It would take more than a solid month’s worth of meals to truly taste the best of Spain’s restaurants, as its gastronomic traditions are as rich and varied as the country itself. There’s Andalusian cuisine, famous for introducing the world to gazpacho; the Basque Country, with its strong culture of pintxos; a wealth of Catalonian cuisine from the sea and mountains; plus the exciting food-driven cities of Barcelona and Madrid. And that’s barely scratching the surface of what’s on offer.
While there are plenty of established Spanish restaurants that have been turning out some of the best food in the country (and the world) for years now—Tickets in Barcelona and El Celler de Can Roca in Girona come to mind—we’re focusing on the newest and buzziest locales for our list below. Here are seven standout spots to treat your tastebuds on your next trip to Spain.
When in Barcelona, Make a Reservation at:
One of the biggest international openings of the past year, Enigma, the latest restaurant by chef and restauranteur Albert Adrià (AKA the younger brother of world-famous Ferran Adrià from elBulli) is a culinary experience like no other. For starters, guests need a secret code just to enter (given when a reservations are made), the labyrinthine 7,534-square-foot space seats only 24 diners at a time and is divided into seven distinct rooms, and in some rooms the menu is only revealed after diners consume it—they’re asked to guess the ingredients. Posting photos of the food on social media is strongly discouraged, too (naturally, to maintain the restaurant’s enigma). The restaurant has been open just long enough for word about the experience to leak out, but the overall concept remains: A meal at Enigma is a sensory journey, with many unexpected elements and an air of mystery.
2. Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha
The latest project by twin brothers Stefano and Max Colombo (of restaurants Xemei and Can Cisa) with partner José Parrado (of restaurant Terraza Martínez), Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha is the cool new kid on the block. It’s as hip and irreverent as you’d like for your local casual pizza joint, but with some serious cooking behind each pie. Think sourdough fermented for 72 hours, cooked in a wood-burning oven, and then liberally coated with high-quality ingredients. Choose any pizza and accompany it with an impeccable plate of porchetta or homemade meatballs to round out your meal.
When in Madrid, Make a Reservation at:
3. Glass Mar
Avant-garde seafood-loving chef Ángel León, who holds four Michelin stars across two different restaurants, is the culinary mind behind the new Glass Mar restaurant tucked within Madrid’s Urban Hotel. Just opened in 2017, Glass Mar is the first Madrid restaurant from the acclaimed “El Chef Del Mar” and is a true love song to seafood. The menu that includes hallmarks like creamy rice plankton, smoked sardines, and shrimp with eggs and Iberian bacon, all designed to share. If you manage to nab one of Glass Mar’s coveted 28 seats, an eye-catching polished white whale skeleton presides over your meal.
4. Coque Madrid
The original Coque started as a simple village bar on the outskirts of Madrid, but since taking over their parents and grandparents restaurant, brothers Mario, Rafa and Diego Sandoval won two Michelin stars in a highly impressive rise. Today, in a much-anticipated move, the trio of brothers took over Archy, one of the city’s coolest clubs in the ’80s and ’90s, to house new Coque Madrid in August of 2017. Signature dishes like suckling pig, roasted in a wood oven, and now served with peaches and passion fruit, made the move. Mario, the chef, is continually experimenting too, especially with fermentation and locally-sourced ingredients. The restaurant’s luxe interiors include a bar, a cocktail lounge, a cellar that can hold up to 26,000 bottles, four dining rooms, and an open kitchen, all spread over two floors.
When in Northern Spain, Make a Reservation at:
Its rare that a restaurant is so good that it earns a Michelin star a mere seven months after opening, but that’s exactly the story of Amelia. That said, it is located in San Sebastian, a region that’s one of the most Michelin-accoladed in the world—but that only makes its star all the more impressive, as this foodie capital contains plenty of competition. This is Argentinean-born chef Paulo Airaudo first solo restaurant (sweetly named after his daughter), and serves a frequently changing ten-course menu featuring seasonal, sustainable fare from small producers cooked with fine techniques. There’s seating for just 28 diners so reservations are a must.
When in Mallorca, Make a Reservation at:
6. Fera Restaurant & Bar
Housed in a stylishly restored old town palace in Palma’s city center, Austrian-born chef Simon Petutschning takes his signature “MediterrAsian” food to the next level at Fera, which opened near the end of 2017. Petutschning, also also the mastermind behind Mallorca’s landmark restaurants The Kitchen and Quadrat, offers up set meals or à la carte menus, including favorite dishes like crab California rolls and hake in salsa verde. Dining at Fera is a feast for the eyes, too—a gallery-curated contemporary art collection is showcased throughout, further elevating each carefully-plated dish.
7. Tomeu amb Arrels
Tomeu Caldentey, the first Mallorcan chef to be awarded a Michelin star, heads this innovative new high-end restaurant that’s reinterpreting Balearic island cuisine. The restaurant’s name references “roots,” and Chef Tomeu looks to the roots of Mallorcan cooking—sometimes using recipes handed down through generations—given a new, high-end contemporary twist. You’ll find Tomeu amb Arrels tucked within the luxuriant Sant Jaume boutique hotel in Palma’s Old Town.