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The Best Foods In Spain And Where To Find Them


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Cristionna Mcginley




Food and travel go hand in hand, and there’s no better place to embark on a culinary adventure than in Spain. Known for its rich gastronomic heritage and diverse regional cuisines, Spain offers a tantalizing array of flavors and dishes that will leave your taste buds craving for more. From the iconic paella to the mouthwatering tapas and the exquisite jamón ibérico, Spanish cuisine is a celebration of fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and centuries-old culinary traditions.


As you journey through Spain, you’ll discover that each region has its own unique specialty, influenced by its geography, history, and cultural heritage. Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Barcelona, savoring the coastal delights of Andalusia, or indulging in the rustic charm of the Basque Country, there’s a wealth of delicious foods waiting to be savored.


Join me on a gastronomic tour as we delve into some of the best foods that Spain has to offer and where to find them. Get ready to awaken your senses and embark on a culinary journey that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a newfound appreciation for Spanish cuisine.




No culinary journey through Spain would be complete without indulging in a plate of paella. This iconic rice dish is a true symbol of Spanish cuisine and is widely celebrated for its vibrant flavors and striking colors. Originally from the region of Valencia, paella has become a beloved dish across the country and beyond.


The primary ingredient in paella is rice, cooked with a delightful combination of saffron, tomatoes, and a variety of meats or seafood. The result is a deliciously aromatic and flavorful dish that embodies the essence of Spanish cooking. The most traditional version of paella is made with rabbit, chicken, and snails, but there are endless variations to suit all tastes and dietary preferences.


When it comes to finding the best paella, Valencia remains the unrivaled destination. The city is renowned for its traditional preparation methods and the use of locally sourced ingredients. Head to one of the picturesque coastal towns nearby, such as Albufera, to savor the freshest seafood paella, where ingredients like prawns, mussels, and squid take the spotlight.


However, you don’t have to limit yourself to Valencia. In cities like Barcelona and Madrid, you’ll find numerous restaurants specializing in this iconic dish. Make sure to seek out a restaurant that follows traditional cooking techniques and uses the finest ingredients to get the most authentic paella experience.




Tapas are a beloved culinary tradition in Spain, where small plates of delicious food are shared among friends and family. This social and interactive way of dining allows you to sample a wide variety of flavors and dishes in one sitting. From savory to sweet, there’s something to satisfy every palate.


The origins of tapas can be traced back to taverns in Andalusia, where bartenders would serve small bites of food alongside drinks to keep the customers satisfied. Over time, tapas evolved into an art form, with each region of Spain offering its own unique selection of tapas.


When it comes to tapas, the options are endless. From classic choices like patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy sauce) and albondigas (meatballs) to more adventurous options like pulpo a la gallega (Galician-style octopus) and boquerones (marinated anchovies), there’s something to please every palate.


One of the best ways to enjoy tapas is by going on a “tapeo,” hopping from bar to bar and sampling different dishes along the way. Cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville are known for their vibrant tapas scenes, offering a wide selection of bars and restaurants to choose from.


When in Barcelona, make sure to visit the lively neighborhood of El Born, where you’ll find cozy tapas bars serving up exquisite bites. In Madrid, head to the historic district of La Latina, which is known for its traditional taverns and bustling atmosphere. And in Seville, the picturesque streets of Triana are lined with tapas bars offering a taste of Andalusian flavors.


Regardless of where you find yourself in Spain, be sure to indulge in the tapas culture and savor the unique flavors and experiences it offers. Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely lunch or a late-night feast, tapas are a culinary delight that should not be missed.


Jamón Ibérico


When it comes to cured meats, few can compare to the exquisite flavor and unparalleled quality of Jamón Ibérico. Made from the acorn-fed Iberian pigs that roam the oak forests of Spain, this delicacy is a true treasure of Spanish gastronomy.


The unique taste of Jamón Ibérico comes from the pigs’ diet of acorns, which gives the meat a distinct nutty flavor. The curing process, which can take up to three years, allows the flavors to develop and intensify, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a depth of flavor that is unmatched.


There are two types of Jamón Ibérico – Jamón Ibérico de Bellota and Jamón Ibérico de Cebo. The former is considered the pinnacle of quality, as it comes from pigs that have been exclusively fed on acorns during the montanera (the period when the pigs graze on acorns). The latter, Jamón Ibérico de Cebo, comes from pigs that have been fed a combination of acorns and grain.


To truly appreciate the splendor of Jamón Ibérico, it is best enjoyed thinly sliced and served on its own or with a simple accompaniment like bread or cheese. The marbling of the meat creates a luxurious mouthfeel, and the flavors unfold with each bite.


When it comes to finding the best Jamón Ibérico, head to the region of Extremadura in western Spain. This region is renowned for its production of high-quality Jamón Ibérico, thanks to its vast expanses of oak forests and ideal climate conditions.


You can also find excellent Jamón Ibérico in specialty shops and markets throughout Spain. In cities like Madrid and Barcelona, there are dedicated shops where you can purchase the finest slices of Jamón Ibérico to enjoy at home or as part of a gourmet gift.


Indulging in a plate of Jamón Ibérico is a truly sensory experience that allows you to savor the essence of Spanish cuisine. It’s a testament to the country’s dedication to quality, tradition, and the pursuit of gastronomic excellence.




Gazpacho is a refreshing and vibrant cold soup that has its roots in the southern region of Andalusia. This delightful dish is the perfect antidote to hot summer days, offering a burst of flavors and a cooling sensation that is both satisfying and rejuvenating.


Traditionally made with ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, and sherry vinegar, gazpacho embodies the essence of Mediterranean cuisine. The ingredients are blended together until smooth, resulting in a velvety texture that is both light and flavorful.


What sets gazpacho apart is its versatility. While the classic recipe is a staple, variations of gazpacho can be found throughout Spain. Some regions add bread to the mix, giving the soup a thicker and heartier consistency. Others incorporate fruits like watermelon or strawberries, adding a touch of sweetness to the savory base.


When it comes to enjoying gazpacho, timing is key. It is typically consumed as a starter or a light lunch, served chilled and garnished with diced vegetables or a drizzle of olive oil. The combination of the fresh ingredients and the chilled temperature makes gazpacho a delightful and invigorating dish.


To experience the best gazpacho, head to the region of Andalusia, where you’ll find the most authentic and flavorful versions. Seville, in particular, is known for its dedication to gazpacho, with numerous restaurants specializing in this beloved dish.


However, you can also find excellent gazpacho in other parts of the country. In Barcelona, for example, many restaurants offer their own unique twist on the classic recipe, incorporating local produce and innovative flavors.


Gazpacho embodies the essence of Spanish cuisine – simple, fresh ingredients combined in a way that highlights their natural flavors. It’s a dish that reflects the country’s commitment to quality ingredients and celebrates the bounty of the Mediterranean region.


Patatas Bravas


When it comes to iconic Spanish tapas, one dish that stands out is the beloved patatas bravas. This popular dish consists of crispy fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce and a creamy aioli. With its combination of textures and flavors, patatas bravas has become a staple in bars and restaurants throughout Spain.


The dish’s name, which translates to “bold potatoes,” is a testament to the zesty flavors that accompany each bite. The potatoes are typically cut into bite-sized cubes and fried until golden and crispy, providing a satisfying crunch. The spicy tomato sauce, often made with paprika and chili, adds a kick of heat, while the creamy aioli provides a cooling balance.


While you can find patatas bravas in almost every tapas bar in Spain, the quality can vary. For the best experience, look for places that make their own sauces and use high-quality potatoes. In cities like Madrid and Barcelona, there are even specialized patatas bravas bars that take this simple dish to new heights.


In Madrid, the vibrant neighborhood of Malasaña is renowned for its fantastic patatas bravas. Here, you’ll find bars offering different variations of the dish, some with unique twists like adding chorizo or cheese. In Barcelona, head to the historic district of Barri Gòtic to discover charming tapas bars serving up classic patatas bravas.


Patatas bravas is not just a delicious snack; it’s a reflection of the Spanish food culture and the art of tapas. It’s a dish that encourages sharing, conversation, and the enjoyment of good company. So the next time you find yourself in Spain, make sure to savor a plate of patatas bravas and appreciate the simple yet bold flavors it offers.


Churros con Chocolate


Indulging in a plate of churros con chocolate is an essential part of any visit to Spain. This delightful treat features deep-fried dough, long and crispy in shape, that is dusted with sugar and served with a thick and rich hot chocolate sauce for dipping.


Churros are believed to have originated in Spain, and they have since become a beloved snack and breakfast treat throughout the country. Whether you’re enjoying them as a mid-morning pick-me-up or as a late-night indulgence, churros con chocolate is a delightful culinary experience.


When it comes to enjoying this delicious combination, there are a few different ways to go about it. In some regions, like Madrid, churros are typically thinner and straighter in shape. In others, like Andalusia, they may be thicker and have a more curled appearance. Regardless of the shape, each bite offers a satisfying crunch on the outside and a soft, doughy interior.


While churros are delicious on their own, it’s the accompanying hot chocolate that takes this treat to the next level. The Spanish hot chocolate is thick and velvety, almost like a pudding, and provides the perfect dipping sauce for the churros. It’s rich, sweet, and incredibly satisfying.


When searching for the best churros con chocolate in Spain, there are a few legendary establishments that are worth a visit. In Madrid, head to the iconic Chocolatería San Ginés, which has been serving up this delectable treat since 1894. Another must-visit is Granja Viader in Barcelona, a historic café that has been delighting locals and visitors alike with their heavenly churros and chocolate for over a century.


Whether you’re enjoying churros con chocolate in a bustling city or a quaint little town, this classic Spanish treat is sure to bring a smile to your face. It’s a comfort food that warms the soul and brings people together, reminding us of the simple pleasures in life.


Tortilla Española


Tortilla Española, also known as Spanish omelette, is a beloved dish that holds a special place in the hearts of Spaniards. This humble yet flavorful dish consists of simple ingredients – eggs, onions, potatoes, and olive oil – combined to create a comforting and satisfying meal.


The process of making a tortilla Española involves sautéing thinly sliced potatoes and onions in olive oil until they are tender and slightly golden. The cooked potatoes and onions are then mixed with beaten eggs and cooked until the omelette is set. The result is a thick, hearty omelette that can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature.


Tortilla Española is often served as a tapa, sliced into small portions and enjoyed as a snack or appetizer. It can also be served as a main course, accompanied by a fresh salad or crusty bread. No matter how it is served, one bite of this classic dish transports you to the heart of Spanish cuisine.


While tortilla Española can be found throughout Spain, the quality can vary from place to place. To savor an exceptional tortilla, look for establishments that make their omelettes from scratch and use the freshest ingredients.


In Madrid, Casa Dani in Mercado de la Paz is known for its outstanding tortilla Española. The perfectly cooked omelette with its creamy interior and crispy edges is a testament to the expertise of the chefs. In San Sebastian, Bar Zeruko serves a modern twist on the classic tortilla, incorporating ingredients like chorizo or peppers for added flavor.


Tortilla Española is more than just a dish; it is a symbol of Spanish identity and culture. It represents simplicity, tradition, and the artistry of turning humble ingredients into something truly delicious. So, the next time you have the opportunity to enjoy a tortilla Española, savor each bite and embrace the essence of Spanish gastronomy.




When it comes to the culinary delights of the Basque Country in northern Spain, one cannot overlook the deliciousness of pintxos. These bite-sized culinary creations are essentially Basque tapas, but with a unique twist. Pintxos are small, artfully arranged bites that showcase the region’s abundance of fresh seafood, cured meats, cheeses, and other local ingredients.


Pintxos are traditionally served on small slices of bread, held together with a toothpick or skewer. They are often displayed on the bar counters, inviting diners to choose their favorites and indulge in a variety of flavors. What sets pintxos apart is not only their taste but also the presentation. Chefs and cooks take pride in creating visually appealing displays, captivating both the eyes and the taste buds.


San Sebastian, known as the gastronomic capital of Spain, is a haven for pintxos enthusiasts. The city’s old town, specifically the streets of Calle Mayor and Calle 31 de Agosto, is lined with countless pintxos bars. Each bar offers an array of mouthwatering pintxos, allowing visitors to hop from one spot to another and experience the diverse flavors of the region.


Some of the popular pintxos include Gilda, which is a combination of olives, anchovies, and pickled peppers, and Txalupa, a toast topped with a mix of creamy seafood. Other favorites include Bacalao Pil-Pil, a dish made with codfish, garlic, and olive oil, and Morcilla de Burgos, a blood sausage with a rich and earthy flavor.


Part of the joy of pintxos is the social aspect of it. It’s common to gather with friends and family, ordering a drink or two, and then sampling an assortment of pintxos together. The lively ambiance of pintxos bars adds to the overall experience, as locals and tourists mingle and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.


Pintxos are not solely restricted to San Sebastian; you can find them throughout the Basque Country and other regions of Spain. Bilbao, with its bustling streets and vibrant food scene, offers a wide variety of pintxos. In fact, the city hosts an annual pintxos competition, where chefs showcase their creativity and culinary prowess in creating these delectable bites.


Embarking on a pintxos tour is an adventure for the senses. It allows you to explore, taste, and appreciate the incredible flavors and culinary artistry of the Basque Country. So, make sure to immerse yourself in the pintxos culture on your next visit to Spain.


Gambas al Ajillo


Gambas al Ajillo, or garlic shrimp, is a popular and flavorsome dish that can be found in many coastal regions of Spain. The simplicity of this dish allows the key ingredients to shine, resulting in a mouthwatering combination of succulent shrimp, sizzling garlic, and aromatic olive oil.


The preparation of gambas al ajillo is relatively straightforward. Fresh shrimp is sautéed in a generous amount of olive oil along with minced garlic, dried chili flakes, and sometimes a splash of white wine. The heat from the chili and the fragrance of the garlic infuse into the shrimp, creating a tantalizing aroma and bold flavors.


The dish is typically served with a side of crusty bread, which allows you to soak up the flavorful oil and savor every last bit. It is common to find gambas al ajillo on the menus of beachside restaurants, where the fresh catch of the day transforms into a mouthwatering dish that captures the essence of coastal Spain.


While gambas al ajillo is widely available in coastal regions, there are a few places known for serving exceptional versions of this dish. In the picturesque town of Malaga on the Costa del Sol, you’ll find numerous seafood restaurants specializing in gambas al ajillo. In the vibrant city of Barcelona, the neighborhood of Barceloneta is home to seafood establishments known for their delicious rendition of this classic dish.


Enjoying gambas al ajillo is an experience that awakens the senses. The rich aroma of garlic, the sizzle of the shrimp in the pan, and the explosion of flavors as you take your first bite – it’s all part of the magic of this beloved Spanish dish.


Whether you’re treating yourself to a seaside feast or recreating the dish at home, gambas al ajillo is a true delight that showcases the beauty of simplicity in Spanish cuisine. So, be sure to satisfy your seafood cravings and immerse yourself in the exquisite flavors of gambas al ajillo.




Embarking on a culinary journey through Spain is a feast for the senses. From the iconic paella and tapas to the indulgent churros con chocolate and the flavorful pintxos, Spanish cuisine offers an abundance of delicious foods that reflect the country’s rich gastronomic heritage.


Each region of Spain has its own specialties and culinary traditions, adding to the diverse and vibrant tapestry of flavors. Whether you find yourself in the vibrant streets of Barcelona, the lively markets of Madrid, or the charming towns of Andalusia, there’s a wide selection of delectable dishes waiting to be savored.


To truly experience the best foods in Spain, it’s important to seek out establishments that use fresh, local ingredients and embrace traditional cooking methods. From Valencia for paella to San Sebastian for pintxos, each region showcases its unique flavors and culinary skills.


Food in Spain is not just about nourishment; it’s a celebration of culture, history, and community. From the bustling tapas bars where friends gather to share small plates to the thriving markets where locals haggle for the freshest produce, food is an integral part of daily life in Spain.


So, whether you’re a food lover planning your next travel adventure or simply looking to add some Spanish flair to your culinary repertoire, exploring the rich and diverse food scene of Spain is sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you with a deeper appreciation for the artistry of Spanish cuisine.