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A Guide to Spanish Cuisine

Allianz Travel - Paella

There is more to Spanish cuisine than big dishes of tasty paella, although we are not knocking this!

Eating out in Spain is also a lifestyle. If you want to eat like a local, here is what you should expect when eating out in this fantastic country.



Did you know that Spain was one of the first European countries to establish colonies around the world, including the Americas? That meant that Spain was open to receiving exotic food products before the rest of the continent.

Spain has many influences in its food, with the Iberian Peninsula once being part of the Islamic world. This was how products like rice was introduced to the area.



We hope you like sharing! When eating out in Spain, most dishes are served to share with the table. You will be given small plates each to dish your food up onto. It is a very friendly affair.


Later meal times

Meals in Spain are generally had a little later than most other countries. Lunch is between 1 and 3pm and dinner is rarely before 9pm, with many eating at midnight!

The Spanish do have an additional meal around 11am to keep you going through to lunch. This is called the almuerzo, which is usually a savory snack like a sandwich.


Smoked Paprika – the key ingredient

Smoked paprika is possibly the most important ingredient in Spanish cuisine, adding flavor and colour to many dishes including chorizo and octopus.


Saffron – the second key ingredient

Dishes such as paella include saffron, adding delicate aroma. Saffron is also used in many of Spain’s rich stews.


The main dish we associate with Spain is the Paella, which originated in Valencia. It is a rice dish with vegetables and meat or often with sea food.

When ordering this dish in a restaurant, it is normal for it to be a sharing platter for two or more people.


Tapas are traditionally small snacking dishes that you get when you purchase a drink at the bar. However, depending on the region you are in they are sometimes offered as a full sit down meal. They are generally cheap to buy per dish, sometimes even free!

 You can eat a whole meal just by eating many tapas dishes that are also often shared with the table.


Allianz Travel - Patas Bravas

Other Spanish foods to try:

  • Patatas Bravas: This dish is often included as a tapas dish and consists of diced and fried potato served with a spicy sauce and alioli (a garlic mayonnaise).
  • Chorizo – a local spicy sausage
  • Gazpacho – Cold tomato Soup
  • Crème catalana – This is a traditional Spanish desert that is like the crème brulee, where the top is caramelized by a hot iron.
  • Churros: Like a donut but long, straight and deep fried. Often eaten for breakfast with a chocolate dip.
Allianz Travel - Churros con Chocolate

Of course, Spain has many other choices to its famous paella and tapas including Michelin Starred restaurants and international influences.

There really is something for everyone in this sunny, west European country. So, sit back, relax, and fill your tummy with great food! (even if it is midnight….)




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