One of the Best Restaurants in Denia That is Worth the Wait – El Baret de Miquel
For years now, we’ve been hearing that one of the best restaurants in Denia is El Baret de Miquel. Local Valencian friends told us that it’s a must-have gastronomical experience, while most foreigners have never heard of the place. It was one of the first things that we liked about it even before going; that it still feels like a local secret. That was certainly not the only thing we came to love about this distinct, family-owned dining experience that creatively celebrates local ingredients and traditional dishes with their own twist.
Touted as creatively delicious and affordable, it’s especially known for its Michelin-star chef gone rogue, Miquel Ruiz, who loves to cook outside the box and follow his heart. What foodie doesn’t love that in a chef? But you know how it goes… a word-of-mouth reputation, and the anticipation of waiting some months to even get in, can have anyone wondering if one of the best restaurants in Denia is going to live up to the hype and excitement.
First Things First – Getting Into One of the Best Restaurants in Denia
For being a hidden gem of sorts, El Baret de Miquel is quite sought out and popular. They’re also wonderfully intentional about the experience they want to create at their restaurant. So reservations are required and must be made online. Credit card information is taken at the time of booking for 20€ per person, which pings your card but doesn’t completely debit it from your account. You are only charged 20€ per person if you cancel within less than 24 hours before your reservation date or are a no-show.
When we booked a table for six of us, we were able to reserve a lunch that was two months away, in early November. Dinners and weekends were harder to come by and would have meant waiting up to three months but that was also due to the size of our group. Before the COVID pandemic, it was typically six months in advance that reservations had to be made.
Do you hate making reservations? We’ll let you in on a little-known tip. The last Saturday of every month, they take no reservations and it’s first-come, first-serve for lunch and dinner.
Visit El Baret de Miquel
Lunches: 13: 30h – 15: 15h
Dinners: 20: 30h – 22: 00h
Open from Tuesday to Saturday
Closed the month of August
Being Inside El Baret de Miquel, One of the Best Restaurants in Denia
It was always such a tease when we would walk by El Baret de Miquel and catch glimpses of the inside. One thing is very clear – it’s not your white-tablecloth, ultra-mod, stuffy high-end dining scene. It’s an imaginative space that conveys the owners have nothing to prove and are there to have fun. You’ll feel at home there whether you dress up or dress casual.
Right away, it’s the variety of color that welcomes one inside El Baret de Miquel. It’s primarily one large space with high ceilings and countless vintage sifon (siphon) bottles lining ledges and shelves. An eclectic assortment of light fixtures hangs from the ceiling. Our personal favorite was the one we sat below, which was an old wired tray filled with colorful marbles. We’re pretty sure it used to be used for catching crabs (minus the marbles, of course).
Each table and chair is different from one another, with a blend of vintage, retro, and modern styles. It looks and feels like the living room of a Bohemian artist living on the Mediterranean. Oh wait… that’s practically what it is!
And of course, they love vermút here. Along one bar counter is a tantalizing array of artisan vermúts that are the perfect pre-meal drink to start with. Our particular server that day was a woman who was all smiles and effortlessly made it clear that she loved being there. When we first got seated, she asked us if we preferred vermúts that are dry, sweet, or in the middle, taking care to recommend the ideal vermút for us. Being lovers of artisan Spanish vermút, we were already impressed with such a great start to our experience.
The restaurant is located on Carrer Historiador Palau in the center of Denia, just a street and a block over from the fountain at the far end of the Marqués de Campo, the town’s main street. We learned from chef Miquel Ruiz himself that the neighborhood used to be the district where ages ago the sailors went drinking at night. The row home style of buildings that go up only two or three stories still give off that old-world feel and charm as you walk down the narrow streets.
El Baret de Miquel
Yes, We’re Getting to the Food – Tapas Style Dining at One of the Best Restaurants in Denia
We know, people still rave about tapas, and for good reason. It’s a great way to experience food with others, not just eat. At El Baret de Miquel they seem to agree. Their menu is all tapas style and ideal for sharing. The tapas are on the larger side and generous enough to share between two or even four people. Since we were a group of six, we ordered two of most of the tapas so we would all have enough.
Buñuelos de Bacalao con Mullador
There are certain items that are ordered individually, by unidad, like the buñuelos de bacalao con mullador. The term buñuelo in Spain usually refers to doughnuts but can be used to refer to savory delights such as these. Made with cod, they resemble a large croquette but are lighter. They came out fresh and hot, with a golden, battered outer layer. We each ordered one and everyone agreed that they were delicious.
Berenjena a la Brasa con Queso de Cabra y Miel
Next, we had what turned out to be one of our favorites of the entire experience – the berenjena a la brasa con queso de cabra y miel (grilled eggplant with goat cheese and honey). The grilled eggplant (or aubergine) is peeled of its skin so that it’s all white and almost resembles fish. Cut lengthwise in thick strips, it’s laid over a generous portion of smoked goat cheese. All of this sits in a bottom layer of local honey and is topped by a strip of honeycomb. The combination of savory goat cheese, sweet honey, and the charred deliciousness of the grill accentuated the eggplant in a way you never thought eggplant could taste.
Steak Tartar con su Roast Beef
Soon after came their steak tartar con su roast beef, a red-meat lover’s delight. The beautifully red steak tartar was minced with fresh seasonings, mustard, and bits of diced pickles. Underneath was a layer of thinly sliced roast beef, carpaccio style and drizzled with olive oil. It was mouthwatering.
Salmonetes al Ajillo con Setas y Caqui
Our next tapa was the salmonetes al ajillo con setas y caqui. Known as red mullet, this local white fish is known for its bright, reddish-pink scales. The succulent pieces are layered over a medley of mushrooms from the area and diced persimmons, a fruit that is also locally grown here. The ajillo it rests in is a savory broth of garlic and paprika. It was a beautiful and tasty dish.
Bonito a la Llama con Gazpacho de Tomate Verde en Samorra
For another tapa of fish, we enjoyed the bonito a la llama con gazpacho de tomate verde en samorra. Another locally-sourced fish, it’s related to the mackerel and tuna. In this dish, it reminded us all of a wonderful rare tuna. It was quickly seared on the outside and served in a light cold soup (gazpacho) of green tomato. It was melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
Fideuá de las Estrellas
The other star of the show was a very special dish, the fideuá de las estrellas (fideuá of the stars). When ordering, we asked the young man taking our order what it came with and why it was named as it was. It turned out that he is the son of chef Miquel Ruiz and he fondly told us about what his father says about this fideuá dish:
People here are very extreme about how they treat the fideuá like they are with paella, another one of the traditional loved dishes in the Valencia Community. Some people say that true and good fideuá is only made with the shorter, fine grains of the pasta, while others say that it should be with the fatter, longer pasta. But Miquel says “todo son mentiras”, it is all lies, because all that matters is that you make it with a good caldo (broth) and ingredients from the area. So to prove his point, Miquel has someone who makes the fideuás (or pasta) homemade in the shape of stars.
And thus, we got to indulge ourselves in the flavorsome star-shaped fideuá which is served with seafood and vegetables. It was one of the best fideuás we’ve ever had.
Patatas a lo Pobre
Just when we were beginning to feel stuffed, our last tapa came out, the patatas a lo pobre. It essentially means potatoes of the poor, and is a long-standing traditional Spanish dish mainly comprised of, you guessed it, potatoes.
Here at El Baret de Miquel, they serve it with the potatoes sliced and layered on top with thinly shaved jamón (Spanish cured ham). Then to top it all off are fluffy, golden-edged egg whites that are perfectly fried to the incredible air-like state of soft clouds. A couple of egg yolks cooked sunnyside up sat in the middle and when broken spilled their yummy yolk throughout the dish. It was decadent. We were so busy devouring it and becoming even more full, that we forgot to take a picture.
Gotta Save Room for Dessert at El Baret de Miquel
As you can imagine, we spent a good amount of time at this lunch. It was the only way we could manage to still have dessert despite how full we were from the tapas. And to give away the ending, we were the last people at the restaurant and closed the place down.
Between the six of us, we shared four of the incredible desserts. They were not listed on the menu, which does change seasonally, so we don’t have their exact names to list here. But we at least have pictures.
They were all so amazingly delicious, homemade with local ingredients, and quite creative. One of their well-known ones is the deconstructed apple pie. It’s made with raw, diced green apples with a cream sauce and ice cream in between two large almond wafers and sprinkled with powder sugar. Again, there is more to this dish, but we didn’t take notes.
The other desserts featured marinated fruit with sorbet and citrus, a homemade flan, and chocolate in a wafer with a green sauce that was delicious (but we apologize, we can’t remember what it is was made of).
Overall, the desserts were so fresh and not heavy or rich. They featured not only sweet flavors but creatively integrated savory and sour tart flavors. The tastes were not overwhelming yet certainly wowed and delighted us.
Other Insights About One of the Best Restaurants in Denia
Price-wise the experience was surprisingly affordable. For being six people, we spent around 95€ per couple. That was including a pre-meal drink, two bottles of nice red wine from a lovely wine list, and certain members of our party got a glass of white wine or beers throughout dinner instead of red wine. Then we can’t forget of course the four desserts we shared and we had coffee or tea.
We also realized that we probably could have gone with only one order of some of the tapas that we got. It did turn out to be an amazing amount of food even though they are tapas.
The Heart of El Baret de Miquel
Towards the end of our lunch, chef Miquel Ruiz came out to our table himself to ask how we liked everything. It was the perfect touch to the whole experience to get to meet him and talk to him. We expressed how much we loved the food and our time there and he told us about the history of the area, the building itself, and his passion for sharing with people his love of cooking.
As a Michelin Star chef of a different restaurant many years ago, he decided to take a different path. Rather than pursue another Michelin Star, he and his wife went out on their own to start El Baret de Miquel.
It was not only the amazing food that impressed and overjoyed us but the important elements of the environment and the people. The interior is beautiful and inspiring. Throughout our entire experience, everyone one of the staff had smiles for us and were helpful. Most of all, it was evident that they were each enjoying their work and happy to be there. That really made an impression on us and created the good vibes of the place.
No matter how long the wait is, we can’t wait to experience El Baret de Miquel again one day. As one of the best restaurants in Denia, it is definitely worth the wait.
A huge thank you to our dear friends who accompanied us, Carol and Mike and Jeff and Elaine, and to the staff at El Baret de Miquel and chef Miquel Ruiz.
This post is not sponsored and was written without the knowledge of El Baret de Miquel. We received no compensation in any form and all opinions are our own. Image credit for the featured image and Pinterest image goes to the designer of the restaurant’s placemats.
Written by Amalia & Eric
Founders & Producers of Move to Traveling
We’re Amalia and Eric – a traveling couple who are living a traveling lifestyle. Do you love to travel? Perfect! Come along…