To me, there's no place in the world that encapsulates joie de vivre as much as Barcelona. It's a city that doesn't start to wake up until 10 am, enjoys a long leisurely lunch followed by a nice afternoon siesta, then really starts to come alive after 6 pm. It's a city where wine is literally cheaper than water, where jamon refers to fresh slices of rich, salty Serrano or Iberico ham cut straight from the hindleg of a pig that sits on a counter, hoof and all (rather than processed, oversalty, oversweet Oscar Meyer American ham), and where even the humblest loaf of bread is made magically delicious with a little bit of tomato, olive oil and salt.
What I love best about Barcelona is its approach to food: simple, fresh, pure in flavor. One of my favorite places to eat in Barcelona is Cerveceria Catalana, an insanely popular casual eatery among locals and tourists alike. If you get here after 9 pm, you will have to wait outside with legions of other people waiting to grab a seat at the counter or a table. If you're used to eating at more "normal" hours (i.e, dinner before 8 pm), you'll fare better and should be able to snag a seat at the counter. Cerveceria Catalana is also open for breakfast and lunch - you can't go wrong any time of day, but for some of the best tapas in Barcelona, try to fit in at least one lunch or dinner.
Tapas offerings at the bar during lunch and dinner - if it's your first time, the best seat in the house is at the counter where you can simply point to the dishes you want (most of them are not listed on the printed English menu). You choose what you want, and the servers will start cooking/preparing your tapas - the green peppers above (pimientos de padron) would be fried with olive oil and sea salt, the goat cheese skewers covered with almonds would be deep-fried into a lollipop with soft gooey cheese covered by raspberry jam - decadent and delicious.
Bang for buck rating: 5
Location: 236 C/Mallorca, Eixample, Barcelona, Spain
Average price of meal for two (including drinks): 30 euros