A house sitting job brought us to Spain but the truth is Rob and I have been wanting to visit Spain for as long as I can remember! We flew into Madrid 3 days prior to beginning our house sitting assignment with plans to eat, explore and experience some local culture. Knowing we only had a short time to see and do everything we wanted we looked for ways to connect with local experts to help us find great restaurants and learn some history as well.
I am happy and quite relieved to say we found the perfect way to do just that!
Madrid is a huge city, so suffice it to say we felt a bit overwhelmed about where to start exploring. We decided to take one of Madrid’s best-rated food tours to ensure we had our fill of delicious food and drink while learning some history in the process.
Here is everything we experienced thanks to Madrid Food Tour, what we really feel is the best of Madrid!
We Spent a Lovely Morning Exploring Barrio de las Letras
Given the choice, we always opt for discovering a hidden gem over visiting a popular tourist draw. Madrid Food Tour offers a variety of different gastronomic routes in Madrid, but the one that appealed most to us was the Huertas Neighborhood and Market Tour.
The chance to wander a historic neighborhood, taste local specialties and visit a locals-only market seemed a perfect way for us to learn about hidden local treasures in Madrid. Not sure how a food tour would proceed, this was our first one, we arrived at the tours meeting place early anticipating great things to see and taste!
Luke, our guide arrived shortly after we did and made us feel like friends almost immediately. He chatted with us as we waited for the other members on our tour. We learned he had relatives in Cranbrook, B.C. our old home in Canada. We made an instant connection with him and uncovered further proof it is a small world after all! One of the things that impressed us the most was how Luke encouraged conversation among all of us including Makai.
Mak really had a great time on the three and a half hour tour and Luke was the entire reason for that! He even provided crayons and coloring sheets if Mak felt bored. Makai appreciated the creative entertainment but never used them, he had too much fun participating in the conversations in the group.
The other visitors arrived soon after and we were off. The tour took place in the Barrio de las Letras (neighborhood of the letters), a central quarter named for some of Spain’s most famous writers. Literary greats like Quevedo and Cervantes once lived and wrote in the area way back in the 1600’s. One of the coolest things about this particular tour was a lot of the architecture on the route remains unchanged even to this day! The neighborhood is now known simply as Huertas, after a street that runs right through the heart of it. The area is a cultural treasure filled with history, pastry shops, delis, and tapas bars.
We meandered purposefully listening to Luke’s stories, feasting our eyes on towering trees, cobbled streets, and absolutely stunning architecture. We made carefully planned and timed stops along the way. Ducking into eleven different places, some tiny hole in the wall shops. We would have never discovered all of the great food and drink we enjoyed had we explored on our own.
The neighborhood is huge, sprawling out from the center for miles with hundreds if not thousands of restaurants and businesses. We felt very glad we had chosen an expert to help us find the best places to visit and make the most of our short time in Madrid. The tour definitely helped us do that!
We Ate So Many Seriously Delicious Bites!
Yes, that is a warm cup of chocolate! This is what was waiting for us at the first stop and mine was even gluten free. I really appreciated the dietary considerations Madrid Food Tour affords its guests. I have a gluten allergy and they made substitutions specifically so I could enjoy delicious tastings safe for me. This was another reason we wanted to take this tour, I could eat and drink and not have to worry about what was in everything I put to my lips.
At another stop, mmm mmm mmm, cheese. No gluten here! Makai even tried the blue cheese on Lukes encouragement. He doesn’t really like cheese, but he really liked Luke so he gave it a try. He wouldn’t have done that for Rob or I!
Luke introduced us to local vendors at the market we visited. He playfully chatted with them, teasing some and encouraging all to share market secrets with us and they did! Another cool thing about the tour, the local gossip, sweet love stories, and trade secrets we learned.
We felt we got special insight into what life was really like in the neighborhood. That part was so much fun.
The vendors at the market all made Mak feel special. They engaged him in conversation, some performed and offered tasty treats specifically for kids! The butcher (who was such a sweetheart) was his favorite and mine too, that man was a true romantic and an absolute wizard with a knife.
All in all, we tasted sweet chocolate, perfect pastries, delicious specialty honey and jams, amazing Italian fare, premium cured meats, a super rare chorizo, an array of cheeses, plump olives and quite possibly the best potato chips in the world!
There were drinks too, beer, wine, and vermouth. I learned I love vermouth, it was poured from the tap like beer. Vermouth Madrid style is delicious. We learned a lot, had so much fun and were so full!
We enjoyed everything about the Huertas Neighborhood and Market Tour. It is obvious Madrid Food Tour painstakingly planned and created this route and we are so glad we picked that tour.
When it wrapped up and we said our goodbyes to Luke, he left us with a list of even more great places to visit! We went on to investigate more local treasures the next day thanks to the Madrid Food Tour. They took the guess work out of finding the best of Madrid for us and we feel so thank full for that. Our time in Madrid was short but packed with fun and fond memories because of Madrid Food Tour!
Do you enjoy food tours when you travel? How have food inspired tours impacted your travel experiences? Please feel free to share in the comments.