In Spain, tapas are more than just a meal – they’re an experience. Tapas means hanging out with friends, snacking, drinking; in general just a good night out. For visitors, it also means an opportunity to try a wide variety of the country’s specialties without ordering more food than you could ever fit in the mini-fridge in your hotel room. But how do you know which to order and which to stay away from? That’s where we come in. Here, in no particular order, are our 10 favorite tapas with which to while away a sultry Spanish evening.
- Patatas (or papas) bravas: Diced, fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce. A little bit of mayo or aioli lessens the burn. These are a standard at most tapas bars, and can vary depending on where you order them – so you might have to try them a few times!
- Tortilla española: A slice of thick omelette, usually containing potatoes, ham, onions, or other ingredients. These can be served hot or cold, but are just about always delicious.
- Chorizo: Some of the tastiest sausage you will ever meet, these smoked delicacies are all kinds of wonderful. There are many varieties of chorizo throughout the country, but we’ve never had a bad one.
- Boquerones: Anchovies in vinegar (sometimes fried). Forget everything you think you know about anchovies and give these a try.
- Bacalao: Salted cod. While often considered an Italian specialty, the Spanish version is nothing to scoff at.
- Croquetas: One Liberty Travel writer has described these as “tiny fried balls of heaven,” and the rest of us are hard-pressed to disagree. They usually contain some combination of mashed potatoes, ground meat, fish, cheese, or vegetables. And they are heavenly.
- Pimientos rellenos: Stuffed bell peppers, often filled with cheese or breadcrumbs. You might have had the large versions in the past, but we firmly believe nothing can compare to the bite-sized specimens found at some tapas bars.
- Manchego: Yes, it’s cheese. But it’s amazing cheese. And with a bite of fresh bread and chorizo, there are few things better.
- Jamón Iberico: Cured ham from the Iberian Peninsula is a magical thing. Sometimes called pata negra, this ham is made from black Iberian pigs raised on on only the most natural diet. The very highest grade is called jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn).
- Cava: Of course, everything should get washed down with a glass of Spanish cava. This sparkling wine is to Spain as champagne is to France, with about 95% of it being produced in the Spanish region of Catalonia. ¡Salud!
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