Barcelona will always be known for its tapas. But over the last two decades, the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, has become a foodie destination. The rise of molecular cuisine led to a fine-dining renaissance that offers many options for those who prefer a multi-course, sit-down meal over roaming from bar to bar. Diners who also like to choose local can enjoy wine from the nearby regions of Cava, Penedès and Priorat. Besides wine and food, the city’s beaches and the architecture of Gaudí are two other great reasons to visit.
Osmosis: A series of cozy rooms spread out over two floors, Osmosis feels like a very well decorated private home. Chef Raúl Roig Sanmartin offers modern Catalan cuisine with tasting menus that change weekly with five-, seven- or nine-course options.
“Our chefs create distinctively Catalan cuisine based on seasonally available fresh products sourced from a variety of markets,” says Ignasi “Nacho” Montes, one of the restaurant’s owners. “We don’t do a set tasting menu, so over the last 10 years, we have created more than 2,000 dishes. This philosophy is our starting point. Then I pair each course with one of over 200 selections from our wine cellar.”
El Nacional: This soaring 19th-century industrial space on the Passeig de Gràcia houses four restaurants and four bars. To quench your thirst and enjoy small plates, choose among a beer bar, a wine bar, a cocktail bar and an oyster/Cava bar.
For stronger appetites, the restaurants don’t disappoint: La Braseria features grilled meats, La Llotja focuses on seafood, La Taperia offers tapas and rice dishes while La Parada highlights sandwiches and pastry. The focused wine list offers a selection of well-priced bottles and glasses, with several suggestions from nearby regions.
Dos Pebrots: Albert Raurich, the former chef de cuisine at El Bulli, creates beautiful dishes based on fare from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Moorish-era Andalucía and Spain’s Golden Age. Head Chef Borja García is in charge of day-to-day kitchen operations, where he turns out fanciful, delicious renditions of chilled liquor-infused fruit, fresh anchovies in vinegar and dill, beer-and-vinegar-roasted leeks, and a pine-nut tortilla española that looks like paella.
“Our concept is to introduce guests to historical Mediterranean cuisine presented in our modern space in Barcelona,” says Garcia. “We then match that cuisine to natural wines produced not just in Spain, but also in France and Italy.”
Disfrutar: Founded by three El Bulli alums, Disfrutar received its second Michelin star this year. The airy, tiled space features avant-garde cuisine in which each course is a work of art. Two tasting menus with wine pairings are available.
The wines surprise as much as the inventive cuisine, “I seek wines from small producers and unusual areas, such as Assyrtiko from Santorini, with a smoky character from the volcanic soil, or a 19-year-old koshu (aged saké) with earthy nuances and a pungent shiitake mushroom note,” says Rubén Pol Ramon, the chief sommelier. Ramon mixes koshu with fresh yuzu juice and pairs it with deconstructed ceviche. “We play with the acidity and citrus notes to pair with the lime juice and fish on the plate.”
Boqueria Market: If you can eat it, you can buy it at Mercat La Boqueria. Just steps off La Rambla, this famed covered market dates to the early 13th century. You can purchase cheese, charcuterie, chocolate, candy and fruit to snack on while you shop. Eleven bars offer wine, beer and tapas—perfect for breakfast or lunch on the go. For a special morning treat, visit El Quim de la Boqueria for sautéed mushrooms and foie gras alongside a glass of Cava.
The Paella Club: A short walk from La Boqueria, Alex Betolaza’s eatery features an immersive experience where you cook your own paella to enjoy in a beautiful setting. There are three types of classes offered. The “Amuse Bouche” is a short and sweet lunchtime introduction to paella, and is perfect for those who don’t have a lot of time to spare. The “Appetiser,” which begins at 5 pm, features a welcome drink and snack, followed by a cooking class and dinner. Those who seek a full evening to linger over a longer meal, there’s the three-hour “Full Menu,” starting at 8 pm.
Fàbrica Moritz Barcelona: Founded in 1856, Fàbrica Moritz is one of the oldest breweries in a city where the craft beer revolution has truly taken hold. Its current home, established in 1864, was one of the first buildings in the trendy Eixample neighborhood.
While touches of the original factory remain, architect Jean Nouvel renovated the space in 2012, updating it into a modern masterpiece that houses a microbrewery. Patrons can taste the one of the brewery’s unpasteurized beers at its rooftop restaurant and 85-foot tin bar. In addition, Jordi Vilà’s menu offers more than 300 dishes from across Spain, Germany and France.