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  • Writer's pictureWan Qing

Best of Barcelona - 5 Must-Visit Restaurants

Introducing 5 must-visit restaurants for the most complete gastronomical experience when you're in Barcelona! Portier Explorer brings you our curated list of restaurants for the best travel experience and top travel tips in Barcelona, Spain.

Bar Cañete

As progressive and diverse as Barcelona’s gastronomy scene is, sometimes there’s simply nothing better than a selection of good old fashioned Spanish tapas and a bottle of local wine. And that simplicity is what Bar Cañete is all about.

Located on one of Raval’s many gritty backstreets, its gilded facade stands out from a mile off. Once inside, a crew of waiters in white coats march between tables and patrol the long bar overlooking a flame-lit kitchen and the soothing jazz music is pierced regularly by head honcho Don Julio barking orders like a drill sergeant.

The lavish dining room offers romance and intimacy but the bar is where the action happens and this is where you’ll want to sit, even if it means barging your way in with your elbows swings. The crowd is a mix of longtime regulars and in-the-know travelers who come to indulge in classic Catalan dishes enhanced with decadent ingredients.

Start with A-grade jamón and a few croquettes pepped up with tender lobster and other “secret ingredients,” before moving onto dishes such as wild tuna tartare with mascarpone and fresh-caught trout caviar. The 3-course set lunch menu (16 euros) offers serious value for money, and the staff’s excellent wine recommendations might just inspire you to linger at the table after dinner for one more drink.

Bar del Pla

Ask any Catalan where to go for the best tapas in town, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Bar del Pla’s name will pop up sooner or later.

From the outside, it looks like every other stock standard bar in Barcelona, but enter at any time of day, and you’ll find hordes of local bon vivants and power lunching business types indulging in exceptional tapas and local wines.

Occupying an ancient property in the heart of the Born neighborhood, its low arching ceilings and rustic stone walls resonate with the unmistakable low rumble of happy diners. It’s warm and intimate, more than worthy of a first date but also suitable for groups.

Start with a selection of essential tapas, like patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), anchovies and the house special squid ink croquettes. Next, order a sampling of Asian-influenced flavors, like mushroom carpaccio with wasabi vinaigrette and Catalan cocas, which is a crispy flatbread topped with ingredients like tomato confit, mango, smoked sardines and pine nuts. Wash it all down a recommendation from head sommelier Sergi Ruiz or the staff who are all well-versed in the realms of enology.

The cellar boasts more than 100 references of Spanish wines, including a particularly impressive array of biodynamic wines. Pop into the neighboring Picasso Museum for the perfect lunch outing.

Bar Lobo

Like Mordisco, Bar Lobo forms part of the Tragaluz Group; a family of restaurateurs whose contribution to uplifting Barcelona’s culinary culture is significant.

Located in El Raval, it provides a more cosmopolitan counterpoint to the area’s focus on world cuisine and vegetarian dining. The most coveted tables are in a tiny square where trendy locals clamor for people watching and Sunday vermouth in the sun, and it’s worth waiting for a table to open up.

Inside the split-level layout displays large windows, oversized hanging lanterns, and the bold, graffiti-like wall art is a nod to the neighborhood’s urban vibe. It buzzes from lunchtime onwards when locals pile in for the excellent—and inexpensive—lunch menu and barely draws breath until the late supper crowd has gone home.

The extensive menu will please even the pickiest of eaters, and it covers all bases with a range of traditional tapas, light salads, burgers and a delicious roast beef on toast with caramelized onions.

Délices de France

If you are used to the lively restaurant scene of central Barcelona, you will notice a marked difference when dining out in the Zona Alta. With few tourists in this upper part of town, restaurateurs are not obliged to make concessions to them. Menus are often in Catalan only and with a staple clientele of locals, the focus is much more on food and service, and less on fashionable decor and hype. A good example is this family-run restaurant.

Opened in 1966, the glass-enclosed deli counter at the entrance is what remains of its former life as colmado and sandwich cafe - once a favorite with the city’s bohemian set who embraced anything French as a symbol of modernity. Barcelona’s arts scene has since moved downtown and the wooden-and-white-tablecloth interior of Délices de France has barely changed, lending it a certain nostalgic appeal. It’s best for lunch (set, three-course menu costs around €15), perhaps combined with a trip to the Parc Güell, which is in the vicinity.

For fans of steak tartare, this is one of the few places in Barcelona to get this delicate dish right. Ditto the cheese souffle and onion soup, that comes with a generous layer of grilled cheese. Finish off with cherries marinated in armagnac and a cheeky liquor.

Mano Rota

Squirreled away on a quiet street in the gastro-centric neighborhood of Poble Sec, Mano Rota has been packed with locals and in-the-know visitors since it opened in 2015.

The cozy dining space is decidedly unpretentious, and the décor is crisp and bright, with exposed brick walls and chunky furniture crafted from reclaimed wood. Ask to be seated at the coveted bar area where you’ll rub elbows with the restaurant’s younger crowd as you watch the owners-turned-head-chefs work while you dine.

The duo behind the kitchen and the books is Catalan native Bernat Bermudo and Venezuelan-born Oswaldo Brito, who studied together at the much-lauded Hoffman culinary school in Barcelona followed by enlightening stints abroad. While there are clearly flashes of Peruvian, Venezuelan, Japanese and Thai in their cooking, the driving goal is to elevate regional Spanish classics with international ingredients and creative flair without ever crossing the line into fusion fare.

There is a tasting menu, but Portier prefers the inventive a la carte selections, which change daily based on the morning’s haul at the local markets, but expect Basque-style bacalao kokotxas (cod) and tuna marmitako with avocado, and more exotic dishes like aguachile de mejillones (mussels with lime, coriander and chili).

Sip wine from Spain’s best boutique vineyards and finish with the surprisingly addictive deconstructed lemon meringue.

Follow our Instagram @goportier for more recommendations!

1 Comment

Nov 15, 2022

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