Before I continue cooking, I wanted to highlighted my recent trip to Spain through its cuisine. I know how much time I spent searching the internet for where to eat in Spain, so I thought I would share my experiences with others. The restaurants listed below were some of the ones we really enjoyed. For some, we followed the advice from locals and many online reviews, but for others, as tourists, location and atmosphere was important to us as well. Sometimes it was nice just being right in the middle of a busy public square. So just keep in mind that there is a bit of a tourist’s twist to some of these locations. I can’t claim that these are the absolute best places to eat in Spain, but these are some of the better places that we visited during our limited time in Spain.
Tapas restaurants and bars are very common in Madrid and it is one of the cities in Spain where many restaurants serve tapas with each ordered drink. Mercado de la Reina is just one of the few that we visited. It is also conveniently located just off the Gran Via, which is one of the main streets in Madrid. I enjoyed my huge plate of Padron peppers at this restaurant, among other tapas. Service was incredibly quick, where dishes would come out almost immediately after being ordered.
We also could not leave Mardid without visiting St Gines for their churros. We actually stopped here more than once during our couple nights in Madrid. Don’t forget to try the Porras as well as the churros.
Other places to try in Madrid are the Markets (actually this is probably true for many of the cities in Spain) as many of the vendors also sell prepared foods. San Miguel Market is great as you can order tapas, cured meats, and cheeses from a number of vendors. If you are in Mardrid on a Sunday, you could also try the El Rasto market, which also expands to a huge and extremely crowded flea market in the adjacent streets.
In Granada, we also visited a few tapas restaurants. One locally recommended was Bar Los Diamantes. The best way that I can describe this restaurant ‘organized chaos’. The restaurant seemed to always be packed, regardless of the time of day. Their menu is very simple, mostly centered around seafood. We got used to just standing at the bar and having a few tapas before making our way.
Another good restaurant is Rosario Varela. This restaurant is a bit more focused on plating and they had a wide variety of ‘rations’ (portions) that you can share between a couple people. There is no tapas menu at this restaurant but they did serve them with an ordered drink.
Ronda is a beautiful city, centered around a set of bridges crossing a tall gorge. It is a combination of breathtaking scenery and culture, dotted with modern additions of shops and restaurants to satisfy the many tourists.
We ate at Bodega San Francisco, which is a popular local restaurant. There is not much of a focus on ‘plating’ but we tried quite a few tapas which were all really good. It is also in a great location, situated in a tree-lined plaza right in front of the city’s historical gates.
We also satisfied another craving for churros at Churreria Alba. We followed the many positive reviews for this restaurant and they were right. I was interested in the different style of churros, similar to the Porras in Madrid, which did not have any ridges like those that are typically seen at many restaurants.
In Seville we had a chance to sample some of the more authentic Andalusian cuisine. One of the taps restaurants we tried is called Antiguedades. It was the first place I tried Salmarejo, and I have been sold every since. It also had a long list of tapas, and is actually on a street full of similar restaurants with small two-person style tables lining the street.
Another place we ate at was Bodega Dos de Mayo. It had another long menu with many Andalusian options. It is also located in a huge plaza with a large outdoor patio.
Valencia was all about the Paella. Since Paella is said to have been developed in Valencia this was actually the only dish that I wanted to eat during our two nights in the city. We tried the traditional Valencia Paella, with rabbit and chicken, at a couple restaurants that had great reviews. First we visited Navarro, which is great. I was amazed at their ability to service a two story restaurant from a tiny kitchen. They also served the best tasting sangria I have had on the trip.
We also tried another traditional Valencia Paella by the beach at La Pepica and it was equally as good. We also had a pitcher of Agua de Valencia here, which is essentially a base of Cava and orange juice, mixed with other spirits. I can’t say we didn’t enjoy it but if I had to choose between this and a sangria, I would choose a Sangria.
The last city we visited was Barcelona, which was the perfect way to end the trip. I cannot say enough great things about this city. The history and culture, the beach, and the nightlife just make a great combination.
One of the restaurants that really stood out for us was Cerveseria Catalana. We followed the online reviews and it was also recommended to us locally. We got there at 8pm for dinner, which is fairly early in Spain, and it was still an hour and a half wait. When we left around 11pm it did not look like the line to get in had slowed down at all. As the name suggests, there is a wide selection of locally inspired cuisine, both as tapas and larger portions.
Another restaurant that we really enjoyed was actually an impulse decision. We were walking down the La Rambla, like all other tourists, and ended up in ‘Placa Reial’ (Plaza Real). We had dinner at a trendy restaurant called Ocana Cafe. It was actually nice to be sitting on the restaurants patio in the middle of a bustling square. The best way that I can describe the menu was local cuisine infused with modern touches. Their website also speaks of Asian and North African touches. I saw a burger on the menu so I thought ‘why not?’. It was mixed with Iberian Sobrassada (cured sausage) which worked really well. I also tried their green gazpacho, which was also really good.
For those with a sweet tooth, I would recommend two places. The first is Granja M. Viader where we had the famous Crema Catalana. Its similar to a Creme Brulee but made with milk and thickened with cornstarch.
The second place was Chok. They sold some of the highest quality donuts I have ever tasted.
So there you have it. Some of our favorite restaurants and cafes while visiting Spain. I am not sure if this list will help or if it will further add to the confusion from all the different options found on the internet. But I hope you get to sample some of these places if you are ever in Spain.