This post has partner links that I may receive compensation for at no cost to you. Thank you!
Disfrutar in Barcelona is one of the best restaurants in the world. It has won numerous accolades, including a listing in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants (where it currently sits ranked #5) and two Michelin Stars. Disfrutar was opened in 2014 by Chefs Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas, and Eduard Xatruch, who had all previously worked at the legendary El Bulli under Ferran Adrià. With El Bulli long gone, Disfrutar has taken over the mantle of being one of the most innovative restaurants in the world, showcasing Mediterranean/Spanish/Catalonian flavors through the latest culinary techniques. Back in January 2019, I was fortunate enough to get to have dinner at Disfrutar, a dining experience I will never forget.
Getting a Disfrutar reservation
Getting a reservation at Disfrutar is not easy (website). With reservations opening a year in advance, not only do you have to plan ahead, but you also potentially have to be quick on the draw. While the bookings don’t necessarily fill up as soon as they pop onto the calendar, they do disappear at least a few months out.
On each of my trips, I usually have a meal or two where I treat myself. When I had planned my trip to Barcelona, I had only decided to go there just a month prior, so Disfrutar was already fully booked.
However, there’s another way to get a Disfrutar reservation. The restaurant has a waiting list. I submitted my name for the waiting list for each of the nights that I was going to be in Barcelona, just in case.
And then I forgot I had done that. Around 4 pm on my final night in Barcelona, I got a phone call. The number was from Spain, so at first, I was confused. I suddenly remembered that I’d put myself on the Disfrutar waiting list, so I picked up. They had a spot at the bar that evening.
The Disfrutar dining experience
I canceled my plans for the rest of the night, as I’d already had plenty of craft beer in Barcelona. My last night in the city was going to be special. Since my journey back home was going to be early in the morning, I opted for the earliest possible time: 8 pm.
I got there a bit early, but I was seated promptly at 8 after getting a quick tour of the restaurant. I had a solo seat at the corner of the bar. This was a great seat for a few reasons. There was generous space around me. Either they had seen me eat before or everyone gets treated this way. I was prepared to be crammed in & elbowing people (hello, left-handed dining curse), but everything about the Disfrutar experience is done right, allowing for plenty of room. However, that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Thanks to my position at the bar, I could watch all of the desserts being put together, which was cool to see. I was also able to chat a bit with the sommelier & other staff.
I got a glass of cava along with the menu. Or more accurately, a choice of two options. I could do one of two tasting menus: The Disfrutar Classic or the Disfrutar Festival. There were also slightly cheaper “Gran” options, but why not go big? The Disfrutar Classic tasting menu consists of the restaurant’s greatest hits, while the Disfrutar Festival tasting menu changes seasonally. Since it was my first visit to Disfrutar, I stuck with the classic menu, as is recommended.
Along with the tasting menu choice, there is also the option of doing a full wine pairing. Given that I did not want to risk being hungover for a long day of travel, I instead took the sommelier up on another option. As I finished each glass of wine, he’d then suggest a new glass that would pair well with where I was in the meal. Not only did this keep me from having to keep up with a certain pace, but it also ended up being far cheaper than the full wine tasting. It’s also possible to purchase bottles from a wine list.
Having made my selections & been presented with a warm napkin, it was time to begin. Over the next 3 hours or so, I would be tasting some 30 dishes of some of the most inventive food in the world. While that number of dishes sounds daunting, most are small bites.
Here’s the part where I have to give a bit of a spoiler alert. If you don’t want to know all of the details about the Disfrutar Classic tasting menu because you plan on going to the restaurant, then stop reading here. Since there’s no menu provided ahead of time, you can go in completely blind just like I did. If you just want to see all the great food I had, or if you don’t care about spoilers, then read on!
Disfrutar Classic tasting menu
The meal started off with a frozen passionfruit foam ladyfinger with rum. It was so delicate.
The next set included “The beet that comes out of the land”, a beetroot concoction that looked like it would be dense like mochi, but instead was a very light meringue that melted in my mouth. It was served along with lychee & roses with gin.
After that came one of my favorite courses of the meal Chinese bread filled with beluga caviar and sour cream. It was mind-blowing, and I will always dream of it.
This was followed by a savory walnut candy with mango, tonka beans, and whisky drops. The candy had a gorgeous shell with a liquid filling and a bit of salt.
Next up: A pairing of homemade cider with dry ice & smoke, along with Idiazabal cheese Mille-feuille, which was amazing (but crunchy cheese always is). The cider was also lovely & light.
This part of the meal was where the creativity of Disfrutar started to blow me away. While some dishes are fairly straightforward, letting the quality ingredients and preparation shine, others are nothing as they seem.
Take, for example, this. It looks like a cheese sandwich, right?
In actuality, this is a gazpacho sandwich filled with a gazpacho sorbet, and instead of actual bread, an airy tomato meringue.
Taking vegetables to a whole new level was this black cauliflower with coconut and lime bechamel. It had been cooked for 17 hours.
Some of my favorite Disfrutar dishes were interactive. This is a tempura egg yolk served with mushroom jelly. The idea of this was to bite the tempura, then pour the yolk into the jelly, and eat the mixed, rich, umami goodness.
Another cool concept was the deconstructed ceviche, made with blended fish, carrot sorbet, and tiger milk.
The next dish had its final preparation done right in front of me, with the server unearthing razor clams confit baked in sea salt & marinated for 24 hours.
This was served with seaweed and crunchy ravioli.
Following that was one of Disfrutar’s most iconic dishes: Macaroni carbonara. Sounds simple, right?
Yet again, nothing is as it seems. That’s not pasta you see, but tubes of jamón ibérico broth with parmesan and shaved black truffle. It was a stunning dish.
Given how heavy the macaroni carbonara was, the next course was a refreshing relief: a tomato polvorón (a Spanish shortbread) with olive oil “caviar”, served with a liquid salad of lychee and tomato foam.
Break over, it was time to go right back to rich dishes. Suquet is a Catalan fish soup. Here it was served in two different ways. The first was king prawn with gnocchi and herb foam, while the second was termed a “cappuccino.” I love a tasty seafood soup, so both of these courses were right up my alley.
The next set of dishes was one of my favorite parts of my meal at Disfrutar.
Referred to as the “Hare Sequence”, it consisted of 3 courses. One was a cold cocktail of white rabbit consomme with Armagnac and tangerine blossom essence. The second was a foie gras and white rabbit juice bonbon. The third was laksa, a shellfish soup from Singapore with white rabbit. Not only was each dish exquisite, but the full set was also the most beautifully served of the evening.
Speaking of beautiful dishes, the next course was also a stunner. The French-inspired corn & foie tartine again wasn’t quite what it looked like while the top resembled corn & had the flavor of it, it wasn’t real kernels.
The savory portion of the Disfrutar Classic tasting menu concluded with pibil squab with mole.
Then it was time for dessert.
First was pandan leaf infusion, mango sorbet, and coconut cloud.
Next up was a cheesecake with cherry sorbet in a raspberry cone. This was a lovely bite.
This was followed by another signature Disfrutar course: Peppers unexpectedly filled with chocolate, along with bread & oil. Bread with chocolate, olive oil, and sea salt is a popular Catalan snack.
Another creative dish was the deconstructed whisky tart, which came with a few drops of Lagavulin 16 on my hand.
Then this swiss roll with coffee & amaretto mousse.
The final course of my Disfrutar experience was this cotton tree. One piece was cotton candy, while the others were real cotton.
After my meal, I was handed a helpful printout of all 30 courses, along with the wines I had.
My dinner at Disfrutar was amazing. Every single dish was outstanding. There was nothing that I even slightly disliked. These courses you see are the results of years and years of expertise and experimentation.
The service throughout my meal was impeccable, but not pretentious at all like some Michelin-starred restaurants can be. The servers were all friendly, relaxed, and happy to explain or reexplain a dish. They encouraged photos & never rushed anything. Every dish came out well-timed. There was never a point where I had more than one plate in front of me, nor were there any long lulls between courses. Sitting at the bar was also perfect as a solo traveler. It was plenty of food, but also not so much that I struggled at all near the end.
Disfrutar was the perfect cap on my trip to Barcelona. If you ever have the opportunity to go, don’t hesitate!
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Barcelona, check out these Barcelona hotels.
Last updated on March 9, 2022