For budget eating you may choose small bars (for example on the Avinguda del Parallel) with "menu del dia" (where it is possible to choose one snack, main dish and drink) - 9-11 Euro per person. But sometimes people there don't speak English and menu is also in Spanish. Banking cards are not accepted.
Near Sagrada Familia on the Carrer de Provenca there is a buffet style canteen with large windows facing the Cathedral. You get a dinner (unlimited snacks, main dishes, drinks, tea/coffe, deserts) for 9.5 Euro (January 2005).
A popular quarter for the Barcelona's citizens is Barceloneta, where you can try fish based dishes, such as Paella (a name that may hide many different kinds of rice concoctions) or Arròs negre (Black Rice), that takes its colour because is made using squid ink. It's a very good place to eat tapas as well. Gracia, Ciutat Vella, Eixample and Poble Sec also offer a wide range of Restaurants.
For the truly stingy the Travel Bar (near the L3 metro Liceu) offers meals for €1. They also serve a full English breakfast and 8oz Irish rump steaks all day long with ingredients imported from the UK.
During the week, most more expensive and happening restaurants offer lunch specials from 14h00 to 16h00. The savvy traveler will try the hip places for a fraction of the price during the day. One way of visiting Barcelona's most interesting restaurants is the buy the B-GUIDED, a quarterly magazine about design, architecture, modern art and of course, dining and going out. These are usually available in news kiosks and will allow you to steer clear of places loaded with tourists such as the Olympic Port and Las Ramblas where prices are over inflated.
Other places worth trying are:
El Rey de la Gamba, Barceloneta, offers excellent seafood at a moderate price. On the main drag in Barceloneta across from the sound. Great wine selection and paella.
Can Punyetes, C/Maria Cubi 189 is a very traditional Catalan restaurant. A must, frequented by locals only, with a menu in Catalan. Don't be afraid, the food is fabulous.
Bestial C/Ramón Trias Fargas 2-4, for their fabulous lunch specials to be enjoyed on their great beach terrace on warm sunny days. Dinner tends to be quite expensive, thus lunch is the best option.
Silenus, C/Àngels 8, also has excellent lunch offers, 3 courses for around 10-12 Euros. A very desing restaurant just in front of the MACBA.
Il Salero, C/Rec, in El Born is a very mellow place to eat and see Barcelona's beautiful people.
Comerç 24, is a fashion tapas bar. Very creative, very good
Arrel, a must in El Born area of town
Cafe Viena, is a sandwich bar on Las Ramblas. Truly some of the most delicious sandwiches anywhere. The bread is fresh and crispy, and the beer is cold. I will always stop by this place when I visit.
Cafe de L'Opera, La Rambla 74, is a marvelous place to have a breakfast with fine strong coffee. The inside features 1920's decor.
Les Quinze Nits, Plaça Real, is a place to get cheap, huge and delicious paella. The Gazpacho served here is also one of the finest in the world. The restaurant opens at 9pm, but the queue starts at 8pm. It's best to arrive early.
El Glop (four locations) offers excellent Catalan meals at a price within most budgets. Allow about €20 per person, although you could get out of there for half of that if you let the price dictate your choice of dishes.
Amatxu an authentic tapas bar, popular with the natives and tourists alike. Their squid rings are particularly good and their staff are friendly. They are located on Las Ramblas.
Suzet A nice place with a modern environment. The best crêpes mixing modern and typical catalan ingredients. C/Tallers,69 T. 93 318 4724
Restaurant Miria not to be confused with the cafe of the same name right next door. Plaça Rius | Taulet 11. Really good food and reasonable prices (in Gracia). 93 218 51 98
betawi a really tasy Indonesian restaurant. Portions aren't huge (average) but they sure know how to cook meat and fish to perfection. C/Montsio 6. In the Barrio Gotic. 93 412 62 64
Meson David A great place serving excellent hearty Galician fare. Try the Lacon pork joint, its amazing. The decor is basic but the atmosphere is great. Expect queues at peak times. You'll eat and drink loads of Sangria for €15. Calle carretes 63 in the Raval area. Near St Antoni Metro.
Juicy Jones about 100 yards from Liceu L3 off side road and down some steps. A great vegan restaurant is hidden behind the juice and tapas bar frontage. The desserts are fair to poor, but the thali is amazing. Address: C/ Cardenal Casañas 7.
BioCenter in C/Pintor Fortuny, 2 offers really nice affordable vegetarian and vegan food with a familiar atmosphere.
Comer y no Bombas (location variable) shares free vegan food.
Orgànic on C/ Junta Comerç, 11 at <M> Liceu (L3). A little more expensive, around 20€ for the menú del día, but is worth it! It's the best restaurant I've been to in a long time! Whether you're vegetarian/vegan or not, this kitchen is organic and the food is amazing and of high quality. Not a quick eat, but a nice sit down to good food meal. The service is friendly and down to earth and funny. Highly recommended.
La Flauta Carrer Aribau, 27. Many local business people seem to dine here during the week. The ever changing menu del dia (menu of the day) costs around €10 and will fill you up with delicious Catalan cuisine that is well prepared and equally well presented. The Crema Catalana, similar to a creme broulee, makes an excellent choice for desert. Arriving somewhat early for lunch, perhaps before 14:00, could save you from waiting for a table.
La Locanda in C/Joaquim Pou 4, between Via Laietana and the Cathedral, is a good choice for italian food lovers. Between Urquinaona and Sant Jaume metro stations.
Shunka in C/ Sagristans 5, next to the Cathedral, is one of the most appreciated Japanese restaurants in town. Prior reservation is strongly advised. Between Urquinaona and Sant Jaume metro stations.
Els Quatre Gats (Four Cats) in Carrer Montsio should be a tourist trap - but it isn't (although tourists are a good percentage of visitors). It is the successor to the famous cafe where Gaudi drank and Picasso exhibited, in a fine Modernisme building by Puig i Cadafalch, and the set lunch for two will cost about EUR 26. The cooking is excellent, if it's not onion soup. Old-school interior, formally dressed waiters. Local visitors for dinner are either over 40s or families with children.
Alkimia, carrer Industria 79, this author's cuisine restaurant run by Jordi Vilà has received strong reviews since opening in 2003. Minimalist white interior. Michelin Star.
Cinc Sentits, Aribau 58, , named one of the 80 Hottest New Restaurants in the World by Condé Nast Traveller shortly after opening in 2004. Features contemporary Catalan cuisine in a modern, warm interior. One of the few restaurants in Barcelona to offer a wine pairing.
Gaig, Aragó 214 . This classic Barcelona restaurant has recently moved into the stylish Cram Hotel and features updated Catalan dishes. Modern black and red interior. Michelin Star. Expensive.
Hisop, passatge Marimon 20, , one of the most promising cuisines in Barcelona with excellent wine service.
A good set lunch for EUR 9 at the Delfin, on the Born, with typical Catalan specialties such as salmonetes (little fish eaten whole).
If you are looking for a cheap lunch:
Maoz offers excellent vegan falafel for around 4 euros. There are several around Barcelona including one on 95, La Rambla,about 10 minutes walk from Pl Catalunya. Fantastic Veggie!!!
La Boqueria market: it's on the Rambla, and there you can find food at low prices, the only problem is that all that food is mostly raw food! Some stall sells stuff for you such as many kinds of well cooked ready to eat pasta, fresh fruit already sliced, ... La Boqueria
Supermarket's Gastronomy: in several supermarket you can find a wide Gastronomy stall, with ready to eat dishes in a great selection. You can get a two courses lunch for less than 5 euros.
Any common bar offers menú del dia (menu of the day), which usually means a simple and unpretentious two course meal, 3 or 4 options each, with a drink and a dessert, from 8€ or so.
Dönor Kebab: There is no shortage of Döner stands in Barcelona, offering tasty beef or chicken and salad in toasted flatbread for around €3.50.
Vegetalia, 54, Escudellers st. Barcelona, ☎ 93 317 33 31. 10:00 - 00:00. 5-10€. edit: Offers excellent organic vegetarian foods, as a compliment to the restaurant there's a store carries the full range of Vegetalia products as well as other well-sourced organic foods. The staff is friendly and prices reasonable.