Ciutat Vella's Tastiest and Trendiest Places to Dine

Barcelona's Old City is one of the best areas for a romantic dinner and delicious food. Over the past few years, Barcelona and Spain on a whole have become a food lovers' haven with innovative, new restaurants springing up everywhere. Ciutat Vella, in particular, is a hub for tasty, experimental gastro tapas, Catalan and Mediterranean Fusion and international cuisine including Asian, Italian and even a few new kosher restaurants as well.

The Gothic Quarter and Born neighborhoods are ideal if you're looking for an intimate meal in an authentically Spanish/Catalan setting. Many of the restaurants are situated in old buildings, and even though most of them have been renovated, the charm of these historic buildings shines through thus providing for a truly romantic experience.

Ciutat Vella's Raval and Poble Sec neighborhoods also provide for some excellent dining experiences. If you're looking for rustic and African or Pakistani cuisine, the Raval has a large number of options. Poble Sec is home to three new Ferran Adria restaurants and is continuing to shine as one of Barcelona's fastest up and coming 'barrios'. If you're looking for something that's truly off the beaten path, check out some of the family-run diners and beautiful terraces in this area. 


Café de l'Acadèmia

Casually appointed with wicker chairs and walls of stone, this restaurant exudes a chic, rustic feel. Strains of classical music can be heard by diners feasting on new Catalan cuisine such as chicken brochette, quail with soy and sesame, and paella in fish broth with prawns. Cafe L'Academia is typically Catalan with a slightly modern twist. Less 'stuffy' than other Catalan establishments, the food is authentic, and the vibe slightly more lively. Situated in Plaza Sant Jus, in the heart of the Gothic Quarter you're surrounded by great bars and after dinner places to have a tasty and always needed, digestif.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: Cafe L'Academia serves a high quality Catalan/Mediterranean Fusion which is hard to find in Ciutat Vella

Sam's expert tip: After dinner have a cocktail around the corner at Ginger bar

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Poblet Sec

Ferran Adria's newest addition to Barcelona's tapas scene, Tickets is a refreshing spin on gastro-tapas, offering delicious, innovative dishes in a fun and youthful locale. Tapas can be ordered a la carte or ask for their surprise menu where you let the waiters order for you. Even if you have food restrictions or allergies, just tell the waiters and they'll adapt the menu to meet your needs. They even offer a great wine pairing, just ask for their input. Although from the outside Tickets looks like you're at a carnival with its bright colours and wooden chairs and tables, it's an incredible gastronomic experience.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: Any restaurant by the Adria brothers has to be on the 'must-try' list

Sam's expert tip: Best way to reserve is to book at midnight, 3 months prior to the day you want to go. It's extremely hard to get reservations, but not impossible.

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El Foro

A beef lover's paradise, El Foro cooks a mean Argentinean bife de chorizo and is one of the few places in Barcelona that knows how to make a steak 'poco hecho' (bloody rare). This lively, airy and spacious restaurant is excellent for dates, parties or just an intimate evening out amongst friends. When it comes to lunch, they have a very affordable three-course lunch menu. Even if you're not a carnivore, you still have options; El Foro has an extensive menu including pasta, pizza and salad dishes amongst other Argentinean specialties. Every morning El Foro also features a small breakfast menu, with fresh orange juice; the restaurant also has free wi-fi.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: El Foro is the best place to go if you want an Argentinean cut of meat in Ciutat Vella

Sam's expert tip: Try their Bianchi Malbec, an excellent and reasonably priced Argentinean wine. They also have a tasty and cheap, three-course menu del dia for lunch.

Read more about El Foro →


There are few Barcelona restaurants able to beat the charm, elegance and eclectic menu found at Montiel. Hidden on one of the narrow side streets in the Born, this small, two-story restaurant has mouth watering tapas, meats, starters and above all they have an excellent selection of fresh fish daily. One of the only places in the city that has fish on Mondays (for the most part fish is not caught and sold on Sundays), this is a sure bet for dates, guests or an intimate evening out. Be sure to reserve on line in advance as its a small restaurant and it fills up quickly.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: Montiel is a gem in Ciutat Vella as it serves extremely tasty, high quality cuisine

Sam's expert tip: Try their sirloin steak and tuna tartar

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Mediterranean inspired cuisine with Spanish influence, this intimate and elegant restaurant is an excellent find in the heart of the Old City. Pla has an extensive menu including fish, meats, salads as well as seasonal specialties and mouth watering desserts. It's classy yet unpretentious and a perfect place to spend a truly enjoyable evening. The waiters will pull up a bar stool as they come to your hotel to take your order. They'll sit with you until you've decided and remain very attentive throughout the duration of the meal. Try to get a table upstairs as the ambiance is a 'tad' more intimate.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: Pla is one of the most romantic and intimate restaurants in the Gothic Quarter

Sam's expert tip: Be sure to reserve and keep in mind dinner is done in shifts so you only have two hours to eat from the time you sit down (which is usually enough).

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Ginger Bar

With its hanging disco ball, plush leather seats and wooden tables, many Ginger fans have coined this trendy wine and cocktail bar as an 'airport lounge'. It is however, rather known for it's innovative cocktails, wide selection of amazing wine and high quality tapas. This is a Barcelona gem, ideal for weekend adventures, intimate drinks and lively evenings on the town. Ginger is nestled behind Plaza Sant Jaume, in Plaza San Jus a little hard to find if you don't know where to look, but once you stumble upon it you'll be sure to mark the spot. After dinner check out some of the clubs around the corner in Plaza Reial.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: Ginger is the Old City's best cocktail bar and it also serves delicious quality tapas

Sam's expert tip: Try their tuna tartar and duck tapas dishes as well as the Gordito wine.

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An excellent gastro tapas bar in the Old City right near Arc De Triomf at the edge of the Born neighborhood. Elsa y Fred sports an early 1920's decor and provides an elegant understated vibe. It's a great place for a morning coffee and paper, tapas lunch and delicious dinner. On Tuesday nights they have Jazz and on weekends they're always packed for brunch. This is a new addition to the Born neighborhood and one of the only places in the area (upper Born) that serves high quality tapas and wines. The staff are mostly Argentinean and are all extremely friendly.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: Elsa Y Fred is Ciutat Vella's newest and trendiest take on gastro tapas

Sam's expert tip: Be sure to reserve in advance on Tuesdays and on the weekends

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A slice of Paris in the heart of Barcelona's Ciutate Vella, if you're in the mood for a french cafe/bistro, this is the place to go. Run by all French staff, this rustic, quaint and incredibly personable cafe acts as a restaurant as well as a late night wine bar. It's an ideal place to set up shop and work for the day using their free Wi-Fi while sipping on a glass of Bordeaux accompanied with a plate of Comte cheese. The restaurant has also launched it's 'menu del dia' (daily menu), served every day from 12:30-4:30 and is now open on Mondays.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: En Aparte serves the best French cuisine in Ciutat vella

Sam's expert tip: Try their Comte and Grison salad

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A trendy take on Vietnamese street food, this deli now has two locations, one in Gracia and one in the Born neighborhood. Priding themselves on serving fresh and healthy dishes, their motto is: 'we mind food' and they put their money where their mouth is. LaVietnamita is a tasty Asian and Spanish fusion option in a cool setting with great service. They also cater to dietary needs. After you're finished dinner, you can stroll along Passeig Del Born and have a drink at the always lively bars including Pitin and No Name Cafe. And if you're up for a night on the town, Magic Club is right around the corner.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: This is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the city

Sam's expert tip: Try their fideua and chicken dish

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If you're looking for tasty seafood, exceptional paella and a host of options including vegan dishes, Barraca is the optimal choice. Overlooking the beach, floor to ceiling windows line the upper floor of this restaurant, providing for gorgeous views, especially if you get to sit near the window. The food is delicious, with a particular focus on their fish and paella dishes. The staff are quick to accommodate and willing to adapt for dietary restrictions. It's also one of the only restaurants with a strictly vegan paella, which is mouth watering. Barraca is the perfect restaurant for a great lunch on the beach.

Recommended for Ciutat Vella's Best Restaurants because: A delicious seafood restaurant overlooking the water with great service and wonderful views

Sam's expert tip: Be sure to reserve in advance, especially on the weekends as it fills up extremely quickly

Read more about Barraca →


Meet Sam Mednick

Sam’s passion for the sea and mountains makes Barcelona the optimal living destination. 

Sam's love for traveling has taken her to Africa, the Middle East, Europe and South America. Before...  More About Sam