Ridiculously Amazing Foods You Have to Try in Spain

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Bucket List Worthy   Flight Network Foodie  

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Sweet, spicy and everywhere in between — Spanish cuisine packs a punch whether you’re sipping soup, tasting tapas or indulging in dessert. And it doesn’t matter where you are in the country, from the ports of Andalusia to the coast of Catalonia, you’re bound to be amazed by the flavors in each of these 10 uniquely Spanish dishes.

Gazpacho — Andalusia

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When it’s summertime in Spain, there’s no lunch more suiting than Gazpacho Andaluz. This classic Andalusian tomato-based soup is served cold and typically includes ingredients like cucumber, onion, garlic, wine vinegar, stale bread, olive oil, salt and pepper, but different regions offer varying takes on what makes the perfect gazpacho.

Where to taste it: Attend the annual Gazpacho Festival, held each August in Alfarnatejo, to taste this iconic dish while you admire live flamenco dancing shows.

Pimientos de Padron — Galicia

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You don’t have to be in Galicia to taste Pimientos de Padron, but it’s certainly where you’ll get the most authentic take on this healthy dish created in the Galician village of Padron. These small and flavorful green peppers are fried until tender and tossed in coarsely-ground sea salt to make a healthy and refreshing tapas dish.

Where to taste it:  An annual pepper festival has been held every August since 1978 to celebrate the vibrant Pimientos de Padron in the parish of Herbon. There’s no better place to taste the peppers, dance and take in the local Galician culture.

Patatas Bravas — Aragon or Catalonia

Photo credit: Victor Bayon
Photo credit: Victor Bayon

Patatas Bravas may not appear to be much more than potatoes with cheese on top, but the dish’s deep roots and deeper flavor make it one of Spain’s must-try tapas. The perfect balance of potatoes, frying oil and spicy tomato or creamy garlic sauce are what make this dish a Spanish favorite among college students and seasoned foodies alike.

Where to taste it: The cities of Zaragoza and Barcelona are known for their wide variety of bars and restaurants serving traditional bravas as well as their own varieties of this classic Spanish snack.

Pulpo a la Gallega — Galicia

Photo credit: Javier Lastras
Photo credit: Javier Lastras

Even more than Pimientos de Padron, Pulpo a la Gallega serves as the signature dish of the Galicia region. This classic Spanish fare (dating back roughly 125 years) features boiled Galician octopus carefully flavored with paprika, olive oil and rock salt. If you can’t find it on the menu, it may be under the name “Pulpo a la Feria.”

Where to taste it: You’ll be able to find Pulpo a la Gallega at numerous tapas bars, pulperias or upscale restaurants in the Galicia region, but if you have a chance, visit the annual Octopus Festival in O Carballiño.

Rabo de Toro — Andalusia

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Rabo de Toro is a Spanish meal that will leave your belly full and your taste buds asking for more. While the name literally means “tail of the bull” in Spanish, this hearty stew is now traditionally made with oxtail, tomatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and a variety of other spices that are cooked together slowly and carefully until they’re so tender, they melt in your mouth.

Where to taste it:  Taste one of the best Rabo de Toro dishes in Spain at the highly-regarded El Caballo Rojo restaurant in Cordoba.

Queso Manchego — Castilla–La Mancha

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No visit to Spain is complete without tasting plenty of Queso Manchego — the famous cheese of Don Quixote. This mildly salty and slightly nutty sheep’s milk cheese is so delicious that it has spread beyond the borders of Spain and around the world.

Where to taste it: While you can find Manchego cheese across the country and throughout the world, there’s nothing like tasting it in the region where it originated — La Mancha.

Crema Catalana — Catalonia

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Although Crema Catalana may seem like a copycat Creme Brulee, this Catalonian dessert maintains some tasty characteristics that separate it from its French counterpart. Unlike the warm, vanilla-flavored Creme Brulee, Crema Catalana is a cold custard infused with lemon and cinnamon flavors for a refreshing citrus taste.

Where to taste it: If you’re in Barcelona on a hot summer day, there’s no better treat to cool you down than a refreshing dish of Crema Catalana.

Arroz Negre — Valencia and Catalonia

Photo credit: Maurizio
Photo credit: Maurizio

You’ll probably try Paella when you travel to Spain, but there’s a savory rice dish that rivals its more popular cousin in flavor and tradition. Traditional Arroz Negre hails from Castellon, and the recipe includes a base of white rice with cuttlefish or squid, seafood broth, squid ink, sweet paprika, onion and olive oil. The dish is typically served with a side of allioli — a Catalan garlic sauce.

Where to taste it: When visiting the Catalonia or Valencia regions, opt for a unique and flavorful Arroz Negre dish over the much more common paella.

Tortilla Espanola — All Regions

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If you order the Tortilla Espanola without doing any research, you’ll probably end up with something much different than you imagined, and it’ll be much tastier too. This mouth-watering combination of potatoes, eggs, salt, onions and a variety of other ingredients (if desired) resembles a large, rounded omelet more than a taco shell.

Where to taste it: Tortilla Espanola is one of the most popular dishes in all of Spain, and it’s available at just about any bar in the country.

Pescado Frito — Andalusia

Photo credit: Xosé Castro Roig
Photo credit: Xosé Castro Roig

While fried fish is sold in bars and restaurants around the globe, the Andalusian city of Cadiz is quite possibly the home of the very best. Not only can you choose from over a dozen different types of freshly-caught fish, the prices are so low that you can try all of them at once for just a few dollars.

Where to taste it: Get your fried fish fix in Cadiz at Las Flores Freideria where you grab your fried fish to-go and enjoy it outside in the gorgeous Plaza Topete.

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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