Travelers from the US tend to hit Spain’s great cities—Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Bilbao. But a recent trip to the Catalan countryside surrounding Barcelona made it clear to me once again that some of Spain’s greatest food destinations aren’t within city limits. Some places are famous—El Celler de Can Roca, in a suburb of Girona, is considered by some to be the best restaurant in the world. But others, less well known, are incredibly good as well. Here are five amazing dishes I had recently that prove that a trip beyond Barcelona’s boundaries is well worth the effort.
Restaurant Ibéric, a low-key, family-run place in the tiny, scenic town of Ullastret, northeast of Barcelona in Empordà, specializes in traditional dishes like suquet, a classic Catalan fish stew. But what blew me away was a simple plate of just-harvested wild mushrooms—black trumpets, cèpes, chanterelles and rovellons (a local species)—sautéed with olive oil, chorizo and onions. restaurantiberic.com
Restaurant Compartir, located in the seaside Costa Brava town of Cadaqués, was founded in 2012 by Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch—all formerly chefs at the now-shuttered, legendary El Bulli. Everything on the menu is meant to be shared, but with these incredibly delectable sardines, cured and served with hazelnuts and a cool lettuce broth, it was all I could do to resist devouring every last one myself. compartircadaques.com