The Best Traditional Vegetarian Dishes in Spain

Don't eat meat? Try these classic Spanish meals

"I guess I'll probably have to order salad". Is that what you say as you enter a restaurant in Spain? In that case, you're probably one of these people called a vegetarian.​ ​The Spanish famously don't understand "vegetarian".

But you can get vegetarian food in Spain. The dishes below are the most popular truly vegetarian dishes in Spain. Why only nine? I first included croquetas, but then it occured to me that it is actually rare that they don't include flecks of ham. What do you think should replace it? Scroll to the bottom of the page and add your own favorite vegetarian dishes in Spain.

See also:

  • 01 of 09

    Gazpacho

    gazpacho vegetarian food in spain
    ••• Gazpacho, a popular vegetarian dish in Spain. Image: Anna Libera (Some Rights Reserved)

    Often described as a 'cold soup', but if that conjures up the imagine of a bowl of chowder that has been left out all day, think of it instead as a "liquid salad".

    Gazpacho consists of fresh tomatoes, fresh cucumber, fresh peppers, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt with optional onion for kick and bread to act as a thickener and nothing else. Just these ingredients and nothing from a tin, I don't care what American recipe websites tell you.

  • 02 of 09

    Patatas Bravas

    patatas bravas vegetarian food in spain
    ••• Patatas Bravas, another popular vegetarian dish in Spain. Image: Scaredy Kat (Some Rights Reserved)

    Patatas bravas is another popular Spanish vegetarian dish. Coarsely chopped potatoes covered with a spicy sauce are usually the order of the day, though I've seen potato wedges or halved new potatoes pass for bravas.

    Alas, unfortunately sometimes the sauce is replaced for any pink sauce, as many Spaniards can't handle even a touch of heat. If you'd like it spicy, the bar might have a bottle of tabasco gathering dust somewhere.

  • 03 of 09

    Tortilla de Patata

    ••• Tortilla de patatas, Spain's most ubiquitous dish, and vegetarian too!. Image: Lluisa Nuñez (Some Rights Reserved)

    If a tapas bar in Spain doesn't have a tortilla on the bar top, it's not really a tapas bar. Are you sure you're in Spain? Basically an omelette with potatoes and often onion, actually you can put almost anything in a tortilla. Zucchini is a popular addition.

    Warning On some occasions, this usually vegetarian dish may contain ham. A simple "tortilla de patatas" on the menu won't have ham, but if you're just pointing to a tortilla on the bar top and can't be sure, ask.

  • 04 of 09

    Berenjenas con Miel

    Berenjenas con Miel vegetarian food spain
    ••• Berenjenas con Miel, or eggplant (aubergine) with honey. Image: Mum Yum (Some Rights Reserved)

    Berenjenas con miel are slices or pieces of aubergine or eggplant, fried and covered in a dark, slightly bitter honey or molasses.

    Especially popular in Malaga.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Salmorejo

    salmorejo
    ••• Salmorejo, a common alternative to gazpacho. Image: Jlastras

    There is little difference between salmorejo and gazpacho. Salmorejo, occasionally referred to as "porra antequerana", is a thicker version of gazpacho, achieved by adding quite a lot of bread. This one does resemble a tin of tomato soup that has gone cold, but it tastes much better than that.

    Warning Salmorejo is usually garnished with ham and egg. Ask for it "sin jamon" if you are vegetarian or "sin jamon o huevo" if you are vegan.

  • 06 of 09

    Garbanzos con espinacas

    garbanzos and chickpeas vegetarian dish in spain
    ••• Image: Miss Meng. Image: Missmeng (Some Rights Reserved)

    Garbanzos or chickpeas, served with spinach. The proportions can vary widely: sometimes it is a spinach stew dotted with garbanzos, other times it is a plate of garbanzos decorated with spinach. Sometimes it is served as a soup.

     

  • 07 of 09

    Pimientos del Padron

    Pimientos del padron
    ••• Pimientos del Padron, a great little vegetarian side order. Image: Ricardo.Fdez

    "Algunos pican, otros no" (some are spicy, others are not"), invariably used to describe pimientos del padron, is such an iconic phrase that I've even seen it on t-shirts.

    Especially popular in Galicia and Galician restaurants throughout Spain, these little green peppers are cooked with olive oil and big chunks of salt.

  • 08 of 09

    Pan con tomate

    vegetarian pan con tomate
    ••• Pan con tomate, a simple but effective vegetarian dish from Spain. Image: Arquera (Some Rights Reserved)

    Tomato on toast. Yeah, I know, it doesn't sound like culinary genius, but it is pretty amazing. Traditionally a piece of garlic is scrubbed on some lightly toasted bread, after which half a tomato is rubbed over on it and then some olive oil is drizzled on top. Nowadays, many bars just put the whole lot in a blender and then spread the paste on top.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Paella vegetariana

    paellas
    ••• A variety of paellas, some of which may be vegetarian!. Image: Sanguitxujai

    Despite the myth that paella is a seafood dish, you can actually put anything you want on a paella. Most restaurants will do a vegetarian paella.

    See more on paella in Spain.