One of my favourite things about travelling to Spain is the food. With its variety of strong flavours and interesting dishes Spain always makes me go back. Despite my love for paella, tapas will always be my favourite Spanish dish, and what better way to learn about a city through its food? Last time I visited Barcelona I went on a tapas tour. We stopped at three different local tapas restaurants, far from the busy tourist spotlights of Barcelona, and tasted all the best tapas Barcelona has to offer. Read on if you want to find out more about our Barcelona tapas tour!
What are “tapas”?
Tapas are a typical Spanish dish, characterised by the fact it is actually composed by multiple small dishes and snacks. Originally born as small snacks, they have now evolved into a sophisticated cuisine. A tapas meal will usually consist of 2-3 dishes per person, so that you can taste a number of different flavours. I personally love eating tapas over a conventional main meal, because when you’re at a restaurant where everything on the menu seems good, you’re not forced to decide on just one dish! You can have as many as you want since they’re all tiny plates anyway (within reason obviously).
Our Barcelona tapas tour
We started our tour in Barceloneta and visited three different tapas bars. I did the tour with Gids In Barcelona, a Dutch tour company whose owner has lived in Barcelona for many years, basically a local! The tour is normally composed of five restaurants, however as we were visiting on a Sunday a number of these were closed. Odd closing times are how you need you’re going to a genuine Spanish place, similarly to Italy, Spanish people don’t care about tourists and will arrange their opening times around their convenience!
The first stop we did was at a quaint tapas bar, with an open plan kitchen so that you can see the chefs preparing the food and a wooden bar. Here we had the typical Spanish Pimientos and Patatas Bravas. These however had a twist on the classic recipe as the sauce wasn’t made of the standard garlic mayo or spicy tomato, but of a secret recipe the owners don’t share with anyone. They made for the perfect starter for the evening, to get us in the mood for Spanish flavours without being too filling.
Since the usual tapas bar of the tour was closed we were taken to a pinchos bar instead. Pinchos are small snacks typically served at bars that you would have while hanging out with friends or relatives. They are different from tapas since they are usually served on bread and skewered with a toothpick. Bars will usually have a counter with a buffet display of pinchos, and at the end of the night you pay based on how many toothpicks you have at your table. Some places will have different coloured toothpicks for different prices. I love pinchos as there is always a wide variety of different snacks, usually including pinchos with cheese, meat, fish and vegetables. It’s the perfect place to go if you want to eat some nibbles with friends without waiting for waiters to serve you and if you don’t want to eat too much (alternatively if you want to eat a lot, feel free to get as many pinchos from the buffet as you want)!
The third tapas bar we visited was in my mind what I imagine as the quintessential Spanish tapas bar. With its high tables and stools, tap beer counter and wooden décor, it met all the tapas bar stereotypes. A strong indicator for me of whether a place is good is the presence of locals eating there versus just tourists; considering we were the only English speakers I could hear I was pretty confident in the authenticity of this tapas bar. We had three different dishes; Fried calamari with aioli, Fried courgettes served with a honey sauce and Spanish sausage served in a spicy sauce.
Have you been to a tapas tour before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! I really enjoyed doing this tapas tour with Gids In Barcelona since he took us to a number of local tapas bars away from the tourist crowds, to experience and taste real Spanish tapas. If you’re looking for more Barcelona inspiration, check out this guide to the best brunch places in Barcelona, this guide to what NOT to do in Barcelona, and this guide to the top sightseeing places in Barcelona.