Traditional Food in Spain

Traditional Food in Spain

Whether you find yourself in the heart of Seville in a magical mosaic-tiled restaurant surrounded by wandering vines and twinkling lights, or relaxing with a cocktail in a blissful beach-front tapas bar in Barcelona, you will find that Spanish people take immense pride in their food. Days begin with breakfast, a mid-morning affair, followed by a leisurely lunch and dinner in the late evening, and there are plenty of opportunities for sweet treats and cured meats in between, so be prepared to spend the entire day feasting. Head off the beaten track to find the heartiest gourmet 'banquete', and prepare your tastebuds for a treat as you tick off some of the tastiest traditional food in Spain.




As the smallest meal of the day, breakfast is usually light and accompanied by a much-needed café con leche (milky, frothy coffee) at a local coffee haunt. Enjoy delicate pastries, traditionally cured meats and cheeses, or even biscuits and cakes oozing with sugary sweetness. If you find yourself in Mallorca, seek out the delicious traditional breakfast of ensaimadas, sweet flaky pastry generously dusted with icing sugar and wound into an elegant twirl.


Mid-Morning Snack


As breakfast is only a light bite, 11am sees many Spaniards tuck into tostadas con tomate (toast with fresh tomato) or a tasty slice of tortilla de patatas (think a delicious combination of potatoes and onions within an omelette) most commonly found in traditional culinary havens in Madrid and Northern Spain.




Lunch is the most important meal of the day across Spain and is often known as ‘La Comida’ or ‘The Meal’, emphasising the foodie feast that occurs at this time of day. Wallow in the spectrum of smells that waft from the kitchen and enjoy a leisurely banquette of hearty stews, fresh meat or seafood, accompanied by opulent offerings from the best Spanish vineyards. The most celebrated Spanish specialty, paella (a rice dish with vegetables and meat or seafood) originated in the charming coastal region of Andalucia and is often at the heart of long, lazy lunches across the country. An infamous shade of saffron, dotted with blush-pink gambas (prawns) and a rainbow of fresh local vegetables, paella is a lunch-must when hunting down traditional food in Spain. Round off lunch with a sweet vanilla custard flan, a light pastry or juicy fresh fruit, before retiring for a restful afternoon siesta.


Afternoon Snack


As another meal designed to tide you over, merienda provides the perfect opportunity for a break in the day to catch up with friends over coffee and nibbles. Devour el pan (fresh bread) topped with Spanish chorizo, ham or salami, or satisfy your sweet tooth with chocolate and pastries to keep you going until the next culinary delight.




Tapas, which originated in Andalucia, usually features on dinner menus across Spain. From small plates of gambas al ajillo (prawns in a garlic, chilli oil) and gazpacho (vegetable and tomato soup) to patatas bravas (grilled potatoes with spicy tomato sauce or alioli) and croquetas de Jamón (ham croquettes), there is a tapas dish for every diner. Don’t miss the chance to try boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar), a dish which is considered to be as authentic as traditional food in Spain gets.

After a long day and night of wining and dining, wander home in the early hours while nibbling on fresh churros from a local churreria, served hot with a sprinkling of sugar, accompanied by some sumptuous Spanish hot chocolate for a sneaky late night sugar rush. A fabulous day full of traditional food in Spain is a must for any culinary connoisseur.


Written by Immy Kelly