30 Jun, 2024 @ 16:07
4 mins read

These are the eight best restaurants in Spain, according to a prestigious global top 100 list – so how many have YOU tried?

DISFRUTAR, located in the heart of Barcelona’s thriving Eixample district, was recently crowned the World’s Best Restaurant.

And with a trio of restaurants in the World’s Top Five, it’s fair to say that Spain is still leading the way in the kitchen following last year’s triple whammy of top 5 entries..

In fact, in this year’s ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ ceremony held in Las Vegas, Spain did even better than in 2023 – with Disfrutar scooping top spot following last year’s runner up position.

Asador Etxebarri, based in the Basque village of Atxondo,  jumped two places to second while Diverxo, the  Madrid-based restaurant owned by reigning Best Chef in the World Dabiz Muñoz (according to The Best Chef website) slipped one spot to fourth.

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Judges praised Disfrutar for ‘imaginative dishes that are executed with exceptional technical skills and served in the most playful way possible’ which ensure that customers ‘have the dining experience of a lifetime’.

They added: “Two parallel menus of 30 courses are on offer: The Classic and The Festival. The former features dishes such as Thai-style cuttlefish with coconut multi-spherical, and squab with kombu spaghetti, almond and grape, while the famously indulgent caviar-filled Panchino doughnut and brilliant frozen gazpacho sandwich can be found in the Classic option”. 

Disfrutar’s three founding chefs, Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas – who met when they worked at legendary El Bulli – were visibly emotional as they collected their award.

Xatruch dedicated the award to everyone who ‘has worked and continues to work everyday to make this profession wonderful’, whilst Castro said he was ‘surprised and honoured’ to win the ‘magical’ award, adding that he wanted ‘to thank and congratulate our colleagues who are on the list and who have each contributed to building a great gastronomy’. 

Elsewhere, Quique Dacosta on the Costa Blanca came 14th, up from 20th, whilst Elkano, another Basque restaurant celebrating the region’s famous gastronomy, dropped six places to 28th position.

Disfrutar, which received its third Michelin star last year, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in December.

However, if you want to sample some of the world’s best food, there is a hitch – the restaurant is booked up years in advance with, at the time of writing, no availability.

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a reservation, the Classic or Festival tasting menu will set you back €290, with the specially crafted wine pairing costing an extra €160 per person.

Alternatively, the trio of acclaimed chefs do own two sister restaurants – both are called Compartir, with one opened in Barcelona in 2022, and one based in the popular Costa Brava seaside town of Cadaques since 2012. 

1.Disfrutar, Barcelona 

Disfrutar Chefs Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas 

Modern techniques and personal talents come together in Disfrutar’s gastronomic experience. Set up by the trio of chefs, Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch, it sits behind a typical tapas joint, unfolding into a cavernous space behind. This is the first of ‘many surprises’ in what the judges describe as some of the ‘world’s most modish dishes’. Punters experience the classic tasting menu, which takes four hours, with its wine pairing options. Playing with shapes, textures, and flavours, Disfrutar’s experimental style has earned it thee Michelin stars and its place as the World’s Best Restaurant. 

2. Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo

Victor Arguinzoniz

In the small village of Axpe in the Basque region, the asador is a total contrast to its rivals on the list, favouring simplicity over experimentation. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t magic and it has become a true destination restaurant noteworthy for its grill techniques. Chef Victor Arguinzoniz’s more than 30 years of experience with ‘fire cooking’ contributes to his traditional approach and meticulous style – every dish that exits the kitchen is given his signature touch. The restaurant thrives off local produce and elevating ingredients by highlighting their natural flavours. 

4. Diverxo, Madrid

Dabiz Muñoz (right)

The bold, rule-breaking flavours by chef Dabiz Muñoz are part of a greater, more marvellous story. Immersed in a fantasy-world of outlandish decor, staff dressed in punky uniforms serve a range of stunning, creative dishes. For foodies, the DiverXO experience makes dreams feel tame. Passing through the hands of five or six chefs before plating, the gastronomy follows Muñoz’s love for avant-garde art from conception to completion – he describes the experience as ‘something like the Cirque du Soleil’. 

14. Quique Dacosta, Denia

Quique Dacosta

Just two years after he began his career as a chef in 1986, at just 16 years of age, Quique Dacosta began working at a restaurant that would later share his name. His food takes an artistic approach to the geographies and cuisines of the Mediterranean and nearby Montgo Natural Park. Putting Valencian cuisine very much on the map, his respect for nature — the roots of the restaurant — comes forth in every bite.

28. Elkano, Getaria

Aitor Arregi

At this incredibly picturesque spot, Aitor Arregi uses his method of whole-grilling fish over a wood fire as the foundation of his flavour. Playing off Getaria’s gastronomic heritage, this method of cooking has become an integral part of the town’s cuisine and a tradition for Arregi, whose father, Pedro, opened the first Elkano back in 1964. There is a distinct emphasis on sustainability and the local connection is reflected within the dishes and maritime decor.

Three more Spanish restaurants made it on to the top 100 list:

59. Enigma, Barcelona 

Under the helm of chef  Chef Albert Adria – brother of legendary El Bulli chef Ferran Adria – Enigma uses seasonal ingredients in its monthly menus and offers different wine experiences. The finishing touches on the meals are added right at the table so guests can witness the ever changing techniques. 

72. Aponiente, Cadiz

Chef Ángel León is recognised as “The Chef of the Sea” for utilising ingredients from the Mediterranean and Atlantic sea in his evolving menus. The current rendition, based on the infinite sea, commits to sustainability and new techniques. Even in the dessert section, the restaurant blends together traditional sweets with seafood.  

81.  Mugaritz, San Sebastian

At Mugaritz, presentation is anthropomorphic in the most intimate and wondrous ways. Take the dish ‘heart that does not feel’ which is a flat, almost 2D slice of meat with ribbons of fat representing the aorta. Mugaritz has long taken a philosophical approach to food thanks to its intellectual chef Andoni Luis Aduriz. He had been in the 50 Best list for well over a decade before slipping out this year.

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