Hi. We just returned from Barcelona and although I'm still catching up at work, I wanted to post some of the "things I learned" while in Barcelona. I have more to post, but the names, addresses, etc. are at home, so I'll post that stuff hopefully this weekend.
If you searched on this board, you know that most, if not all of the Chowhounds who have been to Barcelona recommend Cal Pep. I don't have much to add to the other posts. It was really fun; the food was great. It was an enjoyable experience all around.
In terms of the wait, we ate there on a Tuesday or Wednesday (it all blends together on vacation) and arrived at 7:40; the restaurant opens at 8. We were first in line. Actually, I think some other people were there first, but they were sitting in the square having drinks. Once we got in line, the line quickly formed. When the restaurant opened, everyone, except for 1 person, got a seat. He wasn't too happy!
We speak minimal Spanish and no Catalan, so we just asked our waiter to bring us his favorites. Everything was good, but most was fried. I think we'd have preferred to have some of our fish grilled and I recommend being a bit more specific than "bring us your favorites." We paid under 60 Euros.
Based on recommendations here, at La Boqueria (Mercat Boqueria, off the Ramblas), we ate at BarCentral. It was approximately 2:45 in the afternoon, and we actually had to wait about 10 minutes for 2 stools to open up. Like Cal Pep, there are approx. 16 stools. We ordered a mixed fish platter, which we shared. It was very good -- but quite greasy! It, plus 2 sodas, came out to 20 Euros.
Both BarCentral and Cal Pep are not "relaxing" dining experiences; nor are they quiet. But, they are fun.
An interesting aside -- I also went to the Mercat Saint Antoni. It is quite different than the Boqueria. Much more meat for sale, as opposed to produce and fish (though there is fish and produce at Saint Antoni as well). And, circling the Mercat Saint Antoni is a flea type market where they sell cheap clothes, shoes, bags, etc. It was fun as it felt like the people shopping were actually locals, as opposed to at the Boqueria.
There was a recommendation on here for Smooth (Enric Granados 73, L'Eixample). We went, but it was such a beautiful night and all the outdoor seats were taken, so we walked to the next restaurant, La Polpa. It is just a bit more fancy than Smooth -- there are table cloths on the outside tables. We really, really liked it. We shared a nice salad and then two dishes as well as a bottle of cava and it was under 30 Euros. It isn't Spanish food or Catalan food per se. In fact there were some Asian inspired dishes, some Italian dishes, etc. It was just a nice, good dining experience. The street is quiet and we really enjoyed seeing people coming home from work, parking their motorcycles, etc. Again, the food wasn't exquisite -- just quite nice. Interestingly, when we arrived, around 8:45, the inside was empty. When we left, at 10:30, it was quite full (and it is a pretty big restaurant).
I'll try to post more (including a great retaurant that our Spanish friends took us to) later.