Yes Virginia, there are vegetarians in Madrid and Barcelona

Despite the fact that Iberico pork is an object of national worship in Spain (I’m not kidding – they have a chain of stores called Museo de Jambon, the Museum of Ham) and despite the fact that Spain is known for its gastronomic legends like El Bulli … I’m here to tell you that you can not just survive, but thrive, as a vegetarian in Madrid and Barcelona.

Much to my pleasant surprise, I had several excellent meals at vegetarian restos in Madrid and Barcelona, and since I was only in each city a limited amount of time I did not exhaust the list of possible vegetarian places I could have tried (not to mention I went back to places I liked and ordered something different from the menu.)

MADRID

  • In Madrid, I can highly recommend the food at Artemisa – http://restaurantesvegetarianosartemisa.com/ which offers a more ‘gourmet’ spin on vegetarian cuisine. Prices are in the middle range, expect to pay $6-8 euro per starter and $11-15 euro for a main dish. They also cater to people who need gluten free or vegan dishes.

I had the “Queen of Africa” dish, which had two “fillets” of eggplant topped with a delicious mixture of pureed vegetables, spices and chopped pistachios. Also on the plate was a refreshing salad mix. A few days later I went back again, and ordered a hummus appetizer from their specials menu, and then had a layered eggplant gratin dish that was quite rich and yummy.

The waitstaff at Artemisa are pleasant and nice, but the service at Artemisa is slow. For example, on my first visit, I was literally the only person in the restaurant and had to wait 20 minutes to place my order. Once I ordered, I waited a long time for the food. I know I’m not the only one who felt the service was poor, customers kept looking around for wait staff that were not available.

Still, if you can be patient at Artemisa, you will be rewarded with good food.

Travel Tip: In Madrid, you can order “agua del grifo” (pitcher of tap water) for free or you can purchase a bottle of sparkling or still water – it’s your choice. In Barcelona you will not be able to order agua del grifo at restaurants.

BARCELONA

  • In Barcelona, I’d suggest giving Veganoteca a try – http://www.veganoteca.com which offers both vegetarian and strictly vegan dishes too. The day I was there I ordered the “special plate” which included a wide variety of foods – salad with fresh corn, small quesadilla with cheese and veggie filling, fresh melon and pineapple slices, a few pieces of brie. For dessert a two-bite piece of apple strudel and organic yogurt with museli topping. All that and a bottle of water was included, and the whole meal was under $10 euro, which is an excellent deal.

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  • If you’re feeling more adventurous, give Teresa Carles a go – http://www.teresacarles.com This resto was established in 1979 and is rooted in more of a “scientific” approach to food as a way to improve health. As a result, they offer a variety of drinks for health purposes (I had a divine glass of lemon, pear, and ginger juice with organic honey that I’d love to replicate at home).

I also ordered a dish that was two poached organic eggs on a bed of spinach, sun dried tomatoes and a really delicious variety of mushrooms in perhaps an olive oil based sauce. My one “nit” with this dish is I cannot stand undercooked egg whites. Runny egg whites are not my thing, so I had to send my dish back for further cooking, although I was told this is how they normally serve the dish.

Service at Teresa Carles is also very slow. Once I ordered, I waited 20 minutes for my food, and there was only one other table of customers in the resto. I’m not sure if this kind of service is typical in Spain, or just the particular vegetarian places I went, but it’s better to know these things beforehand.

LINKS

Other Links for Vegetarians Traveling in Madrid and Barcelona

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Finally, any blog post about Barcelona and vegetarians would be incomplete if I did not mention La Boqueria, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Boqueria, a public and tourist landmark in the heart of Barcelona, on the main street Las Ramblas.

La Boqueria is a market full of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, olives, cheese … along with standard provisions for non-vegetarians (meat, fresh seafood, etc.)

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So if you are a vegetarian, go forth and enjoy the bounty of choices available. 🙂

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4 Responses

  1. I’m not a foodie but this is a great post. We should talk when you’re back. You bring a unique combo. of Veg/ Art/ Jazz. Not to mention an intrepid and cheerful flair. Listen to me. L-I-S-T-E-N to me. 🙂

  2. You underestimate yourself and what you bring to the table, young Jedi.

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