Dinner + Drinks
With daring dishes such as oysters with mango sauce, as well as updated classics like steak tartare with caviar and chips, Jean Luc Figueras champions his own brand of Catalan fusion at Blanc (Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, 38-40 Passeig de Gràcia; 34/93-151-8888; mandarinoriental.com; dinner for two $160). The dining room, designed by Patricia Urquiola, is as dazzling as the food. Later, join the fashion crowd for cocktails and tapas at B Lounge (Hotel Barceló Raval, 17-21 Rambla del Raval; 34/93-320-1490; barceloraval.com; drinks for two $25).
Breakfast + Lunch
Newcomers Christopher King and Tommy Tang—formerly of the handmade-candy store Papabubble—have transformed the city’s breakfast and brunch scene with their sleek new Café Federal (39 Carrer del Parlament; 34/93-187-3607; federalcafe.es; breakfast for two $20), in increasingly hip Sant Antoni. Take your pick of the three floors (from the communal dining table downstairs to a sunny roof terrace) and order the cocotte of baked corral (farmhouse) eggs with pancetta, or the slow-roasted local tomatoes on sourdough toast. Meander back through town and hit the beach for lunch at superstar Carles Abellán’s latest outpost, Bravo24 (W Barcelona, 1 Plaça de la Rosa dels Vents; 34/93-295-2636; w-barcelona.com; lunch for two $182). This new-wave asador inside the Ricardo Bofill–designed W hotel features steaks from 10 breeds of pedigreed cows (we loved the domestic Rubia Gallega), grilled to perfection over oak wood. If that’s not to your gusto, the grilled lettuce with garlic vinaigrette is extraordinary, too.
Snacks + Sweets
At Vioko (55 Passeig de Joan de Borbó Comte de Barcelona; 34/93-221-0652; vioko.es; scoops for $3.50) in Barceloneta, the dense, velvety ice creams and sorbets—in refreshing jasmine and grapefruit or exotic rose petal and violet—are ideal palate cleansers. Stroll up to El Born and pick up plump pistachios and Marcona almonds roasted at the 1850’s shop E&A Gispert (23 Carrer dels Sombrerers; 34/93-319-7535); then finish up your gastrotour with a copa de vino and tapas of small-production Spanish cheeses and charcuterie from the esteemed Cal Rovira farm in Berguedà, at pint-size bar Zim (20 Carrer de la Dagueria; no phone), in the heart of the Barri Gòtic. But it’s not over yet! Even at the airport, Barcelona doesn’t disappoint. The gratinéed macaroni timbale at Porta Gaig (Terminal 1; 34/93-259-6210; lunch for two $85; open noon to 5 p.m.) by chef Carles Gaig, whose other namesake restaurant (restaurantgaig.com) has a Michelin star, will go a long way toward easing the pain of departure.
Chef Favorites: Albert Adrià
Albert Adrià, former pastry wizard at El Bulli, has taken traditional tapas for a spin at the newly inaugurated tapas restaurant Tickets (ticketsbar.es). (The restaurant’s bar, 41, offers highlights of El Bulli as snacks.) Here, his pick of four classic Catalan haunts.
Bar Mandri: Claim an outdoor table in the folksy Sarrià district’s stalwart bar and try the city’s definitive patatas bravas. 60 Carrer de Mandri; 34/93-417-1129; tapas for two $16.
El Quim de la Boquería: Everything at this Boquería Market bar is exalted, especially the huevos con llanqueta, tiny sautéed fish served with eggs. 607 Boquería; 34/93-301-9810; elquimdelaboqueria.com) lunch for two $52.
La Clara: The ultimate Sunday lunch means a seat at the counter and a plate of La Clara’s house cannelloni. 442 Gran Vía de les Corts Catalanes; 34/93-289-3460; laclararestaurant.com; lunch for two $40.
La Plata: Inside the tiled Barri Gòtic bodega, order the small fried fish of the day (it’s not always sardines) and a dazzling tomato-and-onion salad. 28 Carrer de la Mercè; 34/93-315-1009; tapas for two $15.