One of my favorite spots in Spain is the super tiny and always packed Quimet & Quimet. Beyond the awesome tapas Q & Q has an incredible wine list. Hopefully the server with the tattoo of lipstick on her arm is still there. She's the best.
If you never got to go to El Bulli your shot at that kind of magic is at the Adría brothers' restaurant Tickets. I really love this place. Reservations are hard to get and possible only through the website starting at midnight nightly. They fill up within minutes so stay up and don't miss your chance.
Alkimia's tasting menu is molecular gastronomy meets refined French food. The space is formal, the food is modernist and it's a take-your-time meal. We had a twelve-course here meal that blew us away.
The Columnar, super modern Barceló Raval is a great hotel to stay at in Barcelona. It's not the best neighborhood but it's super close to the beach, the Rambla and the market and the price is right. We ended a lot of our nights in Barcelona on the 360-degree rooftop bar here. Don't swim in the rooftop "pool".
If you stay there be sure to go to the ancient absinthe bar Marsella that's just around the corner. Also just around the corner is Pollo Rico -a hole-in-the-wall with damn good rotisserie chicken. Ask for the homemade hot sauce and a baguette to go with. This is the place you want to go to when you're recovering from your octopus and ham overdose which is going to happen at some point if you go to Spain.
Bar Bagoa have two interesting things. The best bocadillo de jamón canario in the world and it's "the" cop bar. They have a room upstairs. Great when you are slightly sloshed... or not...
Casa Trampa. We go there on Sunday afternoons and walk back to town. Good basic home cooking. Lovely folks. Great walk with astounding views. You get to ride on a funicular to get there.
Belmonte. Merci used to be a film location manager and now she and her partner run this great tiny joint... best slightly modern Catalan cooking. Great music.
Bar Joan. In the Mercat de Santa Caterina. Great for breakfast particularly if you like Callos for breakfast.
Bar Calders. Newish place in the hipster part of town. Great terrace. Ramona and his son are really swell. Lots of nice people.
Markets Santa Caterina and Mercado de Sants are great. Near there is Llet Crua a really great cheese shop... Xevi is a filmmaker and journalist and Maria was raised in the US but her parents are from here.
f course you have to go to La Boqueria Market when you're in Barcelona. Once there, make a bee-line for Bar Pinotxo. Hover behind folks for as long as it takes to get a chair. Believe me, it's worth it.
Cal Pep has been a great influence on Toro Bravo over the years but this past fall I had my least favorite meal there. My meal there in 2007, on the other hand, was one of my favorites. I'm sad to say it, but I think that its heyday has passed.
Martinez has the best view and amazing seafood. The sweetbreads at Cañete are amazing and you walk through the tiny kitchen to get to the original dining room. Great service at both. Definitely make a reservation at both, or at least sit at the tapas bar at Cañete.
The brewery Moritz is a very cool place. Great beer and food and you've got to check out the bathrooms downstairs!
We had and amazing time with Alex D. Cardona from Aborígens (aborigensbarcelona.com), he is such an amazing host if you want more of a guide to help you discover the best of the city. It feels more like hanging out with an old friend than a tour guides. We had the best time with him at the vermout bars and restaurants.