Having a Paella Overlooking the Harbor
Ignore the pushy neighboring eating spots on Barceloneta's main portside boulevard and give yourself to a seafood treat at the homely, laidback Puda Can Manel, Passeig Don Joan Borbó Comte 60 (tel. 93-221-50-13). The succulent paellas and fideuàs (seafood with noodles instead of rice) are the genuine article and also excellent value, which is why you see so many locals here, especially on Sundays.
Tasting the Cuisine of Catalonia's Top Chef
Still the talk of the town, Carles Abellán has long been hailed as one of the most innovative chefs of New Catalan cuisine. His restaurant, Comerç 24, Comerç 24 (tel. 93-319-21-02, comerc24.com.mialias.net), was conceived as a playful take on all that's hot in the tapas world. Delights such as "kinder egg surprise" (a soft-boiled egg with truffle-infused yolk) and an intensely flavored mini-suquet (fish stew) continue to exert their gourmet siren appeal.
Partaking in a Sunday Dining Tradition
The lines say it all: 7 Portes, Passeig Isabel II 14 (tel. 93-319-30-33; www.7portes.com), one of the oldest restaurants in Barcelona, is a Sunday institution. Extended families dine on excellent meat and fish dishes in a turn-of-the-20th-century atmosphere.
Sampling the Finest Regional Dishes
In spite of its Italian name, the Via Veneto, Ganduxer 10 (tel. 93-200-72-44; www.viavenetorestaurant.com), is traditional to the core, serving up some of the finest Catalan cooking in the land. The restaurant exudes old-fashioned class. The serving methods, such as the sterling-silver duck press, seem to belong to another century -- as do some of the clients.
Eating the Freshest Seafood in Barcelona
You'll find it at Els Pescadors, Plaça Prim 1 (tel. 93-225-20-18; www.elspescadors.com), in the atmospheric working-class beachside suburb of Poble Nou. People come here for the food -- not the view -- to sample prawns, whitebait, or dorada (bream). They serve whatever has been caught that day. Book ahead on weekends.
Trying a Tasting Menu
Tasting menus, a series of small gourmet dishes resembling deluxe tapas, are all the rage. They can be expensive, though, so if you want the best value head to Coure, Pasaje Marimón 20 (tel. 93-200-75-32), in Gràcia and sample chef Albert Ventura's offerings, which include such exquisite delights as lime-flavored tuna and eucalyptus helado -- ice cream.
Carles Abellán is today's wunderkind of New Catalan cuisine. His restaurant, Comerç 24, Comerç 24 (tel. 93-319-21-02; www.comerc24.com) was conceived as a playful take on all that's hot in the tapas world. Delights such as "kinder egg surprise" (a soft-boiled egg with truffle-infused yolk) and tuna sashimi pizza await the adventurous.
Opened in late 2009 in the heart of the Barri Gòtic's trendy Born district, the smart, minimalist Big Fish, Calle Comercial 9 (tel. 93-268-17-28; www.bigfish.net) is overseen by chef Antonio Peláez and offers supremely good seafood dishes in a Mediterranean-cum-Oriental setting where extra attractions include a sushi bar.
Best Place for a Business Lunch
"The incomparable haute cuisine of the elegant Micheline award-winning La Dama in L'Eixample has long attracted civic dignitaries and top executives.
Best Spot for a Celebration
You can make as much noise as you like at Mesón David, Carretes 63 (tel. 93-441-59-34; www.mesondavid.com), an old-school eatery with a vast menu of dishes from all regions of Spain. Chances are you will sit next to a raucous group celebrating a birthday or engagement, with waiters joining in the revelry too.
Best Wine List
You're spoiled for choice at La Vinya del Senyor, Plaça Santa María 5 (tel. 93-310-33-79) a gorgeous wine bar opposite the towering Santa María del Mar. Mull over the 300 vintages on offer while taking in the facade from the outside terrace; then order some of their delicious tapas to accompany your choice.
Best for Paella
A paella on the beach is a quintessential Barcelona experience and there is no place better to do it than Can Majó, Almirall Aixada 23 (tel. 93-221-54-55; www.canmajo.es). Right on the seafront, this restaurant prides itself on its paellas and fideuàs (which use noodles instead of rice) and is an established favorite among the city's well-heeled families.
Best Modern Catalan Cuisine
In the compact avant-garde Manairó, Diputació 424 (tel. 93-231-00-57; www.manairo.com) at the eastern end of L'Eixample, adventurous chef Jordi Herrera goes where no Catalan has gone before with his boundary-crossing combinations of sea- and land-based dishes.
Best Traditional Catalan Cuisine
Via Veneto, Ganduxer 10 (tel. 93-200-72-44; www.viavenetorestaurant.com) exudes old-fashioned class and serves up some of the finest Catalan cooking in the land. Some of the serving methods, such as the sterling-silver duck press, seem to belong to another century (as do some of the clients).
Best for Kids
Children are welcome almost everywhere in Spanish restaurants, but why not give them a real treat by heading for La Paradeta, Comercial 7 (tel. 93-268-19-39; www.laparadeta.com)? This is the Catalan version of a British fish-and-chip shop, with all kinds of seafood laid out on ice greeting you as you walk in. Pick what you want and bingo! Out it comes, hot and steaming, in a cardboard box.
Best Fusion Cuisine
Born in Catalonia but raised in Canada, chef Jordi Artal instinctively knows how to fuse old- and new-world cuisines. The five-course tasting menu in his upscale Cinc Sentits, Aribau 58 (tel. 93-323-94-90; www.cincsentits.com) is a memorable way to sample this expertise.
Best for Tapas
Taller de Tapas, L'Argentaria 51 (tel. 93-268-85-59; www.tallerdetapas.com) was conceived to take the mystery out of tapas. Multilingual staff and menus ensure you don't get pig's cheeks when you order green leeks, and the rest of the delectable dishes are a perfect initiation for the tapas novice.
Best for People-Watching
The food may not win any awards but that doesn't stop soccer stars, models, and other assorted semi-celebs from flocking to CDLC, Passeig Marítim 32 (tel. 93-224-04-70; www.cdlcbarcelona.com) on the waterfront in the Vila Olímpica and decked out in fashionable faux-Thai chic. The real fun starts with the post-dinner disco, and you're not sure whether it's the breeze rolling in off the Mediterranean or the sound of thousands of air kisses.
Best Outdoor Dining Area
As well as being one of the best-value restaurants in the city, the Café de L'Acadèmia, Lledó 1, Plaça Sant Just (tel. 93-319-82-53) is blessed with one of the prettiest settings: A charming square in the Old Town flanked by Gothic buildings and an ancient water fountain. At night the warm glow of the table candles bounces off the stone walls, ensuring you linger long after the last drink.
Dine on top of the world, or at least 75m (250 feet) up, in Torre d'Alta Mar, Passeig Don Joan Borbó Comte 88 (tel. 93-221-00-07; www.torredealtamar.com) located in a cable-car tower. The view couldn't be more mesmerizing, allowing you an almost 360-degree view of the city's skyline and the surrounding sea in one swoop.
Best for Seafood
Although good seafood is abundant in Barcelona, many swear that the best catches end up in Cal Pep, Plaça des les Olles 8 (tel. 93-310-79-61; www.calpep.com) a tiny bar near the port. Mountains of the stuff are prepared in front of your eyes by lightning-quick staff, and your dexterity is put to the test as you try not to elbow your neighbor while peeling your prawns.
Best Wine Bar
Bathed in Bordeaux red, with large arched windows looking out onto a tranquil square, Vinissim, Sant Domenec del Call 12 (tel. 93-301-45-75) has a mind-boggling array of wines from all corners of the globe, plus a scrumptious array of tapas to soak them up. It offers a pleasing experience for all the senses.
Best for Sunday Lunch
The lines say it all: 7 Portes, Passeig Isabel II 14 (tel. 93-319-30-33; www.7portes.com) one of the oldest restaurants in Barcelona, is a Sunday institution. Extended families dine on excellent meat and fish dishes in turn-of-the-20th-century surroundings.
Best Vegetarian Restaurant
Though veggie newcomers are sprouting up all over town, our favorite spot remains the established Organic, Junta de Comerç 11 (tel. 93-301-09-02; www.antoniaorganickitchen.com) a barnlike place with communal wooden tables; an all-you-can-eat salad bar; and tempting rice, pasta, and tofu dishes.
Best for a Sweet Tooth
Sweet but never sickly, Espai Sucre, Princesa 53 (tel. 93-268-16-30; www.espaisucre.com) is perhaps the world's only restaurant that offers a menu made up entirely of desserts. Foodies rave about it and its reputation has spread far and wide as a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic experience. Some savory dishes are available.
Best for Morning or Afternoon Tea
Granja Dulcinea's hot chocolate is widely acknowledged to be the richest and most delicious of them all.
Best for Consistency
Pla, Bellafila 5 (tel. 93-412-65-52; www.pla-repla.com) strikes that right balance between hip and highly creative without scaring you off. The menu focuses on local market produce with a touch of Asian and Arabic, and the staff members are very friendly and helpful.
Best Snack on the Go
Before you embark on a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art, fuel up at Foodball, Elisabets 9 (tel. 93-270-13-63) a specialist in inventive forms of fast food. Whole-grain rice balls filled with tofu, wild mushrooms, chickpeas, and the like, plus fresh juices and smoothies, are served in a quirky setting; you can also eat in.
Best Retro Interior
As well as providing some of the most imaginative seafood dishes in town, Big Fish, Calle Comercial 9 (tel. 93-268-17-28; www.bigfish.net) in the trendy heart of El Born, makes its second appearance in this list with a striking New York-meets-Tokyo minimalist interior designed by Lazaro Rosa Violán, also responsible for the avant-garde Market Hotel. The dazzlingly stark white walls and pillars are warmly offset by polished wood flooring, cosy leather Chesterfield chairs, and an ornate fireplace.
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