Spain’s Best Kept Culinary Secrets: 7 Local “Hidden Gem” Dishes

One of the most exciting things about going on holiday is the opportunity to try new and delicious foods which aren’t on the menu at home. When heading to Spain, most people think of paella or tortilla, but there’s a whole world of culinary delights waiting to be explored in every region.

Three travel insiders based in the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, and Mainland Spain have revealed their favourite local hidden gem dishes that are a “must try” no matter where you’re heading.

Canary Islands

Sandra Molyneux, Canary Island area manager at Villa Plus shares some of her favourite local dishes you probably haven’t heard of but aren’t to be missed.

Papas Arrugadas 

This is probably the most famous and typical Canarian food. Papas Arrugadas are wrinkled potatoes boiled in salty water, drained, and tossed in sea salt. They are always served with mojo rojo (a spicy red salsa) and mojo verde (a savoury green salsa made with either coriander or parsley). They can also come with Aioli (garlic and Mayonnaise) and go well with fish and meat dishes.

Expert tip: Do not peel them; you will waste most of their taste.

Queso Asado

Queso asado is a local Canarian smoked goat’s cheese, usually lightly fried or baked in the oven. Normally it is served with mojo rojo and mojo verde, but you can also find palm honey. Although it’s goat cheese, it doesn’t have a really strong taste. It is usually served as a starter.

Expert tip: Try all three sauce options to choose your preferred one, but any of them is a good choice.

Carne Fiesta

Carne Fiesta is a spicy blend (but not too spicy) of cubes of pork marinaded in garlic, thyme, oregano, salt, spicy peppers, paprika, oregano, wine vinegar, and maybe even white wine. It is one of the typical Canarian meat dishes.

Expert tip: It’s always good to match with some local wines.

Balearic Islands

Joanne Ryan, Balearic Islands area manager at Villa Plus, has revealed the dishes she loves the most, which are well-kept local secrets.


Not to be missed. Pop down to your local bakers and enjoy one of the most famous Mallorcan foods, Ensaïmada. It’s an incredibly light and flaky pastry (like a croissant) that gains its incredible texture from lard. It comes plain or with several different sweet-tasting fillings.

Expert tip: Ideal for an on-the-go breakfast option.

Frit Mallorquin

A hearty, nourishing dish that symbolises the Mallorcan character better than almost any other food item. Frito Mallorquín is a meal consisting of offal, red and green peppers, potatoes, and garlic in the main liver.

Expert tip: This is best enjoyed with a local red wine, Macià Batle Dos Marías, made on the island at a local cellar in Binissalem.

Carajillo de Amazonas  

A coffee espresso accompanied by a local Mallorcan liquor: Ron Amazona, is created using artisan processes. The cane alcohol will be macerated in selected fruits from Mallorca for 12 months, and cane alcohol and caramelized sugar will be added.

Expert tip: Having enjoyed the great eateries and dishes on the island, you can’t miss finishing your meal with a Carajillo.

Mainland Spain, Andalucía Region

Rachel Flanagan, Andalucían Area Manager at Villa Plus, has revealed her must-have dish from the area.

Espetos de Sardinas

A typical summer dish here is “espetos de sardinas”, which are locally caught sardines grilled over an open flame with plenty of salt on a wooden skewer. They are at every beachside restaurant or “chiringuito” in Andalucía.

Expert tip: These should almost always be accompanied by an ice-cold beer as a starter to your main meal.

If this has inspired you to book a trip away to sample some of these dishes, you can find out more at Villa Plus