Six unmissable dishes from Toledo, Spain’s 2016 Capital of Gastronomy

Toledo has been chosen as Spain's Capital of Gastronomy for 2016 due to its "creative combination of cultural and gastronomical heritage". So what is so tasty about Toledo?

Six unmissable dishes from Toledo, Spain's 2016 Capital of Gastronomy
Photo: Alameda County Community Food Bank / Flickr

Headed to Toledo for the day? Beyond its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Toledo has a heap of great sweet and savoury bites to try. From intricate marzipan figures to hearty meat stews, Devour Spain gives the lowdown on what not to miss on a trip to Toledo.


Photo: Spanish Sabores.

Toledo is perhaps most famous for its marzipan. At Christmas time, shop windows fill up with elaborate almond paste figures including dragons and even a marzipan version of Toledo’s famous cathedral! With just almonds, sugar and eggs yolks, this sweet is really something special. Throughout the year, one of the most famous places to sample this delicacy is Confitería Santo Tome at Plaza de Zocodover, 7.


Saffron comes from the stamens of the crocus flower. Photo: Dominique Faget / AFP

The bright red color and intense earthy flavor of saffron are famous throughout the culinary world. Toledo produces some of the best saffron around and is protected with a Denominación de Origen status. With small batch production and strict quality control guidelines, saffron from Toledo has an especially bright colour, and is perfect for making vibrant paellas and other Spanish dishes. Look for saffron labeled “DO Castilla La Mancha” at specialty shops throughout the city.


Photo: Spanish Sabores.

With its rugged terrain and extreme seasons, Toledo has a rich history of using game meats to prepare hearty stews. Ciervo en salsa or venison stew is a classic dish served in restaurants and homes throughout the region. Pieces of venison are slowly cooked with red wine and vegetables and flavored with rosemary and thyme.

Partridge Stew

A restaurant specializing in Toledo's famous dish. Photo: Antonio Marín Segovia / Flickr

Another excellent example of Toledo’s caza or game meat tradition is Perdiz a la Toledana. The local red partridges are simmered with thinly sliced onions, white wine and whole heads of garlic. The individual birds are then served with potatoes.

Sheep’s Milk Cheeses

Photo: Juse-Maria Moreno Garcia / Flickr

Queso de ovejaor aged sheep’s milk cheese is another typical and delicious product from Toledo. Look for unpasteurized cheeses with an almost flaky interior. In 2014 The World Cheese Awards included the sheep’s milk Queso de Toledo from the family-run Lordi Company, as one of the 62 best cheeses in the world. For a rustic Toledo meal, put together a picnic with some sheep’s milk cheese, a bit of jamón, a crunchy baguette and find a nice spot to look out over the Tajo River!


Photo: Maurizio Manetti / Flickr

Before leaving Toledo, try a tapa of carcamusas for a warming, meaty bite! Made with slow cooked pork, peas, tomatoes and white wine, it’s perfect for a winter day. The stew is traditionally served in a small clay dish called a cazuela and is eaten with chunks of crusty bread. Try it like a local Toledano, standing up at the bar with a glass of red wine. A classic place to try carcamusas is at Bar Ludeña, Plaza Magdalena, 10.

Devour Spain was founded by Spanish food lovers as a way to connect hungry travellers with the local, family run businesses that make amazing food. Offering fun and delicious food tours and tapas tours in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville. Follow them on InstagramPinterestFacebook and Twitter for Spanish food news, tips and recipes.

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The best vegan and vegetarian Spanish dishes

These are two words that don’t often go together – vegetarian and Spanish, as most vegetarians and vegans will only know too well, however, it may come as a surprise to discover that there are a few Spanish dishes that naturally do not contain any meat or fish.

The best vegan and vegetarian Spanish dishes

Whether you live in Spain or you frequently travel here, if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan you’ll know that finding traditional Spanish dishes can be tricky. But if you don’t want to have to eat international food all the time, you will discover that there are several meat and fish-free dishes that are Spanish classics. 

Espinacas con garbanzos

A dish traditionally found in southern Spain in Andalusia, this is essentially exactly how it’s translated – spinach with chickpeas. The dish has a long history dating all the way back to the Moors, who ruled southern Spain for almost 800 years. Completely vegan, the spinach and chickpeas are made into a type of stew with herbs and spices like paprika and cumin. Often pine nuts and raisins are added to the mix too.

READ ALSO: What did the Moors ever do for us?’ How Spain was shaped by Muslim rule

Spinach and chickpeas is a classic Andalusian dish. Photo: Xemenendura / Wikimedia Commons


A classic vegan dish from Catalonia, escalivada is a mix of slow-roasted vegetables, usually onions, peppers and aubergines. It can be eaten as a type of topping for large toasts called torradas and can sometimes have goat’s cheese melted on the top.

Calçots with romesco sauce

Another much-loved Catalan vegetarian dish is calçots with romesco sauce. Calçots are like a cross between a spring onion and a leek and are only available in the winter or early spring seasons. They’re typically grilled over an open fire until blackened. You must then remove the burnt exterior with a pair of gloves before dipping them in the romesco sauce. The sauce is a concoction made from toasted almonds and hazelnuts, tomatoes, garlic, toasted bread, olive oil, vinegar and dried ñora peppers. They can be a bit messy to eat, so restaurants will often give you a bib to wear too. 

READ ALSO – Recipe: How to make, eat and enjoy calçots

Try some calçots at a traditional calçotada. Photo: Esme Fox


A dish that many are familiar with, this cold soup is traditionally from Andalusia, although it’s likely you’ll find it all over Spain in the summertime. It’s made from blended tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, bread, olive oil and garlic. 

Gazpacho is a cold tomato soup. Photo: Ирина Кудрявцева / Pixabay

Paella de verduras

Ordering paella in Spain can be tricky for vegans and vegetarians because the most traditional either contain seafood or rabbit, chicken snails and butter beans, like the ones from Valencia. Many places, however, now offer a paella de verduras, featuring only vegetables. Restaurants will use whatever is in season, whether that’s artichokes, green beans, peppers, asparagus, mushrooms or courgettes. The only difficult part is that many places will only do paellas for two or more people, so you have to hope your companions are willing to eat the vegan version too. 

A vegetable paella is completely vegan. Photo: Corophoto / Pixabay

Berenjenas con miel

This simple tapas dish translates as aubergines with honey and is essentially deep-fried aubergines usually dipped in bread crumbs or battered and then drizzled with molasses or treacle which is actually miel de caña, not the type of honey from bees. Although you can find it in many places in Spain, it’s typically from Andalusia and is very popular in Granada and surrounding areas.

A plate of berenjenas con miel is always a veggie favourite. Photo: Esme Fox

Patatas a lo pobre

Poor man’s potatoes might not sound very appetising, but this dish of fried sliced potatoes with onions, peppers and garlic is actually delicious. Again you’ll find it mostly in Andalusia, particularly in the Alpujarras mountains, just south of Granada.

Try some patatas a lo pobre in the Alpujarras. Photo: pxhere


Similar to the French ratatouille, pisto is a stew made from cubes of aubergines, onions, peppers, courgettes and tomatoes. It comes from the region of Castilla-La Mancha and is often served with a fried egg on top. To make it vegan, simply ask for it without the egg.

Pisto is similar to the French ratatouille but is often served with an egg. Photo: Arnaud 25 / WikiCommons

Ajo blanco

This white garlic soup is a tasty combination of almonds, garlic, olive oil, bread and white wine or sherry vinegar. It comes from the areas around Málaga and Cádiz and like gazpacho is served cold. It’s sometimes served topped with grapes too. 

Ajo blanco is often served with grapes. Photo: cyclonebill / WikiCommons

Croquetas de boletus, ceps or espinacas

Croquetas are a favourite tapas dish throughout the country, and while many of them are filled with jamón (ham) or even squid ink, there are several vegetarian varieties too. Unfortunately, they are not vegan because they’re made with bechamel sauce, which contains dairy. The bechamel is mixed with various flavours and then covered in breadcrumbs before being deep-fried. Vegetarian varieties come in varieties such as boletus or ceps (types of mushrooms), espinacas (spinach) or cabrales cheese – a blue cheese from Asturias. 

READ ALSO – MAP: How well do you know your Spanish cheeses?

Try croquetas filled with spinach, mushrooms or cheese. Photo: Ralf Gervink / Pixabay


Salmorejo is a cold soup similar to gazpacho, but it’s much thicker and creamier. It’s typically made from just four main ingredients – tomatoes, bread, olive oil and garlic. You can find it all over Andalusia, but it’s actually from Córdoba. Often it’s topped with ham and boiled egg, so simply ask for it sin jamón y huevo for it to be vegan. 

Ask for your salmorejo sin jamón for it to be vegetarian. Photo:Javier Lastras / Wikimedia Commons

Tortilla de patatas

One of the two only non-vegan dishes on our list is the classic tortilla de patatas, which you can find all over Spain and is definitely a meal you can rely on if all else fails. It is of course made from eggs and potatoes, but Spain is very divided on whether you should add onions or not. The Local is firmly on the onion side! 

Do you like your tortilla with or without onion? Photo: Luis MGB / Pixabay