Thirteen mouthwateringly delicious reasons to be a vegetarian in Spain

Foodie experts, Devour Spain, share their tips for the best vegetarian food in Spain.

Thirteen mouthwateringly delicious reasons to be a vegetarian in Spain
Calçots are a seasonal treat. Photo: Gerard Romans Camps / Flickr

Long feared by vegetarians as the land of jamón, Spanish cuisine also boasts a host of delicious traditional alternatives.

Guidebooks warn vegetarians coming to Spain that they are entering the land of jamón. And it’s true – Spaniards love their pork products with passion, and ham and tuna are both considered acceptable vegetarian fare in some old fashioned tapas bars.  

But Spain is also home to a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes that locals love. Here’s what vegetarians in Spain should be eating.

1. Tortilla de Patatas
Let’s start with a classic choice— the famous potato omelette. You’ll find the tortilla de patatas all over Spain, and everyone has an opinion on the best way to make it. Onions or no onions? Fully cooked through or runny? Whatever your preference, there’s a tortilla for everyone and never a wrong time of day to indulge. 
2. Escalivada
A Catalan specialty, this dish of roasted pepper and aubergine (eggplant) is smoky and delicious. Generally cooked until charred, it’s the perfect combination for some 'pan con tomate' that’s been smothered in extra virgin olive oil.
3. Gazpacho
Possibly the most refreshing Spanish food that exists, gazpacho is a chilled vegetable puree that Spaniards swear by as a cure-all superfood. Vegetarian friendly and full of vitamins, who could resist a cold glass of gazpacho during the hot Spanish summers?
4. Berenjenas con Miel
These crispy fried aubergine (eggplant) are smothered in sweet honey or sticky cane sugar syrup— and either way they're are absolutely delicious. Found primarily in tapas bars in southern Spain, they’re one of those dishes that you’ll crave long after the last bite. 
5. Papas Arrugás con Mojo Picón

Photo: Spanish Sabores
A popular vegetarian dish in the Canary Islands, these tiny wrinkled potatoes are cooked in heavily salted water and then served with savory mojo picón sauce. They make the perfect snack, and it’s impossible to grab only one!
6. Huevos Rotos
A simple dish of homemade fried potatoes and runny fried eggs on top, huevos rotos is a true Spanish comfort food. Order as is or enhance with some grilled vegetables for a hearty vegetarian meal.  
7. Espinacas con Garbanzos
One of the best vegetarian options in Spain is a savoury spinach and chickpea stew called espinacas con garbanzos. This delicious dish is often served as a small tapa in Seville, and is easy to make at home too. 
8. Pimientos de Padrón
In the north of Spain you’ll find some of the world’s best green peppers. Pimientos de padrón used to be quite spicy, but over the years have  been adapted to become mild. However, every now and then a super spicy pepper is hidden among the others, making ordering a plate of these akin to playing Russian Roulette!

9. Patatas Bravas
One of Madrid and Barcelona’s most popular raciones to share, patatas bravas consist of deep fried potatoes smothered in slightly spicy homemade bravas sauce. Many Barcelona bars also add a healthy heap of alioli on top— and we won’t complain! We like our bravas extra spicy and served with a very cold beer. 
10. Pimientos asados
This cold roasted red pepper salad is one of the most satisfying Spanish salads come summertime. Dressed with sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, the flavour is outstanding. They’re best enjoyed on a terrace with a cold glass of sherry. 
11. Calçots con Romesco
Calçots are one of the most delicious seasonal treats in Spain, and vegetarians visiting Catalonia between November and March must partake in a calçotada— a special barbecue where the star of the show is a seasonal local onion called the calçot. Dipped into a nutty sauce made with ground almonds and hazelnuts, this is one barbecue where vegetarians will never feel left out!
12. Pisto
The Spanish version of ratatouille is called pisto, and it’s one of the most delicious stewed vegetable dishes in Spain. Usually consisting of peppers, tomatoes, onions and aubergine, many people like to make this dish a full meal by topping it with a fried egg. 
13. Chocolate con churros
Let’s not forget the sweet stuff. Vegetarians in Spain can still enjoy the sweetest of Spanish breakfasts, chocolate con churros. Sticks of fried dough dipped in melted chocolate? Yes, please!
Devour Spain was founded by Spanish food lovers as a way to connect hungry travelers with the local, family run businesses that make amazing food. Offering fun and delicious food tours in BarcelonaMadrid and Seville. Follow them on Instagram,  Pinterest,  Facebook and Twitter for Spanish food news, tips and recipes.


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Six Barcelona bars serving delicious free tapas

The Local's Esme Fox, a long-term Barcelona resident, shares some of her favourite city bars that serve free tapas when you buy a drink.

Six Barcelona bars serving delicious free tapas

Spain is of course celebrated for its tapas, small plates of food, designed for sharing and consisting of favourites such as patatas bravas (fried potatoes topped with spicy sauce), pimientos de padrón (fried green peppers) and croquetas (croquettes of different varieties such as ham or mushrooms). 

One theory is that tapas were invented in order to cover your wine or beer glass, so that flies and other bugs wouldn’t fly in. The barman would give customers a piece of bread topped with jamón (ham) or queso (cheese) in order to act as a lid or in Spanish ‘tapa’, hence the name tapas.

Although most cities in Spain no longer serve free tapas when you buy a drink, there are still some cities where you are guaranteed a free snack. This is still true in the southern cities of Granada, Almería and Jaén, in León and Segovia, as well as a few others dotted around the country.

Despite this, you can still find the odd bar serving the old-fashioned free tapa in some of Spain’s largest and most expensive cities, including Madrid and Barcelona.

So, next time you’re in the Catalan capital, save some money by visiting one of these bars, where you’ll still get served a free tapa along with your drink.  

READ ALSO: Top ten Madrid bars serving free tapas, one for each barrio

Keep in mind, you won’t be served a free drink if you just order a coffee and sometimes not with a soft drink either, it’s usually when you buy a glass of beer or wine.

Ca’l Chusco

This small traditional bar in the old fisherman’s neighbourhood of Barceloneta offers one free tapa every time you order a drink. It’s usually something small and simple, but if you’re still hungry then you can always order one of their delicious paellas or plates or seafood too. 

This cute and contemporary little tapas joint, situated on the edge of Gracia, is so popular that it often gets very crowded, so get here early if you want a spot at the bar. It costs around €2-4 for a drink and a small tapas dish, which you can choose from a large selection. There’s everything from croquetas and hummus to small sausages.

Pappa e Citti

It’s not just authentic Spanish bars offering free tapas in Barcleona, at traditional Sardinian restaurant Pappa e Citti in the barrio of Gracia, they offer it too. Be aware that free tapas with your drink is only served between 6-9pm. Small tapas offerings may have an Italian twist or maybe something simple like a piece of bread topped with cream cheese and caramelised onions.

La Xula Taperia

In the heart of the Gracia neighbourhood, this modern and stylish bar offers the closest thing to a Granadino-style free plate of tapas. Rather than just a small piece of bread topped with an ingredient, their free offerings include meatballs, anchovies or even ensaladilla rusa (Russian potato salad).

Casa Arana

Located in the heart of the Sant Andreu neighbourhood, not far from the metro stop of the same name, Casa Arana is a small local barrio bar. As well as the regular drinks on offer, they make their own beer in either tostada (toasted) or rubia (pale) varieties, which is served in a tall glass and looks like an ice cream sundae. The free tapa served with your drink is typically a piece of baguette topped with a simple ingredient such as jamón, chistorra (cured sausage) or cheese.

Cassette Bar

This tapas and cocktail bar located in the heart of Raval has a decidedly 80s themed vibe and name to match. They have been serving free tapas for the past 14 years – something typical like piece of bread and tomato topped with a slice of tortilla (Spanish omelette).