- Food Tours
- Culinary walks
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Barcelona today has a well-developed and strongly rooted Catalan culinary scene, something that wasn’t true a few decades back. In that sense, the reclamation of Catalan identity in the post-Franco era has not just been a political endeavor but also a culinary one.
By publishing the stories of our local heroes, visiting them on culinary tours, or directly fundraising for them when they are in need, we attempt to honor their work and their essential role in maintaining the fabric of the city. Our purpose is twofold. Yes, we want to get travelers to some good places to eat. But we also want to make sure that some of these spots and the artisans making food there find a new audience and get the recognition and support they deserve. They are holding back the tide of globalized sameness, which is not easy work – even if it’s done unknowingly. But we believe that every meal counts and, with the help of our audience, they will add up. We are committed to their perseverance and hope that our modest efforts encourage them to keep at it. Our work is also guided by a belief in: Honest Tourism: The places where we eat and craftsmen that we feature on our culinary tours are all selected with this purpose in mind. We’d never accept a free lunch or consider a discount for our tour groups, because that would contradict our central goal, to support them. Nor do our guides receive any commissions from shopkeepers. Honest Journalism: The same principal is applied to the publishing of stories. There are no sponsored posts or even advertising on CB. The writers and photographers are paid fairly for their work on stories that we all believe in.
The cities we are drawn to all have a culinary tradition of untold richness as well as a certain tension, be it political instability, the tug between East and West, the clash between modern and ancient identities, migration, rapid gentrification, bankruptcy, or a post-colonial hangover. Our decision to get started in a city is always the result of a trip filled with many meals where we are given in intimate view of that tension, right there on the table. By getting lost in this warren of independent food purveyors struggling to preserve or adapt tradition in fast-paced urban life, we start to discover the deep complexity and true flavor of the city. At present, you’ll find our regular dispatches from Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Marseille, Mexico City, Naples, Porto, Queens (NY), Shanghai, Tbilisi and Tokyo.
As travel to most of the cities where we work has resumed, Culinary Backstreets is working with a new set of safety guidelines designed for the physical well-being of our guests, guides and members of the local community that we encounter. These guidelines have been developed in line with the best practices published by governments and health officials in the countries where CB works with regard to restaurant and tour and trip operation. With these procedures in place, our guests — led by our team of professional guides, who are being trained accordingly — can explore with peace of mind. The new procedures we are instituting include:
Culinary Backstreets’ mission has always been to preserve, protect and celebrate local culinary traditions and the unsung heroes of the kitchen. Now, more than ever, we remain focused on this goal. These days, we are paying close attention to the physical, economic and psychological well-being of the local communities and the people who keep them fed. We view this as an opportunity for cities to develop a tourism model that makes sense for them and that avoids the mistakes of the past, and for companies like Culinary Backstreets to be part of that process by renewing our commitment to a more sustainable way of traveling and working. By joining our tours and trips, you are contributing to this effort, which includes:
Culinary Backstreets is offering maximum flexibility for our guests, as we realize that travel this summer and fall might involve unexpected cancellations or postponements. So that our guests can book with confidence, we are putting in place the following cancelation policies:
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Tour the Backstreets of Barcelona With Us
Beyond Tapas: Neighborhood by Neighborhood, Bite by Bite
Our Backstreets Envoys, Always Searching for the Next Hidden Gem
Paula, Barcelona Bureau Chief
Born in the Albariño wine region of Galica, insider Paula has lived and worked in Barcelona since 2000 with professional experiences ranging from creative consultant to copywriting. Since 2010, she has led the Culinary Backstreets team as a restaurant critic, experience designer and culinary walk leader. Her work has been featured in USA Today and other major publications as well as National Geographic’s show Top Tables, Top Cities.
Cristina, Barcelona Walk Leader
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cristina travelled around the world while working for a multinational company. As a consequence, her life is filled with experiences of different colors and flavors. After living in United States and Germany, she relocated to Barcelona in 2010, where she studied Tourism and Cultural Heritage Management and got her sommelier certification. Now she dedicates herself to her passions: culture, art and the world of wine. Cristina works as a professional guide both in cultural and wine tourism, she collaborates with several wineries in Catalonia and organizes different type of wine tasting experiences.
Mireia, Barcelona Walk Leader and Correspondent
Mireia, “Mi”, among friends, was born in Barcelona in the bosom of a family which believes that enjoying food is as important as breathing. Having lived around the world working as a Spanish teacher and translator, she returned to her hometown to get her priorities straight. Naturally she went straight into the kitchen. Inspired by her experiences abroad, she wrote two cookbooks that were published by Random House. These days she’s doing what she loves- giving cooking lessons, writing about food and taking visitors to the eat at her favorite places.
Nick, Barcelona Walk Leader
Originally from the U.K., Spain enchanted Nick more than 20 years ago and he hasn’t left since. A professional guide focusing on Spanish culture and cuisine as well as trekking in the countryside, Nick has called the Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona home for the last 12 years. His mother tongue may be English but the Catalan and Spanish of his adopted home country flow naturally from him. When cooking, as is his passion, he is purely native Catalan.
Lior, Barcelona Walk Leader and Marketer
Growing up between Europe and Israel, Lior has been globetrotting since she could barely walk; finally calling Barcelona home since 2015. Food was her calling. Attending the prestigious Hofmann Culinary School, she’s gone on to obtain advanced wine qualifications with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Leading culinary tours, organizing wine tastings and pop-up dinners, Lior is always sharing her passion for Catalan cuisine, or cleaning up afterwards.
Already in love with Spanish culture, lifestyle and food, Pamela moved from Italy to Barcelona in 2016 to work for the European Region of Gastronomy project, which aims at preserving and enhancing local culinary heritage and promoting more sustainable and healthy foodways. Since then she has made the divulgence of Catalan cuisine and traditions her mission!
Istanbulite by birth, Barcelonan by choice, Senem is a bonafide professional guide having worked her way up through the trenches of the industry. She started out working on cruise ships and then spent years of leading groups on whistle-stop tours of European capitals, always thrilled to be on the road, traveling. After falling for Barcelona on a short visit years ago, she finally decided to make her home in Barcelona and herself a citizen of the city. As a non-native, she brings an interesting perspective and revels in her daily discoveries in the city. A great eater, cook, linguist and traveler, Senem is the best friend, or guide, to have in Barcelona.
CB’s work was started in 2009 by Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer as a humble food blog called Istanbul Eats. The following year we published a book of our reviews, now in its fifth edition. That year we also launched our first culinary walk in Istanbul, a route we are still using today. In 2012, we realized that what we built in Istanbul was needed in other cities we knew and loved. We started CB that year with Athens, Barcelona, Mexico City and Shanghai as pioneering members of our network. In 2013, we added Rio and also launched our iPhone application in Istanbul. In 2015, Tokyo and Tbilisi came into the fold. That year we published mini-guides to Barcelona and Athens and also launched an iPhone application in those cities. Our Eatinerary service, which provides travelers with tailor-made culinary travel itineraries, was also launched in 2015. In 2016, Lisbon – the latest city to kindle our curiosity – joined the CB network. In 2017 we added Naples and Queens, NY – two places with very compelling stories to tell – to our roster and also published full-size eating guides to Athens and Barcelona. In 2018, Porto joined the list of cities we cover.
Visual Dispatches from the Frontlines of Local Eating
Where is Barcelona?
Barcelona is cradled on mainland Spain’s northeastern Mediterranean Coast, just a 2-hour drive south from the French Pyrenees, and it is the capital of Catalonia. It is Spain’s major Mediterranean port and commercial center famed for its architecture, art and Catalan cultural heritage.
What are the best things to do in Barcelona?
Barcelona has a wide variety of tourist attractions such as La Sagrada Familia, the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic), Casa Batllo and Casa Milà, Park Güell and the long, wide beaches facing the Mediterranean Sea.
When is the best time of year visit Barcelona?
The best time of year to visit Barcelona is from earl May to early June. This is when temperatures are the most pleasant, in the low to mid-70s, and a number of activities and festivals kick off the start of summer. Summer itself can be hot and humid, with many folks who live in Barcelona preferring to leave.
What is the weather in Barcelona?
The average annual temperature in Barcelona is about 70 F during the day and just under 50 at night. In January, the coldest month, typically the temperature ranges from 54 to 64 during the day and 43 to 54 F at night.
Is Barcelona expensive?
Barcelona can be quite expensive to visit when coming from the United States, but it is not as expensive as other big European cities. There are many budget offerings that make it possible to visit and keep costs low. Like most big cities, Barcelona has quality food at low prices.
Is Barcelona safe?
According to the “Safe Cities Index 2019” from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Barcelona was one of the safest cities in the world in terms of general crime, and overall ranked 19th in personal security and 26th in the world. Pickpocketing and petty theft are an issue, especially in tourist-heavy areas, so it is best to remain cautious.
What is the best food in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a well-known destination for foodies. One of the most popular foods in Spain is paella, and here you can have some of the best paellas in the country. Gazpacho, patatas bravas, bombas, croquettes and churros other famous foods in Barcelona, but there is much more discover. You can check out our list of the 10 essential food stops in Barcelona.
Where is the best place to stay in Barcelona?
The best area to stay in Barcelona for first time visitors is Barrio Gotico (the Gothic Quarter). This is the historical and geographical heart of the city, and one of the best places for lodging if you want to be close to all the important landmarks, attractions and activities – not to mention the tapas bars!
What is the COVID-19 situation in Barcelona?
Spain is about 86% fully vaccinated, and masks are not required except on public transportation.
Can Americans travel to Barcelona?
American citizens can travel from the United States to Spain visa-free for up to 90-days, with proof of vaccination.
Can I fly directly to Barcelona?
You can fly directly to Barcelona from many locations worldwide. Barcelona Airport is the second largest airport in Spain. It is an international airport. In total, there are 196 airports in 61 countries around the world that have direct flights to Barcelona.
What is the best restaurant in Barcelona?
It’s impossible to choose just one place to name the best restaurant in Barcelona! While you can get anything from up-scale to down-home, we recommended starting with our list of the 10 essential food stops in Barcelona.
Are there beaches in Barcelona?
Many of the city’s streets outlet onto Barceloneta Beach. This is the Miami Beach of Spain: crowded, boisterous and endlessly entertaining. It is safe to swim at Barcelona’s beaches. There are no dangerous currents and rarely big waves.
Is Barcelona suitable for children?
Barcelona is one of the most popular cities in Europe, and visiting it together with your kids can be a wonderful experience for the entire family! There is so much to do and see in Barcelona with kids, especially because it is such a safe and kid-friendly city.