23 Jul Eating Vegetarian in Spain: The Restaurant List
To read Part 1 of this article, including all my tips and tricks for Eating Vegetarian in Spain, click here
I ate in a few places that were less than noteworthy, but I’m of the school if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If you find a popular place that looks good and it’s not on this list, chances are I may have checked it out and abstained or dined there and didn’t love- shoot me a private message and ask and I’ll let you know.
Even though Madrid is landlocked, I was told all the best produce and fish gets immediately diverted to the capital city making it a hotspot for the best restaurants in Spain.
1. FABRICA MARAVILLAS
Craft Beer + Snacks
Calle de Valverde, 29, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Excellent craft beer brewed on-site, just 4 varieties. My favorite: The Jaxipa
2. MERCADO SAN IDEFONZO
Fuencarral, 57, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Farm fresh eggs. Try the tortilla espanola with setas (mushrooms) and the fried eggs and potatoes with mushrooms
QUESARIA DE MI
Tostada with caramelized onion spread and warm queso de cabra
3. MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL
Plaza de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid, Spain
LA HORA DEL VERMUT
Pickled baby eggplant stuffed with roasted red peppers. Looks like an alien creature, but tastes like heaven. Drink some of their house vermouth
Vegetarian stewed giant garbanzos, subtle simple, and hearty (ask for salt, it needs it)
QUÉ BONITO ES PANAMÁ
PADRON PEPPERS, a giant plate you’ll devour in minutes
4. LA PONCELET CHEESE BAR
Calle de Jose Abascal, 61, 28003 Madrid, Spain
-Manchego bonbons coated with a Pedro Ximenez veil and garnished with ground pepper and dill fronds
-Tomatoes on the vine atop a patty of queso pasiego (a cows milk cheese from Cantabria) and smoky romesco sauce (the best I had in Spain, which is not saying much- my favorite sauce in the world ended up being bland or ketchup-esque in most places)
-Bread basket, the best bread I had in all of Spain
-La Socarrada Cerveza, brewed with honey and rosemary (brewed in Valencia)
-La Virgen Lager (brewed in Madrid)
5. MERCADO SAN ANTON
C/ Augusto Figueroa, 24, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Try the fresh juice from the first stand you see. I had the orange strawberry, incredibly refreshing on a hot Madrid day
6. LA GABINOTECA
Calle Fernandez de la Hoz, 53, 28003 Madrid, Spain
An off the beaten path restaurant with whimsy and character coming out of every corner (we dined on a vintage amusement park swing hanging from the ceiling, one of the many unique staircase dining options- try to score the inside-the-wall nook table for two). Not much else is around but the place is packed with locals and the experience is worth the isolation.
-Fried artichokes with local olive oil, parmesan, and sea salt (even though the menu does not state it, the dish comes with ham so ask them to leave it off). Thinly sliced and oily, but fried in excellent olive oil so the grease is welcome.
-Baby Jar. Deconstructed Spanish omlette in a little mason jar. Smashed potatoes with a barely cooked egg yolk and truffle. Screw off the lid, take a whif, then stir to combine and complete cooking the egg. Heavenly.
-7 Navas from Castel y Leon
-Lagar de Eizaga Rioja
One of the culinary capitals of Spain, tons of Michelin star chefs and the best produce from the neighboring Navarra region. Unfortunately I was not there long enough to eat all the places on my list, so I ended up going to places that were close by to where I stayed and still managed to have some insanely delicious food.
1. ATARI GASTROTEKA
Calle Mayor,18, 20003 Donostia/San Sebastian, Spain
A fun gastrobar at the end of a pintxos bar lined street in the old city, they have the local San Sebastian brew on tap and some decent food.
White Asaparagus cooked on the plancha with leek sauce and toasted cashews (ask for salt, it needs it and then the dish shines). I could not get enough of this asparagus from neighboring Navarra, with it’s delicate pink tips and sublime flavor.
Local brew on tap
2. A FUEGO NEGRO
Calle 31 de Agosto, 31, 20003 San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Down the street from Atari, this little spot serves up bold pinxtos and has the best pickle plate I’ve ever consumed
Pickled seaweed, garlic, hazelnuts, hot peppers, green olives, cured black olives, and beet pickled quail egg
-Tempura Vegetable Flower Pot with BBQ and Potato Aioli:
Eating that much fried food is worth it for the potato aioli alone, but the incredible variety of vegetables that are perfectly roasted before being tempura coated and fried is incredible (I dare say it would be even better without the coating!). And it’s served in a flowerpot. Pumpkin, green asparagus, giant red pepper, baby artichokes, onion, mushroom, broccoli, turnips ….? Do not tackle this one alone, share with a friend or stranger.
Cerveza on tap
3. THE LOAF
De Zurriola Hiribidea, 18, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Breakfast: the only thing on the menu is a perfect tomato toast served with local olive oil, sea salt all on house made bread.
Lunch (I loved breakfast so much I waited an hour and came back when their lunch menu started):
-Patatas Bravas. Hands-down the best bravas I had in all of Spain. Potatoes with perfectly crispy outsides without being greasy with perfectly moist insides served on top of a pool of their house bravas sauce (advertised as a BBQ sauce, but more like the freshest smoked tomato puree you’ve tasted) and loaded with a garlic aioli on top and garnished with green garlic tops.
-Vegetarian sandwich of the day (whatever it is your day, it is going to be heavenly). Mine was an egg salad that changed my opionion of egg salad forever.
There were so many options here and I was here for the longest amount of time I got a bit overwhelmed. I found myself so busy with the giant list of things to see in Barcelona, I found myself often starving with no time to eat. My list for this city should be much much longer!
1. CAT BAR
Vegan, Vegetarian, Beer Bar
Carrer Boria, 17, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
I only drank here, but the local craft brews were phenomenal. I had a bite of the bravas the girls I met there were eating, and they were delicious. They loved their vegan burgers.
2. MERCAT PRINCESSA
Carrer dels Flassaders, 21, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
CROQUETTA & CO
Croquettes are a national food phenomenon in Spain, and while tempted to try many times before Croquetta & Co, I knew I had to wait until “the one” presented itself- I am so glad I waited until this place. Fried to order, these crispy creamy bullets of flavor are bursting with local cheeses and vegetables and the result is magic. I had the Mushroom croquettes and Gorgonzola and walnut croquettes Mix plate.
3. LA FORMATGERIA
Carrer Dagueria, 16, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Next door to Mercat Princessa, this spot boasts an amazing regional cheeseboard selection and the Cava that Barcelona is famed for.
4. PALO ALTO MARKET
Tapas + Craft Market
Carrer dels Pellaires, 30, 08019 Barcelona, Spain
If you are lucky enough to be in Barcelona on the first Sunday of the month, venture over to Palo Alto market, where you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in a Spanish hipster version of Williamsburg or Venice Beach. All in a converted ??? shop local artisan food makers, designers, artists, and food “trucks” (mini vintage trailers and food stands), dance in an indoor jazz club sponsored by Martini & Rossi, and dine on overturned wine crates and lounge litstening to the stylings of local DJs in the beer gardens sponsored by local brewer Mortiz. Get there early, most of the food stands were out of their specialties by the time I arrived.
Patates Rossas- Fries hand cut and cooked up in a little individual fryer to order, topped with a scoop of tomato jam and fresh aioli.
-Mortiz local brew
-Coffee from Nomad, roasted in Barcelona
-Cucumi Jams- I scored an Imperial Porter jam, but every flavor from local wines to fruits blew my mind.
-MAM Watches & iPhone cases- handcrafted from sustainable local wood, the simple and gorgeous design is inspired from surfing trips across the globe.
5. LA GILDA
Carrer de Girona, 175, 08037 Barcelona, Spain
-Salmorejo bombs: Little cherry tomatoes stuffed with Salmorejo and topped with chives (even though it doesn’t say on the menu, they are served with anchovies on top, but they’ll leave them off upon request)
-Papas Arugas with SECRET CRACK SAUCE
By far the best sauce I had on my trip, this creamy black olive and spicy oil sauce compliments the salty whole baby potatoes perfectly. I must replicate and keep stocked at all times.
Yzaguirre Vermouth on tap. This winery has been around since 1884 and this aged dark vermouth is just Perfection.
6. LA CAVA DE LA PEPITA
Carrer Corsega, 343, 08037 Barcelona, Spain
I set out for La Pepita, and mistakenly stopped a few doors down thinking I had reached the right spot. It was a great starter spot with some delicious appetizers.
-Chips with secret house hot sauce, chives, and whole olives (this normally comes with your choice of seafood on top, but they’ll do it without for you)
-Confit white asparagus with pickled hazelnuts, hazelnut vinaigrette and SAUCE? And…chives (which I will soon learn, seems to be the only garnish chefs in Spain seem to turn to).
7. LA PEPITA
Carrer Corsega, 343, 08037 Barcelona, Spain
The more bustling and robust place with excellent vermouth and creative farm to table vegetable dishes. Named after the local sandwich a Pepita, a pressed baguette sandwich, they have a hearty vegetarian one on the menu. I wasn’t able to fit in my stomach after La Cava and my three vegetable dishes here. They will do half portions for you, which I did for all three dishes so I could try more things.
-Confit white asparagus topped with a ginger puree, blanched shaved crispy green asparagus, ginger vinaigrette and shaved cocoa nibs…and chives. Strange and utterly incredible
-Grilled baby artichokes atop a roasted sunchoke puree, cubes of quince paste, and topped with roasted salty hazelnuts and raw sunchoke chips…and chives.
-Crispy and fluffy smoked eggplant fritters served on top of goat cheese cream, a dark molasses like honey, and topped with finely julienned green apple…and chives.
8. QUIMET Y QUIMET
Bars, Tapas/Small Plates
Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
A tiny tapas spot with dishes created solely from scores of preserved food and giant fresh wedges of local cheeses.
-Preserved wild mushrooms over a giant slice of brie? and drizzled with truffle oil, and balsamic glaze on top of a crispy toast
-Giant slab of creamy mild blue cheese over roasted red pepper and topped with finely chopped pickles, drizzled with balsamic glaze and served on top of a crispy toast
Beer on tap
9. EL XAMPANYET
Carrer de Montcada, 22, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
This tapas bar has been around since 1929 and it’s wildly popular with locals and travellers alike. Make sure you are there at the exact time of opening (and 15 minutes earlier on the weekend) to make sure you can grab a table and not have to fight your way to order at the bar. Not many veggie options, but they ones they had were worth the wait. I had another dinner to go to after, so I only had a light bite.
-Tortilla Espanola: The best Spanish omelet I had in Spain, this was almost like a potato gratin wrapped inside a fluffy French omelets, all on top of a toasted baguette slice. No need for sauce or any condiment, it was perfection.
-Goat Cheese Stuffed Piquillo Peppers: little bite sized heaven.
-Artichokes and asparagus and mushrooms (I didn’t have them, but they looked great) + a side of the tomato toast that comes with all the pickled items
-House made brew on tap
10. ALE AND HOP
Carrer de les Basses de Sant Pere, 10, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Not to be confused with the everpresent accessories shop Ale-Hop, this vegetarian craft beer spot was kind enough to re-open the kitchen for me when I was starving. Even though I swore not to eat at a vegetarian only restaurant while in Spain, I was really hungry and it was right by my apartment- and it had Spanish food on the menu instead of California vegan J Amazing local craft brews on tap and in bottle along with a huge selection of Spanish vegetarian cuisine.
-Sweet Potato Bravas: Roasted sweet potatoes with a chipotle bravas sauce and a soy-milk based vegan aioli garnished with..chives. An interesting twist on the national dish
-Escalivada flatbread: Roasted eggplant, tomato sauce, peppers, onions and local olive oil on a huge oven baked flatbread garnished with..chives.
Tapas Bar on Crack
Av. del Paraŀlel, 164, 08015 Barcelona, Spain
If you are lucky enough to get a reservation here (try 2 months out, or keep checking back for cancellations, or pop in on the late side of the evening and try to walk-in), be prepared for a gastronomical journey unlike most others. From the creators of El Bulli, Tickets tapas bar is a deliciously whimsical tapas take on molecular gastronomy with a surprisingly affordable bill (Mine was 90 Euros for 2 beers, 1 glass of wine, one cocktail and 7 courses). At the onset, you can decide to go a-la-carte or tell your server your likes and dislikes and dietary restrictions (not an eye was batted at my vegetarianism) and they will curate a menu just for you from on and off the menu items. I opted for the latter and was treated to a tour-de-force of one dynamite dish after another. It is an open menu, so they will keep going until you tell them you are full (I opted instead for when I started to get terrified of the final price tag- which in the end was wildly inexpensive for what I had, just $95 euros), so just keep them posted.
Spring Tree with its Pistachio Nut
No joke, a miniature tree. Hanging from the branches a long stemmed strawberry dipped in kimchi foam and secured by a dollop of sugar- which you snip off with a pair of mini scissors hanging from the branches. Nestled below is a pistachio flavored meringue coated with rice puffs. The tree base is surrounded by toasted breadcrumbs.
Blackcurrant meringue churros with a horseradish cream dip (you will want to drink the sauce it’s so good)
Basil air waffle with pine nuts
“Pizza”, a lighter than air crisp with fresh oregano, olive oil caviar, an array of spices served alongside the most incredible (mozzarella name) and basil oil
Rolled seaweed crisps with toasted sesame seeds. The first seaweed snack in the history of time I’ve ever liked.
Olive 1: Asian Spices
Olive 2: Mediterranean style
Manchego foam enclosed in a pita “airbag” topped with a slice of manchego, hazelnut oil caviar, and crushed hazelnut skins
White asparagus confit in miso and olive oil, roasted garlic in the skin, topped with garlic chips, rosemary, and oregano flowers
Orange segment salad with an emulsion made from the brine of the liquid olives, dotted with olive oil, topped with lemon peel that was cured for 40 days, and topped with cracked pepper and some sort of indian spice that they would not reveal (garam masala esque) and fresh mint
Pea risotto in a pea cream with fennel oil, fennel fronds and edible flowers
King oyster mushroom “spaghetti” with parmesan and mushroom cream (half portion)
Chocolate “éclair” with meringue and hazelnut cream inside
Estrella INEDIT- gastronomical brew from Estrella brewed specially for El Bulli in the north.
Camins del Priorat red wine
11. LA XOCOLATERIA DE ORIOL BALAGUER
Carrer de la Fusina, 5, Barcelona, Spain
This little chocolate shop makes delectable pastries, gelatos, and breakfasts.They have a crepe and coffee special that will kickstart your day and make you swoon.
-Dark chocolate gelato topped with candied marcona almonds
-Flaky buttery croissant (voted the best in Barcelona 2014) that totally deserves the acclaim.
I was lucky enough to have a guide in the native Valencian I sat next to on the plane from LA to MADRID, so I was directed to the best spots from a local. With rice fields stretching as far as the eye can see, and endless stunning produce grown in the neighboring farmlands, the Valencian restaurants I patroned produced some pretty incredible plant-forward menus with tons of vegetarian-friendly beans, rice, legumes, and veggies (and the most incredible artichokes that I tasted on my trip.)
1. LA HORCHATERIA SANTA CATALINA
Placa de Santa Caterina, 6, 46001 Valencia, Spain
Incredible fresh ice-cold horchata ladled from a human-sized barrel at the counter at the hometown of Horchata de Chufa. This creamy dairy-free drink is made from fresh local chufas (tiger nuts), water and sugar. Better than the best nut milk you’ve ever made in your vitamix. This spot has been around since 1909 and it’s easy to see why- horchata to change the mind of any hater.
2. CANALLA BISTRO
Carrer del Mestre Josep Serrano, 5, 46005 Valencia, Spain
The casual dining gastrobar of Michelin Star chef Ricard Camarena was a dining highlight of my trip. Creative vegetable dishes that felt like Spanish-Californian fusion wowed us all with fresh, bright flavors and master touches.
The crispy melt-in-your-mouth goat cheese pesto croquettes won over a guy who swore croquettes without meat are no croquettes at all, the braised leeks with burrata and mini croutons were sublime, and the tempura vegetables with sesame and smoky romesco were perfection. My hands-down favorite: the pickled baby artichokes with perfectly al dente lupini beans, salted peanuts, and microgreens swimming in a lemony artichoke emulsion. The banana chocolate dessert was just out of control (which I didn’t even order but got a stranger next to me to let me take a bite. He then turned into a great friend, sharing food never fails to create bonds).
Too tipsy to remember!
3. LAS TRES HUELLAS
Avenida del Puerto, 129, 46023 Valencia, Spain
I promised my new friend that I would wait until I arrived in his town to try the eponymous Spanish dish, Paella, since Valencia is where the dish was born- and I am so glad I waited. He took me to an incredible hidden hip gem that his friend runs, and the chef whipped up a farm-fresh paella made especially for me (every other paella I had run across pre-Valencia was scooped from a giant paella pan made for the masses). Even the carnivores at the table said mine was far better than their game-filled version. One of my favorite brews of the trip, the local Valencian beer Turia, decked out the restaurant’s astroturfed hipster outdoor dining area with beanbags, rocking horses, and bistro tables where we dined under palms and sunshine.
-From-scratch real-deal paella with local Valencian rice, beans, and vegetables
-Deconstructed Spanish Omelette with truffles in a martini glass- one of the best thing I ate on my entire trip. Layered crispy fried onions, then whipped potatoes, then 60 degree egg with truffle.
Tantum Ergo Pinot Noir Cava, Turia Beer
Granada was easily my hardest city for food. Even locals told me that it’s not really a food-forward city and they are way behind on having great markets (I barely saw any fresh produce markets) or restaurants (not very many hip gastrobars), and mostly due to the traditional tapas mentality- you get a lot of food for free. When you order a drink, you get giant plates of food free of charge. Unfortunately for vegetarians, you don’t really get to choose, and you need to let them know as soon as you order your drink that you don’t eat meat or fish or they’ll bring you blood sausage sandwiches or plates of jamon. My vegetarian free tapas were lackluster, and I found myself hungry most of the time I was in town.
1. CAFÉ 4 GATOS
Placeta Cruz Verde, 6, 18010 Granada, Spain
The only memorable dish in Granada was this insanely delicious open-faced toast I had for brunch on my first day. Escalivada, one of the most common vegetarian dishes in Spanish cuisine, was taken to the next level at a tiny café on a long hilly trek down the Albaicin. An XL baguette half piled high with fire roasted eggplant, melted farm-fresh HUGE Cana de Cabra (buttery soft-ripened goat cheese- my new favorite cheese in the universe) rounds, roasted red pepper slivers, pickled pepper, bruleed balsamic and sea salt. Such a great food memory that I still feel like I can call up every flavor!
Mamooth Pale Ale
Seville is Granada’s more sexy and sophisticated cousin, retaining most of the charm of the other southern city but with a far more cosmopolitan approach to food. You still get the free tapas with drinks, but here they are often a plate of glorious local green olives, pickles, and lupini beans (protein!). The city is lined with bitter orange trees, which makes for some amazing orange flavored jams, wines, and pastries at every turn.
Eslava, 3, 41002 Seville, Spain
One of the busiest non-touristy restaurants I found in Seville, this place was packed to the gills at lunch. The serve an incredibly fresh free tapas of lupini beans and olives (so good I could have just eaten 5 helpings of that for lunch)
-Salmorejo soup with chopped hard boiled eggs
-Melt in your mouth terrine of zucchini, eggplant, and peppers
2. CHOCOLATE Y LIMON
Pje Villa, 2, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
A tiny ice cream shop in the barrio Santa Cruz, their fresh flavors and handmade cones are perfect on a hot Seville day.
Chocolate and Lemon ice cream mixed in a cone