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Tickets El mejor de los mejores featured

There’s a simple reason why the minimum wait for reservations at Tickets is two months: They serve some of the best tapas in the world (no hyperbole, promise). The fact that Ferran Adrià—the former head chef of El Bulli, widely regarded as the best eatery in the world before it closed in 2011—is at the helm probably helps a bit too.

The menu oozes insane levels of quality and invention, with dishes such as avocado cannelloni stuffed with crab, razor clams with refried sauce and lemon air, and a Catalonian reboot of surf ‘n’ turf—sauteed bean, iberian sausages and baby squid—zipping out of the open kitchen from open ‘til close. Liquid refreshment comes in the form of Catalan wines, Champagne from across the border and beer served straight from barrels set atop the bar.

In a nutshell? It’s a hell of a wait for a table, but the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow would put Midas to shame.

Barraca A xiringuito like you've never seen featured

Barraca has more than a few things in its favor. Sitting pretty on the sandy edge of Barceloneta, it is a mere croqueta’s throw away from the Mediterranean. Quite literally. You’ll therefore be perhaps unsurprised that the seafood here is wriggling fresh. Not literally this time, though nevertheless exceptionally fresh.

But the reason that this restaurant’s opening was the worst kept secret of summer 2013 had nothing to do with the location nor the fresh fish. The buzz in the air was all to do with the hype-worthy, Michelin-studded record of head chef Xavier Pellicer – a gastronomic wizard who has decided to put down his haute cuisine conjuring spoon for a while and instead go back to doing real people’s food, for real people’s prices.

The all-time peasant favorite paella has taken pride of place here—a deep sticky concoction that is crisped briefly in the oven before serving. Beneath the rich rice crust lurks a near anthology of the ocean, as can be seen in the arroz bomba—complete with squid, rock fish, mussels and clams. Barraca is also organically-minded and kitted out in a modern, nautical manner. But need we really say more…

Au Port de la Lune El bistro francés

Located adjacent ‘Mercat de la Boqueria,’ this minuscule French bistro defies its humble, sparse glassfront, combining flavorful French cooking with the rambunctious Spanish flair for hospitality. The auténtico approach to cuisine and painstaking procurement of ingredients from France thematically underscores this eatery, where the blackboard outside reads—somewhat haughtily—‘no Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light and no Ketchup.’

À la carte offerings such as Cassoulet (sausage, bean and duck stew) and Bavette al Echalope are sublime, but the best treat here its lunchtime ‘Menu del Día’ or set-price menu. Priced at 12€ during the week and 15€ on weekends for three courses, bread and one drink, the choice of starters, mains and desserts changes daily and never falters on quality. There are no menus, steak is cooked one way only (rare) and the exceptional wait staff cheerfully ‘act-out’ meal descriptions for those not up to scratch on Catalan culinary lingo.

The bistro also doubles as a store, selling wines, cheese, champagne and other such fine French sundries.

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