The chefs at Disfrutar don’t mess around. Within five years of opening, they had not only bagged themselves two coveted Michelin stars, their culinary machinations had also placed them in ninth spot in the world on the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. As soon as you bite into the Chinese-style bao bun that oozes creamy Russian beluga caviar, you’ll know why. This drool-worthy dish is one of the 20-plus bite-sized concoctions on the Disfrutar Classic tasting menu, all of which can be yours for a cool £175.
Carrer de Villarroel, 163, Eixample
La Barra de Carles Abellan
Barcelona is heaven for seafood lovers and nowhere does it better than La Barra. Helmed by one of Catalonia’s favourite sons, chef Carles Abellán, La Barra boasts an ogle-worthy setting overlooking the deep-blue Mediterranean at the foot of W Barcelona hotel, and a menu chock-full of more spiny sea creatures than a Tokyo fish market. The Japanese-style Tsukiji oyster, grilled Galician razor clam in ponzu sauce and spicy sea cucumber stir-fry are guaranteed to delight.
Planta E, Hotel W , Plaça Rosa Del Vents 1, La Barceloneta
You’d be forgiven for dismissing Llamber as just another tourist trap, but looks can be deceiving. Beyond the Scandi-style design and busy square packed with selfie-stick-wielding out-of-towners hides one of Barcelona’s slow-food trailblazers. Blending Mediterranean and Asturian cuisine and using local, seasonal ingredients, Llamber keeps punters well fed with showstoppers like potatoes stuffed with cabrales blue cheese and hazelnut praline and ink-roasted black pudding with grilled baby squid. Helpful staff will guide you through the massive wine list.
Carrer de la Fusina, 5, Born
Take a British restaurateur, an Italian chef, a New York-inspired design and a trendy Barcelona address, and what have you got? The answer is Benzina. Hidden down an alleyway in every Catalan hipster’s favourite neighbourhood of Sant Antoni, the hottest Italian in town has been wowing patrons with its cool vibe and addictive spaghetti carbonara since it opened in 2018. They come for the modern takes on pasta and risotto, and stay for the outstanding cocktails and banging 70s and 80s playlist.
Despite its decidedly snooty uptown location you’d be hard pushed to find a less pretentious spot than La Xarxa. Perhaps it’s the absence of tourists in this part of town, the chilled setting in a converted historic bodega (or wine bar), or just the sheer volume of wine flowing, but time seems to move more slowly here. Ever-smiling chef Carlos Allué keeps his guests happy with dishes ranging from Catalan classics like garlicky patatas bravas to bolder choices like langoustine taco.
Plaça de Molina, 2, Sant Gervasi
Fusion tends to get a bad rap among purists, but every once in a while a chef comes along who just gets it. Laila Bazahm is that chef. This Brazilian-Filipina grew up in Manila, before making her way via Singapore and Dubai to Spain. The result is Hawker 45, a pan-Asian-Latin-American fusion joint where you can get intimate with dishes likes the Hong Kong-style prawn toast and Bazahm’s own take on classic Filipino adobo.
Casp, 45, Dreta de l'Eixample
What happens when a Chilean and a Californian fall in love in Barcelona? Sparks fly and out pops Picnic – Jaime and Tara’s brunch spot that has been a favourite in the Catalan capital for more than a decade. There’s a reason why the queue often snakes round the corner on weekend mornings. Picnic is a Barcelona institution and between the shareable starters (don’t miss the fried green tomatoes or the potato and quinoa croquettes), the booze-laden cocktails and an eggs benedict game like no other, it’s no surprise we keep coming back for more.
Comerç, 1, Born-Ribera
Having cut their teeth with the likes of Ferran Adrià at El Bulli and Gaggan Anand at Gaggan in Bangkok, chef Sergi Palacín and mixologist Ignacio Ussía hoisted their sails and set their course for home. Back in Barcelona, they’re causing a stir blending Mediterranean ingredients with Asian flavours and boldly pairing them with Ussía’s drinks. Like the Surf & Turf of king oyster mushroom and seaweed, with prawn, consommé and pork rinds, paired with Uni Mead, a cocktail made from sea urchin, mead, soy milk, tobacco bitters and lemon juice.
València, 212, Eixample
Bar del Pla
Tapas bars are ten-a penny in Barcelona but there is only one Bar del Pla. One of the city’s quintessential eating and watering holes, this spot has retained a loyal local following since it opened in 2008. The focus here is natural wine and elevated takes on classic tapas, with star dishes including the life-altering mushroom carpaccio with wasabi vinaigrette and strawberries, and the squid-ink croquettes. Tapas are made for sharing so get the gang together and order the whole menu.
Montcada, 2, Born-Ribera
Nine courses for £25, 12 for £30. Sound like a steal? It is. But this is not your average bargain basement – something that will become glaringly obvious as you tuck into plate after plate of the kinds of tidbits bound to make foodies swoon. Having trained with big-name Spanish chefs like Jordi Cruz, Rafa Peña and Albert Adrià, chef Miquel Pardo set up Cruix as his first solo venture at the tender age of 28. Barcelona thanks him and so should you.
Entença, 57, Eixample Esquerre
At first glance, this market stall with only eight stools doesn’t look like much. But Direkte lets the food do the talking. It’s set on the edge of Barcelona’s La Boqueria market, and the tasting-menu concept here is as simple as it is ingenious: transforming market-fresh produce into delicious morsels. Menus change with the seasons, but don’t miss the matcha-dusted brie cheesecake that’s a work of art. Book early – those seats move fast.
Cabres, 13, El Raval
The Green Spot
There was a time when a vegetarian meal in Barcelona consisted of little more than a tired lettuce leaf and a sliced tomato. Not so any more. These days there are more vegetarian restaurants in the city than you can shake a celery stick at, but few can compete with the effortless vibe at The Green Spot. It attracts a young clientele with its elegant oak-panelled interior and varied veggie menu packed with healthy salads, hearty curries and pizzas dripping with (vegan) cheese.
Reina Cristina, 12, La Barceloneta
Every city has that one spot you’d never find if you didn’t know it was there but, once you do find it, you never want to leave. In Barcelona, it’s called Cremat 11. This friendly, laidback brunch and cocktail joint quickly established itself as a local favourite after opening in 2019. The menu features the best avo toast in the city and signature tipples like the refreshing rum-and-watermelon Beyoncé and the seductively smoky, gin-based Cher.
Carrer Cremat Gran, 11, Gothic Quarter
There are days when only a burger will do, and few places do them better than La Real. It’s arguably the most popular hamburger joint in Barcelona, with two locations, the newest of which is conveniently located down by Mar Bella beach. Juicy burgers are smothered in cheese (switch the cheddar for brie, parmesan or raclette for that extra sloppy finish); sides include deep-fried cheese sticks – a cultural nod to the Venezuelan owners.
Carrer de València, 285, Tienda 03, Eixample and Carrer del Dr. Trueta, 218, Poblenou
Paella joints are thick on the ground along the Barcelona waterfront, and avoiding the tourist traps can be a tricky business. Serving fish so fresh it almost flips onto the plate, Can Fisher is the beach restaurant of choice among local foodies. Paella tends to be a bits-of-shell-everywhere kind of affair, but it doesn’t have to be. The Arroz del Señorito, or ‘young gentleman’s rice’, conveniently comes with all the seafood pre-peeled, making it a feast fit for a gentleman (or anyone else) who prefers not to get their hands dirty.
Avinguda del Litoral, 64, Poblenou