337 Carrer de Còrsega, Vila de Gràcia
Not many restaurant menus come with their own legend-purple for soy, beige for gluten, etc. But Tia Santa not only comes with a legend for navigating its menu, it comes with an incredibly thorough one. (Celery is green, mustard is yellow, and vegetarian dishes that can be adapted for vegans is denoted with two leaves in gradations of green. You get the idea.) In case it's not apparent, the restaurant, which translates loosely to "holy aunt," puts a premium on all things sustainable, organic, and healthy. But-to mix a metaphor-that's all just the icing. The real reason to come is that that, in a city of jamon this and queso that, the food is as unexpected as it is delicious.
38-40 Carrer Sepúlveda, El Raval
One of the most exciting openings of 2017 so far comes from Albert Adrià, who added Enigma to his family of Barcelona restaurants. In some ways a play off of the Adrià brothers former famed Catalonia spot, El Bulli, Enigma serves an inventive, curious cuisine via an ever-changing tasting menu. Dining here is meant to be an experience, and as the name hints, to have a bit of a mysterious appeal: After booking (well in advance), you're sent an access code, which you type into the keypad at Enigma's nondescript entrance. The interior—a futuristic, multiple-room space that appears to be fashioned out of some combination of ice, clouds, and waterfalls—is divided by course. You'll end up sampling about forty small plates in the span of three or so hours, generally only finding out what's on the menu after you've eaten it. This isn't an easy place for dietary restrictions, but it's a worthy gastronomic adventure if you can swing it.
20 Pasaje Marimon, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
The exterior of Albert Ventura's fine dining establishment is unassuming—right off the Diagonal Avenue, a few blocks from Plaça de Frances Macià, the facade is simple and reserved, which actually matches the restrained, bare-bones décor inside. The formal dining room here is actually downstairs—there, you'll find a pre-fixe menu of small, gorgeously plated takes on traditional Catalan dishes. While the dining room is great for large parties or special occasions, we actually prefer to be seated at Ventura's more casual tapas bar upstairs. There, you can chit-chat with the chef about each dish, and order from an a la carte menu that, if a bit more casual, is just as elegantly considered as what you'll find downstairs. Either dining area is great for a more dressed-up lunch option.
Rías de Galicia
7 Carrer de Lleida, El Poble-Sec
Like many of Barcelona's fine dining establishments, Rías de Galicia is divided into two sections: A more casual tapas bar on the top floor, and a more formal, white tablecloth situation downstairs. The menu is casually organized around seafood dishes from Galicia, in the northern part of Spain. Order from the tapas menu upstairs, or choose between a la carte and pre-fixe downstairs.
13 Passage de la Concepció, Eixample
Chef Nandu Jubany is best known for Can Jubany, the fine-dining restaurant he and his wife started out of a country house an hour outside the city back in 1995. In the last few years, he's come on as the "gastronomic advisor" at Hotel Majestic; their main restaurant, Petit Comitè, offers a great taste of what Jubany can do without the drive. Expect traditional Catalan food in a formal, white-tablecloth kind of setting that's perfect for a special night, like a birthday or an anniversary.
85 Paseo de la exposición, El Poble-Sec
Almost as soon as Venetian ex-pats Stefano and Max Colombo (who also happen to be twin brothers) got a taste of Barcelona's boisterous nightlife, they were hooked on the city. Their cozy Italian spot, Xemei—named for the Venetian word for twins—is widely thought of as the best place for Italian food in the city, with gregarious Stefano handling front-of-house and the organic wine program, and Max expertly leading the kitchen. The restaurant was actually unlicensed when it first opened, and though the paperwork is legit at this point, the interior is reminiscent of its underground roots—the itty-bitty space, cluttered with worn, mismatched furniture is centered around a big central bar that opens into the kitchen, and where Max presents the food before it's brought to each table. Not unlike local cuisine, Venetian dishes center around seafood, so regulars here rave about anything that combines pasta and fish—although it's hard to imagine being disappointed by anything on their daily-rotating menu.
Passatge Marimón 5, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
The folks behind Tribu Woki (a Barcelona-based market and restaurant group) are on a mission to make local, organic food a more explicit part of the culinary conversation in the city. Accordingly, their new restaurant concept, helmed by chef Xavier Pellicer, can be found right next to one of their market spaces. The minimalist restaurant features concrete walls, simple brick, and straightforward furnishings—all the better, so you can focus on what's being cooked up in the open kitchen. As for the menu, the focus is on hyper-fresh, locally-sourced vegetables—and while it's a great dressed-up kind of restaurant for vegetarians (a rarity in this meat-and-seafood town), Pellicer definitely knows his way around fresh fish and roasted chicken.
17 Carrer de la Unió, El Raval
Part of a family-founded restaurant business, Bar Cañete is part tapas bar, part restaurant. Its long, narrow dining room, decorated with red banquettes and rich mahogany details, gives way to a wooden bar where diners sit, looking into the restaurant's open kitchen. Here, the menu is a mix of traditional tapas, fresh market seafood, and prime cuts of beef and pork. Note: Bar Cañete takes reservations but not for day-of.
91 Carrer de Tamarit, Sant Antoni
Bodega 1900 is just across the street from Tickets, another Albert Adrià spot, where you'll find a fresh spin on the classic tapas and vermouth bar. Bright white tiles and oversized cabinetry add to the charming, at-home vibe, though the real pull is the salty creations (salazones) served alongside smoked, grilled, and pickled plates that are a bit more innovative than what you'll find at your basic joint.
8 Plaça de les Olles, Sant Pere
A tiny, popular spot situated on a corner of Plaça de les Olles, Cal Pep serves Mediterranean tapas and larger dishes best shared. The front bar is where the party is at (get there early if you want to grab a coveted stool), but you can also reserve a table (in advance) in the back room for a party of four or more.