Make no doubt about it: Barcelona is a city of food – Spain’s foodie capital. From its bustling food markets selling traditional treats and freshly-picked vegetables from the vast Spanish countryside, to the countless tapas bars on every street corner cooking up paella, romesco, and esqueixada, it’s hard to stay hungry in the city for long, whatever you’re in the mood for.
In fact, Barcelona is home to many must-try Spanish dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation, some hundreds if not thousands of years old. There’s so much to get your taste buds around that you’ll probably not manage everything on your first trip to the city, so planning carefully and enlisting the help of a Barcelona private guide for a foodie tour is the only way to sample everything on offer – only if your stomach is big enough!
But if you’re looking for a restaurant for that special occasion, whether you’re planning a romantic evening with your partner or you just want to round off a great trip to the Capital of the Catalan, Barcelona offers something a little more upmarket: a whole host of Michelin-star restaurants that have served some of the world’s most famous celebrities, including royalty, from long-standing culinary institutions to newer restaurants for today’s millennial high-flyers.
Feeling flush and want to sample the very best dishes that Barcelona has to offer? We’ve rounded up five of the most celebrated Michelin-star restaurants to add to your bucket list…
Perfect for a catch-up after a busy day exploring the city, Hisop is one of Barcelona’s most in-demand restaurants, and booking in advance is essential if you want to guarantee a table. This intimate establishment is named after an aromatic medicinal plant and offers its diners a sophisticated dining experience that, on one hand, is luxurious, but on the other is laid back and comfortable, especially when compared to more ostentatious Michelin-starred eateries.
The kitchen team at Hisop serve creative dishes made from fresh, local produce, using traditional recipes with seasonal ingredients. If you’re in the mood for a culinary adventure, then their tasting menu is a must-do, running through a whole host of distinct flavours and combinations that take you on a journey – all of which cooked to a consistently high standard. From Palamós prawns with béarnaise to pigeon with almonds and elderflower, you’re bound to find a new favourite, and their pickled banana, yoghurt and herbs dessert is a real treat.
If you’re into your wine, the restaurant also offers a wine pairing menu, each dish carefully paired with a delicious red or white that complements the food and cleanses your palate for the next course. It’s certainly not cheap but not expensive either considering what you find elsewhere, in addition it’s an experience you cannot afford to miss if you’re passionate about fine dining and want to eat from one of Barcelona’s best kitchens.
The first restaurant in Barcelona to be awarded a Michelin star, Via Veneto also has three Soles on the Repsol Guide and has been voted the third-best restaurant in Barcelona, according to Macarfi. It’s also the 42nd best restaurant in Europe, according to The Daily Meal, and it’s been awarded National Gastronomy Award four times – the first in 1984, and most recently this year (2019). Widely known as one of Salvador Dali’s favourite restaurants, the Belle Époque-style property has a dining room that’s laid out on several levels with private areas for couples and groups, great for a relaxed evening away from prying eyes.
Featuring a classic menu that has been tastefully updated for today’s modern guests (dishes range from €70 to €165), Via Veneto also boasts an array of interesting tasting menus, and a one-of-a-kind wine cellar featuring both Spanish and French wines, some of which are more than one hundred years old. Featuring oval mirrors, leather chairs, and traditional cutlery, Via Veneto takes itself seriously – and delivers a taste experience unlike any other in Barcelona.
Translating as “enjoy”, Disfrutar is another Michelin-star restaurant you simply must consider on your next visit to Barcelona. Serving creative and often technically-challenging dishes, the restaurant’s contemporary interior is modest, easily fooling those passing by. It’s only when the dishes hit your table and you begin to sample their craftsmanship that you realise you’re in one of Barcelona’s best restaurants – well worth its accolades and raving five-star reviews.
The brainchild of Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch, Disfrutar serves dishes such as liquid salad to crispy egg yolk, each designed to pique your interest. Can’t decide? Try one of their tasting menus, each offering a rollercoaster ride of flavour combinations and unique experiences – just make sure you’re hungry. Their avant-garde menus sometimes run to over thirty courses, so expect to sit for a couple of hours and let the food do the talking…
Whilst we highly recommend sampling authentic Spanish dishes such as pisto, croquettes, and gazpachos on your next visit to the city, there’s no reason why you can’t try something totally out of the ordinary. Venture down a narrow lane close to Barcelona Cathedral, at the heart of the city, and you’ll find Koy Shunka – Barcelona’s only Japanese restaurant with a Michelin star. Many call it a “portal” into a whole new world of mouthwatering Asian food, a bucket-list restaurant that cannot be forgotten about if you’re a gastronome exploring Spain.
Koy Shunka translates as intense aromas, and it certainly lives up to its name. Offering a unique slice of Japanese food and culture, the restaurant painstakingly combines classic Japanese flavours with Mediterranean ingredients and themes to create an extraordinary fusion of flavours, like sushi, Wagyu beef, and king prawns with Japanese mushrooms. Yum!
With moody lighting, funky fixtures and wood-panelled walls, Cinc Sentits (which, if you hadn’t already guessed, translates as Five Senses in French) is perhaps the most Instagrammable restaurant on our list – even walking over to your table feels glamorous. Once you’re comfortable, this intimate forty-cover restaurant invites you to sample an indulgent tasting menu – there’s no à la carte option – serving small, experimental dishes that challenge your perception of food, from jaw-dropping amuse-bouche to freshly-caught fish.
Perhaps what’s most commendable about Cinc Sentits is its commitment to serving delicious food without compromise. Its ember-roasted sweet potato dish, for example, requires slow roasting for more than ninety minutes, before a chef stuffs the potatoes with their own foamy pulp, finished with butter and hazelnut cream and served with oaky smoke and to-die-for quail eggs. If that doesn’t leave your mouth watering, we’re not quite sure what will…
With so much to see and do in Barcelona, it can be overwhelming deciding where to eat. The five Michelin-star restaurants we’ve featured in this article will no doubt offer you some food for thought and encourage you to broaden your culinary horizons – just be sure to make a reservation in advance if you want to avoid disappointment, and consider booking a foodie tour with Barcelonina if you’re looking for a more informal, authentic dining experience…