Foods that you just can’t leave Spain without devouring. You’ll love everything!
1. Tortilla Española
Probably the most well-known Spanish dish along with paella, tortilla Española or Spanish omlette is super simple and super delicious, depending on how it’s prepared. A mediocre tortilla may be dry or salty but if you’re lucky enough to try one that’s moist and juicy your mouth will water every time you think of it. Making the perfect tortilla is an art, so be sure to look up which restaurants are known to serve the best tortilla in whatever region you’re going to in Spain.
2. Tostada con tomate
The typical Spanish breakfast is a piece of baguette toasted and topped with olive oil, salt and tomato that’s liquefied by a blender. You have the option of ordering a side of jamón with it as well. It sounds extremely plain, but it’s actually super delicious and simple. This is the only thing most restaurants serve before 2 pm although you can order a tostada with tomato throughout the day at any time.
The Spanish are boss at coming up with cold, delicious soups to eat (or drink) to counteract those hot, hot summers. Gazpacho is a common one that’s made with olive oil, tomatoes, cucumbers, vinegar, onions, garlic and carrots. It seems as if many Spanish regions have their own version of this versatile, yummy soup and when made right it’s delightful to eat during any time of the day as a light snack or refreshment!
Salmorejo is my personal favorite Spanish dish. Blend together fresh tomato, olive oil, garlic, salt and hard day-old bread, top with some boiled egg, jamón and more olive oil and voila. It’s a simple yet flavorful and refreshing dish that’s delicious any time of the day. Make it at home or order it as a tapa. It’s super healthy and somehow filling and a must try during the hot summer months in Spain.
5. Ajo Blanco
Another delicious and simple cold soup dish, ajo blanco blends together fresh garlic, blanched almonds, vinegar, olive oil and day-old bread then topped with grapes, jamón and melon. Creamy, thick and super yummy, it’s a popular dish in Andalusia and Extremadura where you’ll most likely find it.
6. Patatas Bravas
If there were a Spanish version of French fries, patatas bravas would be it. Bite size chunks of potato are fried and then topped with a “spicy” red bravas sauce that has a tomato and cayenne base. The quality of the dish often depends on how finger-licking good the sauce is. Patatas bravas are always a crowd pleaser that’s fun to snack on, so be sure to order them at least once when you’re enjoying a late afternoon drink on a terraza.
Jamón, the thin, exquisite and flavorful cured ham is the pride of the Iberian Peninsula. Visitors to Spain are always in a frenzy to get as much jamón past customs as possible, because once you try it you can’t help but want it every day or your life. There are two types of jamón in Spain: jamón ibérico which is produced only in Spain and comes from pigs that eat mainly acorns, and jamón serrano which is often cheaper because it doesn’t come exclusively from Spanish pigs that are fed acorns.
Chorizo are pork sausages that come from the Iberian Peninsula. They’re red and juicy and fabulously fatty. You can eat them cured in a sandwich or fried as a tapa or entrée. If you’re really feeling adventurous try the morcilla, the black blood sausage which some Spaniards love.
9. Pulpo a la gallega
Pulpo a la gallega is the most well-known dish throughout all of Spain which comes from Galicia. Pulpo a la gallega is octopus that’s cooked and then sliced into small bite-sized pieces then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with cayenne pepper. Definitely a must-try for anyone visiting Spain as it’s impossible not to come across it in most bar menus.
Croquetas are everybody’s favorite high calorie dish and guilty pleasure. Eating three of these incredibly rich fried balls will make you feel the heartburn coming on super strong, but obviously so worth it. The most common croquetas have jamón or bacalao in them and croquetas with spinach and gorgonzola are also very popular.
11. Berenjenas con miel de caña
Berenjena is eggplant or aubergine in Spanish and in the southern province of Málaga, fried slices of eggplant with dark molasses is a popular snack in tapa bars. For anyone who loves eggplant as much as I do, eating it with sweet molasses is the best treat ever and highly recommendable for vegetarians!
If you like the gross, chewy, slippery bits of pork and beef then you’ll love eating callos, a stew made with the intestines of various cuts of meat. Though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, callos is a popular feature on most tapa bar menus and it’s often deliciously cooked with chorizo, beans and other types of meat.
13. Pescaito Frito
Pescaito frito basically refers to fried fish and there are many delicious varieties served at any tapa bar throughout Spain. One has the choice of ordering fried calamari, anchovies, squid and more. Fried fish is the best finger foood to go with your beer in the late afternoon as you share them with friends while sitting outside at a terraza.
Paella is amazing but unfortunately there’s quite a bit of bad paella served at super touristy restaurants in popular destinations such as Madrid or Barcelona. The best paella is found in Valencia, from which the dish originates, as the ingredients will be fresh and the paella prepared the way it’s supposed to be. The most common type of paella has rice flavored by saffron with prawns, mussels and some vegetables while other varieties come with rabbit, chicken and black rice tinted by squid ink.
15. Rabo de toro
Rabo de toro is a popular tapa and/or dish featuring stewed oxtail. It comes from Córdoba and the oxtail with vegetables is soft and lovely to eat, especially when you want a slightly more filling tapa.
Suckling baby pig is the crowning glory of restaurant menus if there is any. This soft baby pig is roasted in the oven until it’s slightly crispy on the outside and soft, moist and dreamy on the inside. It’s popular in the region of Castilla and the north.
Although Spaniards don’t eat codfish as often as their Portuguese neighbors, it’s still a popular fish served in many bars and restaurants. You may see bacalao prepared in many ways such as in croquetas, stuffed inside roast peppers or cooked with all sorts of delicious sauces and spices. Bacalao a la Riojana is one of the best ways in which the Spanish eat bacalao and wholly recommendable if you’re ever lucky enough to come across it as an entrée.
18. Cocido Madrileño
Cocido Madrileño is perhaps the most well-known and popular Spanish stew, which Madrid is proud to claim as its own. It usually consist of garbanzo beans, thick bacon, chorizo, cabbage and other things depending on who’s cooking it. All of this is put on the stove for many, many hours and there’s nothing heartier to dig into throughout a cold winter in Madrid than this heavenly, delicious stew!
Fabada is a bean stew that originates from the northern region of Asturias. Like cocido, it’s extremely hearty, meaty and delicious! Fabada often contains faba beans, chorizo, morcilla and spices. Trying fabada while travelling in the beautiful region of Asturias is most likely an experience that you’ll always remember!
20. Churros con chocolate
Everyone knows that churros are a big thing in Spain. Spanish churros are long lines of fried dough that’s cut into long pieces and eaten with hot, thick, melted chocolate. The churros themselves aren’t sweet, although many Spaniards sprinkle sugar on them, and they’re meant to be dipped in chocolate and then make you feel like you’re having a heart attack after eating too many. Go to any café from the Valor franchise for deliciously rich chocolate and a lovely liberty style interior.
What’s your favorite Spanish dish? Let us know in the comments.