Imagine strolling down narrow Catalonian streets hidden behind the hustle and bustle of the city. You have been transported into a charming neighborhood overflowing with quaint cafes and vibrant markets. You no longer feel like a tourist on vacation, instead you have molded into a local. The day is filled with mingling with other locals, stopping by traditional family run businesses and indulging in authentic food and beverages. Sounds like a dream, right?
If you follow my blog, you know that my style of travel is to live like a local and venture off the beaten path. I tend to search for experiences that will give me the true taste of the culture of country I am visiting. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a tour with Devour Barcelona that did exactly that. Devour Barcelona provides a truly authentic experience on their Gracia Neighborhood Food & Market Tour. And coming from an experienced traveler that makes the extra effort to act like a local while traveling, that says a lot.
We began the tour by meeting our lovely guide, Raquel. And let me just take a minute to brag about her. Raquel was lively, entertaining, extremely knowledable and most importantly, she was incredible with my little girl! Mega bonus points for her! I highly recommend Raquel as a guide. She took us into the back streets of Gracia to begin our tour. The tour consisted of a total of 9 stops at small, family-run businesses. We ate our way through Gracia for a total of 4 hours; talk about a lot of eating! Calories don’t count on vacation, right?! Each stop gave us the opportunity to interact with the locals and provided a unique experience. I could go on and on about each stop, but instead I will highlight my favorites and leave some mystery for you to discover when you visit Barcelona!
Our first stop was at Can Tosca, where we had our second breakfast. Yes, you heard that right! In Spain you get 2 breakfasts! Can Tosca has been run by the Tosca family since 1961. We started our tour off with a glass of “cava”, a sparkling wine popular in this region, and a “botifarra del perol” sandwich. Essentially, a boiled sausage sandwich. The bread on the sandwich was fresh and homemade and the sausage was bursting with flavor. The atmosphere was lively and full of locals indulging into their second breakfast.
This is a lovely little tapas bar reopened by Carlos and Maite in 2011. This was my favorite stop because we had a hands-on portion that my daughter loved! We learned how to make “pan con tomate”, which translates into bread with tomato. My 2 year old is now an expert at making this Barcelona specialty. We also had a delicious “bomba”, made from mashed potato filled with minced beef, all i oli and spicy tomato sauce. So yummy! We washed it all down with a “canya”, which is a light, refreshing beer.
Llegums Cuites Isabel/La Botigueta del Bon Menjar
This is a tiny little shop run by Jose and originally opened in 1956 by his mother, Isabel. This place is truly a gem and shouldn’t be missed while in Gracia. We started off with “escalivada”. This consisted of of roasted red peppers and eggplant with Romesco sauce. Let me tell you, this sauce is one of the greatest things I have ever tasted. I can’t even describe how delicious it is, so you need to go try it yourself! Next, we had “albóndigas” (meatballs) in a stew of peas and chickpeas. The dish was exploding with flavor! I can honestly say this was some of the best food I ate in Spain.
We ended the food tour with coffee and dessert, what’s a better way of finishing it off?! We stopped at a small bakery opened in 1919 and was served by the original owner’s grandson. Here we had a specialty called “cremat”, which is a sponge cake with crema catalana. It was light and fluffy and the perfect way to end our tour. This bakery continues to make everything fresh daily unlike many bakeries in the city, so it is a must that you visit!
Gracia stole my heart the second I stepped foot on its cobblestone streets. If you are looking for an authentic experience that you will remember forever, I highly recommend touring with Devour Barcelona. Not only are you getting a once in a lifetime experience, you are helping support the locals of Gracia. Gracia previously hit a recession and the smaller, family run businesses have been struggling ever since. It is imperative that travelers, like us, support the businesses in Gracia to keep the authenticity alive and outnumber the chain restuarants. Who wants to travel and visit standardized chain restaurants anyway? Not me, thats for sure! So let’s all spread the word about this charming neighborhood tucked away in Barcelona; and if you decide to visit, I know you will fall in love with Gracia just as I have.
Book your tour here!
PS. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous to take my toddler on a 4 hour tour. Turns out, I was nervous for absolutely nothing! My daughter loved trying all the different foods, especially making pan con tomate! She also enjoyed the friendly locals that always made an effort to talk and play with her. There were plenty of times she had the opportunity to run around as well. But most of all, she LOVED our guide, Raquel. And I am pretty sure she loved her back (right, Raquel?). Long story short, if you are looking for a food tour with kids, then this is a perfect fit!