26 January 2024


Tapas or pintxos (if you are in the Basque country) are at the heart of Spain’s acclaimed gastronomic scene. These bite-sized, delectable foods burst into flavour and scentful aromas that will immediately make your mouth water. Inalienable from Spanish culture, tapas are thought to date back to the 13th century, when King Alfonso X, recovering from an illness, was forced to eat small portions of food.

Since medieval times, these small snacks have reached all corners of the Kingdom, becoming an integral part of Spanish people’s day-to-day life. The unique experience of tapear is more than just about the food, it is also about the joy of sharing culture and history in a welcoming environment. As you weave your way through the different spirited markets of San Miguel in Madrid and La Boquería in Barcelona, your taste buds will tingle in anticipation of the myriad culinary delights on display.

Come along with us on a gastronomic journey to get to know the top 15 tapas you must try when visiting this memorable European country!

1. Tortilla Española

1. Tortilla Española

Simple ingredients make up one of Spain’s most well-known tapas, the tortilla Española. Unlike the South American flat version, that we know as “wrap”, the Spanish tortilla combines the perfect quartet – eggs, potatoes, onions and olive oil – and turns it into a luscious frittata. With each bite, you will experience the comforting flavours of Spanish culture and its history.

The origins of this delicacy are rooted in the Extremadura region, however, it soon expanded to all corners of the country due to economic cost. Potatoes and eggs were a staple food, accessible to most people. Today, you can enjoy it as a tapa, served in slices and held together with a toothpick to facilitate eating! 


2. Jamón de Extremadura

Jamon extremadura 2

Now onto visitors’ favorite delight – the Jamón Ibérico. Also known as Iberian ham, this product is as versatile as it is tasty! Unsurprisingly, it is part of the flavorful feast that is Spanish tapas.

Boasting different cuts and varieties, the Jamón de Extremadura presents itself as a must-try and a symbol of quality and excellence. This specific ham passes through a unique curing process that culminates in an unparalleled melt-in-your-mouth texture. This flavorful tapa is usually served with bread or picos y colines (a crunchy bread dish).

At the end, the Jamón de Extremadura will enhance your palate with its rustic simplicity and explosive taste!


3. Queso Manchego

3. Queso Manchego

With each passing tapa, the anticipation for yet another flavorful snack to color this journey grows. Queso Manchego introduces you to Spain’s rich and creamy world of cheese. It is made from sheep’s milk in the La Mancha region, a heartland of wilderness in central Spain, and is acclaimed for its distinguished nutty taste and irresistibly creamy interior. The allure of Manchego lies in its ageing ivory-coloured body and an interior that gains a more granulated texture with time.

If you are wandering through the streets of picturesque Toledo, you will surely come across this gastronomical treasure, a pivotal component of the tapas served in this region!


4. Pa amb tomaquèt

5. Pa amb tomaquèt 2

Simple yet effective, pa amb tomàquet is also a beloved dish from Catalonia. The adventure begins when you take the first bite, the crispy bread soaks in the bursting juicy flavour of the tomatoes immersing your taste buds in a simply divine dance of flavors. This tapa is more than food; it is an experience to be had in a welcoming tavern or bar.

Across Catalonia, including cosmopolitan Barcelona, pa amb tomàquet is made as follows: crusty bread rubbed with fresh ripe tomatoes and garlic topped off with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. The combination of these different ingredients offers an unequalled sensation that will leave you craving more!


5. Patatas Bravas

2. Patatas Bravas

As we delve deeper into the world of Spanish tapas, we must celebrate the appetizing patatas bravas. These crispy fried potatoes are smothered in a fiery tomato and garlic topping, also known as Bravas sauce, transporting you to its origins in the enchanting capital city of Madrid. Little did the Spanish conquistadors know that this starchy root vegetable would become a celebrated centerpiece at busting taverns and tapas bars.

Depending on where you are in Spain, you might see your patatas bravas splashed with vinegar, which confers a tangy flavour, or with paprika, a source of added colour!


6. Huevos rotos

Huevos rotos Madrid

Picture this – a fried egg with a runny orange yolk on top of a bed of tender Iberian ham and fried potatoes. To complement this picture, you’re just missing a piece of bread to dip in your huevos rotos. Translated to “broken eggs”, this dish’s origins lie in the 19th-century Canary Islands, where common people from poorer means used leftover scraps of meat and combined them with other cheap staple ingredients, namely potatoes and eggs.

Rumour has it that some of the best huevos rotos you can eat are found in resplendent Madrid! Whichever place you choose to try this tapa, you can find it confectioned with different toppings, such as chorizo, mushrooms or even bits of fish.


7. Gazpacho

7. Gazpacho

Andalusia is the place to go to try the fresh traditional gazpacho. This cold tomato soup is one of the Spaniard’s favourites and a true embodiment of the country’s culture. Versatile, delicious and vibrant are the three main words to define this key tapa to include in your trip to Spain!

The Moors who ruled this part of Spain and the Roman legions hold the origins of this treasure in Andalusian cuisine. With their introduction of ingredients such as garlic, onions and exotic spices, the citizens of this region contributed to the creation of this treasured dish.

In Málaga, Córdoba or Granada, you will find a place to eat different kinds of gazpacho. Some are without tomatoes; others more conventional, following the recipe of a cold soup, sometimes blending different vegetables such as cucumbers and peppers.


8. Garbanzos con espinacas

Garbanzos con espinacas 2

Continuing in Andalusia, garbanzos con espinacas are a popular tapa in Seville, served in most local bars and taverns. This cherished recipe combines the tenderness and earthiness of spinach with the rich flavour of chickpeas aromatized with garlic and olive oil, perfectly combined in a warm stew.

This dish appreciates simplicity and primes the quality of the products used, all sourced in the local areas of the Andalusia region. As a tapa, the garbanzos con espinacas share the magic of tradition and the respect for a balanced Mediterranean diet.


9. Croquetas

9. Croquetas

Similar to other tapas, the croquetas started as a dish cooked up with the leftovers of meats and vegetables that would then be fried. These are thought to have been adapted from French culture, nevertheless changing the traditional potato filling for béchamel sauce.

Humble and irresistible, these delectable morsels are the true definition of comfort food. Inside a golden crusty shell, the croqueta houses a melty and creamy interior enriched with different fillings. The most traditional one is the ham croqueta, or croqueta de jamón, a staple at every tapas bar. The combination of the bechamel sauce and the smoky cured meat is a true celebration of flavour!


10. La Gilda

10. La Gilda

This traditional Basque pintxo is a three-tiered delicacy – one green olive, an anchovy and a piparra green pepper all skewered together with a toothpick. The name comes from a famous character in the Spanish film ‘Gilda’. Some say it was created by the owner of the bar Casa Vallés in San Sebastián around 1948. To this day, this singular blend of strong flavors is still popular and part of the Spanish gastronomic culture.

Across San Sebastián and the Basque country, you will find different interpretations of this classic, some with different kinds of peppers and others with pickled cucumbers!


11. Boquerónes

11. Boquerónes

Otherwise known as anchovies, boquerónes surface mixed feelings about their peculiar taste. Nonetheless, in Spain, they are an integral part of people’s diet, namely when it comes to tapas. In Barcelona, these are served in a marinade of vinegar complemented by a touch of olive oil and paprika sauce. A piece of bread is also part of this more conventional snack.

In Andalusia, you will have the luck to find a different variation of anchovies. Here, it is popular to fry these tiny fish with oil and flour to give them a crispier texture.


12. Pisto

12. Pisto

A fair resemblance to ratatouille connects this dish to the neighbouring country, France. The pisto is a vegetable stew slowly cooked in extra virgin oil. Eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onion, and pepper are the main ingredients that make up the earthy warm flavour of this tapa.

Alike other Spanish recipes, this stew has roots in the Moorish period. Some believe this meal was specifically prepared for Princess Buran’s wedding many centuries ago. Today, this is a flavor-packed classical dish inalienable from tapas culture.


13. Berenjenas con miel

Berenjenas con miel 2

Indulge your taste buds in yet another vegetarian-friendly tapa – berenjenas con miel. The harmony of delicately fried eggplant, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, drizzled with amber-coloured honey, makes up another star dish in Andalusian cuisine. Specifically popular in Seville and Málaga, this sweet and savoury tapa offers a true sensation for the senses.

Enjoy the interplay of textures of this delight that will further enrich your tapa experience in the South of Spain!


14. Chorizo a la sidra

14. Chorizo a la sidra

As we reach the end of our list, we see fit to include chorizo a la sidra as a must-try tapa. Why, you ask? Picture in your mind the flavour of paprika-spiced fresh or uncured chorizo sausage splashed with the sweet flavour of apple cider. There is no way one can resist this traditional Asturian tapa. In this far north region of Spain, cooks plan this dish with the ultimate care to provide a scentful and flavourful experience, only heightened by a glass of sidra de Asturias.

Bay leaves and parsley are the complements that confer this delicacy an even more captivating taste!


15. Pimientos de padrón

15. Pimientos de padrón

If you are seeking the adrenaline of the unknown, then the pimientos de padrón are just up your street! These peppers, also called “roulette peppers”, are part of a game part of the tapas experience. Around 10 chiles are placed on a plate with no indication of which ones are spicy and which ones aren’t. Hence, comes the saying “los pimientos de Padrón, unos pican y otros no”.

But rest assured: the tapas are always paired with a fresh cool beverage to help you flush down the hot, if you are the unlucky one in your group!

A tasteful journey through Spain

Tapas are the way to Spain’s heart and soul, an interwoven tapestry of history and culture-related traditions which have shaped and defined the country’s gastronomy. At the bars and local taverns, tourists and locals alike gather to join the unique experience of tapear. This feast of scents and flavours that include some of the country’s most cherished foods, namely jamón and croquetas, introduces you to a memorable and valuable perception of this country and its love language – FOOD! So, what are you waiting for to start planning your trip to Spain and taste these mouth-watering, amazing tapas?



Topics: travelagency, Spain Travel, Visit Spain, spain, self-guided, Seville, gastronomy, food, Andalusia, Basque Country, tourtailors, spanish gastronomy, tapas, gazpacho

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