The first (and last) time I was in Barcelona was in 2005. I was taking an international business course at ESSCA in Angers, France, and on weekends, I would take the train or a budget airline and travel around the continent. Coincidentally, my brother Chris was doing an exchange program in the north of France, Lille, at the time, so we went together, along with two friends. We did all the tourist things: go on a hop-on-hop-off-bus to all of Gaudi’s sites (La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batlo), La Rambla, Montjuic (home to the 1992 Olympics), and the beaches.
11 years (too long) later, while in the Spanish capital for Madrid Fusion, I decided to stay on for a few days and take the train to the fabulous Catalan City, with the following agenda: catch up with my friend Claudia Von, re-visit Gaudi’s works, and of course… TO EAT!
Here are the restaurants I visited during my time in Barcelona– and all of which, I *highly* recommend to you:
1) Tickets Bar
When people found out I was going to Barcelona, they all said, “Go to Tickets!” Of course I wasn’t going to miss this! Tickets was everything I had heard about– and more– fun, whimsical, delicious “two fingers, one bite” tapas set in an amusement park-circus-inspired space. I did a reverse and dined at Enigma (see No. 5) first before Tickets, but I’m happy to report they are both equally unique concepts with Albert Adria signatures injected in between. My faves were the Mini Airbag w/ manchego cheese foam and hazel oil caviar, Crunchy suckling pig taco, and Crunchy octopus with kimchi mayonnaise. Being ushered into the Dessert Room at the end of the meal is like being Alice…in a dessert Wonderland. It is heavenly and beautiful, and where they serve the BEST CHEESECAKE IN THE WORLD. *It has 1 Michelin star and sits on the No. 29 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Avinguda del Parallel, 164 – 08015 Barcelona, Spain; Phone: +34 932 92 42 53; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; Website: http://www.ticketsbar.es/en/
On your next visit to Barcelona, I highly recommend Disfrutar. The food is so good (technique driven avant-garde cuisine) and it’s a really fun experience. It’s run by former El Bulli head chefs Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casanas. This part of the resto is a tribute to Joan Miro, hence the red, and black and white tiles. It has a Michelin star, and is on the World’s 50 Best Discovery Series. (Trivia: They were the head chefs at El Bulli then when our very own Chele Gonzalez of Gallery Vask trained there.) Thank you to my darling Claudia Von for highly recommending this place to me! Disfrutar means “enjoy” and that’s what you do at the resto. My absolute faves were the caviar “sandwich,” the signature gelatin macaroni with carbonara foam and parmesan (watch how they make it here), chocolate peppers, although the entire meal was excellent. *Disfrutar has 1 Michelin star and is part of the World’s 50 Best Discovery Series for Europe.
Carrer de Villarroel 163, Barcelona, Spain; Phone: +34 93 348 68 96; Website: http://en.disfrutarbarcelona.com/
3) Quimet y Quimet
Conde Nast Traveller named it, “Barcelona’s busiest bar.” Quimet y Quimet is a quaint, standing-room-only tapas place that’s been in operation for over 100 years. They have excellent montaditos— set on bread that’s toasted to a crisp– as well as tapas dishes to share. Come at 3:30 PM like we did if you want to avoid the queue.
Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes 25, Poble Sec, Barcelona, Spain; +34 93 442 3142
4) Lolita Taperia
Lolita Taperia is a fun, neighborhood joint with giant kiss marks… everywhere– from the menus to the walls to the servers’ shirts. (Trivia: In 2005, Albert Adria and Joan Martinez partnered to open a modern tapas bar called Inopia. When Albert left to put up Tickets four years later, Joan reinvented Inopia to Lolita what it is today.) Since I was staying at my friend’s place in the Sant Antoni area, and Lolita was just down the road, I went to Lolita twice– first for a pre-Enigma dinner drink (they have 3 euro cava!!!), and then next as a post-dinner nightcap, where they have an excellent BREAD pica-pica: “Crispy bread topped with fresh tomato spread”— literally just the crisp, crusty part of the bread without the doughy density! You guys know I try to limit my carb intake so if I’m recommending it, it must be goood! PS They serve Vichy Catalan, which is one of the best sparkling water for me– tastes like the ocean. PPS This place is always packed and happening as it’s a fave of locals.
Carrer de Tamarit, 104, local 2-4, Barcelona, Spain; Phone: +34 934 245 231; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.lolitataperia.com
**And of course if you can……
The reason why I say “if you can” is only because Enigma is already currently full until June 2017– and they will re-open bookings for the rest of the year only then. I had written a separate blog post about this very special, futuristic interactive dining experience, where the 42 courses are set within around 7 different dining stations– including a Spanish bodega station and a Japanese teppanyaki, in a 7,500- square-meter-space. As the Adria brothers closed El Bulli in 2011, Enigma is perhaps the closest thing we have to it, only set in the future– a kind of El Bulli 2.0 where guests come in not knowing what to expect as publishing photos (even on social media) are strictly prohibited without authorization in order to keep the enigma alive. (Read my full post here.)
Carrer Sepúlveda 3840 08015, Barcelona, Spain; Email: email@example.com; Website: www.enigmaconcept.es