Is Andalucia vegetarian-friendly?
Andalucia is often billed as a land of carnivores. A proud passion for ham and a fondness for hunting everything from rabbits to wild boar can make holidaying in the region an intimidating prospect for non-meat eaters.
But these days, being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to go hungry in Andalucia.
A recent study into the percentage of vegetarians living in Spain returned the total at 7.8%. In response to this demand, there is now an increasing number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants opening across the South of Spain.
Read on to find out what vegetarian food consists of in Spain, where to find the best vegetarian tapas restaurants in Andalucia and our top tips for trouble-free ordering!
What do vegetarians eat in Spain?
It would be a misconception to assume that vegetarian tastes weren’t catered for in Spain. The Spanish menu actually boasts a range of authentic tapas options that are full of flavour, but meat-free.
Below are a few of our favourites. If you’re looking for further inspiration, be sure to also check out this article on seasonal Spanish dishes :
Pisto con huevo : This is Spanish comfort food at its absolute best: a warming ratatouille of roasted vegetables, tomatoes and fresh herbs, topped with a fried egg. Simple yet delicious and guaranteed to satisfy.
Espinacas con garbanzos: This is a simple dish containing smoked paprika, spinach and roasted chickpeas but it’s a firm winter favourite on most Spanish tapas menus and absolutely packed with flavour!
FULL DISCLOSURE!! : Some restaurants choose to prepare this (supposedly vegetarian) dish with meat stock – or caldo de carne – so make sure you check with your waiter before you order!
Gazpacho: An authentic Spanish summer classic, this chilled tomato soup with fresh chopped vegetables is a must try menu option for the hotter months, whether you´re a vegetarian or not!
Berenjenas con Miel: Sliced aubergines coated in a crispy golden batter and served with lashings of honey or cane syrup make for a delicious lunchtime snack or a perfect vegetarian appetizer.
Croquetas : Nobody should leave Spain without trying croquetas, the Spanish take on the French croquette. These delicious, deep-fried balls of potatoey goodness are a staple on most Spanish tapas menus.
The good news for veggies is the famous croquetas de jamon – or ham croquettes – aren’t all there are on offer. Most restaurants also provide an (equally as delicious) vegetarian option such as croquetas de espinacas – spinach croquettes – or croquetas de setas – made with wild mushroom.
Tortilla de patatas: Another Spanish culinary institution, tortilla de patatas never fails to disappoint. If done properly, this simple Spanish omelette made from sliced potatoes, onions and eggs can be one of the tastiest tapas dishes you can find.
Patatas Bravas: Literally translated as “brave potatoes”, and also going by the name of papas bravas, this is one of the most authentic Spanish side dishes you can find.
A simple dish consisting of deep fried or roasted potatoes, it’s the sauce that steals the show here: a rich, spicy helping of slow-cooked tomatoes, garlic and a kick of paprika. Prepare to have your taste buds scandalized.
Eating out as a vegetarian in Andalucia
Hicuri Art, Plaza Girones, 4: Situated in the trendy Realejos neighbourhood of the city, this beautifully decorated restaurant boasts a comprehensive menu of creative vegan options, amongst them tofu in tempura batter and a range of vegan burgers.
It also offers a weekday set menu with two courses and a homemade dessert for the bargain price of 13.80. Check out their website here
El Ojú, Calle General Narvaez, 4: If you’re after Spanish tapas with a vegan twist, be sure to head to El Ojú. This tiny cafe is popular with locals and visitors alike and offers an eclectic range of tapas from vegetarian pizzas to tortilla sandwiches.
Want even more good news? This is Granada, so all tapas comes free when you buy a drink! What could be better than that? See their Facebook page here
The Wala Room, Calle la Toja, 1: The Wala Room, situated on the sunny seafront in Los Álamos, Torremolinos, serves up vegan cuisine made from organic ingredients, prepared fresh and on the premises daily.
Choose between options including zucchini spaghetti, veggie burgers and fried vegan “fish” made from eggplant and nori. To see their full menu click here
El Vegetariano de la Alcazabilla, Calle Pozo del Rey, 5: Located slap bang in the historic heart of Malaga, close to the ancient Roman fort, El Vegetariano de la Alcazabilla provides the perfect spot to get stuck into some excellent vegetarian home cooking.
The menu caters for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free tastes with dishes such as vegan paella, soy meatballs and – depending on the season, of course – gazpacho. Check out their website here
Arte y Sabor, Alameda de Hércules, 85: This stylishly decorated restaurant in Seville’s bohemian centre, the Alameda de Hercules, is not exclusively vegetarian but does offer some delicious meat-free options and prides itself on being “vegan-friendly”.
Specialising in fusion cuisine, portions are plentiful and reasonably priced. We recommend trying the beetroot salmorejo – an alternative take on the classic cold soup – or the homemade mushroom croquettes.
For a full rundown of their dishes, or to make a reservation, click here
Ecovegetariano Gaí, Calle Luis de Vargas, 4: The Gai brand takes organic foodstuffs seriously: already the owners of an ecological supermarket in Seville, they’ve now branched out into eateries with Ecovegetariano Gai.
Located close to the bus station of Plaza de Armas, the restaurant has a tasteful, understated decor and a menu sourced exclusively from organic ingredients.
Top picks include shitake mushrooms in a white sauce with aromatic rice and a triple vegan sandwich of tempeh, pesto and roasted vegetables.
Amaltea, Ronda Isasa, 10: Wander down by the river in lovely Cordoba and you’ll come across Amaltea, a restaurant specialising in macrobiotic and organic foods.
Small and intimate with a quirky decor, Amaltea has plenty on offer for vegetarians and vegans, although meat-eaters are also accounted for, making this a perfect choice for mixed dietary groups.
Choose between dishes including artichoke pasta, roasted asparagus and aubergine and cumin salad.
La Bicicleta, Calle Cardenal Gonzalez, 1: A favoured spot for hipster types, La Bicicleta – situated a stone’s throw from Cordoba’s famous mosque – is renowned for its laid back vibe, fresh juices, homemade desserts and various vegetarian options.
These include a range of open toasted sandwiches with a pick of toppings, such as fresh avocado and tomato, and a homemade hummus platter with sliced vegetables.
The friendly waiting staff are more than happy to make veggie recommendations. They also offer to adapt dishes -such as the cold soup, salmorejo – for vegans, so don’t be afraid to ask! Have a look at their Facebook page here
Eating veggie in Andalucia: 4 Final tips
1.) Always double check!
The Spanish can be tricksy when it comes to sneaking meat into a vegetarian dish. Miscommunication, not malice, is the culprit – the Spanish word for meat – carne – usually excludes cured meats, such as Spanish ham.
For this reason, it’s not unusual to find your sin carne pizza turns up with a generous scattering of jamón. To add to the confusion, vegetal means “with vegetables” and not necessarily vegetarian.
Make sure you stress “no food with a face”, to avoid any nasty surprises!
2.) Get the lingo down!
Wondering how you say “I’m a vegetarian” in Spanish? For all the gentlemen out there “soy vegetariano ” should cover it, or “soy vegetariana ” for the ladies.
Asking for a friend? “He’s vegetarian” translates as “el es vegetariano ” and, you’ve guessed it, “ella es vegetariana ” for your female dining companions.
For a rundown of useful Spanish vegetarian and vegan phrases, click here
And to familiarise yourself with other useful things to know before you visit Spain, check out this article for some tips!
3.) Ask for suggestions
Even if you find yourself in a hardcore Spanish taberna with a bull’s head on the wall and a leg of jamon proudly displayed on the bar, you’d be surprised to discover how accommodating most chefs are.
So if you’re discouraged by the lack of meat-free dishes on the menu, be sure to ask if the waiter can suggest some vegetarian options, or adapt the existing tapas accordingly.
4.) Join a tapas tour
Joining a tapas tour led by a knowledgeable local guide is a great way to discover the best restaurants in any city.
Heading to Malaga? Why not tag along on TOMA & COE´S Tapas Tour of Malaga and let our team take care of ordering tasty vegetarian dishes for you while you relax and enjoy the city?
Find out about the full range of our foodie experiences here.