Barcelona has a lot of delicious food. It also has a lot of not-so-delicious food. Enlisting the help of a Barcelona Food & Walking Tour will help you eat like a local and avoid wasting a meal!
After spending a week in Barcelona, Vegas and I agreed that the city’s food culture is on par with Italy. However, like any city, if you sit down to eat at a more touristy restaurant you may be disappointed. This is why I recommend starting off a trip with a food tour!
My favorite food adventures involve some walking too. This helps you to not get too full, and gives you an opportunity to explore more of the city. On the Barcelona Eat Local tour, our guide showed us around parts of the city we wouldn’t have otherwise known to visit, talked a bit about history and politics, and showed us the ropes when it came to classic Catalan dishes.
Our first full day in Barcelona began at Mercat de Sant Antoni with our guide, Andrea. She explained the history behind the market, it’s remodeling plans, and walked us around the maze of brightly colored produce and fresh seafood. We stopped at a booth specializing in salted cod to meet the owner and sample some cod.
Cod isn’t native to Barcelona, but years ago it was used as a currency for trade. Salted cod doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can be preserved for a long time, so it was popular on ships. I guess the trend stuck, because we found cod everywhere in the city!
Our cod was prepared 3 ways: as a croquette, a fritter, and as a citrus-y version over baguette. The last one was my favorite. Vegas loved the fritter… which was funny because she doesn’t generally care for fish!
Then we were off to our next stop… Cava! You know I was pumped for this stop. Our destination was a really cute wine shop called Jovani & Vins. They are wine producers, but their shop carries a variety of wines, cheeses, and meats. I’d definitely recommend a stop in if you’re in need of some picnic munchies.
They served us a delicious semi-soft cheese with a few crackers while we enjoyed a glass of their Cava. Obviously I was too excited for the bubbly… because I forgot to take a picture of the cheese!
Did you know that Cava means cave in Spanish? Makes sense – you need a cave to make Cava. Cava is a sparkling Spanish wine. Like Champagne, Cava can only be made in Spain.
We walked through the tasting as a group, doing the traditional analysis of color, bubbles, smell, and taste. Having received a wine certification last year, Vegas and I were clearly experts.
*insert wine snob face here*
Before I knew it, it was time to move on to stop number 3. It was a nice walk along the shady streets of the El Poble-Sec neighborhood. We stopped at various points to talk about the neighborhood and the architecture. I particularly loved the buildings below.
They owners take care to keep the colors bright and vivid. It could see myself sitting on that patio with a glass of cava on a lazy afternoon!
When we arrived at Plaça del Sortidor, we stopped again to talk about its history. Sortidor means fountain in Catalan, but there wasn’t a fountain to be found! Apparently they moved it up to Montjuïc. No matter, it was still a beautiful square.
Looking up, we saw flags of independence for Catalonia. Andrea explained what each one meant (general independence and socialist independence), and what the vote had been like. Police were physically removing voting booths so people couldn’t cast a ballot! It was nice to have that background at the beginning of our trip; we soon realized the flags were on virtually every building in the city.
I should note that throughout our trip there were protests held, but we never once felt unsafe. None of the demonstrations resulted in violence – something that, as Americans, we couldn’t fathom!
Back to the food. On the east side of the square is a restaurant called El Sortidor. It’s been there for almost a century, and, as you might imagine, the food was perfection. I can’t recommend it enough for tapas!
Much to Vegas’ excitement, we were greeted with a cold beer. You can order it with lemonade as a sort of shandy, but we opted for the full monty.
Our tapas included tomato bread, Iberian ham, and patatas bravas. Tomato bread is something that literally every restaurant in Barcelona serves, but this is the first time we were able to make our own!
It’s really easy: cut a tomato in half and rub it over the bread (IG video here). In this version, we rubbed a clove of garlic over the bread first. It sounds weird, but it’s such simple perfection.
Lastly, we sampled what turned out to be the best patatas bravas of the trip. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like potatoes! I’m weird, I know.
These were nice and crispy on the outside and topped with crack-like garlic aioli and romesco sauce. I had to make myself stop eating them!
We were definitely ready for a walk after that! It was about a 10 minute walk to our next stop, Restaurant Ca I’lsidre. This was definitely the nicest restaurant we visited. I almost felt bad going inside in leggings, but we were the only ones there. It was getting close to siesta time!
Side note: when they say everything shuts down for siesta, they’re not kidding! Shops, bars, restaurants… everything closes!
At our super-nice restaurant, we were treated to a classic Catalan dessert: Crema Catalana. It’s a lot like creme brûlée, but it’s made with milk rather than cream and uses cornstarch to thicken it. Regardless of the name, that sugar crunch on top is just the best.
We went a little out of order with our food since we had one more savory stop to make. I was happy with that, as the dessert was SO sweet.
The day ending with a vermouth at El Jabalí (Spanish for “wild boar”). Andrea explained to us that, unlike the clear dry vermouth you my be familiar with in martinis, sweet Vermouth is popular to drink as an aperitif in Barcelona. It’s so popular that friends will invite you to go “vermouth-ing.” How awesome is that?!
Sweet vermouth is made from wine and is dark amber in color. It’s spiced with herbs and botanicals, and sweetened with brown sugar. Every bar has their own version; it’s a source of pride! Vermouth is traditionally sipped straight, with ice. It comes with a salty stuffed olive, which is a perfect pairing.
This was served with one snack – the Russian salad you see in the background above. Russian salad is made with good quality canned Spanish tuna and a sweet ham mixed with potatoes, carrots, beans, and peas. Plus lots of mayonnaise.
It looked… questionable. Being a brave food soldier, I dug in. It actually tasted better than it looked. It’s prepared fresh each day, and is served only after being personally tasted by the owners. If I were a potato fan I think I’d have loved it.
Sadly, that was the end of our tour. We loved getting to know Andrea – by the end of the day we felt we had a new friend. She offered a few recommendations for craft beer (for Vegas) and answered some general questions… it was nice to have someone to ask our stupid questions to! I cannot recommend Barcelona Eat Local tours enough!
I was not financially compensated for this post. We received a tour for review purposes. This post is completely my own, based on my experience.
I realize I’m super late for WIAW… and that this is only half a day of eats… sorrysorrysorry.
I’m so excited to be posted these recaps… Barcelona was a truly magical place!
Have you ever taken a food tour?
Which dish do you think you would have liked the best?