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Barcelona's Best Downtown Restaurants: A Maze of Options



Over the years Barcelona's culinary scene has diversified and improved tenfold and today it’s home to renowned Spanish as well as international chefs and a handful of mouth watering Michelin Star gems. Barcelona's downtown district or, Ciutat Vella (Old City), in particular, is a maze of windy streets, back alleyways and medieval courtyards and is full of delicious, trendy and rustic restaurants; many of which are hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Whether you're searching for authentic Catalan dishes, Spanish tapas, Mediterranean fusion, French cuisine or a mix of everything, Barcelona's downtown core has an incredible selection of places to dine. What's so great about the city is how easy it is to get from one area to the next and this is especially true in the Old City. The Born, Gothic Quarter and Ravel neighborhoods are all in very close proximity of one another so you can have dinner in one place and go for drinks after in a completely different 'barrio' in less than 10 minutes on foot. Another perk to dining in Ciutat Vella, is that after dinner you can take a short stroll to the beach and walk along the boardwalk overlooking the sea and even stopping for a drink at one of the many chiringuitos (beachside restaurants) that are always open between March – October.


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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. Their food is high-end but the vibe is casual, unpretentious and incredibly inviting. They also have a wonderful terrace which is perfect during the summer.

Recommended for Downtown because: French Cuisine in an airy, unassuming restaurant with great wines and fabulous cheeses

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

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Delicious Basque style food in Barcelona's trendy Born neighborhood. Orio is a great place to eat pintxos, Basque style tapas, or have a full on meal. With a large variety of seafood, meats, cured cheeses, salads and an amazingly long wine list, Orio is a good 'go to' restaurant for lunch or dinner. Situated just outside the Santa Catarina market, it has a lively patio, ideal in the summer and heated in the winter. It's perfectly situated, close to bars and not far from Passeig Del Born. Orio has several locations throughout the city, the Born restaurant is one of the more central spots.

Recommended for Downtown because: Basque style tapas in the city center. Original, authentic and extremely tasty

Sam's expert tip: Try their steak and octopus

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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 Downtown because: The city's best Steak, especially if you're into Argentinean cuts of meat

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.

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Salero


Featuring a mix of high quality Oriental and Mediterranean cuisine, Salero was established before the Born became trendy and is now one of the 'go to' hot spots for delicious food and fun evenings out on the town. Dim lighting and candlelit tables coupled with a warm and somehow magical ambiance, make this restaurant ideal for dates. Since it's situated in the heart of the action, when dinner's over all you have to do is step outside and you have tons of options at your fingertips in order to keep the night going. If you walk a few blocks up you can have cocktails at Mix bar after dinner.

Recommended for Downtown because: A romantic restaurant just off of Passeig Del Born. Quaint with great food

Sam's expert tip: They have a few outdoor tables but be sure to reserve them in advance especially in the summer.

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Old Town
El Salón


The antique decor that adorns El Salon is simply charming, and the menu is equally impressive. It is based on a Catalan traditional menu, but it is colored with French influence. Dishes you should try include roast guinea fowl with chestnut confit or an aubergine tart with goat's cheese and pesto. El Salon is owned and run by a Pakistani native who puts so much heart into his food, the menu and overall decor. It has a family-style feel yet the food is high-quality and avant-garde. The terrace is one of the greatest selling points for El Salon as it's surrounded by the old Roman Wall and is very romantic.

Recommended for Downtown because: Beautifully situated restaurant behind the old Roman wall with delicious food

Sam's expert tip: Try their tuna and lamb.

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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.

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Pla


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. This is an authentic restaurant which has become increasingly popular amongst foreigners as well as locals alike. The waiters sit down with you while explaining the menu and cater to dietary as well as other food restrictions so be sure to tell them if there's something you want that's not on the menu.

Recommended for Downtown because: High-end food in a romantic, dimly lit, two story beautiful locale 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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Comerc 24


This Michelin star restaurant boasts the best of both worlds; an eclectic tapas bar with the service of an elegant restaurant. Avant-Garde with a modern decor, Comerc 24 has been hailed as a Barcelona 'must-try' from foodies worldwide. Renowned chef, Carles Abellan's reputation precedes him and his talents shine through his innovative and delicious dishes. This is a wonderful place to dine in the city's downtown core. Located in the trendy Born Neighborhood, you're close to excellent shops, cafes and bars as well as late night fun. So once the dinner is over, if you can still walk, there's plenty to do.

Recommended for Downtown because: Quality food in an authentic and delicious restaurant. Michelin-Star service

Sam's expert tip: Book well in advance the restaurant is always packed. Even if the restaurant is full you can often ask to be seated at the bar which has the exact same menu.

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Montiel


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 Downtown because: Elegant, one of a kind restaurant with the best gastro tapas and tasting menu

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

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A hip, New York style gastro tapas bar in the heart of the Born neighborhood. Llamber is chic and trendy, set in a loft style setting with exposed brick and a mix of high top tables and regular seating. The restaurant prides itself on quality, fresh food from the market as well as it's incredible wine list with a whopping 30 wines by the glass. This is a chic new place in Barcelona to dine with friends or on a date. It's also great for family outings perhaps on a special occasion. It's quite roomy and great for large groups.

Recommended for Downtown because: Trendy New York Style restaurant in the heart of the Born

Sam's expert tip: Try their salad it's incredible and innovative

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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

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