In Barcelona, the Adrià family run six restaurants where they keep alive the experimental and almost subversive character of El Bulli, Ferran Adrià’s quasi-mythical restaurant in Roses, Catalonia, which held the title of the world’s best restaurant for five years running, before closing its doors in 2011.
Ferran’s innovative seasonings live on in all five of the family’s new restaurants, which are clustered in Barcelona’s Poble Sec neighborhood – which, probably not coincidentally, has become the new hotspot of the Catalan capital since the Adrià opened the restaurants starting around eight years ago.
The most sought-after of the five is Tickets, which has won its Michelin star for its menu of “tapas de toda la vida” – traditional Spanish appetizers, with a contemporary spin that adds flavors from the four corners of the world to local ingredients. Highlights include crunchy octopus with kimchi, eel canapés, and Manchego cheese “airbags.”
Across the street, Bodega 1900 serves up the same “tapeo” concept, relying on the recipes of Spain’s traditional tables and ingredients. The difference here is the informality of both the place and its menu, with its guisados, escabeches, preserves, wood-fired fish and its now-famous “liquid olives” that explode on your tongue, in an overt reminder of El Bulli’s molecular past. And for the toast, there’s good old vermouth, true Catalonia’s bohemian drink, par excellence.
Within walking distance, there are two more Adrià family attractions at the same address: Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo. In Hoja Santa, Mexican food gets radically deconstructed into foams and reductions based on the Aztecs’ ancient techniques (think tequila clouds and avocado granizados). Niño Viejo has its feet more firmly on the ground, recalling the best taquerías from Jalisco. On the menu, there are pork chops, guacamole with octopus tostadas, and a long list of tequilas to set Barcelona spinning till dawn.
Pakta underscores the Adriàs’ love of classic Latin cuisine, serving upPeruvian classics, jazzed up with Japanese seasoning and topped off with a surrealist Mediterranean touch. The tasting menu includes chichi morada caramel, green tea tiramisu, yogurt bizcocho with black sesame and truffle yuba.
And finally, there’s the best-kept secret of the Adrià brothers: Enigma, inaugurated in January of 2018. Everything about the project is shrouded in mystery, from the menu to the dining room. Secrecy is taken to the extreme: diners at Enigma can choose to delve into the meal with no prior knowledge of what they’re eating – and learn what, exactly, it was they ate only after the meal. The only certainty is that it will keep delivering up the sort of surprises that made the Adriàs culinary rock stars and catapulted El Bulli to the top.
Addresses, reservations: elbarriadria.com
Adrià at home
You can now take the Adriàs home – or at least take with you some of thefoods they’re known (and adored) for. Shelves lining Bodega 1900 - the most charming of the Poble Sec botecos -carry Albert Adrià’s La Cala’s products, which include mussels, navajas, berberechos and ventresca tuna. Make sure to try the famous liquid olives, that explode on your tongue, as well as the Cádiz chicharrones.