The best way to keep from giving in to exhaustion after crossing multiple time zones is to make sure you’ve got an activity lined up right away! This trip, I chose to book a food & wine tour, and it was probably the best decision I could have made for the first night in Barcelona.
La Esquinita de Blai
How could I not have my first food experience in Spain be tapas?! There were so many options here to choose from, and our group was served patatas bravas and calamari. Both were excellent dishes, but the calamari was particularly good with a squeeze of lemon enhancing the flavor. This place had a variety of tapas and pinchos, so it’s a great place to stop and sample whether you want to try a lot of small dishes or share something larger.
We also had a glass of white wine (because… food AND wine tour!) that complimented the dishes perfectly.
Blai 9 was the next stop for pinchos, and we had the option to pick 3… which is incredibly hard when every single option looked amazing. I, sadly, passed on the churros in order to enjoy more of the savory dishes, and weeks later I still regret that choice. Why didn’t I just pay out of pocket and order it in addition to everything else?!
Anyway, aside from my bit of regret, the experience here was fantastic. I enjoyed a mini-taquito, a fried chicken, cheese & bacon rollup, and another little rollup with grilled chicken in it. The little grilled chicken rollup was my favorite, but I did enjoy all three options. I also had my first glass of cava at Blai 9, and it was a fantastic way to finish off the earlier small bites.
Els Sortidors del Parlament
This place had an enjoyable atmosphere, and we were treated to a private seating area in the back of the restaurant. It had a very homey feel, the kind of place you just sit with good company and stay awhile. The wine we began with here was a flavorful red wine. We then sampled bread with tomato & olive oil, artichokes, anchovies with olives and sliced ham.
This was my first experience trying anchovies, and they were delicious here! Still very skeptical of trying anchovies in the US, but more open-minded about it since I had one good experience. My favorite dish here was the artichokes, but I really enjoyed that we could sample a little bread, olives, fish, ham and artichokes all at the same time.
Braseros & ASOC.
The final stop of the tour was Braseros & ASOC., where we enjoyed the caramelized french toast with ice cream. Can I just say that dessert was AMAZING! I don’t even have anything to compare it to that I’ve eaten before. It was like a light, fluffy square of cinnamon sweetness that was by far the highlight of everything I ate in Spain. I’d make this my first stop on a return trip, just for this dessert, though their food menu looked delectable as well.
We had a glass of rose here, which was the perfect drink to end an enjoyable evening of sampling a variety of food around Barcelona.
Post Tour Recommendations
Stop #1: Paradiso
Since the tour started early (3:30 pm), the night was still young by the time the official tour ended, so a few of us kept it going on our own! If you’ve ended the tour and are up for a 30-minute walk, by all means make your way to El Born & head to Paradiso to enjoy their fun bar hidden behind a freezer door!
Given the exclusive speakeasy vibe, I was surprised at how affordable their very fun cocktails were! I ordered the Gelato Paradiso, which was a fun drink served in an ice-cream cone and someone else ordered a drink that came in a fun treasure chest! The presentation of every drink served was spectacular. I was so glad to have gotten to visit and have never known it existed if I hadn’t gone on the earlier tour!
Stop #2: Mr. Robinson
This is a super-fun place to enjoy drinks, bar food and just hang with friends. The first drink I enjoyed was a sake-based cocktail, but then I tried the negroni and stuck with those the rest of the night. The vibe here was very fun and upbeat late-nite.
I had a blast during this tour, and would highly recommend it to anyone traveling solo… or not. You can’t help but make friends after a couple of glasses of wine, after all, and you’ll get to familiarize yourself with places in Barcelona to come back to and spend more time later in your trip. And it’s a fantastic deal when you consider that you get a walking tour, dinner and 4 full glasses of wine included. You can book this tour at culinarypaths.com.