Spain loves pork and seafood as much or more than Americans love coffee (and that’s hard to do)! Many of these types of dishes are featured on our 21 Delicious Spanish Foods To Die For!
As a result, many people question whether or not you can find something to eat as a vegetarian in Spain. Well, guess what. There are TONS of options, because Spaniards love their veggies, too!
If you’re just getting in to the tapas scene, rest assured there is plenty to choose from.
Many tapas bars both in Spain and abroad offer a variety of dishes with all different kinds of ingredients, including fresh local veggies, potatoes, cheese, and more.
There are no rules when it comes to tapas, so be prepared to be amazed by what some people come up with.
Finding a Spanish tapas bar with vegetarian options is much easier than you might think.
If you’re nervous about trying it, check out the menu outside the bar before entering.
Many tapas bars will have the menu posted outside for customers to check out what is available before deciding to go inside.
Here is your A-to-Z guide for some of the best vegetarian spanish tapas available!
Spain is one of the olive capitals of the world. There are 200 or more varieties of olives that are cultivated across the country, and many of them end up on bar tops as tapas.
Some are served just as they are, while others are marinated in olive oil and spices.
Depending on where you are, you might find manzanilla, hojiblanca, gordal, campo real, or tons of other types of olives. You might become overwhelmed by the variety, but just try them all!
Some are zesty and tangy, while others have a more muted flavor. But all spanish olives are fantastic!
If you’re ever in Andalucia in the summer, you will understand why there are so many cold soups and chilled tapas! This cold almond soup will definitely help cool you down on a hot summer day. It is creamy and refreshing.
Ajoblanco is traditionally made from almonds, bread, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. It is often served with diced melons or grapes on top. The soup is very mild in flavor, which allows the fruit to stand out.
All types of nuts are popular in Spanish tapas bars, but the most common is almonds. They are often roasted in the oven with a touch of sea salt and cumin. They can be served warm or at room temperature.
Other salted nuts you might find in tapas bars include walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, and more. Some bars will offer a mixture of several nuts, while others stick to just one kind.
Fried eggplant is a common dish in Spain, especially in tapas bars. It comes with a variety of flavors and garnishes to enhance the flavor of the vegetable.
The eggplant itself is not overly flavorful, so the chef at a tapas bar will usually spruce it up just a bit with his or her own preferences of herbs, spices and cooking methods.
Some of the best versions of fried eggplant include a savory version with sea salt and spices, which can be spicy or mild, depending on the chef.
There is also a sweet version drizzled with a cane sugar reduction that is to die for, and another sweet version drizzled with local honey.
Regardless of which one you choose, they are sure to delight your taste buds!
Berenjena en Vinagreta
This is an excellent summer dish of grilled eggplant with a chunky tomato vinaigrette.
This dish is often topped with a variety of traditional Mediterranean garnishes such as capers, garlic, and sauteed onions. It can be served warm or cold and spicy or mild.
Eggplant is a common vegetable in Spain and other parts of the Mediterranean. It is substantial enough that it can serve as a main dish but light enough to serve as a small plate prior to a larger entrée.
This is an excellent choice for vegetarians to sink their teeth into some authentic Spanish food in true tapas style.
The bocadillo is the Spanish version of a po’ boy sandwich. It is typically served on a toasted baguette with a variety of different fillings.
Obviously, there are meaty versions of this dish, usually with jamón and chorizo, but there are also plenty of vegetarian options.
When reviewing the menu, look for options with mushrooms, onions, peppers, and other fresh vegetables.
Some tapas bars even serve eggplant sandwiches, which can be a little more substantial than the other vegetables.
Calabacin a la Plancha
Grilled zucchini is a nice, light starter for your tapas experience. Some bars will serve it with an egg, and others serve it as a stand-alone item on the plate.
Many chefs will experiment with different flavors on the zucchini, including garlic, rosemary, oregano, and other herbs.
It is traditionally cooked in olive oil, but I’ve also seen it cooked with grapeseed oil, which gives it a little nuttier flavor.
Calamares del Campo
If you’re out at a tapas bar with your friends and they order calamari, there’s no reason to feel left out!
This vegetarian option will let you partake in the fun, and many tapas bars offer it on a regular basis.
In this dish, onions and peppers are cut into rings that emulate the rings of calamari.
They are battered and deep-fried into crispy little bites and served with a dipping sauce. The sauce is often a garlic aioli or a marinara made with fresh tomatoes.
Calcots are a type of green onions that are grown in Catalonia and are extra sweet and very mild.
They are plentiful in the Spring and are a staple in Catalonian fare at that time of year.
They are prepared in a variety of ways, including roasted, pan-fried, and deep-fried.
They are often served with a sauce to compliment the dish. In Catalonia specifically, the romesco sauce is very common.
It is a blend of tomatoes and garlic along with pine nuts, toasted almonds, or other nuts.
Champinones A La Plancha
If you want a light, simple dish and you love grilled mushrooms, this is an excellent choice.
The mushrooms are typically cooked on the grill until tender and tossed with salt, pepper, parsley, and a touch of olive oil.
They are often served with a lemon wedge to squeeze over the top for a little zest.
Champinones are typically served hot, but not always. There are a number of tapas bars that will serve them chilled, as well.
I love this dish because it is light enough to enjoy along with a few other tapas without getting full too quickly.
Cauliflower is not the most common vegetable in Spain, but when it’s available, it is an awesome tapa to try.
In this particular version, the cauliflower is steamed first, making it really tender and soft. Instead of a heavy batter, it is usually dipped in eggs and then dusted with flour.
This lighter take on a fried favorite allows the flavor of the cauliflower to really come through. Since the batter is basically just egg and flour, it doesn’t overpower the vegetable itself. Dip it in a garlic aioli for a little extra zest, and you’re good to go.
Croquetas are small fried balls of goodness with a mixture of ingredients on the inside and a crispy coating on the outside.
They can be battered, and deep-fried, or rolled in bread crumbs and pan-fried.
The bread-crumb croquetas tend to be a little bit lighter than their heavily battered cousins.
Many traditional croquetas in Spain include some sort of pork or fish, but there are a variety of vegetarian options, as well.
They can be stuffed with mushrooms, various vegetables, different kinds of cheese, spinach, and more.
Most tapas bars offering croquetas will have a few options to choose from, so check out the menu and try several combinations.
Ensalada de Pimientos Asados
Grilled bell pepper salad is a very popular dish in many cities and towns across Spain.
Depending on where you are, they might be bell peppers, pedron peppers or another regional variety.
In this dish, the peppers are sliced into pieces and sautéed with sea salt, garlic, and pepper.
It is traditionally plated with different colors of peppers and garnished with olives. You might also find it with capers or crumbles of a hard cheese.
Ensalada De Tomate
You guessed it! This is tomato salad. But it’s not a salad in the traditional form that you might expect.
More often than not, this will be served as a small plate of chilled, sliced tomatoes with a variety of spices sprinkled over the top.
Tomatoes are one of the most plentiful crops in Spain. They are rich in flavor and color, especially in the peak of their season.
Any time you can get your hands on a tomato salad in Spain, do it!
These are a smaller take on the traditional empanada that are perfect for tapas because they give you a taste without filling you up completely.
They are basically fried pastries stuffed with a variety of ingredients.
As with many other tapas, there are both meat-filled and meatless options available in most tapas bars.
Spinach and goat cheese is a really fantastic combination to try because the goat cheese has a really sharp flavor, which is a nice contrast to the pastry and spinach.
Roasted vegetable empanadillas are also really great and often come in both spicy and non-spicy varieties.
More Mediterranean flavors can be found in a mixture of different olives and cheeses, all mixed together into one, which is fantastic and also very popular.
Esparragos con Huevos
This is a simple dish comprised of eggs and asparagus. The asparagus is sometimes cut into small bite-sized pieces and scrambled with the eggs.
It might also be roasted as spears, with the scrambled eggs placed on top when plated.
Esparragos con huevos are savory and satisfying with plenty of flavor.
They will often also be sautéed with onions and garlic for additional seasoning.
Just be aware that some tapas bars like to put ham or bacon in the eggs as well, so be sure to ask before ordering.
Espinaca con Garbanzos
Espinaca con Garbanzos is a dish made with spinach, chickpeas, olive oil, and garlic.
It is served hot, almost like a stew, and is especially popular during lent when people cannot eat meat. It is also popular during the cold winter months because it’s warm and savory.
If you’re looking for a plant-based protein to accompany your tapas experience, this is a great option.
It can have a variety of different Spanish spices, such as cumin and chili powder. As a result, it’s flavorful, nutrient-dense, and really tasty.
Yes, this is literally just fresh fruit. It is not native to only Spain, but rather pretty traditional all over the world.
However, in many tapas bars and Spanish restaurants, fresh fruit is listed as an option on the dessert menu.
Seasonal fruit in Spain is something you should definitely try.
Forget the cakes and pastries and order a plate of fresh strawberries, mandarin oranges, grapes, melons, and whatever else happens to be in season.
The fruit is sometimes served with a little bit of fresh cream or milk, which can satisfy your craving for a rich dessert.
Garbanzos con Tomillo
A tomato-based version of espinaca con garbanzos, this dish is a hot stew of chick peas, tomato puree, garlic, crushed almonds, and thyme.
The thyme really sets the flavors apart in this dish because it is a twist on the traditional basil and coriander that is used in most Spanish cuisine.
I like to describe this one in terms of a curry dish. All the flavors mixed together and the density of the sauce makes it reminiscent of a Thai curry, but with different spices.
This is excellent on a cold night when there’s a chill in the air.
This is a popular Andalusian dish that is basically cold tomato soup or vegetable puree.
It is light, refreshing, packed with nutrients, and can be served as a soup or a drink.
I like to put a little spice in mine, but that’s totally optional, depending on your taste buds.
Gazpacho is a dish that can be utilized with any meal. It is great with breakfast or brunch, but also a great appetizer for dinner.
It’s also great for a soup and salad combo for a light lunch. It is most commonly found during the summer months, but not as frequently in the winter.
The name of this dish, literally translated, means “broken eggs.”
It is basically fried potatoes with fried eggs on top. Some tapas bars with top it with a béchamel sauce, and others will top it with salmorejo. It can also be served as-is without any toppings at all.
The crispy texture of the fried potatoes mixed with the softness of the eggs is an excellent contrast.
The potatoes are generally salted just a bit, and there is a little garlic powder and butter in the eggs. It’s a touch of comfort food in a tapas bar!
Fried manchego cheese is like heaven on Earth! Manchego is made in the La Mancha region with milk from manchega sheep. It is the most widely consumed cheese in Spain.
Fully matured manchego cheese is firm with a buttery texture and a mild flavor. It is cut into slices or wedges, rolled in bread crumbs and deep-fried or pan-fried to a crisp, golden-brown.
The end result is crunchy and salty on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.
Mel i Mato
While we’re on the subject of cheese, let’s talk about another delectable option for cheese-lovers.
Mel i Mato is basically a plate of local cheese. It can be cheese made from cow’s milk or sheep’s milk, depending on the region.
This dish will be served with a small selection of cheeses drizzled with local honey.
Sometimes the honey is flavored with different herbs, and sometimes it is served as-is. Either way, this is a dish you shouldn’t pass up.
Paellas de Verduras
As a vegetarian in Spain, you might think that you’re out of luck when it comes to paella.
Although it is one of the most famous dishes in all of Spain, it typically includes chicken, which puts a damper on your experience. Right? Wrong!
Many tapas bars offer a vegetarian version of this Spanish classic.
If you find it and order it, you will be served a delicious dish of yellow rice with onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.
The mixture of flavors and spices will give you a true paella experience sin carne o pollo.
If you need a carb fix, look no further! These are double-fried potatoes that are served with a spicy red pepper sauce.
The process of frying them twice gives them an extra crispy texture on the outside while maintaining a soft potato consistency on the inside. Like a WAY classier version of home fries or French fries!
The sauce is generally served spicy, but there are tapas bars that make a mild sauce, as well.
It is a puree of red peppers, garlic, cream, and spices. In my opinion, the more sauce, the better!
In case you haven’t noticed, potatoes are very popular in Spain.
The potatoes for this dish are often cut into wedges or sticks and deep-fried until crispy and golden–brown.
They are served with a side of garlic alioli, which is also really popular in Spain.
The garlic alioli (aioli in English) is a creamy sauce that is made from olive oil, salt, and minced garlic.
The olive oil is emulsified into the garlic by mashing them together in a mortar and pestle.
Some chefs will add egg yolks to speed up the emulsification process, but that’s not the most traditional way for it to be made or served.
Pimientos de Padron
This is one of the simplest tapas dishes available. Pimientos de Padron are just green padron peppers, flash-fried with a little bit of sea salt.
They are generally sweet, but every once in a while, you’ll get a super spicy one, so be careful!
Padron peppers are grown mainly in the northwestern region of Spain.
They are plump and juicy with a unique flavor of their own. If you’re looking for something quick and easy, but also tasty and impressive, this is a great option.
Pisto con Huevo
Much like verduras asadas, this dish is basically roasted vegetables with lots of spices.
After the vegetables are roasted, they are lightly pureed to create a chunky stew-like consistency. They are served in a bowl with an egg on top.
The egg can be sunny side up, over easy, or any other way you order it.
Traditionally, the egg yolk should be runny, so it mixes in with the rest of the dish when you puncture it with your fork.
All the flavors mix together, and it’s an excellent combination.
The thicker, chunkier version of gazpacho is called salmorejo. It is much creamier and has a richer flavor than gazpacho.
It can be found year-round in many tapas bars all over Spain, unlike gazpacho, which is often only found during the summertime.
Salmorejo is made with tomato, bread, garlic vinegar, and a little bit of salt and pepper.
This is a cold soup that is refreshing but also filling. It is often topped with ham and eggs, so be sure to ask for it “sin jamon” or without ham.
Queso de Cabra
Goat cheese is another popular cheese in Spain, across all regions.
It is soft and malleable, which makes it the perfect consistency to make spreads and dips.
It is often mixed with spices such as paprika and roasted garlic.
Many tapas bars will serve it atop crispy bread slices. My favorite is the goat cheese spread topped with sundried tomatoes and capers.
Check out the menu at your favorite tapas bar and see what different combinations they offer.
Queso en Aceite
Many tapas bars serve different local cheeses on a plate, smothered in olive oil and spices.
It is served with crispy slices of baguette bread. This is one of my absolute favorite tapas because it can be so different depending on which bar you go to and what region of Spain you are in.
The traditional preparation for this dish might sound easy, but it actually lasts about 24 hours.
The cheese, often goat cheese, is marinated overnight in olive oil with various herbs and spices. Traditional flavors include garlic, thyme, and rosemary.
This rustic dish will satisfy your comfort-food cravings without ditching your vegetarian lifestyle.
If you like potatoes and onions, this is your new favorite tapa! It is a traditional Spanish golden potato omelet.
Tortilla espanola is almost always available in onion and non-onion varieties.
Many tapas bars will have both readily available. Most bars also have a variety of other options that might include goat cheese or other ingredients to give you a slight change from the original.
A variety of chopped, roasted veggies makes up this light and flavorful dish.
It will often include carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and all kinds of other great things.
Some tapas bars will top it with minced garlic and hard-boiled eggs.
There is no limit to the creativity of flavors available when it comes to verduras asadas.
Since the vegetables each have their own identity, it is up to the chef to compliment them with a variety of spices.
Some of the herbs and spices you might find in this dish include salt, pepper, garlic, basil, thyme, cumin, and cayenne or red pepper flakes for a little kick.
Simply stated, these are marinated carrots. They are served cold at most tapas bars and are a zesty complement to any tapas experience. They are the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.
The secret to these little beauties is the various spices and herbs in which they are marinated.
Some tapas bars will serve this dish with a stronger vinegar flavor, while others will lean more towards olive oil and spices.
Either way, they are a fantastic choice for a vegetarian tapa!
Tapas are a tradition that is ingrained in every part of Spanish culture.
Whether you’re traveling through Barcelona or you’re out in the countryside, you are sure to find some gems!
Hopefully, you have discovered some great dishes that are exactly what you’re looking for while in Spain.
Remember when you’re in a tapas bar to ask for different items “sin jamon” (no ham), or “sin pollo” (no chicken).
The word “sin” means “no.” You can truly enjoy an amazing tapas experience and still maintain your vegetarian lifestyle.
It just takes a little research and knowing what to order. Happy eating or should we say, Buen Provecho!
But don’t forget about Spain’s decadent desserts. Here are 13 Spanish Desserts That Transcend Your Taste Buds!
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