23 Mar Discover Michelin-Starred Restaurants in Spain: Part 2 (Basque Country, Cataluña & Madrid)
A guide to some of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain by Just Explore…
FOOD is a big part of life in Spain and sharing a meal with friends and loved ones is one of the most important social rituals in Spain; not only is a moment of the day when food is shared, but it is also a moment to talk and strengthen bonds of love and friendship.
This deeply-ingrained social ritual, together with the fact that Spain has a wide variety of climates, landscapes, environments and cultural influences, means that it’s brimming with Michelin-star restaurants, 249 to be precise, as we discovered in our first instalment of this three part guide to some of the best Michelin starred restaurants in Spain and Portugal.
Last week’s introductory guide focused on those restaurants found in the regions of Andalucia and Valencia. If you missed it, don’t worry! Click here for the full read: Discover Michelin Restaurants in Spain: Part I (Andalucia & Valencia).
This week’s article delves into the outstanding cuisine of several Michelin-starred restaurants in the Basque country, Cataluña and Spain’s capital Madrid.
To round up this three-part guide, the final instalment will transport us to the rolling hills of neighbouring Portugal, where its delicious food and Mediterranean vibe also produces exquisite dishes which have also earned a place in the highly-regarded French gastronomic bible.
But first, rewind, unwind and take a moment (with a glass of wine) to savour the magic moments whilst taking a look at our pick of Michelin-starred restaurants found in the western Pyrenees, in the northeastern corner of Spain and also those found in central Spain.
The Basque country—considered one of the best fine dining destinations in the world!
Etxebarri* – Axpe
Etxebarri’s owner-chef Bittor Arginzoniz brings his vision of flame-grilled cooking to life in a splendidly restored 18th-century country house in his home village of Axpe-Atxondo which sits at the foot of Monte Anboto—one of the highest peaks in the Basque Country.
Arginzoniz’s unique cuisine focuses on top-quality grilled dishes using different types of wood (holm oak, vine shoots, oak from old barrels etc), utensils he invents himself, and an unusual system of pulleys as a food cooking control method.
Nerua Guggenheim* – Bilbao
Nerua takes its name from the Nervión River, meaning the backbone of Bilbao, a place where the salty Atlantic ocean mixes with the freshwater river, often resulting in dynamic chemical conditions. In the same way, Chef Josean Alija recreates a similar dynamic blend by combining innovation with traditional Basque flavours. The result, dazzling dishes with depth and a nuanced play with vegetables.
Kokotxa* – San Sebastian
Named after one of the Basque country’s finest dishes, this lovely restaurant is located in the heart of the old town. Thanks to the duo of Daniel López in the kitchen and Estela Velasco front of house, modern cuisine inspired by Basque traditions and the very best market ingredients is masterfully prepared.
Influences from other cultures (Japan, India, Turkey etc) are subtly present in the dishes prepared, where there is a focus on two menus, both served for the whole table, and which vary in the number of courses.
Arzak*** – San Sebastian
Elegant, family-run restaurant from 1897 and Michelin-starred since 1974! A culinary mecca located in a century-old family mansion with a father-daughter team behind the wheel. Together, Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena have succeeded in expertly fusing surprising gasto innovations with traditional Basque cuisine.
Menu options include a complete tasting menu or a set menu with a choice of dishes.
Mugaritz** – Errenteria
Considered one of the world’s best restaurants since 2006, Mugaritz is a melting pot for culture, philosophy and cooking where truly unique culinary experiences are offered.
Following a period of research into flavours and tastes, chef Andoni Luis Aduritz now proposes a single tasting menu with more than 20 small and surprising finger foods.
Cataluña—few places in the world can rival this dining scene.
Lasarte** – Barcelona
A must if looking for a sophisticated locale where artfully arranged dishes are served.
Restaurante Lasarte opened its doors in January 2006, and at the helm is chef Martín Berasategui, renowned for his gastronomic vision for Barcelona and leads the very best team of professionals who strive to delight diners with fabulous dishes that respect the products of the earth and the sea.
Dining options include a la carte menu or one of the various tasting menus, both served with great delicacy.
ABaC*** – Barcelona
Located in an exclusive area of the uptown Barcelona, ABaC is not only a restaurant but also one of the finest boutique hotels in the region. Inside this classy hotel, chef Jordi Cruz and his team maintain the highest of standards to honour the 3 Michelin stars award-winning restaurant. Cruz’s culinary style combines tradition, modernity, flavour, exotic flavours and produce.
ABaC was the first of all the Michelin restaurants in Barcelona to get a 2nd Michelin star, then a 3rd.
Disfrutar** – Barcelona
This innovative restaurant embodies the creative souls of the three chefs at its helm: Eduard Xatruch, Oriol Castro and Mateu Casañas. All of whom worked alongside Ferran Adrià at El Bulli. Two tasting menus are offered: “Classic”, a selection of the signature dishes of the house, and “Festival” which showcases the latest seasonal innovations. There is even an alcohol-free pairing option!
Moments** – Barcelona
The fine dining restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona hotel offers one of the finest gastronomic experiences in Barcelona. The contemporary space decorated in amber and gold tones is run by Raül Balam, son of acclaimed chef Carme Ruscalleda (the only woman to have been awarded 7 Michelin stars in the world!).
The cuisine highlights the creativity of Catalan tradition, healthy Mediterranean produce and the uniqueness of each flavour. A unique tasting menu, dubbed “Disset” (17), aligns its 17 dishes with each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
Castell Peralada* – Peralada
Located inside the truly unique setting of a 14th Century castle, which, over the years has been extended to include a museum, a park and a casino, Castell Peralada Restaurant offers traditional haute cuisine updated with avant-garde style and prepared using local produce.
There is an à la carte menu, as well as a daily set menu and a tasting menu, and the wine list is extensive and varied, an experience that can be enjoyed in various settings such as the restaurant, the private dining rooms in its towers or on the lakefront terrace.
Madrid—boasts an incredible gastronomic scene.
Paco Roncero** – Madrid
The setting at Paco Roncero is as majestic as the food is flavorful. Located on the top floor of a 19th century building, the restaurant offers the most stunning views in Madrid which makes for a visually pleasing and interactive dining experience.
Choose from three exciting set menus, each one an unexpected combination of tastes expertly woven together.
Ramón Freixa** – Madrid
Passionate, a perfectionist, approachable and fun are words often used to describe the persona behind international chef Ramón Freixa who heads the prestigious fine-dining restaurant on the cutting edge in Madrid.
This elegant restaurant, with its stunning floor, has a main dining area, a private dining room, and a glass-fronted terrace resembling a veranda and makes for a luxurious setting in the Salamanca district.
The three tasting menus (“Temporalidad RFM”, “Descubriendo RFM” and “Universo Freixa”) strike a wonderful balance between traditional and cutting-edge cuisine.
Deessa** – Madrid
Located in the Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid, Deessa is a truly unique restaurant. The dining room is set in the Alfonso XIII salon overlooking the garden and is the ideal setting to savour head chef Quique Dacosta’s fabulous culinary vision.
Choose between two tasting menus, prepared with delicious culinary delights, one entitled “Históricos Quique Dacosta”, featuring the chef’s signature dishes from his restaurant in Dénia, and “Contemporary Menús QDRITZ”.
A reduced version of both menus called “Essence” is also available at lunchtimes midweek.
Corral de la Moreria* – Madrid
Home to the “world’s best flamenco tablao”, this historic venue has two highly distinct dining spaces: the Tablao restaurant, where you can dine while watching the live flamenco show; and a separate contemporary gastronomic space overseen by chef David García which is much quieter and has seating for just eight guests.
There is a single, modern tasting menu (Gargantua) which is strongly influenced by the chef’s Basque origins. Another interesting feature at Corral de la Moreria is its wine cellar, which boasts an impressive selection of wines from the Marco de Jerez denomination, including a unique collection of long-lost labels unrepeated in the world.
DiverXo*** – Madrid
DiverXO in Spain’s capital has won the title of the best restaurant in Madrid. And its founder, Madrid-born extravagant chef, Dabiz Muñoz, has been named the best chef in the world and offers very creative dishes, combining round and intense flavours with daring and exotic mixtures and widely different textures.
The restaurant’s famous tasting menu, with avant-garde cuisine, is crafted in a dynamic way and serves a diverse experience of modern cooking.
With Muñoz’s flagship restaurant, we round up part II of Just Explore’s guide to some of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain. We hope you’ve found it useful and informative.