Traditional Spanish food is bursting with flavor and is known to be simple, delicious, and fresh.
You've probably already had gazpacho, so why not consider some brand new dishes that will blow your mind? If you're traveling in Spain or even if you're simply going out to a traditional Spanish restaurant, you're going to want to try some of the best Spanish dishes available to you.
Keep reading to learn about 8 traditional Spanish dishes that you need to order the next time you can.
Spain is on the coast, which means that fresh and local seafood often takes center stage in many Spanish dishes. That's certainly true with paella.
While many establishments, from street corner hole-in-the-wall places to top-rated restaurants, offer paella, you want to make sure you get yours from a traditional restaurant that will do this dish justice. Check out this helpful article for some of the best restaurants where you can get authentic and delicious paella.
It's a rice-based dish that originated in Valencia. While most paella also has a mix of chicken and/or rabbit, it also contains plenty of fresh seafood like:
The rice is made with a variety of spices and flavors like saffron, parsley, garlic, paprika, lemon, and more. There's also plenty of vegetables, butter beans, and runner beans. Look for the delicious crunchy rice that's scraped from the bottom of the pan to really seal the deal on this traditional dish.
This is another ubiquitous dish that you can find all around Spain and in almost any Spanish establishment that you try. The fun part is that most restaurants switch up how they make croquetas with some even keeping their recipe a secret, which makes almost every version you try unique.
The general gist of this dish is it's cured ham (jambon) with sometimes potatoes and/or eggs in a creamy salty béchamel or queso sauce that's breaded and deep fried. It creates an ooey-gooey, rich, cheesy, salty, delicious little pocket of joy.
And, as we said, each croqueta is unique. So try some from a few different establishments to see how different places switch it up. Some have other meats along with ham like sausage or fish. Others add onion or veggies.
3. Tortilla Española
When most people read the word "tortilla", they think of a flour or corn tortilla that they eat tacos or burritos with. A Spanish tortilla (aka a tortilla española) is more what Americans would call an omelet.
Often made with potatoes and eggs, it's a thick kind of omelet that's served in slices like a quiche or a pie. And as with croquetas, everyone has their own unique version/recipe that makes each one special. Add in some onions, ham, veggies, cheese, etc, to make a delicious meal that's served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Albondigas are Spanish meatballs. They're usually a type of tapas, aka a small snack or appetizer.
They're usually made with beef, pork, veal, or a yummy combination of all of those. Similar to what most people know as Italian meatballs, they're often served in a red sauce that's a bit spicier than the Italian version. It often has some red pepper flakes, cumin, paprika, beef broth, and red wine mixed into the tomato sauce.
You can also find albondigas in a kind of meatball soup.
5. Gambas al Ajillo
Garlic shrimp might not sound like a traditional delicacy, but in Spain it is. This simple dish lets the fresh prawn flavor shine through with the sharp and spicy garlic adding an awesome accent.
The shrimp are traditionally cooked in a clay pot with olive oil, a few spices, green chilis, and a lot of garlic. It's simple, tasty, and super traditional.
6. Pulpo a La Gallega
Ready to be a bit more daring? Pulpo a La Gallega is a boiled octopus dish. If you've ever had calamari, though, then you know how tasty it can be when it's cooked properly.
As with most Spanish cuisine, this dish is made with simple ingredients that let the seafood, vegetables, and spices speak for themselves. The boiled octopus is cooked with paprika, rock salt, and olive oil.
You'll also often find this dish served with potatoes. If you want the most traditional and authentic version, visit the Galicia region of Spain (in the northwest corner of the country) where the dish originated.
7. Leche Frita
After all of these savory dishes, are you looking to satisfy a sweet tooth?
While "fried milk" might not sound like the most appetizing dessert, it's not literally milk. It's more of a milky and sugary pudding similar to creme brulee or custard that's then fried and dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
The crunch of the fried outer layer combined with the smooth, sugary, and creamy filling is something everyone should experience at least once.
8. Churros Con Chocolate
A traditional Spanish food list would not be complete without the mention of churros. These deliciously crispy, soft, sugary, donut-like tubes of fried dough are the quintessential junk food breakfast or simply an amazing dessert.
The fried crunch on the outside with a layer of cinnamon and sugar coating a soft doughy-inside pair perfectly with a thick Spanish chocolate dipping sauce.
8 of the Best Spanish Dishes You Need to Try ASAP
Does this list of the best Spanish dishes have you drooling? Does it have you looking up the next flight to Barcelona, or at least the next available reservation at a local tapas restaurant?
Yeah, we thought so. If you're worried that all of this indulgent food is going to interfere with your health and fitness goals, check out these 7 wellness websites that will inspire you to stay on track.