164 Avinguda del Paral·lel, Sant Antoni
A creation of the brilliant Chef Albert Adrià (also of Bodega 1900 and Hoja Santa, and brother of famed Chef Ferran Adrià—a talented duo, to say the least), Tickets is a first-rate tapas restaurant. As the name suggests, the restaurant's decor is an homage to the movie biz—the entrance is a ticket booth corner and the interior is decorated with playful, bright lights. But it's the amazing food that is the real draw here.
La Taverna del Suculent
39 Rambla del Raval, Ciutat Vella
Taverna—you'll know it from its flashy red-painted exterior—is actually the little sister of nearby Suculent, an upscale tasting menu type of place from Carles Abellan. Like so many of the best chefs in the city, Abellan is a former protege of Ferran Adrià—his first solo venture was another favorite of ours, Comerç, 24. Unlike its sit-down neighbor, La Taverna del Suculent is more casual; guests order tapas and finger food directly from the bar and can eat them standing, and wine flows freely. Order the crispy tortillitas, or anything that involves ham.
C/ Casanova 133 Mercat Ninot, Parada 1, Eixample
En Compañia de Lobos is a young-feeling restaurant group that also happens to operate two of our favorite restaurants in Madrid (Ana la Santa and Bosco de Lobos). This outpost in Barcelona is situated inside the recently renovated Mercat del Ninot, which has been beautifully overhauled and filled with more prepared-food options in an effort to appeal to Barcelona's younger crowd. Tall, open ceilings connect the space to the rest of the market, so despite the clean wooden walls and elegant full-circle bar, the humming of customers and activity gently filters into the space. The menu is focused on traditional Catalan food (tapas), but the thing to order is the 3-course menu of the day (just 14 euros), which serves up whatever looked good in the market that morning.
Passadís del Pep
2 Pla de Palau, Ciutat Vella
It's easy to miss Passadís del Pep if you don't know what you're looking for—the more than 30-year-old spot is located down a long hallway in a nondescript apartment building, and there's no sign, so follow the address exactly. Once you arrive, you'll be greeted by a traditional-looking dining room, with stone walls, white tablecloths, impeccable service, and no menu in sight, as owner Joan Manubens Figueras prefers to serve whatever looks freshest at the market. When he first started the restaurant, the kitchen was run by his mother, and he continues to cook in her traditional style—fresh food founded in great ingredients and simple preparation, with a heavy emphasis on gorgeous local seafood (there are always a lot of crustaceans on offer). The no-menu situation also means no prices until you get the check, so expect to pay around 120 euros per person (including wine).
Suquet de l’Almirall
65 Passeig de Joan de Borbó, La Barceloneta
The philosophy behind Suquet de l'Almirall, helmed by Quim Marqués, a fourth generation chef, is to feature seafood caught and sold in Barcelona's harbors—most of their ingredients are purchased at the local fish market, which is just steps from the seaside restaurant. The menu is filled with classically Catalan (but often adventurous) seafood dishes like fried anchovies and an insanely good paella. Don't leave without ordering the suquet, the signature huge bowl of steamed shellfish. Try to get a seat on the beautiful outdoor patio.
5 Carrer Lleida, Sants-Montjuïc
Nikkei is the name for the cuisine that developed as a result of the enormous influx of Japanese emigrants to Peru back in the late 19th-century—a unique fusion that until recently had only been available in Peru. The union actually isn't as strange as it first appears; both cultures put an enormous emphasis on fresh fish (call it sushi or ceviche), so the result brings the spice and excitement of Peruvian cuisine to the sophistication of Japanese. It shouldn't come as a surprise that it was Albert Adriâ who had the vision to bring Nikkei abroad, and his touch is clearly visible in the artful dishes on Pakta's seasonally changing tasting menu, which are done with all the skill, creativity, and showmanship he's come to be known for. The restaurant's modern, geometric interior, which is decorated with colorful weaving looms, lives up to the food.
54 Ave. Mistral, Sant Antoni
A welcome Mexican addition to Barcelona's food scene, Hoja Santa is a collaboration between famed Albert Adrià of Tickets and Chef Paco Méndez, a Mexico City native. The menu here puts an innovative spin on traditional Mexican fare—tacos filled with duck and mole or slow roasted pork, oysters served with prickly pear juice, avocado gazpacho. (Side note: Next door to Hoja Santa sits the pair's more casual taquería, Niño Viejo.)
9 Carrer d'Elisabets, El Raval
This Far East-inspired restaurant is the brainchild of Albert Raurich—who spent nearly a dozen years at Ferran Adrià's El Bulli, seven of which he was head chef. Located in the Casa Camper hotel, Dos Palillos has two bar areas—the Asian bar serves their tasting menu at dinner, and at the more casual-feeling tapas bar, it's à la carte for lunch and dinner. There are also two spaces offering a bit more seating—the outdoor terrace and the signature Dos Palillos table, which fits about a dozen guests. Not surprisingly, the menu varies, but expect dishes like crispy chicken bites with curry, grilled oyster with sake, tuna steak temaki with nori, and burgers served on homemade bread with ginger.
39 Carrer del Parlament, Sant Antoni
This Aussie-style cafè, which opened in Sant Antoni in 2010, is best for brunch—sit in the pretty outdoor garden terrace if you can. The interior, a casual, cozy space, is split between an upstairs and downstairs, with a large communal table occupying most of the bottom floor. There is something to please everyone on the menu, from baked eggs with veggies, to hamburgers and salads, to pick-me-ups in juice, latté, and cocktail form.
19-21 Passeig del Mare Nostrum, La Barceloneta
Gallito is part of the Barcelona-based, family-affair restaurant group that is also behind Madrid favorites Ana la Santa and Bosco de Lobos. The really delicious Mediterranean food at Gallito is matched by its seaside view and easy, LA-meets-Spain vibe (picnic-style tables, bright pillows lining bench seating, and a mix of fresh bouquets and potted plants). The terrace is great on warm days, but you can still glimpse the beach from Gallito's glassed interior, which has that inside/outside feel.