When most people think of Spain, they think of football, architecture, history, and beaches. However, a little known fun fact is that Spain is a mecca for foodies! Spain’s history, multicultural people, and traditions have contributed towards a rich and unique food culture that has people from all over the globe flocking to this gorgeous country. Since Spain is so diverse, so is its food culture.
Northern Spain is known for its seafood, Central for hearty stews and roast meats, East for authentic rice dishes like paella, and much more. As you travel across Spain on your food journey, you should sample the foods from each location and mix them up with the local cuisines depending on where you stay.
For foodies, journeying across Spain is easy since public transportation is great, and there are also several excellent places to stay. When in Northern Spain, you should find apartments in Bilbao and walk up to Ribera market, the central food hub! Stay Líbere has two locations in Bilbao, one of which is within walking distance from the famous Guggenheim museum. The other is in Old Town, best known for its colourful houses, busy streets, and pintxos (tapas). As long as your stay is comfortable and you have flexibility in dates, your food trip will be fantastic.
Let us look at the best places in Spain for foodies.
Barcelona has local bodegas (that serve delicious ham, cheese, and wine from the barrel), Michelin star restaurants, and tapas bar stalls. You should head straight to the famous local La Boqueria market, pick from the astonishing variety of fresh foods, and have it cooked instantly.
Barcelona is also the best place to sample Catalan cuisine. Since Spain gets a lot of seasonal produce, Catalonians are known to prefer eating according to the weather. Summertime for the locals usually means kicking off their shoes and relaxing at the beachside with some good quality seafood. At the same time, February and March are generally the best time for calçots (green onion-style food served with romesco).
Best known for: Escalivada (salad of onions, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and artichokes)
Valencia is popularly known as the birthplace of paella. Most foodies add Valencia to their gastronomic bucket lists to try the authentic rice dish in all its original glory. Valencian paella is traditionally made of white and green beans, snails, meat (rabbit or chicken), and saffron (which imparts a beautiful golden hue to the rice).
Apart from paellas, you also get fabulous, fresh seafood, vegetables, and meat in the local markets. You should try the Arros Negre (a dish similar to paella) made from squid or cuttlefish with squid ink to make the rice black! Mercado Central is known for the Valencian special drink, Agua de Valencia (a well-blended alcoholic beverage of vodka, gin, orange juice, and cava).
Best known for: Authentic chicken or rabbit paella
Madrid is the foodie hotspot of Spain with its multicuisine, international culture. If you’re stopping by in Spain and have only a day to try out some great food, you should make sure your spot is Madrid. Head to the Mercado Antón Martín for fresh produce and then take a picnic at the Retiro Park. If you want to try something unique, you should opt for callos (tripe) or Madrid-style snails – Caracoles a la Madrileña.
Madrid doesn’t only have local and street food, but it also has a Michelin starred Mexican restaurant known for its fabulous South American cuisine. Although the city is in the centre of the country, it is still known for its incredible seafood and is home to the second-largest fish market in the world after Tokyo.
Best known for: Bocadillo de Calamares (fried squid sandwich), Chocolate Con Churros, and Cocido Madrileño (Madrid pork stew)
Granada is steeped in a rich history and was ruled by the Moors till 1492, giving it a multicultural infusion of food traditions that are still prevalent. With its narrow streets overflowing with restaurants, the streets of Albayzin are known for their delicious tea stalls, Arab sweets, spiced tagines, and Moor-influenced tapas.
Another great thing about Granada is that if you order tapas, you will receive a plate of something to munch on – utterly free of cost! You should try the Jamón de Trevelez – the local jam, Migas (a breadcrumb dish with sausages and fried eggs), and other seafood dishes.
Best known for: Traditional Plato Alpujarreño (potatoes, chorizo, fried eggs, sausages (morcilla), ham, and sweet peppers