I won’t say I base my travel choices entirely around food, but food — specifically cheap, delicious food and alcohol — generally accounts for at least 85% of the decision. I recently returned from a romantic trip to northern Spain, to Barcelona on the Mediterranean, and San Sebastián across the way on the Atlantic side in the Basque region. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they say the food in Spain is very good.
The stories were true, even the bad food was good. Or at least, showing up in a new city knowing nothing but what my eyes could tell me and a few recommendations from friends, we managed to not have a single bad meal. I live in San Francisco, which is also known as a food destination, but if you spent a week here sightseeing without getting stuck in at least one overpriced tourist trap, it would be a miracle. I have a few basic rules of thumb for avoiding them, sure, like not eating any place with pictures of the food outside, or at any place that employs a “barker” to drag in passersby, strip club style — the operating theory being that a place with good food wouldn’t need that (I guess I sort of need my food to neg me) — but even those probably would’ve been fine.
[Do other people have the constant, existential fear that you’re not eating the best meal you could be eating? This is a problem for me.]
I should be clear that this is not a list of recommendations. I would’ve had to spend at least another month in both places before I could feel even minimally comfortable saying that some place I went is a “must-eat” (note to Uproxx: I would gladly take on this task).
In any case, this is more just a travel diary, a flip book, a photo essay of some of food sampled. I ain’t tellin’ you what to do, but if you get some ideas out of it, wonderful. And anyway, I probably missed the really good places. It’s just this feeling I have.
Canelones de Butifarra Blanca, Tapeo, Carrer De Montcada, Barcelona
Catalonians have this amazing sausage, butifarra, and the best way I can describe it is that it’s spiced simply and tastes intensely porky but with a hint of funk, like a paté. It’s… really f*cking good. This was my first experience of it, served inside a canneloni, covered in bechemel and meat reduction from Tapeo, our first stop on a food tour (shout out to Jo from The Barcelona Taste).
Can you say rich? It tasted like Thanksgiving.