On your way to Spain? Impress your foodie friends and family members by eating your way through our list of the top 10 Spanish dishes! There’s no better way to understand the culture than by eating what the locals eat. ¡Buen provecho!
1) Cured meats: jamón serrano, jamón ibérico & chorizo
Sliced into paper-thin ribbons, jamón serrano tastes similar to Italian prosciutto (another cured ham). It’s salty, rich-tasting, and absolutely incredible. You can eat jamón serrano on its own or in a bocadillo (sandwich). Level up and try jamón ibérico—these pigs have fed exclusively on acorns, giving the meat a richer flavor. Chorizo is a spicy sausage that is also commonly served everywhere. And when you’re ready, all of these delicious meats also pair great with…
2) Manchego cheese
Do try this typical Spanish cheese from the La Mancha region, made with sheep’s milk. Queso manchego is a mild-tasting variety, with a slight aftertaste. You’ll often find it paired with jamón in a sandwich, or served plain in slices. Another typical accompaniment to manchego cheese is membrillo, or quince paste. The sweetness of membrillo rounds out the salty, creamy taste of the cheese perfectly.
This famous rice dish in a pan is a specialty of the city of Valencia. Paella features saffron-scented rice cooked along with seafood or various kinds of meat. You can also find vegetarian versions at most restaurants.
There’s an incredible variety of olives in Spain, and whether they’re plain, stuffed or on skewers with cheese or vegetables, you’ll find them served everywhere. Did you actually know that Spain produces 44% of the world’s olive oil? And it comes in many flavors, so grab a few bottles to take home as souvenirs from your trip!
5) Chocolate and churros
Deep-fried dough sticks and gooey, warm chocolate for dessert? Yes please! Our favorite place to chow down on churros is in Madrid at the Chocolatería San Ginés, which is open 24 hours to suit all cravings. Trust us, chocolate and churros taste best with a big group of friends.
6) Patatas Bravas
Let’s face it: people all over the world love fried potatoes, and this dish fails to disappoint. Deep-fried potato chunks covered in a piquant tomato sauce and aioli? Just say yes! Upgrade your plate size to a media ración (half portion) or a full ración so you can dig in and share with your friends.
A typical Spanish refreshment, horchata tastes similar to almond or soy milk, but in this case, it’s made from the chufa (tiger nut), which is packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s served chilled and sweetened—perfect on a hot day. You’ll find it at most places around the country. Some horchaterías specialize only in this drink, so ask a local and they’ll be sure to tell you where to find the best glass!
8) Spanish omelette, a.k.a. tortilla española
As a delicious snack that isn’t just for breakfast in Spain, tortilla española (or simply called tortilla) refers to a tasty, savory potato-and-egg omelet. Eating one is like cutting into a dense, eggy, potato-y slice of goodness. It’s often accentuated with onions or red and green peppers.
When temperatures are sizzling, reach for a bowl of gazpacho (a chilled tomato soup) to cool you down. This refreshing soup is flavored with garlic, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, olive oil, salt and a bit of vinegar. Some bread is also added to the soup to thicken it. If you’re in the south of Spain, you’ll find a similar, but even thicker puree, called salmorejo—it’s just as good.
Bet you didn’t know that Madrid is home to the world’s second-largest fish market, second only to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market. Seafood in Spain is fresh and plentiful, so if you have a chance to try some—whether it’s fried, fresh or steamed–then do it! Some typical dishes include pulpo (octopus), boquerones (anchovies in vinaigrette) and calamares (fried squid rings).
Have you tried any of these foods? What other foodie recommendations do you have?