Inside Barcelona’s Hottest New Mediterranean Restaurant

The new El Palace, on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, started life 104 years ago as the Ritz Barcelona, making it one of the earliest Ritz properties in the world and the oldest five-star hotel in the historic capital of Spanish Catalonia. Come for the history, sure, but stay for—and in—the Ronnie Wood Suite: The legendary Rolling Stones guitarist once called the sixth floor here home and helped design the elegantly appointed 1,600-square-foot space, which comes with a restored Wurlitzer 1900 jukebox stocked with his favorite albums, plus exclusive access to the nearby Hispano Suiza luxury-automotive museum and factory.

Then head downstairs, through the soaring mirrored lobby to the former ballroom, where renowned chef Rafa Zafra has opened his decadent new restaurant, Amar Barcelona, as a celebration of the city, the Mediterranean, and all things seafood.

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The dining room, a grand former ballroom in the old Ritz Barcelona.
The dining room, a grand former ballroom in the old Ritz Barcelona.

With its navy walls, gold detailing, and grand chandeliers, the space retains its former opulence and now has the menu to match. From crayfish carpaccio to tiger oysters to classic sole meunière, the dishes are all bracingly fresh and exploding with flavor—precisely what one expects from a former head chef at El Bulli, Ferran Adrià’s onetime gastronomic temple and long considered the greatest restaurant on the planet. Which also means it should come as no surprise that even simple plates are packed with small moments of wow: The butter in an otherwise straightforward offering of brioche toast topped with caviar, for example, is made in-house.

Others have also taken note: Amar Barcelona has already attracted high-profile diners including Bruce Springsteen, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Steven Spielberg. And probably Ronnie Wood, though we can’t confirm.

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