During our 3 years living in Spain, we fell in love with Spanish food. Spanish cuisine is regional, which means there are unique dishes to try in each region. These are some of our favorite food destinations in Spain, with must-visit cities, regions, and islands for food lovers. This Spain food guide focuses on what to eat in Spain, as soon as it is ready to welcome visitors once again.
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Why Travel To Spain For Food
There’s one thing I can guarantee if you visit Spain, you are going to eat really well. It’s one of the reasons why we moved there and spent three years exploring its many foodie cities. For us, Spanish food is unmatched in terms of creativity, diversity, and regionality.
When answering the question, what is Spain famous for, in my eyes, there can only be one answer, its food. From San Sebastian in the north to Seville and Malaga in the south, the range of dishes to eat is mind-blowing. While Spain has its fair share of Michelin starred restaurants, it is the traditional dishes that have us missing Spain and counting down until our next visit.
It’s not just the actual food and drink in Spain that we look forward to experiencing again, but the passion the Spanish have for food. Walk into any tapas bar or restaurant in Spain and you automatically feel a part of a small community. A community despite any language barrier shares in the common enjoyment of Spanish food.
Best Foods In Spain
When it comes to what to eat in Spain, there are certain dishes in each city or region that are must-try dishes. While new travelers to Spain might think the entire country is filled with paella, sangria, and jamon, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Okay, you will fine jamon, the famous Spanish cured ham, pretty much everywhere.
But paella, for example, is a regional dish from Valencia, and not something that should be eaten in the north in the Basque Country, or in the Canary Islands. Paella is the most famous of Spanish rice dishes, but there’s so much more to eat in Spain than paella!
Here, we’ve come up with our list of famous foods in Spain, by region. It’s not likely you can plan a single trip to Spain to visit all of these regions. That’s why repeat trips to explore the full country are necessary! That’s the only way to find all of the best food to eat in Spain.
Looking for more destinations for food lovers? Check out our roundup of the Best Destinations For Food Travelers.
Recipes For Famous Foods From Spain
While we’ve been away from Spain, we’ve had to satisfy our cravings for Spanish food by cooking our favorite dishes at home. Included in our list below are some of our recipes for our favorite regional dishes, tapas, and desserts. This is the perfect way to keep Spain on your mind at home!
Check out our list of 14 of our favorite Spanish tapas recipes.
Papas Arrugadas From Gran Canaria
While Gran Canaria might be known for sun, sand, and surf, it’s also one of Spain’s best culinary destinations. Located off the coast of Africa, the food of Gran Canaria has been greatly affected by outside influences for centuries.
One of the traditional Spanish dishes we discovered during our trip to Gran Canaria was papas arrugadas, often referred to as, “wrinkled potatoes.” A mainstay in Gran Canaria cuisine, papas arrugadas can be found on nearly every restaurant menu and should definitely be ordered.
Unlike their more famous cousins, patatas bravas, papas arrugadas are boiled in salt water, not fried. They are traditionally served with Mojo Picon Rojo, a tangy red salsa made using peppers, garlic, and vinegar. As with most Spanish dishes, the balance between the salty potatoes and tangy sauce is perfect.
Learn more and Spanish food in Gran Canaria:
Cochino Negro – Canarian Black Pig From Tenerife
Easily one of the most famous foods from Spain is pork. One of the reasons why we love Spain so much and lived there for three years was because of the Spanish love (obsession) for pork. From Jamon Iberico to chorizo, the Spanish easily produce some of the best pork in the world.
On Tenerife in the Canary Islands, the tradition of producing amazing pork continues with cochino negro or black pig. If you are making a must eat Spanish food list, cochino negro has to be on it.
Cochino negro is a protected special breed pig only found in the Canary Islands. So much so, that only specific breeders can raise the pig and specific restaurants can offer it. To say it is juicy, tender, and delicious would be an understatement.
Learn more and Spanish food in Tenerife:
Flamenquines From Córdoba
Traditional foods in Spain come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most eye-opening can be found in Córdoba down in Andalusia. Now, this isn’t exactly a healthy dish, but if you enjoy pork and love things deep-fried, then you are going to want to eat a flamenquín.
A regional dish, you will be hard-pressed to find a flamenquín outside of Córdoba. The dish itself consists of sliced pork loin, jamon, and cheese. Sliced thin, all three are rolled together, breaded, and deep-fried. Served alongside pickled vegetables and some salmorejo you’ll want to go for a short walk afterward.
Learn more and Spanish food in Cordoba:
Caracoles From Granada
Before traveling to and eventually calling Spain home, you wouldn’t get me within 100 miles of eating snails. Now, I long for them. I think that’s a compliment to Spanish cuisine and cooking. The ability to take an ingredient that might be off-putting and making it delicious.
Not the most famous Spanish food, snails are eaten everywhere in Spain. In Catalonia, we’d eat them in a black pepper sauce. Authentic Valencian paella includes snails. But for me, the best are found in Granada.
Typically eaten using a toothpick the snails are cooked in a simple sauce of almonds, olive oil, garlic, and other seasonings. They are easily one of the best Spanish tapas we’ve ever eaten. So simple. So good. And why I can’t wait to visit Granada again.
Learn more and Spanish food in Granada:
Granada Food Guide – The last city that still offers free tapas with drinks.
Anchovies And Boquerones From Catalonia
Catalonia, Girona, was our home for three years. In that time we ate A LOT of great food. While Spain has miles and miles of coastline, if you ask us, the best for food, is in Catalonia. Its cold deep waters produce outstanding seafood, especially fish.
For many travelers to Spain especially Americans, eating anchovies isn’t common. But if you go to Spain, you must try them. Anchovies and boquerones are some of the most popular foods in Spain to eat. Visit any tapas bar in Spain and you’ll find them. Caught in the waters just off Spain, they are always fresh and best enjoyed with a cold caña (beer) or glass of vermouth.
In addition to eating them fresh, whole anchovies are eaten fried as well as in a simple preparation of vinegar and lemon. It still amazes me how many Spanish dishes incorporate only a couple of ingredients yet the flavors are so big.
Learn more and Spanish food in Catalonia:
Albóndigas En Salsa De Almendras – From Malaga
This is a dish I have on my personal best tapas list. Albondigas Almendras, or meatballs with almond sauce, is a popular dish in Malaga and other parts of Andalucia. Why I have this on my list is not the meatballs, which are tender and juicy. It’s the sauce.
There are a lot of delicious sauces in Spanish cooking. There is just something about using almonds that sets this sauce apart. Almonds are extremely popular across Andalucia so it makes sense to use them in sauce.
This particular sauce includes almonds, olive oil, garlic, bread, and white wine. The resulting sauce is mild yet flavorful. It seems to have a creamy, silky texture that is simply divine.
Learn more and Spanish food in Malaga:
Setas – Grilled Mushrooms From Logrono
Leave it to Spain to not only have incredible meats and fish but also vegetables. The northern city of Navarro is world-renowned for peppers as well as the Galician city of Padron. If mushrooms are your thing, then it’s time to head to La Rioja and its capital Logrono.
Toughed away on Calle Laurel, the main street for pintxos bars, you’ll find the juiciest and most amazing mushrooms ever. Drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with a pinch of salt, and topped with a small prawn, these mushrooms are arguably the best in Spain. And like most typical foods in Spain, so simple. A word of caution, they can be messy so watch out when you bite in.
Learn more and Spanish food in Logroño:
Logroño Food Guide – How to explore Calle Laurel for pinchos.
Montadito de Pringa From Sevilla
In the nine years we’ve traveled for food, we’ve learned the best food discoveries have been accidental. And that’s the case with the Montadito de Pringa we discovered in Sevilla. A tapas we discovered when killing time and one that’s in my top 3 best tapas list.
Much like other typical Spanish food, the pringa is made using simple ingredients. In this case, it’s often made using leftover stew meat or blood sausage. The meat which is already tender, is heated and put on a small, fresh roll. Served with some potato chips and a cold beer, and you are set. It might not be glamorous but I assure you once you’ve eaten your first pringa, you’ll want another and another.
Learn more and Spanish food in Sevilla:
The Original Pintxo – The Gilda From San Sebastian
Who would have thought that an olive, pickled pepper, and anchovy all on one stick, would start a food revolution? Well, it did and we have Bar Txepetxa in San Sebastian to thank. Legend has it that a patron at Bar Txepetxa enjoyed the individual flavors of these three that he decided to put them together to see what they tasted like. As they say, the rest is history, and traveling to San Sebastian to go pintxos bar hopping is a right of passage for any true foodie.
Learn more and Spanish food in San Sebastian:
Recipe for Tuna Stuffed Peppers – We ate this for the first time in San Sebastian
Horchata And Fartons From Valencia
Of course, every traveler to Valencia should eat paella. It’s the home of this famous dish. But, there’s something else to try that is uniquely Valencian.
When we first heard of horchata and fartons I have to admit, I was skeptical about drinking something made with tiger nuts. After all, I’d never heard of tiger nuts and had no idea what they tasted like. But, living by my motto of, “try everything twice” I gave it a try and much to my surprise, I really like it.
Horchata is a milk-like substance that has a slight chalkiness to it. While sweet, it isn’t overly sweet. Originating in Valencia, it dates back to the 13th Century which tells me people in Valencia really enjoy it. Horchata is best enjoyed with a farton, a long, thin bread covered in sugar or frosting.
Learn more and Spanish food in Valencia:
Bocadillo de Calamares From Madrid
It’s strange recommending a seafood dish in a landlocked city, but a bocadillo de calamares, calamari sandwich, is too good not to. We first enjoyed a bocadillo de calamares in San Sebastian and while we love everything about San Sebastian, the bocadillo de calamares we had in Madrid were better.
There’s no mistaking what goes into a bocadillo de calamares. Piles of freshly fried calamari are crammed into an equally fresh roll. Add on a spicy red sauce, similar to the sauce used with patatas brava and you are set.
If you don’t like spicy sauces, you can opt for a fresh aioli made with garlic and olive oil. You’ll find the best shops for bocadillo de calamares have a line. Don’t worry, just get in the line and get ready to enjoy a classic Spanish sandwich.
Learn more and Spanish food in Madrid:
Recipe for Padron Peppers – Spanish Blistered Peppers
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