screen. The list includes everything from local Priorat wines to French Condrieu and Italian Chianti, and there are also wines from California, Lebanon, South Africa and England. The menu is wine-friendly and runs to tempting small-plate dishes, such as prawn carpaccio with lemon and basil, along with substantial main courses like charbroiled entrecôte in a Béarnaise sauce with crunchy potatoes.

Carrer de la Diputació 249. Tel. 93-272-6187


Grilled squid and artichokes with a honey sauce at <em>Nectari</em>
Grilled squid and artichokes with a honey sauce at Nectari - Nectari

Chef Jordi Esteve won a Michelin star for his contemporary Catalan cooking at this calm, elegant dining room. Dishes such as lobster salad with shiitake mushrooms and a mandarin orange dressing, and grilled squid and artichokes with a honey sauce show off his style.

Carrer de Valencia. Tel. 93-226-8718

Els Pescadors

Iberian pork with broccoli cream at <em>Els Pescadors</em>
Iberian pork with broccoli cream at Els Pescadors - Els Pescadors

Overlooking a quiet square in El Poblenou, one of the city’s larger districts, this restaurant is much loved by the locals, who flock here for dishes such as duck foie gras in salt crust with truffle and tarragon; Iberian pork with broccoli cream; salt cod with romesco sauce (tomatoes, garlic and almonds) accompanied by creamed spinach; and a chocolate honeycomb-and-lemon cloud with a touch of lime and rosemary honey. Be sure to try the delicious white Priorat Catalonian wines.

Els Pescadors
Plaça de Prim 1. Tel. 93-252-2018


Interior and bar of <em>Tickets</em>
Interior and bar of Tickets - Tickets

After becoming one of the most famous chefs in the world with his restaurant elBulli, Ferran Adrià has opened this high-concept tapas bar with a cracked white-tile floor and a showbiz-themed décor. The modern Spanish tapas are excellent and may include dishes like tuna belly with salmon eggs and green-apple bread; grilled quail with honey and mint; and rabbit ribs with foamy garlic mayonnaise. Be aware, however, that it is noisy, and service can be uneven.

Avinguda del Paral-lel 164

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