Viva la España

Hola people! I have returned from Spain and I am ready to tell you all about my journey. For six weeks I lived, ate, and traveled throughout Spain. From exploring the ancient Arabic influence of southern Spain to immersing myself into the Basque culture of northern Spain, my trip was an eye-opening experience that I will never forget.

In this post, I will share my foodie experience with traditional Spanish dishes in chronological order of each city I visited. Before going into detail, I want to provide you 3. major important facts about Spanish cuisine. 1. Spain has a lot of pork. And I mean there is a Museo del Jamon on almost every major street. Anything that has a prefix of “Iberia” pretty much means that the dish has pork. Additionally, I do not eat pork. So most of their famous meat dishes will not be included in this post because they had pork or cured ham. Instead, I ate a lot of fish. I was not always a huge fish fan, but since I knew I was going to Spain and since I do not eat pork, I opened my tastebuds to various seafood dishes prior to my visit. Now, I have a love for seafood! 2. Spain is famous for Tapas. Sounds exciting right? Hold on to that thought. Traditional Spanish tapas are different from American tapas. At almost any restaurant in Spain, if you order any drink (water, coke, alcohol), then you will receive a free tapa. However, Spain has a lot of pork tapas, so I typically ate seafood or vegetarian tapas. More importantly, tapas vary. Free chicken and steak tapas were rare to come across. Your tapa might be a few potato chips on a plate with a slither of Manchego cheese atop a slice of bread, or you might get lucky and get some yummy patatas bravas. I’m not saying Spanish tapas are bad, just don’t expect to get a free hanger steak with your vino. More high end restaurants will charge for tapas, which will probably guarantee a larger portion and greater selection too. So if you’re looking for a tapas restaurant then be sure to do your research before going out so you can eat some really good food. Don’t just settle for some touristy restaurant that sells 24 Euro paella. 3. Spanish people love PATATAS (FRIES). At almost every restaurant, they sell french fries or patatas bravas. I mean these people love french fries. You could be at a four star restaurant and the menu will say “potatoes” and they will serve you french fries with your chicken. So if you are a french fry lover, then Spain will be your heaven. Moving on to my foodie adventures, my first stop was the infamous Madrid.

MADRID

 

While in the Spanish capital, my first specialty entree was paella. Spain is the origin of this savory dish and there are various types of it too. Some paella’s contain meat while the most popular type is seafood. Spanish paella is loaded with delicious shrimp, calamari, mussels, and shallots mixed with rice soaked in clam juice and a medley of other spices. I have to say that paella is 100% my favorite Spanish dish. I am not sure what the name of the restaurant was where I got this dish, but paella is all over Spain and is at almost every restaurant. I recommend asking the local where the best paella is around and you’ll find a great spot that’s reasonably priced.

Moving forward, there are a lot of authentic Italian restaurants in Spain, so if you are visiting Spain for a while and not Italy, then please take advantage of their pasta selection.  One particular pasta spot that I hit up while in Madrid was Oven. Oven had a variety of fresh pizzas and pastas to choose from and I chose the ravioli with shrimp. Where in the Atlanta will you find shrimp stuffed ravioli for under $15? If you find a place, then please comment below! This restaurant had fantastic prices with a hip and trendy vibe that gives customers a direct view of Gran Via.

Next up is my favorite burger joint that I spotted all over Spain called The Good Burger. On Memorial Day, my girls and I were in the mood for some juicy beef burgers. So we hit up The Good Burger for some ole’ fashioned hamburguesas. The burgers were so fresh and flavorful. They served crinkle fries on the side with a spicy queso on top too, which made them oh so perfecto! TGB sort of reminded me of BurgerFi because of the color scheme, the options of healthy or greasy burgers, and the crinkle fries! TGB is a great burger chain and its super cheap, so I highly recommend going there to satisfy your burger craving.

On my last day in Madrid I visited a spot right across from my hotel called TAKOS Al Pastor that was famous for its 1 Euro tacos! What a steal right? 1 Euro for one of those delectable tacos? Oh yeah! The tacos were authentic Mexican tacos, which totally satisfied my craving in Spain. From brisket to cactus tacos, TAKOS was where it was at! There was always a line out the door for this place, but there sure was a reason. After I got my grub on at TAKOS, I went to Celicioso for some gluten-free treats. I mean after three tacos and a Jarrito, who wouldn’t want a cupcake? This gluten-free bakery had some of the best cupcakes and coffee that I had in Spain. I got the raspberry mascarpone vanilla cupcake, and I am still craving this cupcake in Atlanta.

You’re probably wondering why I’m posting pasta, burgers, and tacos. I mean can’t you get them in America? Madrid is a city with a large variety of foods! Not every cuisine is strictly Spanish! They have burgers, fries, tacos, and everything that you can eat in America. I am posting these foods to share with you all that Spain has a variety of foods to choose from and you won’t feel so limited to tapas.

GRANADA

 

Oh Granada. Where do I even get started? I had some of my best memories here and they were not just from eating.

First place is El Delirio! El Delirio is an authentic Mexican restaurant that has a twist of Spanish culture. That’s right. TAPAS. With any drink you order, this restaurant gives you tapas on the side.  My friend and I ordered tacos and hues rancheros which were super tasty! The salsa was fresh and picante while the tacos were spicy and flavorful. Across the street from the tasty Mexican spot is my favorite tapas restaurant in Granada:Rosario Varela. This place has the best tapas and entrees! If you’re in Granada, then I highly recommend visiting this restaurant. I have to say that the Rosario Waldorf Salad was THE BEST salad that I have ever had at a restaurant before. It has tons of fresh nuts and fruit with a delicious dressing. Even the Hanger Steak was tender and juicy. It was one of the Spanish staples that I was most excited to eat.

Next up is Restaurante II Gondoliere aka the BEST BOUJIE ITALIAN RESTAURANT in Granada. I remember when I first walked into the restaurant. I got strange looks from everyone in the restaurant because I wearing sandals, a daytime jumpsuit, and my hair was thrown up in a bun. I had entered a four star restaurant, but my outfit was two stars. I mean there are velvet seats, chandeliers, and camareros in suits. If you’re not dressed up, then the waiters will seat you in the back. I must say though, the food was exceptional. All of the fish was fresh and you could taste the flavors of the tomato and olives infused into the savory sauce. Oh, and the prices? Amazing. This plate of pasta was about 12 euros. Unbeatable. In case you’re wondering, I made sure that the next time I came, I was dressed to impress and had a nice seat in the front of the restaurant.

On my way to school, I always passed by a cool spot called Hicuri Art Vegan restaurant. One day after class I decided to swing by the restaurant and it was the best decision that I made. The restaurant served traditional and non-traditional Spanish dishes with a vegan twist. I ordered the Tostada con tomate, aguacate, y queso (toast with tomato, avocado, and cheese) with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, which Spain was super popular for serving (almost every restaurant serves fresh OJ). Some omnivores might think “ew, vegan?,” but no, not ew! The food did not taste like cardboard. In fact, it was really good and was better than most tostada con tomate that I had in Granada. The queso tasted just like regular cheese from milk and the bread tasted like the average pan you could buy at the supermercado. To be honest, I wish I ate more often here because of the options of greens. Spanish salads are different from American salads. Theirs typically have iceberg lettuce, so if you’re in the mood for a salad full of fresh greens, then you really have to hunt for it.

A few other popular dishes in Granada are Tortilla Española (Spanish Tortilla) and Bacalao (Baked Cod). Tortilla Española is a Spanish potato omelette. It’s not just a popular tapa at restaurant, but also a dish that almost every Spanish mother has mastered. It might sound bland, a Spanish potato omelette? But it’s not! Spanish tortilla is layers of potatoes baked with egg, similar to a frittata but bigger. It also reminds me of baked macaroni cheese in a sense that it’s a delicious, starchy complement for a main entree. Bacalao on the other hand is mostly available at restaurants. It’s a savory fish and bell pepper dish that is similar to stuffed bell peppers. The fish stuffed bell peppers are smothered in a tomato sauce that brings out the sweetness of the bell pepper. These two Spanish dishes are a must have if you come to Granada.

For dessert, I always ate ice-cream. I’m an ice cream nut in the States so it’s only normal that I eat ice-cream abroad. I’m also not much of a pastry fan in the summers, and since Granada was so hot, I always went for ice cream to cool me down. One ice-cream shop in particular that I frequently ate at was Los Italianos. Los Italianos is one of the first Italian gelato shops in Granada and is also a popular destination for locals and tourists. This shop reminds me of Atlanta’s Cafe Intermezzo because it’s an old dessert shop that everyone has to visit. The service is always exceptional there and so is the ice cream. From cassatas to 1 euro bolas of gelato, Los Italianos is gelato that I crave endlessly.

Barcelona

 

I took a trip with a friend to Barcelona for Sonar Music Festival and explored the city and it’s food. Barcelona had a lot of popular chefs and various cuisines, so again I did not stick to eating only Spanish food. On our way to la playa Barceloneta, my friend and I checked out La Boqueria Mercat. This market is a popular tourist destination that has tons of fruit shops, bakeries, fish stands, juice shops, and restaurants. It’s located off of the famous street Las Ramblas, and everything is served at reasonable prices. I bought a sweet and fresh pressed juice for only 1.50 Euro. While walking through the streets near our Airbnb we stopped by a restaurant called La Cholita which served an infusion of Mexican-Spanish food. From a sweet potato ceviche to savory grilled octopus, I got the best of both worlds. This was my first time having ceviche and octopus and I was glad to have my experience at this particular restaurant. Another Spanish infused restaurant we tried was MANTURA. Now this restaurant was interesting. It was a one man show! Literally! There was one chef who prepared all of the delicious asian foods with a Spanish twist. We ordered pico de gallo as a starter and he added an asian twist of eggplant. It made the pico easy to eat and really held the vegetables together with a cool and refreshing taste. I ordered coconut curry over basmati rice and my friend ordered pad thai, and both dishes hit the spot. The coconut curry wasn’t too sweet or heavy, and had a nice consistency with a savory taste. The pad thai was gluten free and the noodles were made fresh! I will admit that Barcelona had some of the best food in Spain. There were tons of festivals going on while I was there. I even stopped by a food and wine festival and picked up some mussels. The mussels were steamed to perfection and for 3 euros I had a hefty portion.

Sevilla

 

Remember when I said that tapas are small and that Spanish people love patatas? Yeah, look above! Chicken always came with french fries and the tapas were small and simple!

Sevilla was an extraordinary city with beautiful people, architecture, and history. This city exposed me to some extra traditional Spanish and European eats. While in Sevilla, I realized that a traditional Spanish breakfast is really just bread, fruit, cheese, and some juice. A traditional Spanish mid-day snack is tostada con tomato (toast with tomato) and a typical appetizer is gazpacho. Another food that is popular in Spain is torta con queso (bread with cheese). The torta is crispy and is topped with goat cheese and dried rosemary and oregano. All of these dishes were very simple and lightly seasoned which made them so appetizing.
Overall, the food in Spain was great. There were a variety of tasty dishes to choose from. Whether you are in the mood for fish, chicken, steak or vegetarian options, Spain had various foods to accommodate your interests.

Thanks for reading today’s post! Please leave any questions or comments below!

Until next time,

-Asmaa 🙂

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