Mediterranean cuisine is renowned for its large variety of fresh ingredients, and Barcelona’s chefs can easily source the very best from the nearby sea, mountains and rolling countryside. However, if you don’t know where to eat out in Barcelona, finding a good restaurant can be hit and miss. There are so many restaurants in Barcelona, and not all of them take pride in turning the best ingredients into delicious dishes. During some recent interviews with local restaurateurs the conversation turned to the question of what “quality” means to them. And when pressed, they eventually gave me the names of some of their own favourite restaurants in Barcelona, which few tourists are ever likely to stumble upon. We’re going to let you into a few secrets here… Bon profit!
1. An authentic local restaurant: Can Pineda
This restaurant is firmly off the beaten track in Barcelona, yet conveniently located next to Clot metro (5 stops from Plaça Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia). It was inaugurated more than a century ago and retains a tavern-like presence with large barrels decorating the high ceilings. Below these rustic barrels, however, you’ll find wine glasses as fine as any in a five star hotel, filled only with the finest DO wines.
Market cuisine, freshly trawled fish and imports from the central market in Paris are expertly prepared and exquisitely served. Specialties include rice with sepia, mushrooms with lobster, and beef entrecote or T-bone steak. Their five course sampling menu is popular and well priced at 35€.
Carrer de Sant Joan de Malta, 55. Reservations: 93 308 3081. www.restaurantcanpineda.com
2. A palate of flavours at Can Valles
“A chef becomes an artist when they have something to say through their dishes.” How about that for an opening statement to catch your attention and whet your curiosity? This quotation by the artist Joan Miró sets high expectations and the dishes surpass them. Their authentic market cuisine and traditional Catalan recipes have won them a loyal clientele and wall of awards and press-clippings.
This non-touristy Barcelona restaurant has a cosy yet elegant ambience, with the urban feel of a well-to-do dining room. Dishes are beautifully presented; their natural contrast of colours is heightened by artistic touches of drizzled sauce or cut flowers. Make sure you leave room for dessert.
Carrer d’Aragó 45. Reservations 93 226 0667 http://canvalles.es/
3. Deliciously authentic Spanish food at La Flauta
La Flauta is situated a little way out of Barcelona city centre, in the sophisticated neighbourhood of Eixample. With a central location and deliciously authentic food, it’s popular with locals and people who work around the area. So if you want to experience a less touristy restaurant in Barcelona, this is a great choice!
La Flauta has grown with more than 25 years of experience to become one of the most popular tapas bars in Barcelona for locals. They offer delicious tapas of excellent quality. La Flauta is mainly known for its flautas (the name of the restaurant and unsurprisingly, their speciality!). These are delicious small baguettes filled with various meats. The flauta of jamón serrano (Spanish serrano ham) is a must try, as well as a variety of tasty tapas dishes like prawns, fried squid, patatas bravas and croquettes. Many of these are served with a piece of baguette, the star of the show at this restaurant. For dessert you can enjoy, amongst other things, a crema catalana (crème brûlée) or piece of indulgent chocolate cake. Inside, warm lighting and stone and wood furnishings make this place something sophisticated but without forgetting the traditional ambiance and comfort. We recommend trying a bit of everything and sharing with your friends – in true tapas style!
Carrer d’Aribau, 23, reservations 933 237 038
4. A unique Barcelona culinary experience at Minamo
Just picture the scene. You’re on a romantic date or sharing a special moment with friends, enjoying some of the best sushi and Japanese delicacies that have ever crossed your lips. Bonito tataki with avocado cream, wild salmon caviar and Ponzu dressing. Bluefin tuna and wild Alaska salmon with mango tempura makis. Fog bubble with Riofrío caviar caprice and Sashimi with wild sea bass.
Oriental décor adds an exotic touch to what is clearly a very carefully curated space. And then suddenly the air is filled with blue butterflies, gliding like a spark of magic in a fairy-tale, in this re-creation of their natural habitat. The lunch menu costs 58€ and the evening menu is 148€, for a “once upon a lifetime” experience that you will recall forever.
Consell de Cent, 360. Reservations (required): 93 467 3800 http://www.minamo.es/
5. Non-touristy tapas at Sagardi
This chain of Basque restaurants is one of the most highly regarded amongst locals. Basque cuisine is rich, varied and full of exciting flavours, and the Sagardi chefs have created a menu that offers something for all palates. You may already have come across some of the smaller Sagardi restaurants in the more touristy neighbourhoods such as the Born.
Basque style tapas, known as “pintxos” fill the wide counters, their toppings piled high on a small slice of bread and held together with a toothpick. The restaurant in C/ Muntaner also has a good gastronomic menu, with seasonal specialties, fish, meat and typical desserts.
Carrer Muntaner 70. Reservations: 93 706 0706 www.sagardi.com
Insider tips on non-touristy restaurants in Barcelona don’t get much better than these five classic local favourites, which are sure to hit the spot. If you’re vegetarian, the first glance at the menu might make your heart sink slightly as there’s often not an obvious choice. However, all these restaurants have a kitchen packed with excellent quality ingredients and chefs who know how to mix them. Ask your waiter what they suggest. In my experience this tends to be well received, and after they consult with the chef, I’ve ended up with some delicious off-la-carte dishes that my carnivorous companions are eager to taste too.
If you’re looking for some more Barcelona off the beaten track tips, check out this post.