The original page of recommended Barcelona restaurants which we published on this website in 1998 was simply a short list of some of the author’s favourite places to eat in the city. Since then Barcelona has grown beyond recognition as a tourist destination and has seen a vast number of new restaurants and excellent tapas bars appearing on the culinary scene. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the appearance of too many tourist rip-off joints offering average food at high prices with poor service.
For this latest selection of my favourite restaurants in Barcelona I’ve had to get rid of a few old favourites and have added some new places that I’ve only recently had the chance to try. It is not intended to be a definitive guide but simply the personal recommendations of the author. The list will continue to be updated after every visit to the city.
Restaurants in Gothic Quarter and Ramblas Area
Els Quatre Gats (Carrer de Montsió, 3): In 1897 Pere Romeu opened this café in a Modernista building and for a few years it was the great meeting-point of bohemian Barcelona. Major artists of the day painted pictures especially for it and the menu cover was Picasso’s first paid commission. Today it is a popular restaurant especially at lunchtime when there is a set menu. Good Catalan and Mediterranean dishes are served up in the surroundings of copies of work by artists who formerly frequented the place.
Website: Els Quatre Gats
Can Culleretes (Carrer d’en Quintana, 5): Founded in 1786 this gem is Spain’s second oldest restaurant after Botins in Madrid. It is centrally located just off Calle Ferran in the Gothic Quarter. There is a great range of Catalan dishes at very reasonable prices served by members of the family who own it. Wine selection and prices are equally impressive including a good, cheap house wine. Good lunchtime menus are available in dining rooms covered with paintings and photos of famous people who have dined here.
Website: Can Culleretes
Les Quinze Nits (Plaça Reial, 6): Perfectly located on the Placa Reial just off la Rambla, this elegant restaurant offers an impressive selection of Catalan style dishes. Prices are surprisingly low considering the location often leading to long queues at opening time in the evening.
Cafè de l’Acadèmia (Carrer dels Lledó, 1): Located on Plaça Sant Just in the Gothic Quarter this elegant restaurant has an outside terrace during the summer months. Here you can dine on the highest quality of modern Catalan cuisine together with more traditional Spanish meals. Favourites include the mouthwatering steak and lamb dishes as well as the more subtle risottos and cod options. The place is closed at weekends and booking is recommended.
Los Toreros (Carrer d’en Xuclà, 3): Located just off the Ramblas, this restaurant is largely aimed at the tourist market yet it does offer a surprisingly good standard of food. Highly regarded are its paellas, meat dishes and excellent selection of tapas which are served by friendly waiters. The interesting bullfight memorabilia on the walls is more typical of restaurants in Andalucia than in Catalonia where bullfighting was banned in 2010.
Restaurants in Gràcia
Botafumeiro (Carrer Gran de Gràcia 81): Located on the site of a former fish auction this upmarket seafood restaurant is something of an institution in Barcelona. As well as serving locally sourced dishes such as Palamós prawns they also have fresh seafood dishes from the Atlantic coast of Galicia and an impressive wine list to match. Botafumeiro is regarded by many as being amongst the world’s top seafood restaurants so is a place to consider for special occasions.
Ipar-Txoko (Carrer de Mozart, 22): Whilst this small restaurant in the Gràcia serves some excellent Basque cuisine it also offers typical meat and fish dishes which are available in Spanish restaurants nationwide. A personal favourite for sharing is the enormous Chuletón de Buey which is chargrilled then served on a hot stone plate which allows you to cook it to your liking. If you prefer seafood, the hake dishes are highly recommended.
Asador de Aranda (Avinguda Tibidabo, 31): You’ll need to head away from the tourist areas to get to this well known lamb restaurant that gets packed with local carnivores. There’s a chain of these restaurants in the main gastronomic centres of Spain which specialise in cooking roast lamb in clay ovens. Superb if you’re a lamb fan.
Website: Asador de Aranda
Seafood Restaurants in Barceloneta
Between Port Olímpic and Port Vell lies the original fisherman’s neighbourhood of Barceloneta. Today this residential area is home to a large choice of seafood restaurants, some with sea views. If the suggestions below don’t take your fancy just take a stroll along the Passeig Marítim towards Port Olímpic for alternatives.
Restaurante 7 Portes (Passeig d’Isabel II, 14): Dating back to 1836 this classic eatery has long been considered an institution on Barcelona’s culinary scene. Originally it operated as a luxury Parisian-style café before becoming a popular restaurant amongst the city’s intelligentsia. Nowadays 7 Portes attracts locals and tourists alike with a promise of excellent old seafood recipes and some of Barceloneta’s best paellas.
Can Solé (Carrer de Sant Carles, 4): Located in the old fishing port this historic restaurant has been serving excellent seafood dishes since 1903. Nowadays it is something of a classy joint with prices to match but continues to offer an exquisite range of seafood including excellent paellas.
Website: Can Solé
Can Ramonet (Calle Maquinista, 17): This establishment claims to have been the first house in Barceloneta which previously served as a wine shop and fisherman’s tavern before becoming a restaurant in 1956. It is best known for its excellent paella although a selection of creative tapas are also on offer as well as meat dishes.
Website: Can Ramonet