If you’re anything like me, you base most of your travel (and life) decisions on where you can find the best food. Of course, I know that food isn’t everything, but it’s definitely important, which is why I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend this summer studying abroad in Spain (tapas and sangria, need I say more?).
Being able to travel throughout Spain was amazing in itself, but being able to discover the best restaurants throughout the country made it even better. So for those of you getting ready to spend a semester in Spain or if you just want to add some restaurants to your bucket list, here’s everything you need to know.
La Brunilda Tapas—Sevilla
After spending the majority of my time in Sevilla, I was able to do some thorough research to find the best Tapas in the city. Ranking at number one is La Brunilda. You can’t go wrong with this place. The menu not only offers the most unique and delicious tapas in the city, but they also have affordable prices.
It’s a small restaurant and the locals love it, so you’ll want to get there a little bit on the early side to make sure you get a table. In particular, the grilled octopus and tuna tataki stood out as two of my faves. As for all you non-seafood people, make sure to try the croquettes; they’re hands down best in the city.
Coming in at a close second is La Azotea. There are various locations throughout the city, but my personal favorite is the one tucked away on Calle Zaragoza. The tapas are widely known as being the best in the city, so it’s a must for those of you planning to visit Sevilla.
The tapas change frequently, but if they happen to have the risotto on the menu it’s a must try. The best advice I can give is to save room for dessert. La Azotea’s lava cake is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had, and I’ve had my fair share of desserts.
After reading about this restaurant in the New York Times and hearing that it’s Antonio Banderas’ favorite restaurant, I knew I had to pay El Pimpi a visit and see what all the hype was about. All I can say is that Antonio Banderas knows his food.
This restaurant is a must-see for those of you spending time in Malaga. The restaurant offers traditional tapas with one of the best and most extensive cocktail menus I’ve ever seen. Although the service can be a little slow, the cocktails, fresh food (specifically the fish), and lively atmosphere make for a perfect night.
Restaurante Vino Mio—Malaga
Although I will forever be a die hard El Pimpi fan, Vino Mio ranks just as high. It is definitely less touristy, and you will undoubtedly find it packed with locals on any given night. By including items such as crocodile and kangaroo on their menu, Vino Mio offers a refreshing change from typical Spanish cuisine.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone at this restaurant. All the food is worth trying, and it will not disappoint. And for those of you less adventurous eaters, don’t fret—the pasta alla vodka is better than any Italian restaurant I’ve been to in the States.
Although a little on the classier side, it would be a crime to visit Madrid without stopping by El Paraguas. The food, service, and atmosphere are spectacular. The menu allows for traditional dishes prepared in a very modern way. You cannot leave this restaurant without trying the apple cake, so make sure you leave some room for dessert. Madrid is a prime spot for foodies, so make sure you stop by these restaurants on your visit as well.
Heladeria Los Italianos—Granada
If you’re studying abroad in Spain, you’ll definitely find yourself eating some form of ice cream/gelato as a daily merienda. I can easily say that Heladeria Los Italianos is the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten, and this is coming from a true Ben and Jerry’s fan. Even Michelle Obama can vouch for this little ice cream shop, as she has been previously spotted eating here.
The best part of this ice cream shop is the fact that you can get ice cream cake in a cone. As with most things, cake tastes much better when placed on top of a waffle cone. Such a simple idea, but for some reason us Americans have yet to make it a thing, so make sure you get a taste of this delicious invention at Los Italianos.
If you’re abroad in Spain, chances are you’ll spend a night or two in Barcelona. It’s impossible to pick a single best restaurant in Barcelona, because after two separate visits to the city I’ve yet to have a bad meal. What you must try above all else, however, is El Mercado de la Boqueria.
This market is the epitome of foodie heaven. Under a single roof, you can find the highest quality varieties of food from all nationalities, and it’s all reasonably priced. I can’t possibly make a single recommendation because everything is so good. So make sure to visit this market with a free schedule and empty stomach, because you’re going to need at least a whole day to try all the amazing foods.
Borda Berri– San Sebastian
If you’re looking for Michelin-quality food at a college budget price, look no further. Borda Berri offers deceptively traditional tapas that each have their own unique twist. This little bar is constantly packed with locals, so you may have to get there a little on the earlier side. If you do have to wait, don’t get discouraged. Good things take time, and this food is definitely worth any wait. Because all the ingredients are fresh, the menu changes on the daily. If they have it, make sure you order the risotto and the ravioli.
If you’ve been to Spain, you’ve most likely either been to or seen 100 Montaditos. It is one of the most popular chains in Spain, with over 300 locations. It is so popular that there are even about 17 locations in the United States. These restaurants are perfect for any time of day and offer consistently good bocadillos (sandwiches).
For those of you who are missing American food, don’t worry—there are hot dogs and hamburgers on the menu as well. Cheap drinks and good food, what more could an abroad student ask for?