An authentic Spanish restaurant can provide you with a dining experience that you will remember for a long time. If you are unfamiliar with the cuisine, learn about the typical foods before you go so you are prepared to make the right menu choices.
Before delving into your meal, you might experiment with a few tapas. Tapas are appetizers or snacks available for order before the main meal. In Spain where residents often eat their meal late in the evening, people may snack on tapas between the time they get off work and the time they are ready for their meal. They may feature seafood such as anchovies or squid. Olives and chilies are a common ingredient. For seasonings, expect garlic, paprika, cumin, saffron, salt, and pepper. Bread often accompanies tapas, which you can use for dipping into the sauces.
A variety of entrees are available in a Spanish restaurant. Tortillas are a mainstay, serving as the main ingredient in burritos, soft tacos, or enchiladas. Tamales, while not native of Spain, are a popular menu item. Tamales usually have meat tucked inside the flavorful bundles. Paella features rice, seasoned with numerous strong spices such as saffron and cumin. It’s common for paella to have meat or fish added to it to round out the dish. Refried beans typically come from cooked pinto beans. After cooking the beans until they are soft, the chef will add a variety of seasonings to give them a hearty flavor.
If you have a sweet tooth, you can usually find plenty of options on the dessert menu. Tarta de Santiago is a traditional almond cake, named to honor Santiago, the patron saint of Spain. Bizcochos borrachos is a delightful sponge cake with a topping of brandy sauce drizzled over it. Flan is a light and flavorful custard that will top off a full meal in a memorable way.
The classic sangria may be one of your first choices for a beverage. This delightful mixture of brandy, wine, juice, and fruit chunks will provide refreshment when you drink it over ice. Rioja wine is famous in the northern regions of Spain. This red wine is an excellent accompaniment with steaks and other red meats. If you’re celebrating, consider cava wine, which is the Spanish equivalent to champagne. This sparkling white wine is the perfect choice when you are having poultry or some lighter fare.
Ask your server about the level of heat in anything you consider ordering. It is pretty typical for a Spanish restaurant to use a numeric rating system for their entrees to help patrons determine which meals to order. If you have sensitive taste buds, stay away from anything rated over a “1.” People with conditioned systems may be able to manage spicier meals without issue. Don’t forget to enjoy the ambiance as you dine. The decor, lighting, and music are all integral parts of the experience, enabling you to get a taste and a sense of what it might be like to dine in Spain or Mexico.