Travel

Spain

Establishment neighborhood
Enigma
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.
Restaurant Coure
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.
Petit Comitè
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.
Xemei
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.
O’pazo
20 Calle Reina Mercedes, Tetuán
Opened in 1969, O'pazo was one of the first restaurants in Madrid to be awarded a Michelin star—the old-school seafood spot is actually still run by children of the original founder, Evaristo García. The interior, fresh off a remodel, captures everything that's wonderful about Madrid; the sleek, updated furnishings and soothing wood paneling are a perfect juxtaposition to the open kitchen, where ham hocks hang from the ceiling and the days' catch of seafood and shellfish is displayed on ice. This is the kind of place where it's a good idea to put your order in the hands of the waiter, who can best identify which fresh fish the chef is most excited about that day.
El Pescador
Calle de José Ortega y Gasset, 75, Salamanca
Opened in 1975, El Pescador has a similar trajectory to nearby O'Pazo—both old-guard restaurants that pioneered the idea of serving fish so fresh that it didn't even need sauce, they've each stayed relevant with frequent renovations. At El Pescador, in particular, the interior has the potential to fool visitors that don't know the restaurant's historic pedigree—a clean concrete bar with stainless steel stools marks the entry to the restaurant, which is separated from the rest of the airy, modern restaurant by sheer chainlink curtains. As for the menu, you'll find minimally-treated fish and shellfish, served fresh and typically caught that morning. The shareable seafood platters are perfect for a big group.
Celerí
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.
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