Spanish Food Guide


spanish food guide madrid spain tapas
Tapas, in of itself, isn't any particular kind of food but more of an assortment of little dishes on a plate.  They are such a huge part of the Spanish culture that there is actually a verb in the Spanish language "tapear" which means "to have some tapas".

You can get a plate of tapas in any restaurant and even in bars.  In fact, some bars will include a plate of these wondrous food items when you order a drink.

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Tapas 101


spanish food guide madrid spain paella
Paella is a traditional rice dish originating in Valencia. Transitionally the dish is a mixture of chicken or rabbit, beans and other vegetables.  The seafood variation is also extremely popular served with an assortment of fresh seafood including calamari, mussels, clams, prawns and fish.

The meal is usually served in a wide, shallow iron skillet meant to share among family or friends.

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Tortilla Española

spanish food guide madrid spain tortilla espanola
Tortilla Española or "Spanish Tortilla" is a great starter or meal for breakfast, lunch or diner.

Served as a slice of pie, it literally has three ingredients: eggs, potatoes and onions.  The potatoes and onions are slow fried in olive oil then mixed with beaten eggs.  A jazzed up version of the dish will also have some chorizo, ham or spinach added to it.


spanish food guide madrid spain gazpacho
Served chilled, this delicious and refreshing tomato soup is a staple in Spanish homes during the summer months.

It's made from blending fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions and cucumbers with garlic, olive oil and seasonings.  Depending on the region, it can also be served with croutons, chopped vegetables, ice cubes, and even ham.


spanish food guide madrid spain pisto
Pisto is a Spanish version of a ratatouille.  Sometimes served with a fried egg on top, this vegetarian dish is a mix of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, onions and tomatoes slow fried in olive oil with garlic.

The dish is usually served as a tapa, starter, or side dish.
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Empanada Gallega

spanish food guide madrid spain empanada gallega
Empanada Gallega or "mincemeat pie" is a savory pie stuffed with all sorts of sautéed goodness.

The name itself comes from the Spanish verb "empanar", which translates as "to wrap in bread".  The filling can range from minced pork and chorizo to tuna, sardines, peppers, as well as other seafood and vegetables.  The highlight of the dish, though, is the delicious slow cooked onion sauce which gives the dish a depth of flavor and touch of sweetness.

Travel Tip
Many restaurants in Spain offer an inexpensive Menu del Dia at lunchtime.
This three course meal includes a soup or salad, main course with a side dish and dessert for under €20.

Pulpo a la Gallega

spanish food guide madrid spain pulpo a la gallega
A staple dish in the Galica region, Pulpo is an octopus dish that has been macerated with paprika, crusty rock salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

You can find this dish in a tapas bar, a fancy restaurant, or a traditional pulperia (octopus restaurant) where they still serve it on wooden platters.

Fabada Asturiana

spanish food guide madrid spain fabada asturiana
Fabada Asturiana is a traditional hearty bean stew made from cooking beans slowly with a mixture of meats like chorizo, pancetta and black sausage.

Because of its' nutritional value, the dish is commonly served during the cold winter months, but it’s not unusual to find it on many restaurant menus all year round.

Travel Tip
As with most countries in Europe, tipping at restaurants in Spain is not expected.  Leave a 1 or 2 euro coin if you were happy with the experience.

Rabo de Toro

spanish food guide madrid spain rabo de toro
Even though Rabo de Toro translates to bull's tail stew it is mainly prepared with oxtail these days.

The slow cooking process and sophisticated mix of ingredients like carrots, garlic, onions, olives and tomatoes make this meat literally melt in your mouth.

Pollo Al Ajillo

spanish food guide madrid spain pollo al ajillo
This classic Spanish garlic chicken dish hails from the Andalusian region but is enjoyed throughout Spain.  As the name suggests, garlic is the main player in this recipe. It is combined with white wine to make the base for the sauce.

Like with most classic Spanish recipes, every family recipe has their own version using different seasonings.
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