El Poble-Sec Restaurants

Establishment neighborhood
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.