First things first: skip the strip. La Rambla is fine for people-watching, but no great shakes for the palate. Instead, venture off into the streets that wind into the Barri Gòtic and your belly (and wallet) will be eternally grateful. Inside the medieval labyrinth, choices abound. If you had to pinpoint any one area, it would be the eastern half of the barri (neighbourhood) near Via Laietana on the narrow streets above the cathedral (around Carrer de les Magdalenes) and between Plaça de Sant Jaume and the waterfront. Here you'll find a huddle of old-time tapas bars as well as innovative newcomers.

The Sweet Life

Barcelona has some irresistible temptations for those with a sweet tooth. Chocolate lovers won't want to miss Carrer del Petritxol, which is home to several famous granjas (milk bars) that dole out thick cups of hot chocolate, best accompanied by churros. The recommended Granja La Pallaresa always draws a crowd.

At Christmas specialist sweet stores fill with turrón, the traditional holiday temptation. Essentially nougat, it comes in different varieties: softer blocks are turrón de Valencia and a harder version is turrón de Gijón. You can find the treat year-round at stores such as Torrons Vicens, which has been selling its signature sweets since 1775.

Other not-to-be-missed spots include Caelum, and La Colmena.