Barceloneta in the summer is a seething armpit of tourists but at the end of November, with the sun still shining away, it's one of the most pleasant spots in the city to while away a few hours picking at tapas. Slip away from the main drag of Passeig Joan de Borbó and try some of these charming bars in the heart of the neighbourhood.
The oddly named Jai-ca (C/Ginebra 13, Tel. 93 319 5002) is a combination of the names Jaime and Carmen, the owners of this lively bar, who have been dishing up tapas for over 50 years. Scramble for a seat on the chamfered corner under the red awning to enjoy excellent chocos, patatas bravas, chipirones and anything else that can be dropped into hot fat and come up smiling. It's a favourite spot for watching the football so when there's a big match on just enjoy the atmosphere and forget about being served in anything under half an hour.
Around the corner, the iconic Vaso de Oro (C/Balboa 6, Tel. 93 319 3098) is a step up the price ladder as should be immediately obvious from the slightly older clientèle and the uniformed waiters. It's tiny and has precious few seats but it's worth squeezing through to the bar for delicate little saucers of cubed solomillo, spicy bonito or mojama (salt-cured tuna). Beer is the drink of choice here: they have a great selection and even produce their own.
A newer addition that seems to have come to stay is the cosy Bitácora (C/ Balboa 3, Tel. 93 319 1110), which makes up for its dark interior with a sweet little terrace out back. This is where to come for the best patatas bravas in the neighbourhood: cut into chunky crescents, they are crispy on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside.
A little further down towards the sea, look out for the ever-popular La Bombeta (C/ Maquinista 3, Tel. 93 319 9445). There is precious little attention to décor here but it remains a neighbourhood tapas classic, the piece de resistance from amongst the huge list on offer being the spicy bomba (two for €3.25).
On the bottom corner of the huge market square, Bar Electricitat (C/ Sant Carles 15, Tel. 93 221 5017) must have the best waiters around, a wisecrack permanently on their lips and quick and efficient to boot. The swirly pistachio-coloured wrought iron on the doors gives it a bit of character as do the barrels and old-fashioned wooden refrigerator inside. Order a vermouth to drink (they'll plonk the sifón down on your table for you) and order the tapa de mariscos which is a wonder of good quality conserved mussels, razor clams, guindilla peppers, anchovies and olives.