A Day in Sants: Feasting Off the Grid
Quick bite: Spend the day eating your way through Sants, a lesser-explored neighborhood with a booming local food scene and an interesting history. We’ll dig into markets and old vermuteria, pastry shops and down home restaurants, but we’ll also find the pulse of Sants in some contemporary culinary projects.
Most locals know the Sants area as a place they pass through on their way to Barcelona’s main train station, but to us it represents something much deeper: a neighborhood where we can still experience the city’s original soul – culinary and otherwise.
While other parts of Barcelona, especially its historic center, have had to contend with the effects of the city’s growing popularity, Sants has somehow managed to stay under the radar, allowing it to keep much of its traditional charm and way of life, while also being an inviting area for new ventures to give it a go. This is a place where you can still find old bodegas with wooden casks filled with bulk wine for sale, homey vermuterias where locals gather to chat over seafood tapas, family-run restaurants where neighbors come on a daily basis for favorite classics and bakeries that keep Catalan traditions alive by offering holiday specialties all year round. To top it off, the neighborhood has a recently restored covered market, countless old-school food shops and a wonderful mix of traditional spots that have been around for generations and new restaurants and tapas bars opened up by innovative young chefs escaping high rents in the center of town.
Adding to the neighborhood’s distinct character and charm is its history rooted in Barcelona’s 19th-century industrial development. Sants was once one of the city’s economic engines, something reflected in the area’s street names – there’s one honoring James Watt, inventor of the steam engine – and the old factory chimneys that dot the neighborhood, as well as the still strong working-class identity of its residents. These days, the old textile factories that made the area famous are being put to use in new and innovative ways, housing an eclectic mix of community-run groups, from choirs to co-op radio stations and even urban farms.
On this walk we will visit many of these neighborhood institutions, both old and new, getting a taste of what life in Barcelona was like before the city became the global hotspot that it is today. After a breakfast of pastries and coffee at a 1934 bakery that does double duty as a dry goods store, we will visit the restored Mercat de Sants – in business since 1913 – and sample what’s on offer from the vendors inside. As we continue through the neighborhood, we’ll drop by some of its numerous food shops and restaurants, both old and new, tasting well-loved dishes from menus that change according to the season. Along the way we’ll stop at old school bodegas and bars to enjoy some vermut with tapas among the wine casks and at small bakeries and chocolate shops for handmade sweets.
We won’t leave Sants, though, without a visit to one of the neighborhood’s most unique social and cultural projects, a massive 19th century textile factory that after decades of disuse has been transformed by locals into a bustling cultural center – one that even has its own bar and microbrewery. Over a drink and more bites, we’ll learn about the history of community organizing in Sants and what makes this neighborhood so special. After all, it’s not every day that you get a chance to go off the grid while still being in the heart of the city.
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk. Some special features:
|Terrain fairly flat/ Stroller – friendly||Children welcome|
|Residential neighborhood, modernist building||Includes market visits|
|Many, but not all, stops can be altered for vegetarians||Pork and alcohol served, but can be substituted|
What is included in the fee?
In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk- almost a dozen different edible specialties- are included in the price. A limited selection of alcohol is served on the walks and is included in the price.
Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours?
Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.
We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
How does the payment process work?
Once you have made a reservation, we require the full $135 fee to be paid in order to complete the online booking. Our online booking system uses Stripe to process secure payments.
What is your cancellation policy?
100% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.
Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?
Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?
Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at email@example.com if you’d like to join multiple walks.
Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?
This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation before booking.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians, pescetarians, and vegans?
We do not recommend this activity for vegetarians and vegans but pescetarians will only have to pass on a few offerings.
Are your walks suitable for a gluten-free diet?
We can modify this walk for gluten-free diets, please note it in your reservation.
How physically demanding are the walks?
The walk is about 2KM (1.25 miles) of fairly flat terrain, broken up into almost a dozen stops. The streets and sidewalks of Barcelona are quite well kept but we do recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes.
Can children join the walks?
Of course! We offer a 50% discount to children ages 12 and under, and we do not charge for children under the ages 6 and under.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?
Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.
Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
How much food will I get to try?
This is really up to you. We generally make between 9 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.
We have a traditional Catalan breakfast of an over-easy egg atop beans and sausage. It’s hearty and delightful. Our tour includes a stop at a ham shop for Iberico and Serrano hams, a lunch of cod and wine drunk from a traditional porron wine pitcher, a vermoutherie to enjoy an afternoon aperitif and some olives and anchovies, and a bodega with kegs of wine. In one afternoon, I get a sense of old and new Barcelona. Read more
If you want to know where to eat slightly off the beaten tracks or are interested in going for a food walk in asmall group, you must check out Culinary Backstreets. They are the ideal choice if you want to unearth more underground places and experience eating among locals, and tucking into dishes prepared by some of the best cooks. With gastronomy being at the forefront of many a conversations in Barcelona, we met with Paula to find out her favorite places and things to do and see in the city. Read more
A company called Culinary Backstreets that “can help you find…an array of ‘ mom-and-pop shops that really matter to the neighborhood’ but don’ t tend to be part of the cruise-ship circuit,” it caught my eye. Read more
Make sure to bring an appetite for this tour which will see you chowing down on churros, cake and some of the more traditional local breakfast dishes, exploring the flavours of Iberian ham, baked goods, cheeses, local lunch treats and sampling the vermouth culture. And, like any great food tour, there are one or two surprises. Read more
We started with the best churros Ive ever had, then moved onto a gypsy arm, a traditional Catalonian breakfast, catànies, a visit to a local mercat (market), herbed snails and so much more!! Everything was so fantastic, I cant even decide which one was my favourite. At least this time we didnt make the mistake of eating breakfast before the tour, we werent so smart in Istanbul and could barely move by the time we got to the end of our tour!! Read more
What a great tour it was. All the stuff that city dwelling Catalans love to do. The nuts, the hams, the vermouth bar, and one of the trickiest ways of drinking wine ever! It was just an absolute joy from start to finish. Read more
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