Barcelona restaurants

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Casa Delfín

Price guide: Mid-range
expert-rated restaurants in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

Homely Catalan cooking on the Passeig del Born.

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Barcelona's massive post-Olympic transformation is precisely epitomised by its dining scene, and where it was once smokey taverns and sticky brown stews, it is now a brave new world of liquorice foam and Philippe Starck chairs.

I'm exaggerating, of course, but only slightly. Recent years have seen literally dozens of new restaurants offering dishes from around the world. Finally you can get a really good pad thai, a bowl of steaming pho, a plate of fried green tomatoes and a wider variety of fish sliced into sashimi than you knew existed. What has taken a backseat is local cuisine, both Catalan and 'Spanish' (which in Barcelona is used to mean 'from elsewhere in Spain'), although many of the city's top chefs have tried to redress the balance by reclaiming old recipes and adding their own twists.

Some eating and drinking pointers:

• As a rough rule-of-thumb, the further you get from the well-worn tourist trails (and most especially La Rambla), the better you'll eat.

• While there is mighty tourist demand for tapas bars, they are not an especially Catalan concept, so most are aimed squarely at visitors. There are exceptions, of course, such as Quimet i Quimet and Bar Pinotxo.

• Catalans eat late. Lunch is normally 2-4pm, and dinner around 9-11.30pm.

• Most restaurants are closed on Mondays, and many close on Sunday evenings.

• Few places offer children's menus, but children are popular here, even in restaurants, so almost all will make some effort to accommodate them.

• While Catalans barely tip, all waiters are aware that outside Spain different rules apply, and therefore when a foreigner doesn't tip, or tips very little, it's seen as a snub.

• There are no service charges in Spain, but 8% VAT may be added to your bill – the menu should state whether it's already included or not.

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With over 4,000 cafés, bars and restaurants in Barcelona, pulling out a top 40 is a tough call. Different places fulfil different needs – you might be in the mood for trying something different, you might have kids in tow, you might be on a date, you might have an urge to eat seafood with your toes in the sand – and I've tried to include a selection from as many categories as I can think of. They're all judged on their own merits (you'll see my favourites include both a Michelin-starred gastro temple and a burger bar) and based on various visits. Restaurants and their kitchens are constantly changing and evolving, however, and there's only so much a girl can eat, so any feedback from you would be very welcome.