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Spain's Best Undiscovered Restaurants

Most dining-in-Spain lists begin with the much-decoratedFerran Adrià’s legendary restaurant El Bulli (which is closing for good inJuly) and continue with an all-star lineup: In the Basque Country, for example,around the seaside city of San Sebastián alone, there are more than a dozenMichelin-starred restaurants, including Arzak, Akelarre, Restaurante MartínBerasategui and Mugaritz. Inaddition to El Bulli, the region of Catalonia has three three-star restaurants:El Celler de CanRoca in Girona, Sant Pau in SantPol de Mar and Sant Celoni’s Racó de CanFabes.

These restaurants and their chefs are on the cutting edgeof cocina de vanguardia, or avant-garde cuisine, an ingenious, Dalí-esque genre popularized by Adrià inthe mid-1990s (it’s sometimes called “molecular gastronomy,” a term that chefslike Adrià reject). It’s since been perfected by a band of like-minded Spanishdisciples, many of whom have morphed into global superstars. But scatteredaround Spain are many more excellent restaurants, helmed by highly talentedchefs, that don’t get the attention of the international press. Most, likeQuique Dacosta’s eponymous restaurant in the small Mediterranean city of Dénia,are little-known outside of Spain, insider spots in far-flung places, but wellworth the detour for their remarkable food. Or if they’re in the big city, they’re run by up-and-comers like the brilliant young chef Jordi Cruz, whose cooking at Barcelona’s ABaC is not only inventive but also, perhaps more importantly, exceptionally delicious. A tour of Spain’s hidden gems shows thatthe country’s best undiscovered restaurants offer some of the most unique andrewarding gastronomic experiences out there, ranging from astonishinglyoriginal and creative meals to impeccably crafted traditional dishes that areno less memorable for their flawless simplicity.

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