There are many things for which Spain is well-known; and the cuisine is one of the highlights! Whether you’re a meat eater, a seafood fanatic, or have an undeniable sweet tooth, you’ll have your pick amongst a million different options.
Celebrity chefs such as Ferran Adria, founder of the now-defunct El Bulli restaurant, and the Roca brothers, pioneers of the El Celler de Can Roca, have helped bring international acclaim to Spain’s “alta cocina” in recent years.
So, let us get started! No person should leave Spain without trying at least half of these dishes.
Paella is the dish which is almost always associated with traditional Spanish cuisine, and almost never pronounced correctly! P-a-e-i-a. Yep; that’s right! The dish originated in the rice-growing regions of the Mediterranean coast of Spain and is now most closely associated with the Valencia region. There are many different ways to create this culinary masterpiece, but we have a strong preference for the seafood kind. Check out Restaurant Voraz Madrid, they serve amazing paella, along with other Spanish dishes!
Spicy potatoes, patatas bravas, patatas a la brava, and papas bravas… Whatever the name it, the result it’s still the same: a fried potato heaven. Patatas bravas are a traditional Spanish dish. The standard preparation calls for white potatoes to be cubed into 2-centimeter pieces before being fried in oil and served hot with a spicy sauce. This dish, featured prominently on tapas menus across Spain, varies slightly depending on the region. If you find yourself in Madrid, check out Las Bravas Madrid!
Not exactly a food; but it contains fruits so we might as well introduce it! Sangria is a strong staple of Spanish cuisine, so it deserves to be recognized alongside the country’s other signature dishes. You can find this ubiquitous drink anywhere in Spain. It can be ordered individually in a glass, or in larger quantities in a jar to share with your friends. Sangria will definitely expose you being a tourist, but hey, the heart wants what it wants!
P.S. Patio de Leones serves amazing Sangria and tapas!
Churros con chocolate
What could possibly be better than a hot chocolate you might ask yourself… Well, let us introduce you to Spanish churros! They are sticks of dough fried in boiling oil and sprinkled with sugar – and then yes, you know it; dipped a dense hot chocolate! It tastes more like hot fudge than chocolate and is a true culinary specialty of Spain.
Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid is one of the best places to try Churros!
Spanish bread is used to make sandwiches known as bocadillos. Potatoes, cheese, ham, and pork loin are the most common ingredients. If you find yourself in Madrid, we highly recommend bocadillo de calamares. This is something a bit more special, and definitely worth sinking your teeth into! Around the touristic area of Plaza Mayor in Madrid you will find plenty of places!
Since Spain is the world leader in olive oil production, aceitunas, or olives, are naturally a popular tapas option. You can stuff them with anchovies or red bell peppers and enjoy them pickled.
Tortilla de patatas
One of the most well-known dishes from Spain is the “tortilla española”; fundamentally an omelette with potatoes. Of course, some people will prefer it juicier, others with the potatoes more finely sliced, and some to have it for breakfast with a “cafe con leche” whereas other as an aperitivo with a “vermut”, but the eternal division amongst tortilla de patata lovers is: with or without onions…?
The essential ingredients for Spanish flan are milk, sugar, and eggs, resulting in a caramel pudding. It is the most famous Spanish dessert and can be found on the menus of virtually every bar and restaurant in Madrid and beyond. This dessert is made by pouring a rich gelatin mixture into a metal mold and then cooking it in a water bath.
When the custard is firm, it is inverted onto a plate and allowed to drip sweet caramel sauce. While vanilla is always a safe bet, don’t underestimate chocolate and coconut-flavored options. We advise you to sample as many as possible before settling on a favorite!
The Calcot, or calçot, is a scallion used frequently in Spanish and Catalan cooking. The flavour is milder, and the texture is more significant than a regular green onion, making them similar to leeks. During February and March, when the Spanish celebrate the calcotada, they eat calcots at their peak flavour. Due to its popularity, the Barcelona tourist season often runs into May.
And there you have it! A list of the top foods that you must try and nibble on when visiting the beautiful country of Spain. If you’re looking for some fun places to visit, check our handy list for visiting Madrid!