Answers from Our Experts (3)
Though Ferran Àdria’s famous El Bulli has closed down, Catalonia and Barcelona in particular still have some of the most whimsical and delicious takes on Mediterranean cuisine. You’ll have to go outside the city limits for the best of the best, but if you’re a foodie, a short drive is an obstacle easily overcome. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors picks for the five best restaurants in and near Barcelona:
1. ABaC. On the northern stretch of Barcelona, ABaC grew great fame under chef Xavier Pellicer. Though the chef has passed the torch to chef Jordi Cruz, the new leader carries the flame well, exemplified in such dishes as Mediterranean tuna belly with macaroni in ponzu sauce, kumquat skin, mizuna, crispy artichokes and spicy roots puree, or the caramelized honey brioche with Mató, toffee, roasted pine nuts, St. Felicien cream and Idiazabal cheese.
2. Sant Pau. Though it’s outside Barcelona (about a 45-minute drive), Sant Pau is something of a mecca for Catalan cuisine. Legendary chef Carme Ruscalleda runs the show, with such menu highlights as Parrot Fish 2012, with onion, tender carrot and vinaigrette, and Pluma of Iberian Pork, with Iberian pork sauce and vegetables in tempura, along with desserts like the strawberry, moscatell & parsley or puff pastry cake & pumpkin angel hair.
3. Celler de Can Roca. A little more than an hour away from the city center, Celler de Can Roca is actually in Girona, which has its own airport — and you may want to schedule your trip around dishes such as foie gras, fig, tuna belly and black truffle. The restaurant run by the three Roca brothers is consistently ranked among the world’s best.
4. Can Fabes. It starts with the menu designed by renowned painter Antoni Tàpies at this restaurant located in Sant Celoni, about 45 minutes northeast of Barcelona. From there, chef Xavier Pellicer takes you on a tour of the region’s finest foods, with such ingredients as truffles from Osona, peas and strawberries from Maresme and fish from Blanes. Set menus will guide you on the Spanish culinary tour, with such dishes as cream of Jerusalem artichokes with truffle and celery or sea cucumber with asparagus and jus de rôti.
5. Moments. Chef Carme Ruscadella brings her culinary talents to the Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, with a distinct flair added to traditional Catalan cuisine. Dishes such as sea bass with mild curry sauce, mango and vanilla; Iberian pork with parsnip and raisins; or veal cheeks with turnip vegetable ravioli and red fruits will make you wonder how you’ve gone your whole life without uprooting and moving to Barcelona.
Well now the Adrià brothers have two new places that I am dying to go to — one is called Tickets and one is called 41 Degrees. One is a cocktail/tapas place and the other is a tapas place. So I can’t wait to check those out.
There is another one called Dos Pallellos; so it’s two things that are near and dear to my heart. It is a Spanish guy cooking Asian tapas — really funky, Asian-inspired stuff.
We love a lot of the classic ones like Quimette & Quimette, that’s spectacular. Everything comes from a can there. A lot of Americans say “How can you eat there when everything comes from a can?” But it works. They get the best of the best. You’re going to eat some razor clams from a can that are probably better than if they were fresh.
Tapas 24 that has a creative mind behind traditional tapas. All the food there is spectacular.
Jean Luc Figueras, Comerç 24, Casa Tejada — which is now probably less trendy, because it was trendy 25 years ago. But Comerç 24 is very recent. Barcelona is a city that renews itself all the time. I just feel good there — it’s a good vibe.