How to find the best restaurants when in Spain?
We have lived last 4 years in Spain and during that period we’ve travelled a lot and eaten in hundreds of great restaurants. But I must confess that when we got here, we did go wrong many times and little by little we learned how to find the best restaurants no matter where you are here in Spain.
When travelling and eating out my husband always says that what’s the point to eat something average when you can choose something really good instead. And that’s pretty hard to disagree. So, when we travel, we use quite a lot of time to do some research and find the best options already beforehand.
Normally we use couple of apps and we both just mark our favorites which we share between each other. And few days before the actual trip we will take a closer look where we might want to eat. One reason to do all this is to save stress and other is that for the top places, you have to make the table reservations beforehand. Especially if it’s the high season or just weekend in general if travelling in some of the biggest cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia, Malaga etc.
Often, I get asked how to find the best restaurants when in Spain and here I reveal in short how we do it:
1. El Tenedor & TripAdvisor
These are the two must have applications on your phone. TripAdvisor is very popular among travelers and would be surprise that somebody haven’t heard about it.
But the other app which is not that well known among the tourists is called “El Tenedor” which means “The Fork” in English. This app is most popular one restaurant app among the local people in Spain and this is exactly why we prefer to use it over TripAdvisor. Why’s that? Well for many tourists it seems that serving a cold beer and some hot wings is enough to get the 5-star review. For the local people, you need to do a little bit more. Other thing is that local people normally avoid the biggest tourist traps and this way the really good restaurants actually stands out.
Through “El Tenedor” it’s also really easy to make your table reservations using the app. Only negative thing is that when in the touristic places like Costa del Sol, El Tenedor doesn’t work that well and then TripAdvisor is a better choice. But when in big cities like Valencia, Sevilla, Madrid or smaller cities like Segovia, Toledo, Cadiz, Huelva etc. where you don’t have that much tourist or if you have, most of them are local Spanish tourists, then El Tenedor is a must have.
After you’ve found the restaurant you like and you’re ready to make the reservation, you can do one more thing. Open Google Maps on your phone and search the restaurant and most likely you will find dozens or even hundreds of reviews and photos more to be absolutely sure. Yes, Google really has everything and during the last few years they’ve also earned their place in this restaurant review game.
2. Pay attention and read the reviews
This should be quite obvious, but the reviews are really helpful and especially when paying attention and reading what they say. Quite often you find a place with really good reviews but when you take closer look, those reviews are about everything except the food. Which is okay of course if you’re looking for a place to chill and have a couple of drinks but not maybe if you’re looking for something to eat.
Also pay attention to the dates because in the restaurant business changes happens quite frequently and this is why it’s important to take a look that the latest good reviews are from the last week and not from the last year.
3. Pictures are the key!
This is super important and one reason we hardly make any bad choices anymore. We are not just reading the reviews but paying attention to the pictures and actually giving them a huge importance. In Spain especially the local ones, tend to like traditional Spanish food which means a lot of fried stuff which is not the thing we are normally after. We know the food we like and the pictures of the portions often stands that out quite fast.
Important Tip: Remember the reservation. Like I already wrote, the top places tend to be quite full so remember to make the reservation at least one day before. Or sometimes it’s even enough to do it in the same morning but just walking there in the evening you’ll get disappointed.
Other important tip: Remember the opening times. In Spain (tourist traps excluded) it’s quite normal that the good restaurants and their kitchens are following the normal Spanish opening times which means that the kitchen is open roughly from 13:00 to 16:30 and 20:30 to 23:30. Between those times there are normally just some small snacks on the list and of course breakfast if the restaurant is open in the morning as well.
But the one good thing is that if the restaurant is following the standard opening hours, it’s also one extra sign that it could be a great restaurant and not just another tourist trap.
I hope these tips helps you to find better restaurants and dining experiences when in Spain.
Soon, I will reveal our TOP 5 restaurants in Spain. We just made some rough calculations and we’ve eaten in over 200 different restaurants in Spain, so it wasn’t that easy to come up with the TOP 5.