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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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El Huerto de Juan Ranas, Granada

For an unencumbered view of the Alhambra, nab a seat on the large, sunny terrace of this restaurant, just below the Mirador de San Nicolás. In inclement...more

see the Granada guide
Editors' Pick
Embat, Barcelona

Embat, a pioneer of Barcelona's bistromanía trend, is proof that it's still possible to dine well in Barcelona for under €30 (around $40). Located in...more

see the Barcelona guide
Editors' Pick
Es Cranc, Fornells, Menorca

Arguably one of Menorca's most famous restaurants, this neat town house is one block removed from the shoreline and a world away from the touristy eateries that...more

see the Ibiza + Mallorca guide
Editors' Pick
Es Rebost d'Es Baluard, Palma de Mallorca, Mallorca

Affixed to the museum of modern art next door, the restaurant reflects the mood in food. As one of the pioneers of "New Mallorcan" cuisine, chef Joan Torrens...more

see the Ibiza + Mallorca guide
Editors' Pick
Estado Puro, Madrid

Carles Abellan did it first, then Alberto Adrià (Ferran's brother). Now, it's Paco Roncero's turn. Like those other stars of Spain's molecular gastronomy...more

see the Madrid guide
Editors' Pick
Etxebarri, Axpe

A bit off the beaten path but well worth the trip, Etxebarri is set in a small town about 30 miles east of Bilbao. Every dish you'll eat here will...more

see the Bilbao + Basque Country guide
Editors' Pick
Fishhh!, Barcelona

Always have a bite of buttered bread before you eat a raw oyster, says Luís De Buen; that way you'll never get an upset stomach. And in place of sauce...more

see the Barcelona guide
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Fonda Gaig

The local trend for star chefs to dabble in a secondary, more accessible bistro is now in full swing. Fonda Gaig is the nerdy little brother of Gaig, Carles...more

see the Barcelona guide
Editors' Pick
Gaig, Barcelona

Carles Gaig moved his restaurant in 2004 from an old farmhouse in Horta to this slick, black dining room in the Eixample. Although design junkies are drooling,...more

see the Barcelona guide
Editors' Pick
Gaminiz, Zamudio

The culinary headquarters of native chef Aitor Elizegi, Gaminiz is set in an improbably pretty industrial park 20 minutes' drive outside Bilbao. Here, Elizegi...more

see the Bilbao + Basque Country 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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