Spanish people know how to appreciate a good bite.
Traditional Spanish dishes go from healthy and fresh seafood to deep-fried cheese and ham croquettes. The diversity of Spanish cuisine is not to be seen only in restaurants and dining places. That choice is also available on the streets.
When I think of street food, I mostly imagine fast and unhealthy food. But in Spain, street food can also be healthy and natural.
Street food is sometimes a great way of exploring the city. When you are motivated by hunger, you are more likely to follow the smell of the food down the unknown path and thus discover secret corners and oases.
As there is so much for you to choose from, I cannot say what the best street food in Spain is. But I do have an idea of what you should definitely try while in Spain!
We put a small list of 5 street food of Spain, diverse enough for you to find your preference and have a yummy holiday.
So, here’s the list!
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Table of Contents
- Churros con chocolate (Churros with hot chocolate)
- Shawarma – Moroccan food in Spain
- Patata Asada (Baked potatoes)
- Espetos (skewer sardines)
- Caracoles (Snails in Andalucia)
Churros con chocolate (Churros with hot chocolate)
The most popular and delicious Spanish dessert is so simple it’s almost genius. This deliciously sweet treat is something everybody would put on their bucket lists while visiting Spain, so this is not us reinventing the wheel.
But since everybody knows about it, we wanted to add a little extra info and make you a real know-it-all. That way when you decide to try the famous Spanish churros, you will know how to pick them right!
Churros con chocolate
Spanish churros con chocolate are not the same as the churros you ate in the amusement park when you were a kid! Spanish churros are a crisp and delicious snack that lightens up your day!
If you went to Spain, you would see that churros are all over the place. There are churrerias (special vending places for churros) on every corner, but also there are churros in every café.
Spanish people love to take a pause in their day, sit in a café, and order a good cup of coffee and a couple of churros to accompany it.
What makes Spanish churros different?
Churros con chocolate in Spain are originally served with a cup of hot chocolate, or sometimes with coffee. They are doughnut-like, deep-fried bagels made of wheat flour, water, and a pinch of salt.
Churros are not only popular in Spain and Hispanic countries, but also in Chile, the Philippines, Portugal, and the United States. In the Philippines, churros are called Spanish doughnuts, but they go beyond traditional Spanish churros.
In Latin America, churros are filled with dulce de leche, guava syrup, or vanilla, and some countries have their salty versions with cheese or ham.
In Spain and Portugal, you will also see a variety of churro forms. The most common ones besides the original are churros covered with cinnamon and sugar.
Many pastries nowadays sell churros filled with chocolate or accompanied by fruit and sprinkles. Every culture adds its preference, and every person has their taste, but in my opinion, the original ones are the best.
Spanish churros are best to eat hot, dipped in hot chocolate, balancing the flavors between the bagel and the chocolate. Filled churros are usually not dipped, because that way it would make them too sweet, and will feel like you are eating hot chocolate with churros and not vice versa! 😀
The reason I prefer original Spanish churros con chocolate is that you can dip them every two or three bites, so you don’t overdo it with the sweetness.
History of churros (in Spain and before Spain)
So, now when we know what’s so good about churros con chocolate, let’s answer the next question: Where do churros con chocolate come from?
The history of churros in Spain dates back to the 19th century, but the origin of churros is not yet confirmed, and all that we have got are guesses. Even when it comes to Spain, some say that the first churreria opened in the province of Zaragoza, and some say it was in Catalonia.
Wherever it was, not long after that this sweet snack spread all over the country and made deep into the Spanish culture. Nowadays, churros are available on every horizontal and vertical line across Spain and all the Hispanic countries across the Atlantic Ocean.
The history of churros before Spain has a lot of speculations, but it seems that all of them lead to Asia. One of them says that the Portuguese have brought this bagel recipe from street-food vendors in Asia in one of their expeditions.
Then they adapted the recipe to answer their sweet tooth needs. That adapted recipe is what made the churros of today, so the famous Spanish churros actually come from their neighbors!
But, let’s leave the history behind because Spanish churros con chocolate makes their modern history every day because they became more than just another recipe.
How much are churros in Spain?
Now that your tummy is growling for the crisp and sweet churro and hot and smooth chocolate, you must be getting nervous to find out the pricing. Maybe we should’ve put that before the churro history class! 😀
The price of churros goes all the way from 1 to 10 euros.
It all depends on the size, but also the place, and some extra condiments. For around 2 euros you could get half a dozen churros with hot chocolate, which is more than enough for one, and even two people. So, if you have 5 euros in your pocket, don’t worry, you can get a good portion of churros for that money!
Shawarma – Moroccan food in Spain
We all know that Morocco has a tasty and rich cuisine. And for some of the most popular dishes, you don’t have to go to Morocco to enjoy them! Spain is very close to Morocco; therefore, it is largely influenced by its culture. Especially in Andalusia and Sothern parts of the country.
Which means what? That we got to try tasty Moroccan food in Spain!! Yaaay!
Moroccan influence in Spain
Besides the Arabic and Moorish influence through history, modern-day Spain is closely tight with modern-day Morocco. Many people, especially young people, come to Spain to study, get jobs and build lives. Because of this intercultural connection, Spain is full of Moroccan restaurants and fast food vendors.
The best Moroccan street food in Spain – Shawarma (Doner Kebab)
The best Moroccan street food in Spain can be found in restaurants kept by Moroccans. In these places, especially the small and family-owned, you can bet on good service and quality food. Moroccan food is spicy and strong; it contains a lot of meat, but also a lot of side dishes (rice, salads).
Muslim culture connects Morocco with other Muslim countries, so you will find a lot of similarities with national dishes from other Middle Eastern countries. Actually, this particular dish we will talk about, Doner Kebab is of Turkish origins.
Shawarma is an Arabic adaptation of this dish, with not many differences than a denomination and slight recipe adjustments. Doner kebab in its different but similar forms is a very popular dish in the whole world. So, I bet you have already heard of it and maybe already love it.
Doner in Andalusia
Shawarma is for a reason on this list, as it played a big role in or life in Andalusia. During our stay we had a lot of late-knight Doner dates or lazy Sunday mornings after a night of partying, so we ate delicious Shawarma very often.
A part of that goes to the popularity of the dish and practically having Moroccan restaurants as much as tapas bars. But another reason is that our roommate was indeed Moroccan, and a very proud one. His best friend, also from Morocco, a great guy named Yusuf worked at a Doner kebab place at the time, so we had a friendly connection.
The shawarma was amazing, and we knew it was good because we had first-hand recommendations. But I assure you that every Spanish city has an awesome Doner kebab and that it is worth a try!
The price is around 3 to 4 euros.
There are a lot of Moroccan people in Spain, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Moreover, I suggest befriending somebody from Morocco, as they are super friendly, nice and funny!
Patata Asada (Baked potatoes)
Strolling the internet, I found out that this street snack is not as famous in all parts of Spain as I thought it was. We first encountered patatas asadas in Feria Marinera in El Palo, a little sea-side town in Malaga.
At that moment it seemed that patata asada was a very popular snack, as there were tons of people in line in front of the food truck. Again, strolling the internet, I found out that those people who knew about this dish also knew about those lines. So, I guess this is a very popular dish, but not as much spread.
What is a patata asada (de feria)?
We say de feria because, in the parts where this snack is popular, it is sold on ferias from a food truck. It’s classic street food, that you get to eat while standing, or sitting on the bench. It also goes by another name – patata asada rellena, which basically means stuffed baked potato. So, now when you know the translation, maybe you are starting to picture it.
Patata asada is a large potato, baked and then cut in half, then mashed in the middle making it something like potato skins with mashed potato filling. The magic starts when you are about to choose ingredients and condiments to add to your baked potato. This is the filling (relleno) that you choose from dozens of different spices and ingredients.
What are my choices?
Patata Asada con queso y bacon or Patata Asada marinera
There is a great variety of meat and seafood products, like bacon (patata asada con bacon), tuna, or crab. Then there is a big choice of salsas (ketchup, mustard, but also mixed, like red or salsa verde).
Salads go from corn to fresh tomato, olives (of course), onion to cucumbers. In the end, there is cheese (patata asada con queso). The choice is enormous, and you can add extras for some cents more.
The price should not surpass 4 euros.
If you are new to this and don’t know what goes well together and what to pick, since the choice is that big, don’t worry. Most food trucks have a menu, so you can, for example, choose una Patata marinera (seafood potato), instead of picking ingredient by ingredient. This way you can both choose your preferences, but also let someone else help you mix things that go well together.
If you are unsure of where to find these potatoes, I know for sure that in ferias in Malaga you will not miss them!
Espetos (skewer sardines)
Espetos de sardinas or skewer sardines are yet another delicacy you will find in the streets of Malaga. Espeto is a big deal on Costa del Sol in Spain, as it is their regional traditional fish dish. Wow, we’ve got a rhyme! 😀
If you like grilled sardines, you will like this street snack, but you should know that it is not the same as regular sardines. The reason for the differences between Espeto de Malaga and regular sardines is found in the preparation process.
How are espetos de sardina in Malaga prepared?
Espetos are normally prepared in a portion of six sardines on a wooden or a bamboo stick and then grilled over an open flame.
As for the pre-grilling preparation, it is very simple and much like regular sardines. They are spiced only with olive oil and salt, but according to one’s taste, they can be spiced with some fresh Mediterranean herbs as well.
Traditional Espeto barbeque style
This tasty fish snack has a long history and tradition behind it, and it has become something of an attraction during those hot days in Malaga.
If you went to Malaga, you would see old boats with coal inside them all along the shore. These boats are actually a grilling dish in which the famous espetos are prepared.
This tradition goes way back when fishermen stayed at sea until late afternoon, so when they got back to the shore, hungry and exhausted, they would take some of the sardines they just caught and grilled them over an open fire in their boats.
Where and when to find Espetos de Malaga?
Even though there is not a chance you will miss this snack anywhere in Malaga, I suggest going on an adventure to some smaller village in the province. All you need to do is sit on a bus in Malaga city and ride 20, 30 minutes. When you see a place you like, get off and you will definitely find a more authentic experience.
Respecting the old ways, almost all the smaller traditional restaurants in coastal parts of Malaga have a boat on the beach where the sardines are grilled.
It’s very nice and authentic scenery. Restaurants paint and decorate the boats to resemble their businesses, they write their names on the boats in some nice rustic font and it all adds up to the experience.
Usually, the restaurants are on one side of the sidewalk, across the beach, and then their grilling boats are on the beachside. Accompanied by a little wooden cabin for the waiter, it complements the restaurant with a fuller look, making it more casual and comfortable to sit in.
The best time to try Skewer sardines in Malaga is between July and September.
The price goes from 2 to 5 euros per portion.
Caracoles (Snails in Andalucia)
Caracoles are another specialty that we love … or not? It’s a never-ending battle with this popular dish.
So, what are caracoles?
Caracoles are SNAILS!
Snails are one of the oldest dishes and delicacies in Spain. They have been around longer than you can count, they have seen the fall of the Roman empire, and they are drawn all over the cave walls of our prehistoric ancestors. This may be an exaggeration, but, seriously, snails were on and off in the world’s gastronomy for centuries.
Their history perfectly describes them, because the same how our ancestors constantly changed their minds about them, we are today also indecisive whether we love caracoles or no. But, if you ask do Spanish eat snails, the answer is yes. They most certainly love snails, because when the time comes, all the restaurants decorate themselves with “WE HAVE CARACOLES” on their doors. If they were not as much loved, would there even be those signs?
There is something unordinary in that dish that can simply make you uncomfortable eating it. But I guess if you grew somewhere where snails were as popular as they are in Spain, it was just a normal tasty dish.
In the end, it’s all a matter of habits, right?
So, for those of you who are familiar with snails – good news, there are a lot of places around springtime for you to enjoy this snack. And for the others, who have not yet been introduced to caracoles, let us answer some of the most asked questions!
Do you eat the whole snail?
If you don’t know anything about snails you can be wondering how to eat them. And, I’ll instantly tell you that you don’t eat the whole snail, you don’t eat the shell! The only thing you are eating is the snail that is inside the shell.
This is a recommendation for snails I had, and these were very popular in Andalusia. So, today we are not talking about those big snails that you eat in fancy restaurants, but rather a street food, a snack, to accompany your beer.
This particular type that is popular in Spain is made of snails called Helix Aspersa, a small garden snail; while in central Europe more common in gastronomy is Helix Pomatia.
Andalusia is the perfect region to try caracoles. My first time was in Jerez de la Frontera, and I have to admit I was skeptical. But you can see that I liked them very much as I am putting them on a “must-try street food in Spain” list.
A portion of caracoles is served in a regular glass of about 200 ml. The snails come in a soup (caldo) that they were cooked in. For me, it’s the soup that speaks a lot about the quality and taste of the dish. I prefer it when it’s spicier.
The caracoles are eaten with a toothpick. You pin a toothpick in the part of the snail that sticks from the shell and then you pull the rest out. I
f you are a real pro, then you can eat it just with your mouth and suck the snail out. Then you can take a sip of the soup with a coffee spoon, and after that washed it away with some crisp beer.
Time and place for caracoles
The best time to try them is spring – April and May. I couldn’t bet on the best place, because I haven’t tried them in all places, but if you ask me where the good ones are – they are in Andalusia, preferably in Jerez de la Frontera.
Just in time to visit the famous MotoGP in Jerez!
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