Barcelona Restaurants

Barcelona’s preoccupation with being at the cutting edge of design and cool has a way of seeping into every area of life here; including those it does nothing to enhance. In recent years, the city’s restaurant scene has been the latest in a long list of fashion victims, and many of the newer places will spend longer deciding the shape of that season’s dinner plates than the elements of that week’s menu.

Of course there are plenty of restaurants ‘de tota la vida’ - restaurants that have been around forever, have a crowd of loyal regulars and a reputation that has run through generations, such as Can Culleretes , La Parra , Gaig or Can Solé - but there is little rising up to meet them. New restaurants open with concepts rather than cuisines, with DJs where once there were pianos and with kangaroo where there was once milk-fed lamb; which is all well and good until they dash your hopes of getting a 21st-century salad or professional service. Those who get the balance right waste no time in opening new branches, and much as it goes against the grain to recommend chains, anything belonging to the Tragaluz group, for example , is likely to uphold excellent culinary standards.

Authentic international cuisine is gaining ground only very slowly; unaccustomed local palates and the difficulty of sourcing key ingredients mean that it can be difficult to find really good Indian, say, or Italian, food. Middle Eastern and Japanese restaurants have been rather more successful, along with a growing number of Latin American places. What is really taking hold, however, is the idea of the fusion restaurant. Here it pays to think long and hard before eating in smaller, cheaper restaurants, where cooks are unlikely to have the experience or training to turn out dishes from Thailand, Japan, Mexico and Italy with equal panache.

Apart from the Pakistani restaurants, that abound in the Raval, most of the ethnic variety is to be found in Gràcia. Japanese restaurants, being relatively expensive, are mainly found in the Eixample or Zona Alta, where most of the top-end restaurants are clustered, while seafood restaurants, for the most part, are in and around Barceloneta and the ports (with some notable exceptions). Catalan restaurants are evenly spread throughout the city, as is an impressive variety of vegetarian restaurants.


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