For vegetarians it can be a challenge eating out in Spain, but although most tapa bars and restaurants focus on meat and fish dishes, there are usually a few good vegetarian options available. For example: tortilla española (potato & egg omelette), pisto (like a ratatouille, often served with a fried egg on top), grilled mushrooms, revueltos (scrambled eggs with various added ingredients), espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with chick peas) and a variety of cold salads. And sometimes, if you tell the waiter you are vegetarian, they may be able to conjure up a special ‘veggie dish’ for you that isn’t on the menu.
I remember once at Robles Placentines when our vegetarian friend ordered some grilled seta mushrooms and was quite understandably aghast when they came with bits of jamón serrano in it. But no problem – we just told the waiter that there had been no mention of jamón in the menu description and she said they would immediately make up a portion of mushrooms for our friend without jamón, free of charge.
But best to ask ahead of time if what sound like vegetable dishes contain any meat or fish. Unless it’s a pre-prepared salad like ensalada rusa (a potato and mayonnaise salad, usually with either prawns or tuna) they should be able to accomodate you and make whatever changes are necessary.
Vegans will no doubt have even more problems finding suitable food at tapa bars, but people on very restricted diets are probably already used to this, even at home. Again, just ask first if (for example) the grilled courgettes come covered in bechamel, or if the pisto has a fried egg on top.
There are a few vegetarian restaurants here that I haven’t been to recently, so I will update here when I get to them again with my trusty camera. Meanwhile, for a good selection of shops, bakeries and restaurants that cater to vegetarians, check out this article by Tertulia Andalucia.
Below is a list of tapas bars and restaurants that I consider to be “vegetarian friendly”, meaning that aside from your basic tortilla de patatas and cheese they also offer 2-3 other vegetarian options. There is certainly a new trend these days, especially in the gastrobars, to offer more interesting vegetarian dishes than before.
Makes a nice change.