Also, I figured tapas would be a good one to compile as I've never done it before. As soon as you start to list your favourites, you realise the breadth and variety of what's on offer all over Spain and the differences in the regions. It's miles away from those several usual suspects you get in clichéd chain style restaurants that litter our high street here in the UK. For that reason, calamares and patatas bravas have no place on my favourite 50. They're so ubiquitous and tedious I simply never order them in Spain. Anyway, without further ado, my personal favourite 50 tapas dishes.
In no particular order. Now what did I miss out?
Gambas. Specifically Carabinero prawns if you can get them. The best that the Mediterranean has to offer.
Pan con tomate. Deceptively simple, when it's done correctly, it's so good. Everything has to be just right, the crispy toasted bread, quality olive oil and tomato. Available everywhere, this is from Tapas 24 in Barcelona.
Chipirones. Fried baby squid. You find these all over Spain but I've never seen them in the UK for some reason.
Puntallitas. Tiny little crunchy squid.
Gambas al Ajillo. Plump juicy prawns in oil. Dipping your bread in the precious garlic oil is the best bit, everybody knows that.
Cazón en Adobo. Fried dogfish.
Arroz del Día. You usually get a plate of paella, but there are many varieties. This one was a really superb one from Pura Tasca in Seville: Arroz Meloso. Risotto with mushrooms, parmesan and truffles.
Kokotxas. Hake throat.
Salmorejo. A thicker, creamier version of gazpacho, found all over Andalucia.
Mini Burgers. It might seem a bit silly ordering burgers in Spain. You might need a change of mind when you've eaten one of these from La Brunilda Tapas in Seville.
Carrillada Ibérica. Slow-cooked pig’s cheeks. Below, from La Azotea, again in Seville.
Rabo de Toro. Bull's tail.
Albóndigas. Meatballs. (Pic; Somewhere in Toledo).
Lomo. Cured pork loin.
Bacalao. Salted cod loin.
Tortilla. I never used to order these as I thought they were dull. But when you get a good one, which is warm and gooey, and so simple, it's a joy. This one was from El Quim de la Boqueria in Barcelona.
Jamón ibérico. Again, I'm embarrassed to say that 20 years ago when I first visited Spain, I just didn't like jamón. It tasted to me as I'd imagined raw bacon to be. Of course I was wrong, it's such a delicacy and you can get the good stuff here now. This was from Levanter in Ramsbottom.
Sobrasada. You can also get this soft spreadable Mallorcan chorizo sausage here too.
Empanadillas. Little pies.
Chocos Fritos. Tiny fried cuttlefish.
Boquerones Fritos. Deep fried whitebait. These are everywhere but I find it hard not to order a portion whenever I'm in Spain.
Pinchitos moruños. Moorish pork kebabs.
Croquetas. As Mrs Bacon will attest, I always want some of these. But they can go either way. About 50% of them are disappointing. When done well though, with enough béchamel, they're irresistible. These are from Tickets in Barcelona.
Ensaladilla Rusa. Mrs Bacon usually insists on this creamy Russian salad, I usually eat most of it. This one was from Dani Garcia's tapas bar at Malaga airport.
Pimientos de Padrón.
Mejillones Rellenos. Stuffed mussels.
Habas con Jamón. Broad beans with ham. I'm also including the wonderfully rich and hearty bean stew Fabada Asturiana in this. These lovely beans below were from El Faro de Cadiz.
Atun. Tuna. The best quality is from the Andalucian coast around Barbate. This Tataki de Atún Rojo from El Campero.
Queso Manchego. We had some gorgeous cheese at Casa Manteca in Cádiz. (See first and last photos). Ortiguillas de Mar Frita. Fried Sea Anemones.
Morro de Ternera. Veal cheek. (From BordaBerri, San Sebastian).
Bar Zeruko San Sebastian).
Cal Pep, Barcelona).
Cerdo Ibérico. Iberico Pork, this one was from Lunya in Liverpool.
Champiñones. Mushrooms. There is a tapas place in Madrid that just specialises in mushrooms and nothing else.
Tortillitas de Camarones. Shrimp fritters, the most famous ones come from Casa Balbino in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Pescaditos Fritos. Mixed fried fish. I could eat these all day and all night and often do.
Queso de cabra frito. You had me at 'fried' and 'cheese'.
Ajo Blanco. We both love this chilled, creamy, almond soup in Andalucia. We first tried it in Malaga.
Lentejas estofadas. Lentil and chorizo stew. A match made in heaven.
Montaditos. I'm adding this as a catch all for everything that is on bread. Those little buns you can shove in your mouth in one go, or at least I do, don't you?
Pulpo a la Gallega. Octopus with paprika. I don't often order this as sometimes it can be rubbery as it's not been tenderized properly, but it really should be on the list. Ok, I ran out of tapas!
There are still many dishes I've not tried yet. ¡Salut!