As soon as my friends and I booked our flights to Barcelona, Spain for spring break, I immediately started researching the best restaurants, cafes, brunches, ice cream shops, markets, and food-related things. What can I say, I'm a foodie down to my core and I love nothing more than to eat good, quality food. And eating the best cuisine a city has to offer is especially important to me when I am only visiting for a week. So naturally, I wanted to eat at the best restaurants in Barcelona. 

After extensive research, a great deal of stalking of the @barcelonafoodexperience Instagram account, and suggestions from locals, I compiled an exhaustive list. How I managed to choose only five restaurants to dine at during our week long excursion is still a mystery to me. But let me tell you, none of our choices disappointed one bit.

If you're seeking ambience, authenticity, views, great service, amazing food, or some combination of these, you have to dine at these five restaurants in Barcelona next time you visit.

1. Bodega La Puntual

After winding down some pretty quiet side streets in the Gothic Quarter, we came upon Bodega La Puntual. And what a cute space it was. What first struck me was how cozy it was with the narrow entry-way and dim lighting. Then the host led us to a spacious back room with plenty of seating for larger parties (like our seven-person group).

The rustic decor was charming. I felt like I was eating in a close friend's wine cellar, as we were surrounded by wine crates and barrels. The open kitchen and speedy service also added to the meal experience. Although the food did seem to come out fast, we never felt rushed or that the chefs sacrificed quality for speed.

Now onto the food. Bodega La Puntual provided us with a fantastic first taste of traditional Spanish tapas. The menu had plenty of options for our diverse palettes. And with each bite you could tell the dishes were made with fresh ingredients. While I thoroughly enjoyed everything, I would highly recommend the grilled octopus, tuna tartare, and Bombas “atómicas” de la Barceloneta.

2. Agut

Agut was recommended to my friends and I by one of the chefs of our cooking class (also a must-do). It's located on a secluded, quiet street in the Gothic Quarter. The restaurant is spacious and has several rooms with larger tables, making it the ideal spot for group dining. We were seated right next to the kitchen. It was such a treat to catch glimpses of the chefs cooking. 

The rooms were decorated with paintings and canvases, giving the restaurant an "old world" vibe that I adored. Our meal was served in courses at a leisurely pace and the staff was patient as we lingered over our wine after eating. I'm obsessed with the slower pace of European dining (and the European lifestyle in general).

This restaurant absolutely knocked it out of the park in the food department. The menu was entirely Catalan-style and offered a plethora of options to appeal to all taste preferences. The dishes were no-frills, but each bite was loaded with deep flavor. Everything reminded me of a home-cooked meal.

My mouth is watering thinking about my cod with Catalan-style spinach and garlic mayonnaise. It was light, flakey, flavorful, and perfectly portioned. My other food recommendations would be the calçots, croquettes, grilled octopus, and scallops. 

Pro tip: if you aren't feeling too hungry, Agut offers half portions of most dishes.

3. Grupo Abrassame

Gabrielle Hedges

Rooftop dining is something I should do more often because this restaurant was super fun and unique. Grupo Abrassame is at the top of Las Arenas Shopping Center, overlooking Plaça d'Espanya. Since it offers great views of the city, I would recommend going for lunch rather than dinner (like we did).

The decor in this restaurant was completely different than the previous two restaurants. It was modern and geometric, which was a refreshing change of pace. There were heat lamps too, so we were able to enjoy the fresh air while we ate despite it being a chilly evening.

The menu was influenced by Spanish and Catalan dishes, but with a modern, unique, and international twist. It included American-style burgers as well as Thai-, Italian-, and Mexican-inspired dishes alongside traditional Spanish dishes. Grupo Abrassame definitely had a more extensive menu than we had seen.

Because my friends and I wanted to soak up as much culture as possible, we all ended up with pretty traditional Spanish food. But it was far from boring. I adored my potato, egg, and Iberian ham dish. It had a beautiful presentation and comforting flavor. The black rice paella was also to die for. We need to use squid ink in more recipes back here in the states. It adds such a rich seafood flavor.

4. Xiringuito Escribà

Gabrielle Hedges

If our group had to pick a favorite, I'm positive Escribà would be it. Totally out of the way, this restaurant is pretty far down the Barceloneta Beach. But it was 100% worth the expensive taxi ride. During the summer, this place is probably completely open air because while we were there it was only enclosed by a zippered tent.

String lights and heat lamps set a cozy mood, while the blue tones reminded me of summer nights by the water. Our waiter was extremely kind, comical, and had wonderful suggestions. My favorite part of the experience was the open kitchen. It consisted of a long counter with two chefs behind it tending to seven (and sometimes more) massive pans of paella, fideuà, and rice dishes.

So naturally, we all shared the creamy rice with octopus, Escribà special fish paella, and Valencian-style paella as our main course. I wish we could have picked a favorite, but they each had such unique flavors. The paella was cooked like paella should be, in a thin layer so the rice gets crispy. The creamy rice just melted in your mouth. And all of the other ingredients were as fresh as can be. 

Although the paella was the star, we ordered Xiringuito potatoes as a starter that we all dreamed about for days. Basically, they were perfectly crispy potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce with hazelnuts and aioli. I could have drank that tomato sauce. It was smokey and had rich flavor. And do not even get me started on the cava sangria and warm brownie with vanilla ice cream...

Escribà is an absolute must-try when visiting Barcelona. While I loved everything we ordered, I am sure the restaurant's entire menu is to die for, so I encourage you all to try as much as you can fit in your bodies. 

5. Sensi Mezzanine

Gabrielle Hedges

Sensi Mezzanine is part of a group of four restaurants in Barcelona owned and run by the Sensi family. Their mission is to offer a new and memorable culinary experience and offer customers tapas with freshness and unique flavors. 

Located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, Sensi Mezzanine's modern restaurant meets authentic, old-world charm to provide an enchanting experience. I immediately fell in love with the small, intimate front dining room we were seated in. It was inviting and simply decorated, making us feel relaxed. Not to mention, the staff was attentive and some of the most friendly I encountered during our stay. 

The menu is to die for. Sensi Mezzanine offers a mix of traditional tapas and more modern, international tapas and flavors for a unique twist. Four of us ordered eight tapas to share and not a single crumb was left, if that is any evidence of how flavorful and delectable this food was.

Our favorites were the tuna tataki, zucchini tempura with goat cheese and honey mousse, and fresh truffle ravioli in a parmesan cream scented with truffle oil. If I could had ordered one of everything on the menu, I would have. The Sensi family restaurants are some of the most highly-recommended restaurants in Barcelona, so don't miss them.

When you need a break from strolling down La Rambla, taking pictures in Park Guell, or gawking at Gaudi's unique architecture, make sure you stop by one of these fabulous restaurants in Barcelona. After all, food is such an important part of any culture. And these five spots know how to do Spanish and Catalan cuisine right.