While thinking of Spanish food may bring to mind plates of tapas and paella (and you’d be right to think of those!), Spain has a diverse and unique food culture that’s much more varied than you might think! Because Spain’s climate and geography varies around the country, there’s actually about 6 different food regions in Spain. For example, in Northern Spain, seafood reigns, but in Central Spain, you’ll find lots of roast meats and stews. Traditional rice dishes like paella are most popular in Eastern Spain. All of this means that there’s plenty of incredible cities in Spain for foodies!
If you’re heading to Spain and want to be sure to get the full foodie experience, you definitely need to visit at least a few different cities to try some of the best foods in Spain. Not sure where to start? Here’s 8 of the best destinations in Spain for foodies!
Don’t-miss dish: Escalivada
If there’s just one stop you make on your foodie trip through Spain, Barcelona is a great stop to make—not only because there’s a lot of delicious specialties to try from the Catalonia region. One of them is escalivada, a type of salad that is popular in Catalonia and brings out all the flavor of the
local vegetables. How? The dish combines eggplants, peppers, onions, potatoes and artichokes, roasted either over charcoal or in an oven, then combined and dressed with olive oil and vinegar.
Don’t-miss dish: Gazpacho
Gazpacho is the perfect dish for anyone who wants to ward off the heat—these delicious cold soups are healthy and ideal for summers along the Spanish coast. There’s many kinds of gazpachos to choose from: ajoblanco (garlic and almond), salmorejo (much thicker and made with tomatoes only), porra antequerana (with eggs and tomatoes), pipirrana (with green peppers, cucumber, tomatoes and onion) and they’re a popular choice in Seville!
3. Santiago de Compostela
Don’t-miss dish: pulpo a feira (octopus salad with potatoes and spices)
This little-known city in Spain, it turns out, is one of the best places in Spain for foodies. With delicious (and budget-friendly!) eats, you’ll be able to find classics like tapas and wine to unique local specialties. From the pulpo a feira to Spanish classics with potatoes and ham, this small town is the perfect place to get a taste of local Spanish culture and food without many tourists. It’s also well-known (and loved) for it’s empanadas and top-notch bakeries. Whether you want to dig into the octopus dishes or just fill up on bread, it’s an easy place to do either.
Don’t-miss dish: Paella
Paella is easily found all across Spain, but it originated in Valencia. So why not try it in this ancient seaside city? Paella is a rice dish, usually consisting of spiced rice mixed with seafood, chicken or vegetables and fried in a giant skillet. Valencian paella (paella valencia) is the traditional (and many would argue, the original) version of the recipe. Although, we’d recommend trying a few varieties to find your favorite! Arròs negre is similar to paella and made from cuttlefish or squid with lots of cuttlefish/squid ink, turning the rice black! It’s delicious and a must-try for adventurous eaters.
Don’t-miss dish: bocadillo de calamares
The iconic Madrid sandwich, bocadillo de calamares is a fried squid sandwich that’s delicious even if you’re not a huge seafood fan. If you’re visiting during winter, warm up with another Madrid specialty: cocido madrileño. This is a traditional Madrid pork stew, typically including pork, vegetables, chickpeas and chorizo sausage. It’s one of Spain’s most popular winter-y dishes!
And, of course, don’t forget to try the chocolate con churros, perfect at literally any time of the day.
Don’t-miss dish: plato alpujarreño
The traditional plato alpujarreño from Granada is definitely a must-try. It’s made of potatoes, fried eggs, chorizo, ham, sausage (morcilla), and sweet peppers. Although it’s quite simple, it’s quite a staple in Granada cuisine. Of course, Granada has lots of local takes on other Spanish specialties, like tapas, seafood dishes galore and plenty of pastries, which makes it a must-visit in Spain for foodies.
7. San Sebastian
Don’t-miss dish: Pintxos
Pintxos (also spelled pinchos) are a cousin to the tapa, a small dish you typically eat with drinks. Tapas are slightly bigger and more reminiscent of appetizers, while pintxos are typically bite-sized or served in a small bowl. Traditionally, they include a slice of baguette or other similar bread topped with a variety of meats, cheeses, olives, etc. and speared with a long toothpick. At a pintxos bar, simply help yourself to any of the pintxos lined up on the bar counter. Don’t forget to hold onto all the little sticks! When you’re finished, the bartender or waiter will count up your sticks and let you know what you owe. Sometimes the sticks are different colors for different prices, but most pintxos are between 1-3 euros. Whether you just pop in for a quick drink and a few bites to eat or go pintxo-hopping and make it your dinner, trying pintxos at a local bar is a must!
Don’t-miss dish: anything seafood.
Bilbao, the largest city in Basque Country, is a must for anyone wanting to experience foodie culture in Northern Spain. Seafood is the name of the game in Basque Country. From bacalao al pil pil (fried cod), to txangurro (stuffed crab) to kokotxas (cod cheeks!) or angulas (baby eels), there’s something for everyone, no matter how adventurous (or un-adventurous) of an eater you are. If you’re a vegetarian (or just not into seafood), you’ll be able to find options in stews, tapas or paellas to suit your tastes.
Ok, hungry yet? We’ve got cheap tickets to Spain to get you to the land of tapas and paella ASAP!