What is a Food Crawl?

 

 

This page has been updated in November 2016 to reflect our move to Spain. Life is very different here!

When we started this blog, we lived in Washington DC where many restaurants have lively bar scenes. It is very common for people to eat at the bar, making it easy to sample a restaurant’s food without being seated at a table. You could start with brunch and eat your way through the afternoon and into the evening, hitting four or five restaurants along the way. This has not been our experience in much of Spain.

In some cities, like Granada for example, tapas crawling is an important part of the culture. They even have a name for it: to tapear. Food crawling works great in Granada and it doesn’t hurt that the tapas are free.

mercado-central-cafes

Valencians, however, love to lounge at tables on the terrace or sidewalk. They hunker down at one location and stay there for a long, leisurely lunch that lasts until 4 PM. Then most of the restaurants close and you can’t eat again until at least 8 PM. Tapas crawling from bar to bar is not really part of their culture. I have no problem with this. A slow relaxing meal is quite nice. With this in mind, however, we have had to change our blog format to reflect life in Spain.

We are busy exploring the city to discover those places that stay open through the afternoon and lend themselves to grabbing a quick tapa and drink while visiting some of the cultural sights. We will share these with you as potential food crawls wherever possible, but we won’t limit ourselves to these bars and restaurants.

There are hundreds and hundreds of bars, cafes, and restaurants throughout Valencia. It would be impossible to visit them all, but it is certainly worth a try! We’ll be sharing our experiences eating our way through the barrios of Valencia, learning about the food and culture of this beautiful city along the way.

I’ll keep reminding your to veer off into that cute little alley. Wandering through the narrow streets is usually the best way to find the most interesting spots. Sometimes that places that we just stumble into end up creating the most special memories.

If you are Food Crawling in Washington DC, this is for you:

The Washington DC area offers a wealth of diverse, culturally rich areas…and an abundance of really good food. An online search comes up with over 2,600 restaurants in DC alone, not including the bordering areas of Maryland and Virginia. Since no single restaurant can express the complexity of a community, it could take a long time to really get to know DC and its unique neighborhoods one restaurant at a time.

Adams-Morgan-Day

Adams Morgan Day by Ted Eytan, CC BY-SA 2.0

A food crawl—or restaurant crawl—is our favorite way to learn about a new city when traveling and it can also be a great way to explore your own hometown. The idea is to pick four to five restaurants within walking distance to each other. Sure, you can Metro, taxi or Uber if you like, but the key is to not have to get behind the wheel of a car. At each establishment, select one small plate per person—or share an entrée—and one drink to pair with your food.

Fitting up to five restaurants into a day requires efficiency. We focus almost solely on restaurants with bars. Eating at the bar usually has the advantage of faster and more attentive service. Bartenders are a great resource for recommendations on the menu and can help with drink pairings. If you get a particularly friendly one to chat with, you might even learn a little about the area and discover a hidden gem of a restaurant that you might have overlooked. Bartenders seem to know all the best places. We also enjoy the more social atmosphere at the bar, where you never know who you’re going to meet.

Importantly, when you get your food, savor it! Think about it. Talk about it. This is not one of those bar crawls where the goal is to hit as many spots as possible. The goal here is to experience the local “flavor”. If you go too fast, you might miss it.

Here are some more tips for planning a successful food crawl.

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