Barcelona is famous for its fantastical architecture, seaside charm and football prowess but there is more to the Catalan capital than meets the eye. Food is the backbone of the culture and the flavors are some of the most celebrated on the planet. From tapas bars to bustling markets – a trip to Barcelona isn’t complete without partaking in the best food tours.
Although it’s easy to find delicious cuisine when exploring the squares and side alleys, you will still want to book one of the best food tours when you arrive with a wonderful local company called Barcelona Born & Bred. They are based in the trendy El Born neighborhood (an old historic quarter) and their tours take you to locally loved restaurants that are located off the beaten track – tasting exquisite bites and sipping fine wine along the way.
Led by energetic and informed guides, your group of no more than six will get to support small businesses and family-run establishments that are the beating heart of Catalan gastronomy. Eli is the founder of Barcelona Born & Bred and she started this little company after working for 10 years as a tour guide. Having studied history, drama and tourism in various European cities – Eli has combined her passion for travel with her love of Barcelona.
With her as your guide, you will be able to immerse yourself in the essence of Barcelona through its culinary flair. Below we outline the best food tours in Barcelona that Eli offers and reveal why each one is so special. Even if you don’t eat meat or dairy, and would like to stick to vegetarian or vegan meals, there are food options available where you will be accommodated.
Best Food Tours in Barcelona
Catalan Flavors with a Tasting at a Local Market
Kicking off around midday, the Catalan Flavors tour sees guests discover the authentic tastes of the city (like a local) through a series of exciting foodie experiences. The day trip not only includes top of the range Catalan cuisine but also insights and traditions that make Barcelona tick. The first stop on the tour is the colorful Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria.
This public market, otherwise known as La Boqueria, has mouthwatering eats on display such as Iberian ham and artisan cheese. After sampling a few items from the vendors, travelers then continue onto the second main point of interest on the tour: a popular restaurant nestled in Barcelona’s beautiful Old Town. The cuisine of this restaurant champions the slow food movement where quality produce is sourced locally and responsibly.
The Mediterranean lifestyle is undeniable here as you relax on the terraces nibbling on tapas and sipping vermouth while soaking up the views. Afterwards, you will head to one of the most genuine neighborhoods of Barcelona – La Barceloneta. In this part of town, your guide will introduce you to local fishermen and to the gastronomy that emanates from this area. The tour finishes at a restaurant close to Barceloneta’s beach.
If you have never tried paella or fideuà, now is your chance. Fideuà is the same as paella but instead of coming with rice it comes with noodles. Other ingredients in this dish are fish, shellfish and lemon. It’s the ultimate meal to enjoy by Barceloneta’s beach as you will be by the sea. This tour runs every day of the week apart from Monday, Wednesday and Sunday.
Tapas & Wine at the Hidden Bodegas
The Tapas and Wine tour with Barcelona Born & Bred is different from the one above as it begins at night. Again, it runs for four days of the week: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. So if you are in the city on one of these nights, be sure to give this tour your consideration. It covers the Old Town and the El Born neighborhood, and focuses on the tastiest tapas and wine that is to be found in the hidden bodegas (away from tourist traps).
You will get the opportunity to visit family-run bodegas that share their culinary secrets. Enjoy some phenomenal bites like Catalan tomato bread, Iberian ham, artisan cheese, Murcian cured tuna, Gilda Pintxos, Atlantic Ocean anchovies, local paprika and more. The three hand-picked wines on this three hour experience all come from either Catalan or the broader Spain region, and they all pair perfectly with the food that is served.
What makes this one of the best food tours in Barcelona is that at the end Eli shares a PDF with recommendations, recipes and photos of the ingredients and products used. This means you can utilize the info to cook your own Catalan cuisine when you get home. Once you have sampled the gastronomy here, you won’t be able to stop at one tasting. It’s so good that you will want to incorporate it into your life wherever you live in the world.
Throughout this tour, anecdotes and facts are shared to give you an understanding of why certain ingredients are used and how they mix with others to create such indelible flavors. We suggest booking this tour for your first night in the Catalan capital as it’s the perfect introduction to the city’s cuisine. Following it, you will have more confidence to eat like a local.
Tips for Eating Like a Local in Barcelona
- Stay off La Rambla: Most locals don’t eat down this busy pedestrian street, so in order to have authentic foodie experiences you should do the same. Of course, there are some superb restaurants here but the majority are touristy and overpriced. You can still walk down La Rambla a couple of times to take in the atmosphere but plan to do your eating elsewhere.
- Book One of the Best Tours in Barcelona: Barcelona Born & Bred is our top recommendation for food tours in the Catalan capital. There are countless food tour companies to choose from – so many it can make your head spin. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a small operator that leads intimate experiences in authentic ways then you can’t go past Eli’s team. Either of the tours mentioned before can help you eat like a local.
- Plan to Have your Dinners Later at Night: American or British travelers might initially struggle with the late dinner times in Barcelona but after a couple of days you will get accustomed to it. 6pm – 8pm is far too early to be thinking about dinner. Instead, aim between 9pm – 11pm. You can always pop into a tapas bar or terrace restaurant for bites and drinks beforehand if you can’t wait. This also gives you the chance to bar hop.
- Enjoy a Little Bit of Sobremesa: One awesome aspect about the dining scene in Barcelona is that there is never a sense of urgency. Both the patrons and waiters take their time to allow the eating experience to unfold slowly and naturally. This even has a name in Spanish and it’s called “sobremesa” – the art of relaxing at the dining table after a heavy meal.