Barcelona is known for many things; tango dancing, quirky Gaudí architecture, beautiful beaches — not to mention the day trips from Barcelona are fantastic.
However, one important aspect of the culture that sometimes gets overlooked, but shouldn’t, is the vibrant underground dining scene.
The term “supper club” stems from the speakeasies of the American prohibition era in the 1920s and 30s, when it was used to refer to a place where food was served with alcohol.
Today, with the evolution of the Barcelona culinary social scene, food lovers are embracing new forms of dining. The phenomenon of the supper club has shed its low key underground status and has evolved into an exquisite dining experience.
The supper club feels more like a dinner party than a restaurant. It offers an intimate experience where you can see the chefs in action and interact with them. In some parts of Europe, the supper club competition is fierce, with many chefs having been trained professionally, while others boast impressive work experience in Michelin-starred restaurants.
Barcelona is at the forefront of this gastro-revolution. Thanks to the Adria Brothers (Ferran and Albert), the city has always been on the frontier of culinary innovation. The brothers have dominated the Barcelona tapas scene for the last five years, pushing boundaries and meeting increasingly high expectations with a set of six restaurants, all located in the same Raval district of the city. This collective is named “El Barri” (Catalan for “The District”). Their most famous venue is Tickets Bar, which opened its doors on the heels of the ultra famous and controversial El Bulli restaurant.
There are several well-established supper clubs in Barcelona which are geared toward giving diners something special — an experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere in the experimental dining scene. Meanwhile, review platforms such as BonAppetour and EatWith.com have caused an explosion in social dining. Diners at supper clubs can leave feedback about their experiences, rating the venue’s ability to host and communicate with their guests, as well as the chef’s ingenuity in the kitchen.
Here’s a list of some of the best social dining venues Barcelona has to offer, ranging from the classic to the new and upcoming.
This restaurant is run out of an apartment in Barcelona’s Gothic district. The place used to be a warehouse; an architectural project which the famous Catalan artist Antoni Gaudi once worked on. Project Codols 16 is a monthly pop-up restaurant offering a five-course meal. Diners are brought together on a long table to make the experience more interactive and social, while live music is provided by a renowned Chilean Cellist, Pepe Arias.
Upcoming dinners include dishes such as a Bloody Mary shots on oysters and a Peruvian ceviche. The Argentinian chef and creator, Agustin Valinoti, trained at some of Barcelona’s most iconic restaurants before deciding to take the experience a step further to create a social, culinary experience.Here's how to have an #amazing and #delicious dining #experience when visiting #Barcelona. Click To Tweet
2. Dry Martini
Dry Martini is a cocktail bar located in Barcelona’s Example district (Calle Aribau 162). It is a true testament to the origins of the Speakeasy. The cocktail bar is owned by Javier de las Mueles, known internationally as the ‘High priest of the Martini’.
Dry Martini has been listed as one of the 50 best bars in the world for seven consecutive years. It also has a private dining restaurant, called Speakeasy, in a 1930-style warehouse located in the back room of the bar. The restaurant may be traditional in its concept, but its cuisine is modern. The chefs work behind glass panels so that diners can see them in action. They offer a cocktail pairing menu, marrying dishes such as a “Passion Fruit Brûlée Cocktail” with Iberian suckling pig, and a “Coconut Martini” with vegetable curry and grilled scallop.
Basque chef Xabi Bonilla learned the culinary arts by working for 15 years in Michelin starred restaurants in the tapas hub of San Sebastien. He also gave cookery courses, which drove him to the idea of establishing an intimate private dining venue. His produce is sourced from fresh food markets across Barcelona.
Xabi offers a six-course tasting menu with a private or shared table. He also gives a private Spanish cooking class entitled Paellove (short for love of paella), which involves a market tour for buying fresh ingredients and using them during the class. There’s also a mini Spanish cuisine workshop dedicated to the very Basque art of pinchos: one-bite morsels which San Sebastien is famous for.Check out these #unique dining venues in #Barcelona serving #local #cuisine with a twist. Click To Tweet
Located in a vast loft space in a former copper cable factory, Hidden factory is a dining concept created by Nico and Xavi, a Swiss-Spanish team of chefs who have worked their way through the high-end restaurants of Barcelona. Nico studied at the famous Hoffmann Culinary School in Barcelona. Together with Xavi, he decided to dedicate his skills to something very creative.
Nico and Xavi are currently offering a Gaudi-inspired menu with a colorful array of dishes, which include seafood snack tile, baby squids filled with Catalan sausage, and artichokes with Iberian ham. Their dishes are often accompanied by stories of their life working in high-end dining venues and finding inspiration in the markets of Barcelona.
Founded in 2010, Jezebel’s Clandestine Dining was one of Barcelona’s first supper clubs to break out of the clandestine mold. American chef and ex-model Kathleen Engelhardt organizes events in different locations across Barcelona, such as art galleys and loft spaces, taking advantage of the city’s rich cultural scene to show off her dishes.
Jezebel’s describes its dining experience as “hidden adventures for intrepid gastronomes and hungry rogues,” mixing New American cuisine with Cajun and Creole-style dishes. This pop-up restaurant also offers bourbon burlesque nights with sultry food and wine pairings.
Barbershop Ristorante is a touring pop-up restaurant from Los Angeles, fronted by recognized Italian chef Walter El Nagar, known as the “Culinary Nomad.” Accompanied by his team of roving chefs, El Nagar uses the pop-up supper clubs as a way to research and experiment with dishes. The team tours the culinary capitals of the Mediterranean with layovers scheduled in Barcelona.
Barbershop Ristorante offers an Italian-Californian fusion menu. Picture white asparagus with licorice sabayon and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and sea urchin marinated in tomato and served with clams in black garlic. The chefs use food workshop spaces and source local ingredients for their menus, implementing a zero-kilometer philosophy.
Evohé gets its name from the ceremonial chant by the disciples of Bacchus, the Roman God of wine. Eva Espinet and Olga Moya invite people to their apartment to try local Catalan cuisine with local Catalans, offering a contemporary twist on dishes sourced from neighborhood shops and markets. They use virgin olive oil from their family’s estate in the region of L’Empordá, in the north of Catalonia, and locally-sourced Vermouth from Barcelona’s bohemian district of Gracia. They also serve Gildas, a tasty combination of spicy green chilies, stuffed olives and anchovies, named after the film Gilda starring Rita Hayworth. The fish menu includes typical Catalan fish-based dishes, such as Xatonada-sourced cod, tuna fish and escarole salad.
Evohé offers a journey through the heart of authentic Catalan cuisine with knowledge that has been handed down through the generations, promising a unique yet deeply local experience.
On a budget? Check out these free things to do in Barcelona!
What are some of your favorite dining venues for trying out delicious food in Barcelona? Please share in the comments below!
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