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Spain restaurants

Thanks to star chefs like Ferran Adrià; and Juan Mari Arzak, Spain's restaurants have piqued the interest of epicureans the world over. But it didn't take these maestros' innovative fare to create a passion for food in Spain. Quality ingredients, simple sauces, excellent wines, and a true love of eating have long made Spain a gourmand's paradise.

It's impossible to generalize about Spanish food; each region has its own specialties. The Basque country is rightly proud of pintxos (bite-size tapas), served at a variety of cozy bars and restaurants, and seafood dishes like baked cod, while Galicia is renowned for its amazing variety of shellfish. Don't leave central Spain without sampling the hearty roasted lamb and suckling pigs, and be sure to try southern Spain's crunchy fried calamari, succulent olives, and flavorful cured hams. Valencia is the birthplace of paella, and in Catalonia, Spain's nouvelle cuisine has reached its maximum expression.

No matter where you travel, breakfast is usually a simple affair featuring coffee, pastries, or a small sandwich. At least once, indulge in a serving of chocolate with churros; a big plate of these fried dough sticks is a sure cure for the previous night's excesses. Lunch starts around 2 pm and is the biggest meal of the day. Hearty specialties like paella, cochinillo (roast suckling pig), or a mariscada (mixed shellfish platter) are best enjoyed now, when they can be followed by a leisurely siesta. Early evening is the time to sample tapas, the bite-sized snacks that are served in bars across the country. Olives, a plate of cheese, tortilla española (potato omelet), or crumpled slices of jamón serrano (cured ham) are the most common tapas, but bars may serve more elaborate dishes like chickpea stew, spicy padrón peppers, or fried seafood. Dinner begins no earlier than 9 pm and can last into the wee hours of the morning, especially on weekends. While Spaniards generally have a light soup or sandwich supper at home, restaurants are an excuse to go all out and order multiple courses, as well as dessert and wine.

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Bodega Casa Montaña, Valencia

In the shabby-chic former fisherman's district of El Cabañal—ripe for a makeover given its proximity to the new Port America's Cup...more

see the Valencia guide
Editors' Pick
Bodegas Castañeda, Granada

The classic choice around the Plaza Nueva. An ancient tavern serving good tapas including cheese and Trevélez hams from the Alpujarras mountains. As in all...more

see the Granada guide
Editors' Pick
Ca' Sento, Valencia

One of Valencia's most creative restaurants is hidden behind a discreet door in a down-at-the-heels neighborhood south of Avenida del Puerto. The...more

see the Valencia guide
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Cal Pep, Barcelona

There's probably no better way to see how impassioned the Catalans have become about eating than to queue for a seat at the pink granite counter at chef Pep...more

see the Barcelona guide
Editors' Pick
Candela, Granada

A pleasant hangout in the Realejo area, popular with local thirtysomethings. The specialty is montaditos—toast with every imaginable topping, from...more

see the Granada guide
Editors' Pick
Can Majó, Barcelona

When asked where to get good paella in Barcelona, many locals answer simply: Valencia. But this Barceloneta beachfront classic with a nautical-inspired interior...more

see the Barcelona guide
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Casa Calvet, Barcelona

When the world thinks of Barcelona, it sees Gaudí, the talented, spectacularly eccentric native-son architect who worked here during the 19th century....more

see the Barcelona guide
Editors' Pick
Casa Carmina, El Saler

The fishing village of El Saler, seven miles south of the city center, is known among Valencianos for its traditional paella restaurants. The best...more

see the Valencia guide
Editors' Pick
Casa Juanillo, Granada

This down-home, family-run eating house is in the heart of Sacromonte, an eccentric neighborhood where much of the population (mostly gypsies) lives in caves,...more

see the Granada guide
Editors' Pick
Casa Lucio, Madrid

When you want to eat nothing that's been deconstructed or otherwise engineered, when you yearn for honest Castilian food in a simple setting, there's nowhere...more

see the Madrid guide
Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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