Top 10 Spanish Dishes to Try While In Spain

01 of 11

Cochinillo Asado (Roast Suckling Pig)

Roasted Pork On Cutting Board
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Cochinillo Asado is roast baby pig. Its fatty outside is crisp and perfect for those who like pork rind, while its meat is tender and juicy.

Where to Try Cochinillo Asado

Segovia is famous for Cochinillo Asado.

Alternatively, El Botin restaurant in Madrid is a popular place to try the dish. El Botin is the world's oldest restaurant, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway, and it features in my list of the 13 Best Madrid Restaurants That Won't Break the Bank.

There is also a great bar in nearby Salamanca (called 'Don Cochinillo', appropriately) on c/Van Dyck (on the western end, near the cinemas) where a glass of wine and a piece of excellent Cochinillo will set you back under 3€.

The nearest airports to Segovia and Salamanca are Madrid and Valladolid.

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02 of 11

Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician Octopus)

Boiled octopus or the Galician dish 'pulpo a la gallega'
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Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician octopus) is Galicia's signature dish. The octopus is boiled and then garnished with paprika, rock salt, and olive oil. The flavor is subtle and inoffensive but the texture might put some people off.

Octopus actually has two textures - the inner muscle is slightly chewy, while the exterior (where the suckers are) is very slippery.

Pulpo a la Gallega is the same thing as Pulpo a la Feria (or Pulpo á Feira in Galician). The addition of potato is optional, though when potato and vegetables are added it is normally grilled on a hot plate and called pulpo a la plancha or pulpo a la parilla.

Though Galicia is most famous for the gallego version of the dish, this is actually the most popular way of eating it throughout Spain. The grilled version is harder to find, easier for octopus novices to try (less slimey) and, in my opinion, a lot nicer!

Read more about Galician Food.

See more about the Best of Spain, including Spain's best things to do, festivals to experience, cities and see and regions to visit.

Where to Try Pulpo a la Gallega:

In Galicia, either in a city like Santiago de Compostela or A Coruña or in one of the region's beautiful villages.

The nearest airports are in Santiago de Compostela and Oviedo.

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03 of 11

Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)

Spanish omelet
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Omelet with potato and (usually) onion. Sometimes it will have prawns, mushrooms or squid inside and it will occasionally be served with cheese on top.

Where to Try Tortilla Española:

Any bar in the country! A cafeteria in Spain that doesn't have a tortilla on the bar just doesn't feel right.

Tortilla is usually vegetarian and features in my list of the best Vegetarian Dishes in Spain.

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04 of 11

Jamon Iberico and Chorizo (Iberian Ham and Spicy Sausage)

Hand holds tray of thinly sliced Jamon Iberico ham
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Ham is Spain's second religion (a little behind football but probably slightly ahead of Catholicism); it is cherished as much as champagne is in France. The process for curing Iberian ham is a lengthy process that takes a couple of years. There are various grades of quality, the best being 'pata negra' (black hoof) or 'de bellota', which is made from pigs that are reared on acorns.

Jamon Tasting in Madrid

The picture above was taken on the Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour from Madrid Food Tour. Join their excellent tour to learn about the various types of Spanish ham as well as Madrid specialties such as Cocido Madrileño and Bocadillo de Calamares.

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05 of 11

Gambas Ajillo (Garlic Prawns)

Gambas al ajillo (prawns with garlic)
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Delicious large prawns, cooked in olive oil with garlic and spicy chili flakes.

See more about the Best of Spain, including Spain's best things to do, festivals to experience, cities and see and regions to visit.

Recipe: ​

Recipe for Gambas Ajillo

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Where to Try it:

Originally a Catalan dish but enjoyed throughout the country. Common in Madrid.

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06 of 11

Paella (Spanish Rice Dish)

View at Paella in a pan, Meson Torre de Guzman, Conil de la Frontera, Cadiz Andalusia, Spain, Andalusia, Spain, Europe
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It had to turn up in this list somewhere, didn't it?! Paella is synonymous with Spanish cuisine. Read more about Paella in Spain.

See more about the Best of Spain, including Spain's best things to do, festivals to experience, cities and see and regions to visit.

Paella can be served as a vegetarian dish and features in my list of top Vegetarian Dishes in Spain.

Where to Try Paella

In Valencia, particularly in the village of El Palmar, where it is said that paella was invented. You can also learn to make it on a Spanish Cookery Course in Barcelona (book direct).

Paella is the 'sight' I chose for Valencia in my article Spain's Must-See Sights - City by City.

Valencia has its own airport, though there is also an airport in nearby Alicante.

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07 of 11

Pescado Frito (Fried Fish)

San Miguel market
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Though it is a stereotypically British dish, fried fish is done best in Andalusia, or Cadiz to be precise. In Cadiz, they serve a number of different types of fish, not just the cod and plaice you get in the UK. It is also very cheap - I asked for one of each type of fish you see in this picture and I paid just 5€!

See more about the Best of Spain, including Spain's best things to do, festivals to experience, cities and see and regions to visit.

Where to Try Pescado Frito 

In Cadiz, in particular in the Las Flores Freideria in Plaza Topete/Plaza de los Flores. In fact, I chose this place as Cadiz's 'sight' in my Spain's Must-See Sights - City by City. It's also very common in Malaga and Granada.

You can visit Cadiz along with nearby Jerez as a convenient day trip from Seville: Cadiz and Jerez Day Trip.

The nearest airport to Cadiz is in Jerez. Seville and Malaga also have airports.

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08 of 11

Gazpacho (Cold Tomato Soup or Liquid Salad)

Spanish Gazpacho, Spain
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Often described as a cold soup, I prefer to call it a 'liquid salad'. Tomato based, with cucumber, green pepper, garlic, olive oil and salt. Delicious in the summer.

Gazpacho is of course vegetarian and features in my list of the best Vegetarian Dishes in Spain.

Where to Try Gazpacho: 

Anywhere in Andalusia

  • More about Seville
  • Book a Guided Tour of Andalusia that takes in the region's best cities (Granada, Cordoba and Seville) in four days.

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09 of 11

Queso Manchego (Spanish Sheep Cheese)

Manchego Cheese
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A hard cheese from the Castilla-La Mancha region. Made from sheep milk, it is slightly salty and often served with jamon ibérico (see previous page).

Where to Try Queso Manchego

Anywhere in Spain, though it is made in Castilla-La Mancha.

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10 of 11

Patatas Bravas (Fried Potatoes in Spicy Sauce)

Patatas bravas
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About as spicy as Spanish food can get (though some really wimpy places serve you thousand island dressing with paprika and try to pass it off as 'spicy'!). Chopped potatoes are fried and covered in a spicy tomato sauce.

Patatas Bravas is also sometimes served with aioli garlic sauce.

Where to Try it:

Anywhere in Spain. There is a tapas bar with several outlets called 'Las Bravas' just south of Sol in Madrid where they have a nice patented bravas sauce.

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Continue to 11 of 11 below.
11 of 11


Chorizo and a picture of the Holy Mary
NATALIA JAYNE Villena/Creative Commons

Chorizo is a spicy sausage, either sliced thinly and served cold in a bread roll or cut into chunks and cooked in wine (al vino) or cider (a la sidra). Sometimes you will be served mini chorizos, called 'choricitos', which is similar to chistorra.

Where to Try Chorizo

Chorizo is available all over Spain, though to get it cooked in cider, you'll want to look out for it in Asturias.

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