15 of the Best Spanish Food Experiences

Crispy croquetas filled with gooey béchamel sauce; succulent squid, charred and glistening under a coat of olive oil; a slice of light brown tortilla, stuffed with perfectly cooked potato. Spanish cuisine is mouthwatering wherever you eat it, but it’s at its best in context and on location.

The flavors and traditions of the country come alive as you hop from tapas bar to tapas bar in Granada, sit with new friends in a Galician house that doubles as a restaurant, or drink something dry and tasty in the sun: cider in the Basque Country , sparkling wine in Catalonia.

These are Spain’s essential culinary experiences, and while you’re there you can learn the tricks of the trade to continue the feast – and the feast – at home.

1. Go on a tapas crawl in Granada

Read more: Where to go on a tapas crawl in Granada

ADVERTISEMENT

Tapas has become synonymous with Spain as a whole, but few places do it better than the Andalusian city of Granada, where every drink – be it vermouth or a tinto de verano – comes with complimentary nibbles. The best way to experience Granada’s tapas scene is to hop from one bar to another along Plaza Nueva and Plaza Bib-Rambla. Try Bodegas Castañeda for broad beans with smoked ham or croquetas with blue cheese served at the bar or in wooden barrels, and seafood restaurant Cunini for steamed mussels and fried anchovies – all for the price of your drink.

2. Eat out in Galicia’s unofficial restaurants

Just three months a year, winemakers in Galicia’s coastal Rías Baixas area open their homes as pop-up restaurants. Known as furanchos or loureiros, these date back to when medieval winemakers sold surplus wine after the harvest, and today families adapt their garages and anterooms to make homemade albariño wine and plates of padron peppers, flambé chorizo ​​and empanadas filled with scallops. Part of the fun is finding the furanchos – a laurel branch hanging from the door is the only thing that sets them apart from any other country house.

3. Enjoy Edible Art in Madrid

Making a reservation at Madrid’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant, run by none other than David Muñoz, is a golden ticket to one of Spain’s most exciting dining experiences. Inspired by Spanish, Chinese and Japanese flavors, DiverXO’s avant-garde tasting menus – served on large white porcelain cloths – are presented as edible works of art. Roasted duck hearts are splashed with tabasco and tomatillo ketchup like an abstract painting, and miso asparagus and naan “orbs” come with smoking dry ice towers. Muñoz’s love for the avant-garde doesn’t stop at the food: flying pigs hang from the ceiling and an all-white, brightly lit decor feels like stepping into a science fiction movie.

4. Hunting for truffles in Aragon

In Aragon, a landlocked region in the mountainous northwest of Spain, 80 tons of truffles are harvested each year, making it one of the largest truffle-producing regions in the world. Throughout the region, but especially in the provinces of Teruel and Zaragoza, from about November/December to March you can join truffle farmers and their dogs, whose keen sense of smell helps to spot the prized fungus that is ripe and ready to grow ate. You can book truffle hunting experiences through the Aragon tourist office or a multi-day truffle-themed trip through companies like Gourmet & Chic and The Spanish Touch. Most truffle hunting experiences end with a tasting and truffle-centered menu at one of the region’s Michelin-starred restaurants, such as La Prensa and Restaurante Cancook.

5. Try ‘gastroarcheology’ in Cordoba

During the Muslim rule of Spain, Cordoba was one of the most ethnically diverse settlements in the country, a city where Muslims, Jews and Christians coexisted. But after the Christian conquest of Spain, much of Al-Andalus culture, including its cuisine, was forgotten. Through the painstaking study of ancient manuscripts and cookbooks, Chef Paco Morales revives the recipes of Al-Andalus at his two-Michelin-starred restaurant Noor, where ingredients such as wild coriander, dates and almonds take you on a sensory journey through Islamic Spain. Morales is also inspired by the architecture of Al-Andalus and often incorporates decorative motifs found on the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba and other Islamic buildings in the city.

6. Join the Tuna Fishermen in Cadiz

Each spring, schools of bluefin tuna weighing up to 250kg migrate from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, making it an excellent fishing season on the Andalusian coast near Cadiz. Fishermen here still use a breathtaking technique that dates back to the time of the Phoenicians, the almadraba, in which a more than a kilometer long net is cast along the migratory route and, once filled with tuna, pulled to the surface for fishermen to dive in. and finish the catch. And it’s one of the more sustainable fishing methods, too: the nets won’t harm dolphins or whales, and the process generates a minimal amount of biological waste or discarded bycatch. Companies including Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen [anniebspain.com] and Epicurean Ways take you out with the fishermen to see the spectacle up close, for a tuna cooking lesson and a tasting of mojama (salted tuna loin).

7. Participate in a Basque cider ritual

Cider has been produced in the Basque region of northern Spain for over 1000 years. Despite a crash in the 18th century, there are still 80 cider houses, or sagardotegi, and more than 500 varieties of apples still grow here. Astigarraga, a town on the outskirts of San Sebastian where cider is cheaper than water, is famous for its txotx rituals, which involve tapping huge cider barrels surrounded by a crowd of thirsty gamblers. These drinking rituals, which often drain hundreds of gallons in one go, come with chistorra (paprika-seasoned pork sausage), T-bone steak, and salted cod tortilla to soak up the alcohol.

8. Bike Jaen’s Olive Oil Greenway

Introduced by the Phoenicians and Greeks, olive oil production has shaped the Andalusian city of Jaen for millennia. One way to explore the groves is via the Olive Oil Greenway, a 130-kilometer cycling and walking path along a deserted 19ecentury railway that once transported olive oil from Jaen to Malaga. In addition, many of Jaen’s almazaras (olive oil mills) offer guided tours and tastings where you can learn about the different olive varieties in the region (picual and lucio are the most popular) and enjoy a traditional farmer’s breakfast of olive oil bread with cheese. During the harvest season (October to early January) you can collect and process the olives together with the farmers.

9. Drink wine underground in Aranda del Duero

Read more: Discover the Spanish City of a Hidden World of Underground Wineries

Beneath the streets of Aranda del Duero, the capital of the Ribera del Duero wine region in Castile and León, lies a five-mile network of hundreds of interconnected bodegas. Many of these historic wineries were built in the Middle Ages and remain closed to the public, but a new generation of winemakers is starting to open them up for underground tastings. At Bodega Don Carlos — a 15th-century wine cellar 45 feet below the main road from Aranda del Duero — tempranillo and albillo wine tastings are served with morcilla de Burgos (black pudding), roasted red peppers, and mollejitas de lechazo, weanling lamb stomach covered in breadcrumbs and deep -fried.