Known for strong regional identity when it comes to cuisine, Spain boasts some iconic dishes, ingredients, and concepts. From the famous paella to hangover-curing churros, here is a guide to food in some of the most popular Spanish cities.
Like many capital cities, in Madrid, it is easy to find both international cuisines and national staples. While it may be cliché, a café con leche and churros at a plaza cafe or tapas and drinks in a stand-up bar are both parts of the Madrid experience. If you want a food experience that is truly specific to the capital, your options can range from Madrid-style sausage or snail dishes to the iconic bocadillo de calamares, a sandwich made with fried calamari.
The birthplace of paella, Valencian cuisine is heavily influenced by seafood such as mussels, shrimp, and fish. The beautiful city is also known for its wide array of rice dishes and its fresh citrus. A staple drink here is horchata, the Valencian version is made with dried and sweetened tigernuts, and often paired with fartons, a sweet bread made to dip in the drink.
One of the most popular cities in the Mediterranean, Barcelona is a perfect place to try Spanish classics and Catalan specifics. Croquetas, Spanish tortilla, and patatas bravas are some of the national snacks you can try in Barcelona. Or, go for the more traditional dishes such arròs negre, which is rice with squid ink, a multitude of bacallà (salted cod) dishes that are heavily consumed in the region or the hearty faves a la catalana a stew of beans, stock, and Catalan blood pudding.
The Andalusian city is known as one of the heights of tapas culture in Spain. Jamón iberico with olives and some sherry is just one example of a tapas bar experience. Andalusian gazpacho is a well-loved dish here as well as a seemingly endless choice of meat-based dishes from varying cultural backgrounds, a tourist favourite being stewed bull’s tail.
This coastal tourist town in Basque country has the highest concentration of Michelin star restaurants. The cuisine here is innovative and fresh, taking traditional Basque ingredients or dishes and creating new combinations is like a sport for the many restaurants and bars. The famous Pintxos that combine many ingredients into one bite-size snack is a testament to the creativity of food in San Sebastian and in the greater Basque country.
The historic Moorish influence in Granada is not only seen in the architecture but in the cuisine as well. Tea houses are popular here, serving dizzying varieties from across the North African and Middle Eastern region, along with Moorish pastries and often crepes or pancakes. The city is also famous for its free tapas, this is true for most bars in the city, buy a drink and you will be brought free.