Here are my tips for savoring the best bites in Barcelona.
1. All things you've considered to be tapas are not necessarily called tapas. Some are called pinchos or pinxtos. Of course, it also depends which region of Spain you are in. Here's where I link to information someone else has written on the subject, as I fear I will mess it up in the retelling.
2. Real paella should not be deep yellow. If it is, a restaurant is trying to woo you by making you believe they used a large amount of the incredibly expensive spice saffron. What they really did was shake colored powder into your meal .
3. Do not call serrano ham "Spanish prosciutto". Also, don't smuggle any pork products in your carry-on. A large man with no sense of humor will confiscate them at customs. We learned that the hard way.
4. If you are American, you need to understand the rules of European coffee. Your cup will be half the size and twice as strong. Order two at a time, but prepare to experience heart palpitations for 3-4 hours.
5. Try horchata. It's this super-sweet, super-creamy milk made from tiger nuts. In a lot of cafes and bakeries it's served out of a dispenser like this. It also comes in bottled form, but it's way better fresh.
6. Buy some fresh fruit at La Boqueria, but go further back into the market to grab your apples and figs. Avoid shopping from the intricately displayed fruit cases up at the front. They purposely upcharge to unknowing tourists.
Avoid this one up front.
Go for these instead.
7. Please try churros y xocolat. It's glorious sticks of fried dough dipped in hot liquid chocolate. It's deadly, yet divine.
8. Speaking of sugar, prepare your sweet tooth for eternal damnation. Bakeries are everywhere and they display their puffy meringues and crafty cookies seductively in store windows. The gelato is mind-numbingly good too. We had some almost every night.
9. Do your research before choosing a restaurant. We went to some stellar restaurants and we also stumbled on some extremely average ones. I highly recommend Taller Tapas, Senyor Parellada and the incredible traditional tasting menu at Alkimia. Cal Pep is supposed to have the best tapas, but we unfortunately missed that one.
10. Take a cooking class during your visit, so you can recreate the magic of Barcelona right in your own kitchen back home.