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Eat Spanish Food Like a Local, Don’t Fall For Tourist Scams!

Eat Spanish food like a local

One of the best things about traveling is getting the opportunity to taste and experience new foods that you probably wouldn’t get to try anywhere else, and Spain is no exception. Spanish cuisine is so diverse and surprising that you will find no lack of tasty things to eat during your trip to Spain. But be warned: every Spanish city is full of tourist scams that serve you mediocre food for outrageous prices. Here’s how to spot these places so you can eat Spanish food like a local!


Photo via Pixabay

Paella is one of the most famous dishes in Spanish cuisine, so of course you should try this delicacy at least once when you visit. However, every restaurant prepares paella a bit differently and not all are equal in taste and quality. Tourist trap restaurants often heat up pre-made frozen paella mix and serve it up hot, and tourists are often none the wiser. Avoid restaurants and bars that have paella offered on signs outside, because a good paella restaurant usually doesn’t need too much publicity. Authentic paella is made-to-order and straight from the pan, so don’t trust a restaurant that serves only plates of rice. Lastly, check the color and ingredients. Avoid paellas that are overly yellow and have ingredients like cherry tomatoes and olives. The best paellas are usually darker in color and have meat, seafood, and fresh vegetables mixed in.


Sangria is well-known throughout Spain and the world as a beverage consisting of wine and fresh fruit. The exact recipes varies widely but this is probably the most famous drink in Spain, especially in the summertime. While you can certainly find great sangria in many bars and restaurants, be careful about where you choose to try it. Many tourist scams serve sangria from a bottle or on tap and don’t freshly prepare it, so look for restaurants that make it then and there. It should have some citrus and other chopped fruits inside for extra flavor. A good sangria is sweet, but not overly sugary, either. Like delicious paella, quality restaurants don’t have to advertise in the window that their sangria is good or “authentic.”

Iberian ham

Iberian ham  is not only delicious, it’s an important part of Spanish culture. No party or holiday is complete without a plate of salty, cured ham! High-quality ham should have a firmer consistency but not tough, and is smooth in taste and texture. It should be darker red in color, with a little bit of white fat on the edges. You can spot cheap ham if it feels or tastes rubbery, or is pink or orange in color. Great ham isn’t cheap, so if you’re spending the money make sure you’re getting the real deal. Iberian ham is an experience, so make sure that you have the best one possible!

See more: 7 Delicious Seafood Tapas Recipes

Beach bars

A popular place to eat Spanish food in the summer or during good weather is at beach bars, or chiringuitos. Chiringuitos serve up cool drinks and mouth-watering seafood often all-year round, but with most activity in the warmer months. Watch the clientele of the chiringuitos to know if it’s a place to eat like a local or to avoid at all costs. Some beach bars will gouge tourists on prices for food that isn’t worth the money that they’re spending. Instead, eat Spanish food where you see the locals, at bars that may be a little farther from tourist destinations. You’re sure to find fresher food, lower prices, and better atmosphere.

Restaurants in tourist zones

In big cities, you will find many restaurants in the most touristy areas, and usually these are the places you want to avoid. Sometimes you can find authentic tapas bars in these zones, but most likely you will find overpriced restaurants that serve food of mediocre quality. As a rule of thumb, if the menu on the door is written in English, avoid the restaurant. If you wander a bit outside of the touristy areas and you will be sure to find tapas bars and restaurants with cuisine that is made from the heart. These places will offer you a better experience to eat Spanish food and take in Spain the way a local would.

One of the best things about visiting a new country or city is being able to sample the local cuisine. On your next trip to Spain, you will be able to eat Spanish food and enjoy the local fare without falling for the most common tourist scams. Eating well doesn’t mean spending a lot of money or booking a fancy restaurant, it means discovering the best dishes and being in great company! When you join a Food Lover Tour food tour you will only go where the locals go. No tourist scams, only the best Spanish cuisine!