Do you consider yourself to be a food critic or wine connoisseur? Don’t worry if you don’t meet the definition of these because neither do we, but if you are heading to Barcelona anytime soon, we have the perfect experience that does not require you to be a food or beverage expert. Thanks to Devour Barcelona, an amazing food tour around this beautiful city is available that will truly introduce you to the local specialties that make Spanish cuisine such a huge attraction.
Welcome to Devour Barcelona
When you start considering taking a food tour around a city like Barcelona, it’s nice to have a better understanding as to what to expect throughout the time you spend with the tour guide. Look no further than Devour Barcelona’s mission:
To give our guests an insider’s peek into the real Barcelona, and a taste of the city’s true local cuisine.
Joined by a number of fellow bloggers (we were all in the Catalan area because of TBEX in nearby Lloret de Mar) and other travelers, we had an excellent blend of cultures in our group. Meeting outside the Valentino store on Passeig de Gracia, we were excited about the 4 hour food tour around the Gràcia neighborhood.
What Spanish cuisine are you most looking forward to trying? This was the question posed by our amazing guide, Renée, prior to our food tour beginning. I am not afraid to admit that we both looked at each other with a blank face, hoping that Renée would start with someone else! Ok so we all know that Spain is famous for their tapas and cava, but aside from that my knowledge of Spanish culinary delicacies was rather limited.
Our Food Tour
Are you ready to start salivating over this delicious cuisine? I hope that I won’t completely spoil all of the surprises by sharing our experiences, but I am convinced that after reading this and seeing the amazing pictures, you will be ready to book your very own Devour Barcelona food tour! If not…well, Spanish cuisine is simply not for you.
Renée handed us a guide of the nine very unique establishments that we would be visiting throughout the morning and early afternoon. Each location provided something very different, yet remaining local to the Catalan community and providing a true reflection on Spanish cuisine.
As we started to walk around the Gràcia neighborhood, Renée shared with us that many people that live in Gràcia consider themselves to be separate from Barcelona. So much of the architecture and local way of life is reminiscent of quaint, European villages with locals visiting markets for their groceries rather than supermarkets that are destroying local communities.
Let’s take a tour with Devour Barcelona and see exactly what we experienced in Gràcia and how we rated each of these local delicacies!
Only in Spain could you get away with drinking sparkling Cava at 10:00AM but that is the norm in the region of Catalonia. Our tour started at Can Tosca that offered a glass of Cava alongside a delightful grilled botifarra sandwich. If you are not familiar with botifarra, it is a Catalan pork sausage with a hint of spice and provided us with a great way to start our food tour.
This was one of my favorite stops on the tour and I would highly recommend checking out Can Tosca regardless of whether you decide to participate in a food tour.
Who wouldn’t want to start the day with a botifarra sandwich and sparkling Cava! I know I’m sold. Heather wasn’t as much of a fan of the botifarra but I will do my best to convince her otherwise the next time we visit Can Tosca!
Mercat de l’Abaceria Central
A short walk from Can Tosca took us to the heart of Gràcia – The Mercat de l’Abaceria Central! If you are looking for a spot to catch up with your fellow locals, or perhaps just taking in the experience of shopping in a local market, this is the perfect location.
A number of stalls are setup inside the doors offering a plethora of Spanish delicacies, though for the locals these are just everyday items that satisfy their palettes.
Two different stops on our food tour took place inside the Mercat de l’Abaceria Central. Our first experience took place at Selecció d’Olives i Conserves Gloria. Unfortunately, I am not at all a fan of olives (green or black) so this was not one of my favorite stops but from everyone else’s facial expressions it seems this was a pretty good choice on the tour. A trip to Spain wouldn’t be the same without at least sampling olives!
The second stop was right up my alley – La Trobada del Gourmet! A selection of cheeses are available here and we sampled three very distinct local favorites that were all delicious. The Manchego cheese that we tried was definitely my favorite but all three offered something very unique.
The market is so much more than just a selection of cheeses and olives. From fresh fruit and vegetables to fresh eggs, there is enough to wet your appetite just from looking at the food!
Do you know the real meaning of ‘extra virgin olive oil’? Unfortunately in the United States, we are all led to believe that many of the mainstream products we see on the supermarket shelves are ‘extra virgin’.
This is just false advertising and only when you sample the very finest ‘extra virgin’ olive oil in Spain will you realize the difference!
Our next stop took us to Oli Sal, home of some of the finest olive oils from around the world. We headed back to the tasting room and sampled three very different olive oils.
Although I have never been a huge fan of olive oil, I can now attest that when you try a ‘good’ olive oil, it is nothing like the poor quality we associate with supermarket brands!
Visiting L’Anxoveta is all about the hands-on experience!
Make your very own ‘pa amb tomàquet’ after watching Carlos, the restaurant’s expert provide step by step instructions on how to really make this delicious yet simple tasting. Of course if you don’t like tomatoes, you may not like this bread but again I was open-minded and really enjoyed the overall experience.
The basic process involves rubbing a tomato across a slice of bread and then sprinkling some good quality olive oil across this.
We also experienced a ‘Bomba’ potato and ground beef croquette with brava sauce and alioli. This was one of the spicier foods we tried on the tour but given my fondness of this, it was one of my favorites. The small matter of a caña or a local wine was a perfect accompaniment for this cuisine.
A slight change of direction yet still in the heart of Gràcia was a visit to a Syrian bakery. All of the delightfully decorated desserts here are home-baked, a real credit to the owner who moved from Syria and met his Spanish wife in Barcelona and has never looked back.
Thousands of these perfectly manicured desserts are made on a daily basis and the difficult decision is figuring out which ones to try.
I tried a double chocolate with walnut and Heather opted for Renée’s recommendation of the rose water pistachio, both of which were tasty sweet treats to break up the savory samplings we had earlier in the tour.
Bodega Ca’l Pep
After six food and drink tastings, it was time for the infamous ‘hora del vermut’. Stereotypically an old tradition of having the ‘vermouth hour’ around lunchtime, the Catalan communities have continued to emphasize the importance of keeping this tradition going. And who are we to argue with that!
Renée directed us to a gorgeous, antiquated bar named Bodega Ca’l Pep which looked like your typical hang-out spot for older generations to grab a drink, maybe play cards and watch their beloved FC Barcelona on tv!
The quintessential look and feel of this bar was a perfect setting to sit down and sample vermouth. Served in a small shot glass, I was anticipating a strong liquor taste which at 1:00PM was going to give us all that much needed spark to finish the remainder of the tour.
Surprisingly the vermouth was sweet and honestly was not particularly strong, though as we all know those drinks can be the most dangerous!
The vermouth was not the only treat here. A little side dish of pickled anchovies and fuet (thin Catalan sausage) provided a nice twist and accompaniment for the vermouth. Can you blame us for wanting to stay here longer to try more of this fortified wine and pickled gourmet food selection?
La Botigueta del Bon Menjar
Although we didn’t sample any Spanish paella on our food tour, our visit to La Botigueta del Bon Menjar offered our best chance at purchasing some authentic paella. Everything inside this little corner shop is made by José. He serves home-cooked Catalan food in his family’s bean shop and this is a really cute spot to sample this fine cuisine.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the escalivada and romesco pintxo which was yet another ‘olive’ sampling but it was well worth the wait for José’s legendary homemade meatballs in a bean and sweet pea gravy.
The final leg of our food tour took us to another enticing bakery with so many amazing pastries and dessert selections to choose from.
A final sweet treat included a mini cremat along with either tea or coffee, ensuring this is a delightful way to end the tour and offer a moment to reflect on everything you experienced around Gràcia.
Bakeries and delicatessens are always huge hits so it was no surprise to see everyone in the group staring at the wide selection and wondering whether their waistlines could take any more of these scrumptious desserts.
Whether words can do this food tour enough justice I am not sure! However, what I can say is that thanks to Renée and Devour Barcelona, they provided us with an amazing experience of authentic, Catalan cuisine. Many of these hidden gems will likely never be visited by traditional tourists unless you participate in a tour like this and are introduced to the amazing cuisine available.
Favorite cuisine? I would have to go with the botifarra sandwich accompanied with a glass of sparkling Cava at Can Tosca! I know this was our first stop but it was a perfect start to this tour. Heather’s favorite was the mini cremat at Pastisseria Ideal but who could blame her because this was a small moment of heaven!
Depending on your tastebuds, there will be something along this tour that really intrigues you. The sweet treats are amazing and well…who wouldn’t want to continue the trend of the ‘hora del vermut’ – I don’t know about you but WE ARE DEFINITELY ON BOARD!
Disclaimer – We were guests of Devour Barcelona on this food tour and would like to thank them for their hospitality. These are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.