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Barcelona is quickly becoming known for its modern take on Catalan cuisine. There are, of course, many temples to classic Catalan cuisine and tapas across the city but if you want to experience the youthful innovative heart of Catalan cuisine you have to check out these modern restaurants. They are focusing on high quality local and seasonal ingredients but using them in innovative ways. And not only is there a focus on innovative dishes but there is also a passion for small and unique wine and spirits. To really understand Barcelona and its cuisine you have to sample both the classic and the new and these are the modern restaurants in Barcelona you must try.
Welcome to our Barcelona Series! Here in this series you will learn everything you need to have a perfect time in Barcelona. We are all about eating, drinking and living local and there is no place we like to do all of that better than Barcelona!
Here is what you can expect from this series:
Top Modern Barcelona Restaurants – You’re Here!
Top Modern Restaurants in Barcelona
Can Cisa – Bar Brutal
Carrer de la Princesa, 14
1:30pm-2am Monday through Thursday, 1:30pm-4am Friday and Saturday, Closed Sundays
Can Cisa/Bar Brutal is one of our favorite stops in El Born for both modern cuisine and natural wine. Natural wine is becoming a big thing and it can be a bit of a confusing term. Put simply the grapes are allowed to ferment with their natural yeast and the winemaker does little to no manipulation to the final product. And while we do love natural wine, we have to say that we keep coming back to Bar Brutal, for one thing, their own sparkling Cabernet Franc. If you guys have never tried a sparkling red wine than hightail it to Bar Brutal and make this your first one.
It is earthy and brambly and full of complex deep dark fruits but is still light and refreshing because it is bubbly. I could probably write a love letter about this wine but all I ask instead is that you head to Bar Brutal and try this wine. And maybe send us a bottle or two! Also, don’t be put off if you don’t know much about wine. This is a restaurant/wine bar that loves wine but also doesn’t take themselves seriously. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the wine list and get to know some of these wines because the staff will be more than happy to talk wine with you!
But you should head to Bar Brutal for more than just the sparkling Cab Franc. Their menu is outstanding as well. It rotates regularly as it is based all on what they can get fresh locally. Their menu is not based on classic Catalan dishes but rather classic Catalan ingredients cooked in innovative ways from local vegetables, legumes, and flowers cooked in a parmesan broth to a Thai roasted quail with peanuts, chili and lime. They also have phenomenal charcuterie plates that focus on local meats and cheeses so if you want to try Catalan cheeses head here! No matter what you are in the mood for head here if you want to experience how the newest generation of chefs are reinventing Catalan ingredients and creating a whole new modern cuisine.
Carrer de la Unió, 17
1pm-12am Monday through Saturday, Closed Sundays
Bar Cañete is a perfect follow up after a visit to La Bouqueria, the most famous market in Barcelona because they source their ingredients straight from the market. This restaurant is a modern expression of Catalan ingredients and is a treat. This place is always packed but if you can snag a seat at the counter so you can one, see all the delicious seafood, fresh and canned, that they have to offer, and two, watch the kitchen work. Honestly, we love open kitchens so any place that lets us watch these masters work gets on our list.
The food here is sublime, as you would expect with them getting their ingredients from the market just a few blocks away. Their menu is a slightly more decadent take on Catalan classics such as their canalons with foie gras and their oxtail in red wine sauce and topped with perfectly browned mashed potatoes. They also have an amazing selection of light fresh seafood dishes such as their shrimp in garlic and just simple anchovies in olive oil which showcases the slightly sweet, briny flavor of the fish.
Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 49
Casa Lolea is a charming and bright restaurant located in northern El Born. The decor immediately welcomes you with their cheery red polka dots and white washed brick bar filled with giant legs of jamón. This restaurant is known for their sangria but we will happily come here any day of the week for their modern Catalan cuisine. If you want to try true Catalan cheese make sure to pick a few from their cheese menu and then dive into all the other wonderful dishes they are offering from montaditos, small open faced sandwiches with rotating toppings including anchovies with camembert cheese or tuna belly and sundried tomatoes, to tapas to share including salmon belly blinis and pickled sardines. For them, their cuisine is all about sharing and embracing the idea of coming together for conversation over small bites.
Calle Pau Claris, 192
Located just before you cross Avinguda Diagonal into Gràcia, Bar Mut is a gem of a modern Catalan restaurant. They are focusing on Catalan ingredients here with a modern twist although if you order a plate a jamón be prepared to have the most beautiful plate of cured meat you have ever had, although it might cost you a pretty penny (around 25euros or more). This is a super small restaurant that is often packed, like all the best places in Barcelona and is well worth the wait to snag a table or just call ahead for a reservation.
Specials are written up on the chalkboard so you may need the waiter to read them to you if you can’t see that far away and also to translate some of the dishes as well which they are more than happy to do. And they often they like to make some recommendations. Be wary of this however because it can end up costing you a pretty penny. While this is not a cheap place to eat, especially in regards to some of the other restaurants in Barcelona, the quality of ingredients is sublime and the dishes themselves are very innovative, think seared tuna with edible flowers and fresh asparagus or the shrimp and egg yolk carpaccio. This makes for a wonderful and special night out, just pair your meal with a bottle of local cava and you have a perfect date night in Barcelona!
Carrer de Mallorca, 236
8am-1:30 am Monday through Friday, 9am-1:30 am Saturday and Sunday
Cerveceria Catalana is a glowing temple to beer and fresh tapas. This place is always packed with locals at all times of the day so be prepared to wait. You can either snag a spot at their two bars which line either side of the front room and dominated by large glass cases full of fresh tapas options or you can put your name in to wait for either the small outside patio or the main dining room. The restaurant is full of dark wood paneling and modern lighting and is a stylish outpost in an area dominated by tacky tourist traps.
This is a tapas institution in Barcelona and is famous for its two and three tiered tapas case full of fresh and innovative tapas. If you want to try red peppers stuffed with branda de bacallá this is the place to do it. Here you will receive one large, beautiful red pepper that has been stuffed with cod and then heated up in the oven with a cheesy topping. You can also try bacallá a la llauna here along with a variety of fried seafood and esclavida (Catalan ratatouille) served with warm melting goat cheese on top, and don’t miss their tapas of the day for what is fresh and in season that day. Round out your meal with a cana of their house made beer or two and you will see why people keep returning here day after day. This restaurant is certainly a temple to tapas and while they are a little more modern and upscale than what you might find at some other tapas bars they keep things classic with just a few small modern twists.
There are so many wonderful places to eat in Barcelona that it can sometimes be difficult to choose where to go! But we hope that when you visit the city you give at least one of these places a try because exploring the modern side of Catalan cuisine is integral to understanding it as a whole plus these modern restaurants in Barcelona are just too much fun! These restaurants top our list of places to go in general because they all combine what we love about the city, fantastic food, amazing wine and a warm atmosphere filled with people coming together for a meal and a good chat with friends and family!
Read On to Read the Rest of the Series!
Top Modern Barcelona Restaurants – You’re Here!
*This selection of restaurant is just the tip of the iceberg of the over sixty different restaurants, bars and markets that we have included in our book Eat Local in Barcelona – A Guide to Catalan Cuisine which is on sale now in paperback and ebook!*
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