Our Girona food guide has the best food and drink spots in the charming Costa Brava city. We include our favorite Girona restaurants, cafes and bars.
Girona, Spain hit the international culinary radar in 2013 when El Celler de Can Roca won the coveted top spot on the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list. As diners flocked to the city with their elusive reservations in hand, many may have wondered where else to eat in Girona.
Our guess is that they didn’t find a lot of great Girona restaurants back then. Today is a different story.
As we’ve traveled the globe, we’ve learned that young chefs like to train at the world’s best restaurant – both to learn gastronomic techniques from the masters and to build their personal resumés. Like we observed in Scandinavia, young chefs who stage in Spain often stay local and open smaller, more accessible restaurants.
In some cities, these restaurants are easy to find. However, some of the best restaurants in Girona Spain hide in plain sight right in the main tourist area.
The key is to know how to find them. We traveled from Barcelona to Girona without knowing where to find these restaurants but with the wits and resources to figure it out.
We spent our first days in Girona wandering around the winding, cobblestone streets, marveling at the ancient terra-cotta brick buildings in the Jewish quarter and photographing key Game of Throne sites.
Yes, we’re huge fans of the HBO show. Seeing the monumental church steps where Jamie Lannister charged up on his white horse gave us both an electric thrill.
As we wandered, we started our exploration of the Girona food scene by eating patates braves and jamon, our gateway foods to Catalan cuisine. But we really weren’t sure where to eat during those first few days. Beyond the city’s two Michelin starred restaurants and some surprisingly excellent local chain restaurants, we didn’t find a lot of good information about the best Girona restaurants.
As we talked to local food experts like Xavier Escatllar and Marco Gonkel, we started to peel away the city’s layers to find a thriving food scene that takes full advantage of the bounty of local products. Girona’s location in Costa Brava provides the city access to amazing food.
With the mountainous Pyrenees on one side of Costa Brava and the Mediterranean Sea on the other, Girona has freshly pressed olive oil, deeply red tomatoes, seafood plucked from the sea and some of the freshest garlic we have ever eaten. And we can’t forget the wine. Girona is a city where Empordà wines flow freely and for little cost.
We found that young chefs have learned to harness these ingredients in fun, new ways and that Girona’s food scene, which has jumped beyond the dictums of pure Catalan food, embraces food genres from all over the world. We loved eating bowls of ramen made with Iberico Jamon in Girona. And, with a fish supply that the people in Japan would envy, it only makes sense that Girona’s sushi would be great.
Girona Food Guide | Where To Eat In Girona
Our days in Girona turned into weeks, which gave us ample time to discover several wonderful spots for food and drinks.
Wondering where and what to eat in Girona Spain? Read our Girona guide to find the top restaurants in Girona plus wonderful cafes, markets and bars.
People in Girona are proud of their two Michelin starred restaurants, the aforementioned El Celler de Can Roca and Massana, and you should go to them if you can get a reservation and have the budget. We didn’t go to either during our three-week visit, but we still dined out frequently – so much that restaurant staff recognized us as we walked in their doors and greeted us with smiles normally reserved for regulars.
These are the restaurants that win our votes for the best places to eat in Girona Spain:
El Cul De Món
We liked everything about our Girona lunch at El Cul de Món starting with our scenic 27-minute walk to the restaurant’s “end of the world” location.
This walk beyond the northern edge of Girona’s millennia-old city walls around a horseshoe switchback turn took us by a pleasant stream running under quaint footbridges leading to Chef Lotfi Bousatta’s Moroccan inspired restaurant that oozes Catalan sensibilities.
Dishes feature elements like pork slow cooked for 12 hours with chocolate and raisins and Catalan sepia ink rice with sausage. Our set lunch was a true bargain at £17.60 for three courses and a glass of local wine.
El Cul de Món is located at Sant Daniel, 17007 Girona, Spain.
Divinum Vins I Formatges
Located on an appealing street in the historic part of town, Divinum provides an excellent introduction to Catalan gastronomy in a contemporary setting. As a bonus, the restaurant offers two affordable lunch menus.
We opted for the €35 menu available at the time of our visit – a great value for the quality and quantity of food. Each dish, including citrus-marinated sardines and a savory steak tartare, was a winner in both flavor and appearance.
Divinum’s top chefs trained in the Roca kitchen, and their expertise shines in their creative food wizardry. Although Michelin has already recognized Divinum, we wouldn’t be surprised if the restaurant receives a star sooner than later.
Divinum vins i formatges is located at Carrer de l’Albereda, 7, 17004 Girona, Spain.
Also located in the historic part of town, Nu is another Girona restaurant preparing exciting food created with the tools of modern gastronomy. Chef Sito Manzano, previously the chef at Michelin-starred Massana, uses his culinary chops to create Catalan dishes with an Asian twist at Massana’s sister restaurant.
Though we’re not normally big fans of fusion food, we loved everything we ate at Nu. Highlights included a starter of large tempura fried prawns whimsically displayed on wires as well as cubes of luscious foie gras served over a bed of ground chocolate cookies and topped with banana ice cream.
Nu holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand designation, and the restaurant’s casual atmosphere and excellent food echo a world trend found in amazing U.S restaurants and many Paris restaurants lauded in France’s Le Fooding guide. As a bonus, Nu offers reasonable set menus for both lunch and dinner, providing a value option for those hungry to try a wide selection of Nu’s plates.
Sit at the long bar for a front-row view of the Nu chefs in action. There is no better place to watch determined chefs plate food with tweezers while using other fun gastronomic techniques.
Nu is located at Carrer d’Abeuradors, 4, 17004 Girona, Spain.
We mentioned that jamon was one of our gateway Catalan foods. Well, we crushed the gate when we dined at Ham Session, a restaurant that serves a mind-boggling array of meat and cheese every weekend.
Ham Session’s charcutiers expertly slice multiple legs of fine Iberico Jamon, both cured and cooked. There’s also a full selection of cured Iberico Lomo (Loin) and chorizo. If you like foie gras, they have that too as well as a full bar menu with local wines and a wide selection of gin.
The folks from Don Jamon (see below) serve this protein fest in a buffet style, so make sure you come hungry and wear stretchy pants. For some reason, the young, thin, ultra-hipster Catalan crowd didn’t seem to need those pants though they had plenty of Jamon piled high on their plates. Did we mention that competitive cycling is popular in Girona?
Ham Session is located at Carrer del Riu Güell, 18, 17005 Girona, Spain.
We didn’t expect to find good ramen in Girona but that’s exactly what we found at Mien, the restaurant from the team behind local Japanese favorite Umai. Mien’s broth and noodles transported our taste buds back to Asia, but the local pork and fresh vegetables were pure Catalonia.
As if the ramen’s not enough, Mien also serves a range of noodle dishes as well as several fine starters like the seared tuna tataki pictured at the top of this article.
Mien is located at Plaça Josep Pla I Casadevall, 21, 17001 Girona, Spain.
Normally, chain restaurants go against everything that we like about dining out, casual or otherwise. This is not the case in Costa Brava, where local chains like König serve some of the best tapas in Girona.
König’s affordable menu with hamburgers and sandwiches, all made with locally sourced meats and produce, excels when it comes to tapas and beer. Rumor has it that the König’s owners protect their addictive patates braves recipe with high security. We don’t blame them – we liked König’s tapas and beer so much that we produced a YouTube video.
König has multiple locations in Girona.
Our quest for excellent third wave coffee in Girona ended when we walked through the doors of La Fábrica in the heart of Girona’s historic neighborhood. This cyclist cafe serves the best coffee in town both at their central location and at nearby Espresso Mafia (see below), but that’s just part of the story.
Opened by Canadian expats, one of whom is a former professional cyclist, La Fábrica serves a full menu of healthy sandwiches and decadent desserts that can be enjoyed on the café’s scenic outdoor patio located in the middle of a winding alley. The decor is cycle chic, but that doesn’t stop non-cyclists like us from loving every bite and sip.
We also enjoyed drinking their incredible roasted beans at home, brewed up in a Moka pot on our kitchen stove. (See Espresso Mafia Below.)
Although La Fábrica is a popular spot for lunch in Girona, the café is not open for dinner. Come early to avoid the inevitable wait.
La Fábrica is located at 17004, Carrer de la Llebre, 3, 17004 Girona, Spain.
We didn’t score a reservation at El Celler de Can Roca, the best restaurant in Girona Spain, but that didn’t stop us from checking out the Roca family’s Catalan working man restaurant. We ate at Can Roca to feel and taste the local eating vibe of Girona, where we enjoyed dishes like a solid sausage plate and stuffed potatoes (pictured above.)
The prix fixe lunch menu was a bargain at only €11 including wine at the time of our visit. Not a light version of El Celler, this old-time eatery provides a glimpse of the Roca Brother’s family roots.
Plan way ahead if you want to dine at the three-star Michelin El Celler de Can Roca. The waiting list is a full year.
Can Roca is located at Ctra. de Taialà, 42, 17007 Girona, Spain
Additional Girona Restaurants
We also enjoyed meals at the following restaurants:
As much as we loved Girona, we had a small problem. We loved the desserts too much, if there’s such a thing. We wanted desserts every day during our visit, and we found plenty of places to satisfy our sweet tooth issue. These are our favorites:
Casamoner is another Girona chain that surprised us. We visited the bakery daily to purchase fresh baguettes that rivaled some of the best bread we’ve eaten in France… plus a dessert or two.
Sometimes we picked a sugary sweet meringue. Sometimes we went for the intoxicatingly rich egg yolk custard flamet.
But, usually, we opted for xuixo (pronounced shoo-show) – a flaky, tube-shaped, donut-like fried pastry filled with Catalan cream and coated with sugar. To us, and to many others, the xuixo is the official dessert of Girona!
Discover more than 100 great desserts around the world.
casamoner has multiple locations in Girona.
We stopped in El Pessic on our first day for cappuccinos and a Reixada Xocolata. We couldn’t resist the café after ogling its pastry selection through the window. Thanks to its tasty treats, central location and free Wi-Fi, this was not our last visit to El Pessic.
El Pessic is located at Plaça de Catalunya, 10, 17004 Girona, Spain.
Our only complaint about Montse L’Artesana was that it was rarely open when we craved the café’s churros with chocolate and sugar or their steaming cups of drinking chocolate. We later realized that the shop was closed so that the staff could participate in a seasonal stand at Girona’s Christmas Market.
Montse L’Artesana is located at Carrer de la Cort Reial, 9, 17004 Girona, Spain.
As if running a three-star Michelin restaurant and a more casual restaurant in Girona wasn’t enough, the Roca family also operates Rocambolesc Gelateria (conveniently located across the street from a casamoner location). Under the leadership of Jordi Roca, this festively decorated ice cream shop dishes up some of the world’s best soft-serve ice cream and creative toppings.
If you haven’t had candy floss or cotton candy atop ice cream, then this is the shop for you. As for us, we enjoyed our ice cream feast at Rocambolesc Gelateria so much that we produced a YouTube video about the experience.
Rocambolesc Gelateria is located at Carrer de Santa Clara, 50, 17001 Girona, Spain.
A short walk from the historic center and right by Parc del Migdia, Tornés Pastisseria provides a relaxing spot for a cup of coffee and a light bite. Wide windows provide a view of pedestrians walking by the café, and there’s no need to rush in this pleasant café with free Wi-Fi.
Don’t eat too many sweets with your coffee. Tornés Pastisseria has a counter filled with a variety of tempting treats. You’ll want to buy some to eat later in the day.
Tornés Patisseria is located at Carrer del Migdia, 51, 17003 Girona, Spain.
We drank a lot of wine in Girona, but we also drank coffee and cocktails in the city. Here are our favorite places for coffee and cocktails in Girona:
Once we realized that La Fàbrica has the best coffee in town, we wanted to buy some to make in our apartment. Alas, the café was closed! That’s when we discovered that Espresso Mafia sells the same freshly roasted beans as La Fàbrica. The coffee shop’s baristas also make well-crafted coffee drinks that go well with desserts like cheesecake.
Like its big brother La Fàbrica, Espresso Mafia does NOT provide free Wi-Fi for its coffee-loving customers.
Espresso Mafia is located at Carrer de la Cort Reial, 5, 17004 Girona, Spain.
Nykteri’s Cocktail Bar
Despite the availability of wonderful local wine in Girona, sometimes we found ourselves wanting a cocktail. That’s when we went to Nykteri’s Cocktail Bar, an intimate bar on the edge of the historic quarter.
Here, veteran bartender Mariona Vilanova Reyes whips up unique creations, some with local Terrània Ratafia. Nykteri’s also offers a gin and tonic making class (reservations required.)
Not sure what you want to drink? Just tell Reyes what you like, and she will suggest a cocktail from the bar’s vast drink menu.
Nykteri’s Cocktail Bar is located at Carrer de Santa Llúcia, 4, 17007 Girona, Spain.
Most European cities have a central market. Girona is no exception to this rule. If you stay in an apartment, you’ll be able to shop at markets like locals and cook at home.
Mercat Del Lleó
A large lion statue greets visitors to Mercat del Lléo, Girona’s busy central market. Inside the market, 60 vendors sell a myriad of local products including meat, fish, seafood, spices, produce and more.
Housewives vie with chefs and tourists for the best products. Luckily, there is more than enough for everybody – especially on Saturdays when additional vendors line the outer sidewalks with additional stalls.
Mercat del Lleó is located at Plaça Calvet i Rubalcaba, s/n, 17002 Girona, Spain.
Girona Specialty Shops
As great as Mercat del Lléo may be, it’s hours are limited. Plus, it’s fun to shop in the city’s different neighborhoods. We checked out a lot of specialty shops in Girona, and these are our favorites:
Don Jamón is our favorite jamon shop in Girona.
Perhaps it’s because the shop sells a wonderful selection of meats at all price points. Perhaps it’s because the staff is super friendly. Perhaps it’s because we love the shop’s Ham Session (see above) concept. Perhaps it’s because Don Jamón was only a couple blocks from our apartment.
Who are we kidding? We love Don Jamón because it’s the best jamon shop in town.
Don Jamón is located at Carrer Ultònia, 3, 17002 Girona, Spain.
True confession – we adore French cheese.
Lucky for us, we discovered La Fromagerie early in our visit to Girona and returned numerous times to purchase cheese lovingly imported by Sandrine Poupinet, a Girona resident who hails from Brittany. We found incredible cheeses here including a 6-month version of Tomme de Laguiole, one of our favorite cheeses from a recent visit to Laguiole.
La Fromagerie is located inside the Mercat del Lleó.
As much as we love French cheese, we weren’t so sure about Catalan cheese until we wandered into La Noucentista, a gourmet shop across the street from our neighborhood casamoner. Owner Xavier Baig introduced us to local cheeses like the award-winning Casa Mateu from nearby Lleida – think sheepy Roquefort cheese without the bleu.
With his selection of wine and cheese, along with specialty meats like sobressada (a spicy Catalan spreadable salami) and boutifara, we could eat and drink for quite a while after shopping at La Noucentista.
La Noucentista is located at Carrer del Migdia, 22, 17002 Girona, Spain.
A visitor to Costa Brava could eat well without leaving the city of Girona, but that would be a shame. Costa Brava has so much to offer with its beaches, mountains and gastronomy.
During our visit to Girona, we checked out many smaller towns and ate lots of great food along the way. These are the meals we liked the best outside of Girona:
Costa Brava has an inordinate number of Michelin starred restaurant. Which one will you choose?
Located just 28 kilometers from Girona, Ca l’Arpa was a great choice for a lunch cooked by one of the area’s starred chefs. The restaurant was formal yet casual and offered an affordable set menu for lunch at the time of our meal.
Our lunch featured rich foie gras served over braised and grilled pig trotter meat (pictured above) and marinated sardines so good that they converted Mindi from a sardine hater to a sardine lover. We enjoyed our meal so much that we produced a YouTube video about the experience.
Ca l’Arpa was located at Passeig de la Indústria, 5, 17820 Banyoles, Girona, Spain. It has permanently closed.
Costa Brava’s coastline is stunning, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than a meal with a view of the Mediterranean Sea. Enoteca MF offers this experience along with fresh catches like bluefin tuna and anchovies caught locally by the family.
Fresh Fish Experience
Just 46 kilometers from Girona, Palamos is the jewel of the Costa Brava seafood scene. Thanks to the proximity to deep waters, red prawns known as Gambas de Palamos are some of the best shrimp in the world.
Try our favorite tapas recipe.
Traditional Catalan Meal
A visit to Costa Brava would be incomplete without a visit to an ancient walled city like Pals. What makes Pals unique from the other walled cities is its rice production. Known as Nembo, this rice, similar to Bomba rice, pairs perfectly with Gambas de Palamos.
Girona Restaurant FAQs
Many restaurants in Girona serve Catalan food favorites like Pan Con Tomate, Escalivada, Samfaina and Crema Catalan. Some Girona restaurants serve tapas while others focus on international cuisine.
Prices at Girona restaurants are in line with restaurants in other European cities.
No. Tipping is optional in Spain.
Anthony Bourdain never filmed an episode of The Layover, No Reservations or Parts Unknown in Girona.
People typically eat dinner from 8:30pm to 10pm in Girona.
Yes. Reservations are necessary for Girona’s better restaurants.
Girona currently has two Michelin-starred restaurants including one three-starred restaurant (El Celler de Can Roca) and one one-starred restaurant (Massana).
Hungry For More Catalan Food?
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: January 20, 2017