Spanish food is not necessarily very popular outside of western Europe, but when you think about it the country has been the birthplace of some of the world’s best known street food and snacks, including churros and chorizo, which are now eaten all over the world.
Down on the Iberian Peninsula, street food is extremely common, even though it is actually illegal for food to be sold on the streets in much the same way you would find in other countries (due to hygiene reasons). Because of this, much of Spain’s “street food” is actually sold indoors in cafés or in tapas bars around the country. As such, almost all of these 12 snacks below would go well with a pint of beer or a glass of sangria!
Tortillitas de Camarones are shrimp fritters from the province of Cádiz in Andalusia, Spain. They are made with a batter of wheat flour, chickpea flour, water, onion, parsley, shrimp, salt and pepper. The batter is then fried on both sides in a pan with plenty of olive oil.
Bocadillo is a sandwich made with Spanish bread cut lengthwise, not with sliced bread. Traditionally seen as a humble food, its low cost has allowed it to evolve over time into an iconic piece of cuisine. In Spain, they are often eaten in cafes and tapas bars. Some bocadillos are seasoned with sauces like mayonnaise, aioli, ketchup, mustard, or tomato sauce. They are usually served with cold beer or red wine, drinks, coffee and a portion of tapas.
Patatas Bravas is a dish native to Spain, often served as a tapa in bars. It typically consists of white potatoes that have been cut into irregular shapes, then fried in oil and served warm with spicy tomato sauce.
Churros are fried dough pastry snacks that originated in Spain but are now eaten all over the world. Some shops specialise in churros and serve their delicacies with warm chocolate.
Pa amb tomàquet is a versatile Spanish street food that consists of toasted bread with tomato rubbed over and served with seasoned with olive oil and salt. Sometimes garlic is rubbed on the bread before rubbing in the tomato. It is not uncommon for the dish to be accompanied with any sort of sausage or ham, or even some grilled vegetables like escalivada.
Jamón Ibérico is a type of cured ham made from black Iberian pigs. As a street food, this ham can be used for anything, from accompanying other dishes to putting into a bocadillo.
Pinchitos is the term given to the Spanish version of a skewered kebab. Meats such as chicken and lamb are very popular and especially in the summertime, it seems everybody is eating Pinchitos in tapas bars across the country.
Empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Latin Europe and Latin America, but especially in Spain, where it is thought to have originated. The name comes from the Spanish verb “empanar”, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanadas are made by folding dough or bread with stuffing consisting of a variety of meat, cheese, huitlacoche, vegetables, fruits, and others.
Paella is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, and is eaten at all times of the day as street food, either on its own, or with other meats. Types of paella include Valencian paella, which is known as the original variety and includes meat such as chicken or rabbit, and seafood paella, which is among the most common varieties today, and utilises prawns, crabs, and fish, rather than white meat.
Chopitos is a Spanish street food that uses fried squid and it is chopped up into smaller, more manageable pieces. Not only eaten as street food, but also a popular kind of bar snack.
Chorizo is known all over the world and is made from the natural cases of intestines, which has been the traditional method for centuries. Chorizo can be eaten sliced in a sandwich, grilled, or fried. Spanish-style tapas bars that serve traditional Spanish-style chorizo have gained in popularity in recent years, and now appear in many large cities throughout North America and in parts of Europe.
Tortilla Española, known in English as “Spanish Omelette”, is a typical lightweight Spanish snack consisting of an egg omelette made with added potatoes and fried in olive oil.