Traditionally, the Catalans were never very partial to eating tapas, and the popularity of going out for tapas has come and gone throughout the decades. Recently, tapas are back in favor, and in a big way. New tapas bars seem to be springing up daily, and the quality and variety of food on offer is truly fantastic.
Hundreds of years ago, tapas were originally free titbits on a slice of bread that were served with a drink - on top of the glass as a sort of lid - ostensibly to keep the flies out of the wine. (Tapa means lid or cover.) Nowadays, tapas has became the catch-all word for three different types of servings: montados are the original little tapa on a slice of bread; raciones are half-ration dishes; whereas a porción is a full portion. Any bar will have some kind of tapa available at all times of day or night. A good tapas bar will have a seemingly endless selection, from fried fish, seafood,meat stews, cold-cuts and cheeses, to fried veggies, mushrooms, and tortillas (don´t forget that in Spain, tortillas are a kind of omelette).
As mentioned before, tapas have become increasingly popular and sophisticated in Catalonia, and a meal of tapas may set you back more than the price of a regular dinner. In larger towns, as in the port area in Barcelona, bars selling tapas are grouped together in narrow streets in the old quarter, and it is a ritual to move from one crowded bar to another sampling competitive offerings. Even in towns with no tapas bars per se will have tapas available in the local bars. This is often a good way to sample local sausages and cheeses.