Almost every visitor to Spain has heard of, and wants to try, the famous tapas. A more informal way of dining or simply snacking, going for tapas is an enjoyable experience and allows you to sample some typical Spanish dishes and home-grown produce.
Here are some of the most popular and delicious tapas that you should try during your stay in Spain, whether you’re visiting the country’s stunning southern region or northern provinces like the beautiful Asturias
. Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about eating out in Spain.
Here are some of the most popular and delicious tapas that you should try during your stay in Spain, whether you’re visiting the country’s stunning southern region or northern provinces like the beautiful Asturias. Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about eating out in Spain
Gazpacho. Photo by Jo del Corro, via Flickr
This cold soup is perfect for the hot Spanish summers, though warm gazpacho is also popular. Recipes vary, but most contain tomato, cucumber and garlic. Its creamier cousin, salmorejo, originated in the Córdoba region, and is served with diced egg and jamón serrano.
Great as a starter or tapa, this traditional Spanish dish gives you a taste of some of the country’s delicious produce.
2. Ensaladilla Rusa
Another cold tapa which is readily available at most bars is ensaladilla rusa (Russian salad), which contains tuna, potatoes and any mix of olives, carrots or peas.
It’s worth pointing out that tuna and chicken are often not considered ‘real’ meat, and as such may be offered as a ‘veggie’ alternative for vegetarians. If you are vegetarian, you can rest assured that there are plenty of delicious veg dishes in Spain, but you may want to do some research before ordering!
Tortilla Española. Photo by missy, via Flickr
3. Tortilla Española
Another classic dish, tortilla Española (Spanish omelette) is simple but delicious. A large tortilla will usually be available at most tapas bars, and will tend to consist of egg, potato and onion – making it ideal for anyone on a gluten-free diet.
Variations on this traditional tapa include spinach, pepper and ham tortillas, and it can be served warm or cold.
Meat – and particularly pork – is extremely popular in Spain. Albóndigas (meatballs) can be made from beef or pork, or both, and are usually served in a rich tomato sauce with bread on the side. This is a great tapa for meat-lovers, and is also widely available.
Patatas Bravas. Photo by Leo Gonzales, via Flickr
5. Patatas Bravas
Fried potatoes tend to be popular in many countries – think fries in the US or greasy chunky chips in the UK. Patatas bravas is Spain’s version; the dish can be found across the country, and is often served as a ‘ración’ or ‘media ración’ which are larger portions perfect for sharing.
Though it is Andalucía which is generally associated with tapas, patatas bravas originated in Madrid. Accompanying the potatoes is a slightly spicy, tomato-based sauce and, often, alioli (garlic oil or mayonnaise). As always, the dish will vary from place to place – so why not try it in a couple of places and choose your favourite?
6. Fish tapas
If you’re anywhere near the coast, you’ll have to try out some of Spain’s excellent fish tapas. Málaga is a particularly good spot, with many restaurants and bars serving only fish.
Popular options include cod, tuna, hake, anchovies, prawns and mussels. Fried calamari is another excellent option. If you’re undecided try ordering an assortment of fried fish to share with friends – after all, going for tapas is a social as well as a culinary experience in Spain.
Of course, there is more to Spanish cuisine than tapas, and it’s certainly worth trying out some of the good value lunch menus (or menú del día) which offer a starter, main and desert. Paella is another must-try on any Spanish trip.
Luckily, when it comes to good food you’re spoilt for choice in Spain, and tapas are a great way of sampling traditional dishes.
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Are you a fan of tapas?
What other delicious Spanish dishes would you add to the list?