You can find a chunky gob-stopper of a bocadillo in any bar but they are always so much better toasted, especially in this freezing weather. Here are a few places to try:
Can Conesa (C/ Llibreteria 1, www.conesaentrepans.com). Follow your nose and join the line in Plaça Sant Jaume for cheap, hot baguettes squished with a smoking sizzle on the grill plates. The place is tiny, uncompromisingly ugly and there are never any free tables but nobody cares about any of that. This place has been in business since 1951 and the old-school guys working the sandwich grills know what they are doing. With the exception of their grilled sardine baguette, Conesa’s speciality hot sandwiches are meat-based and clapped in white bread: try the classic white botifarra de Balaguer with cheese, the black botifarra with wild mushrooms (only available in season) or the belly-busting Catalan with country sausages, onion, cheese and roast peppers. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would come here in search of a healthy option but Can Conesa does cater for that slim eventuality, providing low cholesterol options, gluten free and wholewheat baguettes, and even a couple of salads. Just try not to think too much about what lurks inside the greasy yellow machine that sells punnets of chips outside. Sandwiches around €3.75.
Can Paixano (C/ Reina Cristina 7, 93 310 08 39, www.canpaixano.com) Otherwise known as 'the champagne bar' this place is never going to win prizes for sophistication: it’s standing room only; there’s generally a snowdrift of napkins on the floor that occasionally get cleared away with a huge shovel; it’s noisy, packed and the waiters are unbelievably bossy. It’s also obligatory to consume the sandwiches if you order a bottle of cava (allegedly to prevent uncontrolled drunkenness on the part of tourists who cannot believe that they can buy a whole bottle of the fizzy stuff for under a fiver). Fortunately, the baps are great: try the country sausages with melted cheese, roast peppers and onions, or pork steaks with Roquefort, all served up at lightning speed in small buns dripping with olive oil for around €2.75 a pop.
When it’s tea time, head to Cacao Sampaka (Consell de Cent 292, 93 272 08 33 www.cacaosampaka.com) for something sweet. They do a delectable little range of chocolate toasties (for around €4.20) with all manner of fillings, ranging from the classic hazelnut to Arabian coffee flavour or black chocolate – basically a grown-up version of the classic Spanish children’s merienda (afternoon snack).