Dining

Inside Enigma, the World's Most Secretive Restaurant

What to expect when dining at Albert Adrià's Barcelona restaurant
Enigma Restaurant in Barcelona
Photos: Pepo Segura

If you lament having missed the opportunity to dine at El Bulli, what many consider to be the world's most important restaurant, well, here's some good news: Albert Adrià, the legendary Spanish modernist chef, has somewhat reinvented the place (with some help from his brother, Ferran) in the heart of Barcelona. Here's some bad news: It's nearly impossible to get in.  

Enigma, which opened in January, is a roughly 7,500-square-foot space defined by a maze of open rooms divided by walls that resemble flattened blocks of ice, and it feeds 28 a night, five nights a week. Depending on how quickly you eat, the 40-plus-course meal can run anywhere from three and a half to six hours; diners move among six unique areas that each offer something different in terms of food and drink.

Here, we break down the enigma behind, well, Enigma.

  • You'll need a reservation. Enigma grants tables for between two and six guests on its website; after securing a booking, you'll get an email confirmation with instructions on how to prepay the 100-euro ticket fee (a deductible, of sorts, from what will be your final bill). Dinner costs 220 euros, with drinks tabulated separately. Once you've paid the advance, you'll get a second email containing a code, which you will eventually use to unlock Enigma's front door.

    Photo: Pepo Segura

  • It may not look like much, and that's kind of the point. The restaurant is located in an unassuming gray office building in Barcelona's el Paralel neighborhood. Although Enigma is tucked into the ground floor, you won't immediately notice it from the outside; that is, unless you spot the purposely discreet Enigma sign.

    Photo: Pepo Segura

  • You can, in fact, take food snaps. But to preserve a sense of mystery, you can't post them on social media. While Enigma allows photography, a server will ask you to refrain from sharing your pics. Shots of the space are permitted.

    Photo: Pepo Segura

  • Enigma has unconventional drink options. You can order wines by the glass or opt for a "beverage selection," in which one can consume the series of wines in any order. Start with cava, sake or something else entirely: It's all up to you.

    Photo: Pepo Segura

  • Servers will drop plates on the table, but they won't explain what you're eating until after you're done. The idea is to experience tastes and textures, and for diners to guess ingredients.

    Photo: Pepo Segura

  • If 41°, Albert's now-shuttered, forward-thinking cocktail bar, was on your bucket list, you're in luck. Dinner at Enigma concludes with an almost-reincarnation; Marc Álvarez, formerly the head bartender at 41°, is commanding drinks, and he'll take your order based on what flavors and spirits you feel like drinking.  

    Photo: Pepo Segura

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