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Spain Is For Foodies

From Barcelona to San Sebastian to Madrid Julie Falconer has found the culinary highlights not to be missed

Published on January 24th 2012.

Spain Is For Foodies

DIEHARD foodies know that they don’t have to look far for a good meal in Spain. From the best tapas to the top Michelin starred cuisine, the country has an abundance of options. Cities like Barcelona, San Sebastian and Madrid have their own unique style of tapas bars, markets and restaurants, all of which serve as some of Spain’s culinary highlights. Below are some of the best of the best in each city.


Barcelona is one of the hottest destinations in Spain. Food is not the only thing it is famous for, but city’s gastronomic offerings are a good place to start. The most recent addition to the restaurant scene in Barcelona is Tickets, a tapas bar created by the famous Ferran Adrià of el Bulli fame. Tickets serves everything from classic Iberico ham to inventive takes on traditional cod, and has been popular since the day it opened.

La Boqeria in BarcelonaLa Boqeria in Barcelona

If grazing is your thing, tapas bars aren’t the only good places to eat in Barcelona. The famous Mercat de La Boqueria is also a great place to find good food. The market, which is on Las Ramblas, features a plethora of fresh fruits, including juices made from the mangoes sold at the stands. There are also small tapas bars among the stalls that are perfect places to stop for a quick lunch.

Kobe beef burger at El Fuego NegroKobe beef burger at El Fuego Negro

San Sebastian
One of the best things about San Sebastian is that every restaurant, from the Michelin starred to the tapas bar, serves excellent food. Whether you are visiting on a tight budget or with no budget at all, there are plenty of places to indulge your inner foodie.

On the less pricey end of the culinary spectrum, San Sebastian is full of pintxo bars (pintxo being the Basque name for tapas). Highlights include La Cuchara de San Telmo, a tiny bar in a hidden corner of the old town that serves excellent beer battered bacalao tempura and grilled octopus. Just down the street is El Fuego Negro, which offers an excellent mini Kobe beef burger on a ketchup-flavored bun.

On the fine dining end of things, San Sebastian is bursting with Michelin stars and molecular gastronomy. Perhaps the most famous is Arzak, which has three stars and is where most people go when they visit the city. But don’t overlook Akelare, a cliff top restaurant that also has three stars and an excellent tasting menu with dishes like Sole in a Sea of Coral.

Mercado de San Miguel in MadridMercado de San Miguel in Madrid

Spain’s capital city is the home of some of the country’s best restaurants and food festivals. The annual Madrid Fusion international chefs' congress takes place here every January, allowing the top culinary powers that be from around the globe to demo their latest recipes and cooking techniques in front of an audience of their peers and fans. With such an important event taking place in the city, how could Madrid not have the food to match?

A great place to start sampling Madrid’s cuisine is at the Mercado de San Miguel. A covered market, the Mercado has a wide range of stalls offering every kind of tapa imaginable. In the center of the market are tables for enjoying the food and eyeing the dishes that fellow diners have chosen.

Away from the bustle of the market, those that like their cuisine served haute can find great tasting menus at El Club Allard and Ramón Freixa Madrid, both of which have two Michelin stars. The latter even offers a special menu called Truffle and Game, which invites diners to experience “new wild plants and unknown tastes”.


To read more of Julie’s writing, visit her London travel blog and Europe travel website.

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