Eating well in Barcelona is easy.
The produce in the region is wonderful, especially the seafood.
There’s a confidence, pride and skill about the cooking – from the humblest tapas bar to the swankiest restaurants.
Of course there are the inevitable tourist-targeting dives – places with waiters accosting passers-by in an attempt to persuade them to eat thawed prawns and bland paella that bears little resemblance to the real thing.
But choose carefully and you’ll eat brilliantly.
Here are some suggestions.
This small, bright side street restaurant serves a light contemporary take on Catalan food, with seafood dominating the menu.
The nine-course tasting menu cost us 92€ a head with some interesting wine pairings.
The ingredients used for each dish are few, with clever combinations and great craftsmanship highlighting their quality.
A course of prat artichokes with fermented turnip puree and black truffle was an explosion of flavours.
Sweet, moist gurnard topped with zingy fennel and lightly-pickled red onions served in a broth with astounding depth was a star.
A loosely-textured creme Catalan served with a butter biscuit ice cream was another standout.
By the seaside
La Mar Salada
Barceloneta – that bit of the city that juts out to sea past the posh yachts – has its fair share of tourist traps flogging uninspiring seafood.
But this place rightly has a reputation for serving some of the best fish and shellfish in the city.
They do a tempting set three-course lunchtime menu for 18€ or go a la carte.
Razor clams in a sort of posh barbecue sauce were precisely cooked and a plate of squid with crisp Iberian ham and various vegetables packed plenty of flavour nicely contrasting textures.
But a dessert of delicate goats’ cheese with a fresh date, honey, ice-cream and crumbled biscuit spiked with rosemary was stunning.
Go really local
Mercado de La Boqueria
A market is the beating heart of any city – and this one is a delight.
Wander round gawping at the spectacular hams, incredible array of seafood, pungent cheeses, hand-crafted chocolates, indulgent cakes and vibrant fruit and veg.
Then settle down for a chilled beer and some snacks at one of the many well-priced cafes and bars in and around the edge of the market.
A plate of deep-fried breaded cubes of soft oozing cheese with a sort of tangy quince marmalade was one of the trip’s simplest (and cheapest) dishes but also one of its most memorable.
The same might be said of the croquettes made with salt cod.
Or the fried spuds served with garlic mayonnaise so pungent that I could fall asleep in a room full of hungry vampires and not fear for my wellbeing.
Hard to imagine the touristy La Rambla was just yards away.