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.