Traditionally, the Barcelonese don't go for the tapas crawl like their cousins in Madrid or Andalucia. They prefer to sit down over three courses, acres of linen, and a bottle of chilled white wine. But the trend for eating small portions, and the influence of new chefs such as Carles Abellán at Comerç 24, has reawakened local interest in eating tapas.
For classic Spanish tapas in the heart of the Old City, try Taller de Tapas, Calle de l'Argenteria 51 (tel. 93-268-85-59). For a 50-strong list of snacks all freshly made on the spot, Cal Pep, Plaça de les Olles 8 (tel. 93-310-79-61), comes close to godliness when you're talking spanking-fresh seafood; or there's Bar Celta, Calle Mercè 16 (tel. 93-315-00-06) -- one of the oldest tapas joints in town -- for purple octopus tentacles and delightful green peppers known as pimientos del padrón. On the same street you can down rustic farmhouse ciders, flaming chorizo, and dark, deeply satisfying slivers of cecina (cured beef) at a smattering of sidrerías (Asturian tapas bars).
In La Ribera and the Born, Mosquito, Calle Carders 46 (tel. 93-268-75-69), does a well-executed range of Indian, Thai, Malaysian, and Indonesian dishes, along with gyoza dumplings and organic beers at unbeatable prices. More upmarket fare can be had from the ever-inventive hands of Paco Guzmán at Santa María, Calle Comerç 17 (tel. 93-315-12-27). Think Spanish-Asian fusion, with local fruits stuffed with Thai spiced peanuts; raw sea bass with passion fruit, tomato, and lime vinaigrettes; and suckling pig with wasabi and soy.
If you're heading uptown, avoid the monster barns on the Passeig de Gràcia and opt instead for Ciudad Condal, Rambla de Catalunya 18 (tel. 93-318-19-97), arguably the city's most visited tapas bar for patatas bravas, fried fish, and anchovies. Push on up the road to Cervecería Catalana, Carrer Majorca 236 (tel. 93-216-03-68), for juicy slices of filet beef skewered with peppers, and giant prawn brochettes. El Bitxo, Verdaguer i Callis 9 (tel. 93-268-17-08), serves outrageously imaginative dishes such as foie gras pâté with fig jam and goat's cheese with olive marmalade! It has a pretty good wine and cava selection too.
Finish off with a pudding course courtesy of Jordi Butrón at Espai Sucre, Calle Princesa 53 (tel. 93-268-16-30). Tales of his earthy Lapsang souchong tea ice cream go before him, and for many years his was the only pudding restaurant in the world. Butrón can no longer claim that title, but this is still the ultimate end to a 21st-century tapas crawl.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.