Best Northern Spanish Food and Cuisine: Top 8

Northern Spain is a culinary paradise, renowned for its unique and delicious cuisine that has been shaped by its rich history and diverse landscapes. Northern Spain is home to some of the country’s most iconic dishes and top culinary destinations. In this food guide to Northern Spanish Food, you will find the top 8 places every foodie should add to their bucket list. From classic dishes to innovative fusion cuisine, these cities are the perfect place to sample the best of what Northern Spain has to offer.

1. San Sebastián

San Sebastián, located in the heart of the Basque Country, is considered the culinary capital of Northern Spain. In this charming coastal city, there are plenty of restaurants, serving up traditional Basque cuisine with a contemporary twist. Visitors to San Sebastián can sample the region’s famous pintxos, small tapas-style dishes served in bars throughout the city.

Some of the must-try dishes in San Sebastián include Txangurro, a traditional crab dish served with bread and aioli, and Bacalao al pil-pil, a hearty stew made from salt cod and garlic. Also, visitors can sample the region’s famous cider, made from apples grown in the surrounding hills, and washed down with a glass of local Rioja wine.

northern spanish food- san sebastian
Photo by Iñigo De la Maza on Unsplash
northern spanish food-bacalao al pil pil
Bacalao al pil-pil

2. Bilbao: Northern Spanish Food

Bilbao, located just a short train ride from San Sebastián, is the gateway to the Basque Country and offers its own unique culinary heritage. Here just as in San Sebastián, you can find pintxos. Specifically, grilled chorizo with red peppers and grilled mushrooms with garlic are well-known pintxos in Bilbao. However, if you want something fancier you can even enjoy a meal in one of the city’s many Michelin-starred restaurants in Bilbao.

northern spanish food-clams
Clams with garlic

Moreover, Bilbao is home to the famous Guggenheim Museum, which offers a unique blend of contemporary art and architecture. You can explore the museum’s exhibitions, then head to the nearby Mercado de la Ribera, which is one of the largest food markets in Europe, to sample the local produce and specialty dishes.

3. Rioja: The Heart of Spain’s Wine Country

Rioja, located in the heart of Northern Spain, is the country’s most famous wine region, producing some of the finest red and white wines in the world made from the Tempranillo grape. Visitors to Rioja can tour the local bodegas(wineries), sample the wines, and learn about the region’s winemaking heritage. The cities of Logroño and Haro are two of the best places to experience the local wine culture, with numerous bodegas.

In addition, you can find in Rioja many restaurants, serving up traditional dishes with a contemporary twist. You can sample the Lechazo Asado, a slow-cooked roast lamb, or Cordero al Chilindrón, a lamb stew made with peppers and tomatoes. The region is also known for its cheese, including the sheep’s milk cheese of the Rioja Alavesa.

northern spanish food-rioja
Photo by Rodrigo Abreu on Unsplash

4. Asturias: Northern Spanish Food

Asturias, located on the northwest coast of Spain, is a region renowned for its traditional cuisine, rooted in the use of locally sourced ingredients. One of the region’s most famous dishes is fabada asturiana, a rich and comforting bean stew made with pork and served with crusty bread. Make sure that you will try typical seafood dishes, such as Pixín, a succulent local fish, or Percebes, a type of barnacle often referred to as “goose barnacles.” Other local specialties include Cachopos, large meat-filled sandwiches, and the traditional Asturian cider. The city of Oviedo is a great starting point for a culinary tour of Asturias.

northern spanish food- fabada asturiana
fabada asturiana

5. Castilla y León

Castilla y León, besides its history and culture, has a cuisine of great importance as well. This region is known for its Cochinillo Asado, a tasty roast suckling pig served with crispy skin. Another local meal is Lechazo, a slow-cooked roast lamb dish. The city of Valladolid is a great city for exploring the culinary heritage of Castilla y León.

northern spanish food-lechazo

In addition to its traditional dishes, Castilla y León is also home to a thriving wine industry. In this region, some of Spain’s finest red and white wines are produced. You can tour the local bodegas and sample the wines for yourself, or enjoy a glass with a meal of local specialties.

6. Galicia: Northern Spanish Food

Galicia, located on the northwest coast of Spain, is a region renowned for its seafood and stews. For instance, Pulpo a la Gallega, a boiled octopus served with paprika and olive oil, is a must-try. Another local specialty is lacón con grelos, a flavorful pork dish served with turnip greens. You can start to explore the typical dishes of Galicia by visiting the city of Santiago de Compostela.

northern spanish food- octopus
Pulpo a la Gallega

Galicia is also home to some of Spain’s finest white wines, made from the local Albariño grape. Just like in Castilla y León and Rioja, you have the chance to sample the local wines, either on your own or with a meal of local specialties, and discover the unique flavors that make Galician wine so sought after.

7. Navarra

Navarra is located in the northern part of Spain, known for its rolling hills, fertile farmland, and delicious cuisine. You should not miss this medieval region of Basque country with its gothic castles and archaeological findings. You should visit this region not only for sightseeing but also because it is famous for dishes like the Piquillo Peppers, sweet red peppers that are roasted and used in a variety of dishes. In addition, Navarra is also home to delicious stews, cured meats, and fresh cheeses.

northern spanish food-peppers
Piquillo Peppers

8. Cantabria: Northern Spanish Food

Cantabria has a stunning coastline, beautiful crystal clear waters, and hiking paths in the Cantabrian Mountains. However, food lovers will find as well traditional food from fresh seafood dishes to hearty stews and grilled meats. Don’t miss the chance to try the famous Cocido Montañés, a delicious stew made with chickpeas, chorizo, and other meats.

northern spanish food- cocido montañés
Cocido Montañés

Northern Spain is a foodie’s paradise, offering a rich and diverse cuisine that showcases the region’s unique blend of traditional and contemporary flavors. Whether you’re a fan of seafood, stews, or fine wine, this region has something to offer for everyone. So why wait? Plan your culinary adventure to Northern Spain today and discover the rich flavors of this incredible region.

If you want to know more about food in Spain here are 8 traditional Spanish dishes you should try and if you are a surfer or keen to try this fun activity press here for the best places in the North of Spain.