While in Spain, it might seem overwhelming to face a whole menu at restaurants. Most of the time there are too many options and it can be tricky, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. Here is a little guide for tapas. What a tapa is, what the best tapas in Spain are, and what to expect, all in one post.
Tapas are a huge part of Spanish culture. They are little dishes of some of the best of Spain’s cuisine. Tapas can be a small bite to have with your drink or something to look forward to when the weekend comes and you want to hang out with your friends.
First of all, a quick note: what people call tapas most of the time are raciones. The main difference is the amount of food. Raciones are bigger than tapas and you’ll always have to pay for them.
Spaniards view tapas as a small dish that comes with a drink, at no additional cost to you. Often you won’t have a say on what tapa you’ll get. Eat it or leave it, it’s up to you.
There are different options. In some restaurants, they’ll give you a tapa with your drink. In other places, you’ll have to order whatever you want and therefore pay for it. It all depends on the restaurants’ policy. Most restaurants in Spain have raciones, but not all of them give you a tapa with your drink.
Best 9 Tapas in Spain
A Spanish tortilla is different from a Mexican tortilla. This Spanish tapa is an omelet with potatoes. There are many different tortillas and there’s a big controversy about whether tortilla should have onion or not.
Apart from that, the flavor changes depending on how much it’s cooked. Personally, I like my tortilla with the yolk a little runny. Each restaurant makes them in a different way, so you’ll have to try them out and see what kind of tortilla you prefer.
2. Patatas Bravas
This is another tapa with potato as its main ingredient. The potatoes are fried and cut in chunks. They are called patatas bravas because of its spicy red sauce. There are other versions of this tapa like patatas alioli, which has a white, garlic sauce, for those of you that can’t handle spicy food.
This Spanish dish is typically from Valencia. However, many restaurants in Spain prepare their big Paellas and give a free tapa after you order a drink. Rice, peas, chicken and seafood are some of the ingredients in paellas.
Migas in Spanish means bread crumbs. It’s a dish that consists of bread crumbs fried in olive oil. They usually come with some green peppers and pork. In some places, they also add grapes or fried eggs. They go really well with some red wine. In my opinion, this is the best tapa in Spain.
This is one of the most distinctive Spanish pieces of charcuterie. It’s ham that was curated for about 2 years. Even though it might sound like a bad idea, the truth is that it tastes great and it’s kind of addicting. Once I start, I find it difficult to stay away.
6. Manchego Cheese
This is probably the most famous cheese in Spain. It’s called Manchego because it comes from the region of Castilla-la Mancha. Manchego is a cheese that has a strong flavor and combines well with red wine.
Croquetas are fried and made from a variety of products. The most traditional type of croquetas are made of ham but there are many more made of mushrooms, shrimp, cod and cheese.
Generally, they’ll have more than one kind at restaurants, so try a few until you find your favorite croqueta.
8. Huevos Rotos
In my opinion, this is one of the best tapas to order in Spain. The recipe is simple and you can’t go wrong. It consists of fried potatoes, eggs and ham in a pan. The yolk is broken up and runs over the other ingredients. Ask for some bread and enjoy one of the most delicious tapas you can have in Spain. There are other popular versions without ham or substituting ham with other ingredients like baby eels.
9. Gambas al Ajillo
This tapa will come to your table piping hot, with fresh shrimp cooked in sizzling olive oil and some garlic. Sometimes they add cayenne pepper that gives this Spanish tapa a nice spicy taste.
Extra: there are some regions in Spain that are known for a specific tapa. For example, if you go to Galicia, you might want to try puplo a feira. If you are in southern Spain you should try pescaito frito, espetos if you are in Malaga, and tortillitas de camarones if you are in Cádiz.
I hope you found this article useful. Let me know what your favorite tapas are in the comments.