This blog post was originally posted on August 22, 2013 and was updated on February 11, 2017.
Many people arrive in Madrid with the idea that being a vegetarian in this city will be difficult, but there are so many delicious tapas you can enjoy that don’t include any meat!
While being veggie isn’t nearly as easy as being an omnivore, vegetarians need not worry when visiting Madrid. The Spanish capital is home to many vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and most tapas bars offer a variety of vegetarian tapas too. In fact, many traditional Madrid tapas dishes are naturally vegetarian. But we’d always suggest brushing up on your Spanish, and learning this phrase:
“Soy vegetariano. No como ni carne, ni cerdo, ni pescado.”
I’m a vegetarian. I don’t eat meat, pork, or fish.
Hopefully this will be enough to prevent an ordering fiasco, but just in case, make sure to specify that you don’t eat atún (tuna) when ordering a salad, as it’s often a surprise ingredient! Vegetarian or otherwise, you can’t go wrong with our list of delicious vegetarian tapas in Madrid!
It is said that Spain cultivates 262 different varieties of olives and a good number of them end up on our table as delicious cured table olives. The specialty in Madrid are Campo Real olives, and the bright green olives are absolutely delicious, tasting of garlic and oregano. Make sure you eat lots of olives while visiting!
Patatas Bravas and Patatas Ali Oli
This typical tapa hits the spot with an ice cold caña, a small draft beer. Consisting of parboiled potato wedges that are then quickly deep fried in olive oil and topped with a sauce, there are two popular varieties in Madrid. The bravas have a slightly spicy paprika and tomato sauce, and the ali oli is a homemade garlic mayonnaise. Both are must-try vegetarian tapas in Madrid!
Literally “broken eggs,” this typical Madrid dish is a plate of homemade french fries topped with the most perfectly fried eggs—a must-try dish when you’re in the city. Right before serving they break the yolks, often at the table, thus their name!
Insider’s Tip: Make sure to specify that your tapa shouldn’t come with ham or chorizo (sausage).
Croquetas de Queso or Croquetas de Espinacas
There are many different varieties of croquettes, which are essentially fried béchamel fritters. But the best vegetarian choices I’ve found in the city have been the delicious ones de queso (cheese) or de espinacas (spinach). Keep your eyes peeled for other interesting combinations and try as many of these vegetarian tapas in Madrid as you can!
Berenjenas con Miel
These are pieces of thinly-sliced eggplant that have either been dusted in flour or battered, and then flash fried in olive oil before being drizzled with cane honey—also known as heaven on a plate!
Tortilla de Patata
The classic Spanish omelet is alive and well in Madrid, and many people choose a big slice called a pincho de tortilla as their mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Tortilla can be served hot or cold, inside a sandwich or on its own, with onions or without; regardless, it’s always one of the delicious vegetarian tapas in Madrid.
Mostly served in summer time, every traditional Madrid restaurant will serve their own version of vinegary gazpacho, a cold vegetable puree that you often drink by the glass.
Cheese is one of Spain’s most respected products in all Spanish delis and it also happens to be one of the most popular vegetarian tapas in Madrid! You have to try the well known Manchego, but then go for something different like the queso Roncal, a sheep’s milk cheese from Navarra, or queso Cabrales, a blue cheese blend of cow and goat milk.
Pimientos de Padrón
The Russian roulette of Spanish tapas, these tiny chili peppers are mainly mild, but every now and then someone gets a super spicy one! It’s all part of the fun as you grab them one by one with some friends.
Check out how La Casa del Abuelo, one of our favorite Madrid tapas bars, makes their pimientos de padrón in the video below!
Champiñones a la Plancha
Madrid has a reputation for some excellent mushroom restaurants, and most traditional tapas bars offer champiñones a la plancha, or grilled mushrooms. Usually grilled with olive oil and garlic and served with a slice of lemon, they are seriously addictive!
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Featured Image Credit: Stacy Spensley
Lauren grew up in an Italian-American family where 3-hour meals were the norm. After 10 years in the restaurant industry, she moved to Spain where she launched her popular Spanish food blog, Spanish Sabores, and soon after led groups on the first Devour Madrid food tours.