10 Options for Vegetarian Food In Spain Last Updated: May 1, 2021
I spent one and a half years in Spain when I was pursuing my Master’s program. There is a vast difference living in big cities as compared to small towns. I was in the capital city of Madrid which has diverse cuisines and finding vegetarian/vegan food isn’t all that hard but if you want to try the local vegetarian food in Spain then please continue reading.
It is a known fact that Spain is not big on vegetarianism. There is a small population in the country trying to become vegetarian/vegan so the struggle of eating good vegetarian food is REAL!
As a Lacto-vegetarian (no eggs, no meat, no seafood), there are very few local things that I could try in Spain. If you are like me, keep this article handy when you are traveling to the country.
1. Churros/ Porras con chocolate (Churros/Porras with hot chocolate)
This is the most common breakfast that you will find in Spain. Usually made with water, sugar, a pinch of salt, vegetable oil, and all-purpose flour, churros are an easy thing to grab on the go or you could sit and enjoy them in any local Spanish cafe. The best way to eat them is with thick hot chocolate. Sprinkling more granulated sugar on the churros is optional but I would recommend it! Porras is similar to churros, just thicker and longer in size. They taste equally good with hot chocolate. You will find many ‘churrerias’ but I loved Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid which is THE most popular place to get churros from. (no doubt why!)
2. Pisto (More like ratatouille)
This is one of the most soulful vegetarian meals for me. Maybe because I tried it at a Spanish friend’s home instead of a restaurant. Pisto resembles ratatouille and it is made with olive oil, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and eggplants. This dish is considered an appetizer but it is heavy enough to fill your stomach. The best way to eat it is with toasted bread.
3. Patatas Bravas (Potatoes topped with a spicy tomato-based gravy)
A well-known choice for ‘tapas’, patatas bravas is a dish found in bars and local restaurants in Spain. It is basically fried potatoes topped with a spicy tomato-based sauce served as an appetizer. I have often found variations in the sauce all over Spain. Some of them use spicy mayo or ketchup instead of the original tangy sauce. It is meant to be had with your drink but if you order a larger portion of it, then it is heavy enough to count as a main course. This was my survival food in local restaurants because a lot of them had this dish as the only vegetarian option.
4. Gazpacho (cold tomato-based soup)
Gazpacho originates from Andalusia. I tasted this first in Seville and it was so yummy. This is a cold tomato-based soup with mixed vegetables, usually had in the summer months. I often confuse this dish with Salmorejo which is also vegetarian friendly (read the 8th point to learn more about Salmorejo)
5. Croquetas (Croquettes)
Croquetas are bite-sized fried cylinders with some kind of stuffing inside. In Spain, they stuff them with blue cheese, mushrooms, Roquefort cheese, and walnuts or spinach and pinenuts. They make for an excellent ‘tapa’. My favorite is hands down the cheese and walnuts croquetas with a spicy or sweet and sour dip.
6. Pan con tomate (bread with tomato)
Pan con tomate is a part of a local Spanish breakfast that consists of toasted Spanish bread or a baguette topped with Spanish cheese, cold slices of tomatoes, oregano, and olive oil drizzle. This is a very basic dish but great for when you don’t find any other vegetarian food around you.
7. Berenjena frita (eggplant fritter)
Do you know how there are some weird food combinations that exist in the world? Berenjena frita is one such dish for me because it is sprinkled with local honey. I never thought I would like something like this given my limited taste buds but I was totally amazed by how good this combination is! Besides the patatas bravas, this is my second most recommended ‘tapa’ to try in Spain!
8. Salmorejo (cold tomato soup)
This is similar to Gazpacho in my opinion but more flavourful because it has garlic (I love garlic!). This is a healthy and vegan-friendly option, just like the gazpacho and it is also consumed during the summer months. The main difference between the Gazpacho and Salmorejo is the latter is strong on tomatoes and garlic as compared to the former.
9. Paella de verduras (Vegetarian paella)
Paella is a traditional Spanish rice-based dish. I call it the ‘Spanish biryani’. It has its own special seasoning which is vegetarian but the most local version of paella is cooked with rabbit and chicken. The vegetarian paella is not always easily available. You will usually find it in big and touristy cities like Madrid and Barcelona. It is called Paella de verduras cooked with bell peppers, carrots, and onions majorly.
10. Setas a la plancha (grilled wild mushrooms)
I am not a huge fan of mushrooms but I have tried Setas a la plancha once and it tasted pretty decent because the wild mushrooms are tossed in garlic olive oil and parsley. People who like mushrooms will like this dish more than me. It makes for a great vegetarian ‘tapas’.
Apart from the above, there are some more options for vegetarian food in Spain but these are the most local ones. Although they are not commonly available everywhere, I have personally tried these and some more. I only wanted to list down my top 10 recommendations but feel free to comment below if you have other recommendations.
Hope this article helps all those who are skeptical about finding good local vegetarian food in Spain. Always happy to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Until then, hasta luego.