What to eat (and drink) in Spain:
In the Restaurants section we indicate our favourite dishes in each recommended restaurant. In any event, here are some typical dishes that you shouldn't leave Spain without trying first:
IN CATALONIA (BARCELONA):
- Pa amb tomaquet: bread with tomato
- Patatas Bravas: fried potatoes cut in squares with a mayonnaise and tomato sauce. Slightly spicy.
- Paella: rice with fish and seafood (though it sometimes comes with meat and vegetables)
- Fideuá: same as paella but with fideos, or thin noodles, instead of rice. Eaten with all-i-oli (garlic mayonnaise).
- Cocido madrileño: Chickpea-based stew with meat and vegetables cooked in a delicious broth.
- "Callos (tripe) a la madrileña": Pieces of stewed cow or sheep tripe served hot in clay saucepan with slices of chorizo, blood sausage and ham. They are somewhat jellylike, and so not to everyone's taste.
- "Huevos rotos" or "estrellados": fried eggs with French fries, accompanied sometimes by strips of ham.
- Calamari sandwich: a Madrid classic.
- Croquettes: Typical everywhere in Spain, but in Madrid they are especially good and innovative (bechamel sauce mixed with a ham or codfish ingredient, breaded and fried).
- "Porras": Fried dough similar to churros but thicker and longer. Typically eaten for breakfast, with coffee or hot chocolate.
IN ANDALUSIA (SEVILLE, GRANADA...):
- Gazpacho: cold tomato-based raw vegetable soup.
- Salmorejo: a thicker version of gazpacho from Córdoba.
- Fried seafood: calamares, anchovies, small cuttlefish...
- Cazón en adobo (marinated dogfish): fried fish cubes marinated in a delicious sauce.
- Rabo de toro (bull's tail): meat stew made with this part of the bull.
- Pisto: kind of a ratatouille.
IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY (SAN SEBASTIAN, BILBAO...):
- Charcoal grilled meat (beef or veal chop) and charcoal grilled fish (monkfish, turbot, hake...)
- Baked "txangurro" (spider crab).
- Alubias (beans) de Tolosa
- And of course, "pintxos"! (In the Smart Route we indicate the speciality of each bar).
IN GALICIA (SANTIAGO):
- Octopus (pulpo): without a doubt the star dish in Galicia.
- Any kind of shellfish: goose barnacles (percebes), lobster (langosta), scallops (vieiras)...
- Molluscs: mussels (mejillones), cockles(berberechos), clams (almejas)...
- Galician beef, famous throughout the country. The charcoal grilled veal chop (chuleton de ternera) is highly recommended.
- "Caldo gallego" (Galician-style soup).
- Tetilla cheese.
- "Pimientos de Padrón": green peppers (careful: some are spicy and some are not!).
- Baked ham (jamon asado).
Y DE BEBER:
- Red wine: The most famous are without a doubt the reds from la Rioja. Always order crianzas (aged wines) from such wineries as Azpilicueta, Ramón Bilbao or Cune, as these are sure things. Lately, red wines from Ribera del Ruedo have been gaining in popularity due to their freshness and high quality (Pago de Capellasnes, Protos y Prios are very good wineries).
- White wine: The most famous whites are from Penedés. Popular brands are: Viña Esmeralda (dry and fruity) and Viña Sol (dry). Both are very good value-for-money wines. If you're in Galicia or in a Galician restaurant, try their famous Albariños (e.g., Martin Codax) or Ribeiros (e.g., Viña Costeira). If these aren't available, the house wine will always be good!
- Beer: While some beers can be found anywhere in the country, each region has its own local brand. In Barcelona, Estrella Damm and Moritz are popular, in Madrid Mahou, in Seville Cruzcampo, and in Granada Alhambra.
- Sangría: The low-cost drink par excellence for Spaniards, very typical at barbecues and family gatherings. It's a mix of young wine, other liquors, soda water and fruit. In Andalusia there is a fast version, called "tinto de verano" (summer red), which is red wine mixed with soda water or lemon soda.