Founded in 1897 as Barcelona’s bohemian hangout, the “four cats” (Catalan slang for “just a few people”) hit its mark early on, thanks to backing by artists Santiago Rusiñol and Ramón Casas. The Modernista crowd hung out here, and the owner gave Picasso one of his first paying art jobs by commissioning the illustration still used on the menu cover. In fact, the young Picasso had his first exhibition at El Quatre Gats in 1900. Even the building, designed by Puig i Cadalfach, is a period piece of art. Every tourist comes here at least once; unfortunately, many of them dress poorly and wear flip-flops, which the management bans as in bad taste. (We suspect many of the restaurant’s nay-sayers on crowd-sourced websites were bounced for sloppy attire.) The food is hardly revolutionary—cod cooked in ratatouille, roast shoulder of lamb, duck confit with mushrooms—but the midday menu is a good bargain and the memorabilia on the walls can be engrossing.
- Frommer's Staff