The Menu del Dia is one of Spain's best kept secrets, which so many visitors miss out on, because they are not aware of it.
You can enjoy a three course meal with wine at a very reasonable price, if you simply know where to find a Menu of the Day.
The typical lunch in Catalonia, as in the rest of Spain, is much larger than those in most other countries and is eaten between the hours of 1.30pm and 4pm.
So to really enjoy the full lunch-time experience in Barcelona, you are probably going to have to change your habits and make lunch rather than dinner your main meal of the day.
In Barcelona, the Menú (pronounced - meh-noo) is particularly aimed at workers wanting an affordable but filling midday meal.
In fact, if the bar is full of locals that's a sure sign that its Menu del Dia is excellent quality and value.
The typical Menu del Dia is a bit like the French Plat de Jour except that it consists of two courses plus bread, a beverage and either a dessert or coffee and at the time of writing, will cost you from 10-15€ for a more than acceptable meal.
Menus change daily and there are normally at least three or four options per course, so you will have a variety of dishes to choose from.
The Menu del Día is usually posted outside the restaurant, on either a chalk board or sign so you can browse before making your decision as
to whether or not to dine there.
The Menú has become such a tradition that they are also available at the weekend but tend to be a little more expensive than throughout the week.
Furthermore, Menu del Dias are so popular that Chinese restaurants will have their own particular version, as will an Italian or Indian, but if you're after the authentic Barcelona experience, you should go to a Spanish or Catalan bar or restaurant ... and look out for the word 'Casera', which means homemade!
Although most restaurants advertise their Menu of the Day on a chalk board outside the establishment, one of the problems that tourists have is that they are often offered the normal menu and the cheap option is conveniently overlooked.
I've often experienced this when showing visitors around because it's easy to assume that everyone in a group of foreigners is a tourist.
My suggestion is that you should keep an eye out for the chalkboard menus outside and if they try to fob you off with the normal menu just insist and say 'No, Menú, por favor!'
In fact, this reveals a slight linguistic difficulty the word for 'Menu' in Catalan and Spanish is 'Carta' and 'Menú' (pronounced - meh-noo!!!) is the Menu of the Day.
Of course the standard menu may have a list of dishes as long as your arm, whereas the fare on offer for Menu of the Day might only provide a choice of three or four dishes for each course, but there's usually something to suit everyone.
Popular first courses are stews, soups, pastas and salads, but dishes are as diverse as the restaurants which offer them, so there won't be a problem finding something you like. You might also get offered homemade paella, particularly on Thursdays.
The main course is likely to be a choice of chicken, fish, meatballs or pork and usually comes with chips or salad.
There's also a choice of desserts, including flan, ice cream, fruit, yoghourt or as we are in Catalonia, crema catalana.
You can often substitute the dessert for coffee, but if you want to pay extra, you can have both.
As far as drinks are concerned, you'll be able to choose from wine, beer, soft drinks and water. Before you go in, make sure that drinks are included because if not, you got well get stung on the wine.
To give you an idea of what you can expect, I've translated three fairly typical Menus del Dia. By the way, these photos are from 2012 so you'll probably have to add a couple of Euros onto the price!