Spain is a must visit for anyone coming to Europe. I have a Spanish mum and family, so I get the chance to visit Spain at least twice a year, and spent a month there on a language course a few years ago. I've compiled a list of 18 Spanish foods that I think everyone needs to try at least once in their life, be it in Spain (lucky you) or at your local Spanish restaurant. Although tapas are trendy, this list goes beyond that and will hopefully show you the vast array of Spanish foods you can try. 

1. Paella

Arguably the most well known food to come from Spain, paella is a rice dish laden with seafood and meats, vegetables, and the beautiful spice of saffron. 

#SpoonTip: Don't eat a paella at a restaurant that has a picture of paella, these will most likely be frozen.

2. Pan con tomate

Grab a fresh baguette, lightly toast it, rub some garlic on that warm bread, then scrub half a juicy tomato on top and drizzle with olive oil and salt flakes. This is like a Spanish version of Italian bruschetta (and much better, in my opinion).

3. Tortilla de patata

Onions and potatoes are slow cooked and mixed with eggs to create a frittata-style dish. You can find this in sandwiches or eaten for breakfast with a fried egg. 

4. Albondigas

The Spanish meatball. Served in a rich tomato sauce, often with a side of aioli (garlic mayonnaise). This dish is unlike anything you've tried before. 

5. Churros con chocolate

Churros are like long doughnuts, but they are rolled around in sugar and then you get to dip them in a cup of thick, rich chocolate. 

#SpoonTip: Try churros for breakfast, and alternate dipping them in chocolate and a coffee. 

6. Manchego con membrillo

Manchego is a sheep's milk that can be eaten hard or melted down. It tastes nutty and has hints of caramel. Try it with membrillo (quince paste), for a sweet and salty combo that will change your life. 

7. Anchovas

Aka Spanish anchovies. The Spanish cure their anchovies in a glorious mix of vinegar, sugar, and spices that I think could make fish haters become fish lovers. 

8. Croquettes

My favorite food of all time. Croquettes are little balls of béchamel (creamy sauce) mixed with either jamón (cured ham), fish, or vegetables. They are breaded and fried and are absolutely delicious. 

9. Gambas al ajillo

This dish consists of garlic, olive oil, and shrimp. The simplicity of this dish allows for the sweet shrimp to be a stand out. 

#SpoonTip: Don't forget to soak up the olive oil with a good crunchy loaf of bread.

10. Romesco sauce

This rich sauce is made from roasted red peppers, almonds, garlic, olive oil, and tomato. It's often served with asparagus and makes eating your five a day too easy. 

11. Sangria

red wine, Barcelona, Spain, Sangria, liquor, cocktail, sweet, juice, alcohol, tea, wine
Amelia Hitchens

Another well known Spanish item. Red or white wine is the base of this drink. Citrus fruits (oranges and lemons) are added along with a splash or two of lemonade. Drink it and enjoy! 

12. Pulpo al la plancha

Pulpo is Spanish for octopus. It's prepared in this dish by being grilled and served with lemon, olive oil, and garlic. It's so fresh and so good.

13. Jamón iberico

Jamón is cured ham, and is much saltier and richer than prosciutto (its Italian cousin). You can often buy jamón in cones at markets all around Spain. 

14. Chorizo

Chorizo is a delicious, salty, spicy, and sweet hard sausage. Eat it warmed up with fish or slice into thin strips and enjoy with bread and cheese. 

15. Gazpacho

You either love or hate this dish. Gazpacho is a tomato and bread soup that's served chilled. It helps cool you down on a hot Mediterranean day in the sun. If you're unsure whether you'll enjoy this dish, make your own single-serve gazpacho to try it out.

16. Patatas bravas

This dish is a great one to munch on after a night on the town. Chunks of potato are lightly fried and served with a spicy tomato sauce and lashings of aioli. 

17. Turron

Turron is the Spanish version of nougat. Made from only three ingredients—almonds, honey, and egg whites—turron could almost be seen as a health food. 

18. Crema catalana

This is my mum's favorite Spanish desert. It's a hybrid of flan, custard, and crème brûlée all rolled into one. Scrumptious.

These 18 Spanish foods should be more than a big enough reason to go visit Spain. At the very least, make a reservation at your local tapas restaurant and sample as much as possible to get a taste of authentic Spanish food.