Whether it’s a football battle between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, or a political one over the Catalan independence movement, it’s no secret that Barcelona and Madrid enjoy more than their fair share of rivalry! When I started giving food tours in Madrid with Devour Madrid in 2012, I remember defending all my city had to offer, convinced it was some of the best cuisine in Spain.
Then I lived in Barcelona.
Fast forward two years and I’m scouring the streets of Barcelona’s Gracia neighborhood, planning our very first Barcelona food tour with the new branch of our company, Devour Barcelona Food Tours. And I found myself falling head over heels…
People ask me which city I prefer all the time. But after living in both I have to say it’s a draw. Sure, Barcelona has the beach, but Madrid has an old world charm that’s hard to beat. Madrid has the acclaimed Prado museum, and Barcelona has Gaudí… the battle continues. For me it’s like saying do you prefer cocktails or wine — it all depends on the occasion!
As far as food goes, both cities are incredible, offering some of the best traditional bars alongside the most exciting fine dining in Europe. I won’t play favorites — but maybe you will.
Here is a glimpse of some of the tastes on our Barcelona food tours, versus some of the bites on our Madrid food tours. You be the judge and let me know which you’d prefer in the comments!
Tasting Barcelona with Devour Barcelona Food Tours
Cured Catalan sausages are the gateway to my heart, and I especially love the mini fuets they sell at nearly every supermarket. We feature these on our tours as a way to sample the Catalan way of eating little by little “pica-pica” style.
Speaking of sausage, the fresh stuff is amazing as well! We take you to a small family run eatery to try their famous butifarra sausage sandwich, topped with homemade (in a mortar and pestle!) alioli.
Cava is an acclaimed sparkling wine, made in the same style as champagne. It can’t be called champagne because of protected origin laws, which at first was a disadvantage, but in recent years is actually a chance to create an excellent (and different) Catalan identity for these special wines. It wouldn’t be a Barcelona food tour without a glass of the sparkly stuff!
The cremat is a special dessert found only in one tiny Barcelona bakery. Invented by the current owners’ great grandfather, it is a play of the famous crema catalana (which some argue was the predecessor to creme brûlée). The difference is, the creamy custard is surrounded by a spongy layer of cake. It is to die for!
Tasting Madrid with Devour Madrid Food Tour
Tortilla de Patatas
There is nothing more Spanish than a tortilla de patatas (a gooey potato omelet), and there are some pretty delicious ones to be found in the Spanish capital. We introduce you to Carlos, one of the city’s greatest tortilla makers, and he’ll tell you the secret to getting yours just right.
Pincho de Aceitunas
Olives are found in many different regions of Spain, but the Madrileños take their obsession to a new level with some of the most delightful olive skewers you can imagine. From ham and cheese to roasted red pepper and anchovy, most of the local markets will offer at least a few varieties at their olive booths.
One of Madrid’s signature dishes is the hearty and delicious Cocido Madrileño (Madrid style stew). Garbanzo beans, stewed cabbage, and a variety of meats all come together to make a magical winter meal, sure to warm you up on even the coldest day in Madrid!
Churros y Porras
And you can’t leave Madrid without trying churros (or their cousin, porras) at least once! Whether you prefer them plain, sprinkled with sugar, or with a rich cup of Spanish chocolate, there is no way not to fall in love with these delicious fritters.
Know Before You Go
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Katherine Belarmino says
Those cremats look absolutely mouthwatering! If I had to choose I think I liked Madrid better.
Maria Falvey says
Hands down, it’s Barcelona!
I’ve only been to Madrid, so I can’t judge, but I want to eat ALL THE THINGS!
This is an impossibly unfair question! Each city has its own specialties… and many of the dishes in each city come from another part of Spain. It’s such a diverse cuisine, isn’t it! As a child in Madrid we would often go to Barcelona on holidays and eat by the sea, the freshest of seafood, snails and fish. Yet in Madrid, there’s an older, more traditional cuisine, with recipes that haven’t changed in centuries.
Like I said – impossible question to answer!
Lauren Aloise says
Leyla– I totally agree! That’s why everyone should come to both cities! 😉
Obviously both awesome, but I’ll have to go with Barcelona 🙂
I would say Barcelona… I loved the city and the food.