Travis Eats His Way Through Europe (Part 3 – Tapas!)

After our first month of lounging in the Greek sun and discovering the Adriatic gems of Montenegro and Croatia, a short plane trip took us to a completely different part of the continent and into Spain. Needless to say we were very excited to spend some time getting to know the country and its delicious gastronomic delights – more specifically, tapas.
A busy tapas bar in Barcelona; in general, Busy = Good

A busy tapas bar in Barcelona; in general, Busy = Good (via)

Spanish tapas are perhaps the most talked about and hyped of all European cuisines. At their simplest, tapas are just appetizers or snacks meant to be enjoyed with friends and family; however, to the majority of Spaniards they are much more than that. In recent years, tapas have turned into a subculture of their very own, with people constantly searching out new restaurants with the hopes of unearthing that next culinary gem.

Tapas can be found nearly everywhere in Spain, from crowded standing-only tapas bars to the countless vibrant markets to traditional sit-down restaurants. And quality varies wildly. We had tapas at fancy restaurants that bordered on the inedible, and we had tapas at our hostel in Malaga that were simply sublime.

Salmorejo - the specialty of our hostel in Malaga (via)

Salmorejo – the specialty of our hostel in Malaga (via)

With that all said, what were our thoughts and experiences with tapas? As you would expect, our experiences varied greatly from place to place. We had some good and we had some bad, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the quality. We tended to follow our traditional rules of how to find good food. Chances are the tapas place beside the main square or Cathedral with the menu in 10 languages is not going to provide you with an authentic taste of the food for that region; However, the busy little place down a couple unassuming side streets may just be what you are looking for. If you are at a small guest house or B&B ask your hosts, if you have your phone check out SpottedbyLocals or another app with some foodie insight. On a budget? Look for the menu del dia or head for a market (our favorite was Mercado San Miguel in Madrid).
Tapas from the Mercado San Miguel in Madrid

Tapas from the Mercado San Miguel in Madrid

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