Getting ready to explore Santiago de Compostela? Good choice! You’ve selected one of Spain’s greatest culinary destinations, complete with an intriguing history and a vibrant and unique culture in addition to plenty of great Galician food.
This guide provides a foundation for what and where to eat in Santiago de Compostela. Get ready to have the Galician food experience of your dreams!
Tucked away in the northwest corner of Spain, Santiago de Compostela is an unexpected gem.
With dark stone buildings, regular rainfall and bagpiping buskers, you’d be excused for thinking you were a little further north in the world. But no, this is what they call Green Spain. And up here the cuisine is fantastic, meaning that discovering Galician food is a dream.
There’s fresh seafood from the cold waters of the Cantabrian Sea, delicious beef from the grassy Galician hills and an abundance of vegetables from small market gardens. We’ll get into where to eat in Santiago de Compostela in a bit, but first: a primer on Galician food and what you need to try!
Galician Food: What to Eat in Santiago de Compostela
In no particular order, here are the bites you can’t leave Santiago (make that Galicia!) without trying.
1. Pulpo a la Gallega
Also known locally as polbo á feira, this is octopus boiled to perfection and then lightly sprinkled with sea salt and Spanish paprika. For seafood lovers, this dish is the holy grail. And rightly so, as it’s delicious when cooked perfectly—but so hard to get right.
2. Pimientos de Padrón
These small green peppers are the Russian roulette of tapas: Most are mild, but one in about 20 is nice and spicy! They’re lightly fried and then sprinkled with sea salt, and are served either on their own as a tapa or as a garnish with red meat.
3. Tarta de Santiago
This moist almond cake is covered with powdered sugar and features an imprint of the cross of Santiago (St. James). Paired with a cup of coffee, it’s the perfect pick-me-up between sightseeing stops!
4. Steamed Mussels
Mussels are so prized in Galicia that they even have their own protected designation of origin quality seal. Caught locally, they are so fresh and delicious that they don’t need much else to shine—most gallegos will enjoy them with a simple squeeze of lemon.
5. Caldo Gallego
Galicia is one of Spain’s rainiest regions, but luckily this warming local stew helps make the dreary days a bit cozier. Made with kale, pork, chorizo, white beans, and more, caldo gallego is the ultimate Galician comfort food.
6. T-Bone Steak
Galician beef is famous throughout Spain, so don’t miss the chance to enjoy it straight from the source. It doesn’t get much better than a fantastic grilled steak, known locally as chuletón, cooked medium rare and finished with a dash of sea salt.
7. Tetilla Cheese
Spanish cheese is incredible across the board, and Galicia’s best-known variety is no different. Creamy and mild tetilla cheese is easy to spot thanks to its unique pointed dome shape. Grab some at the market and enjoy with a glass of your favorite Spanish wine!
Empanadas are perhaps one of the most widespread Galician foods throughout Spain. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of possible fillings, but the most classic variety is a simple tuna and tomato blend.
Where to Eat in Santiago de Compostela
Now that you know a few local specialties to look out for, here’s where to eat in Santiago de Compostela!
1. Casa Pepe
Rustic yet refined, Casa Pepe is a top spot for wine, cheese and cured meats. Swing by early in your evening, or for a bite before lunch. Even better, head here after a morning spent foraging in the nearby Santiago market.
2. Abastos 2.0
When it comes to where to eat in Santiago de Compostela, it doesn’t get any fresher than this.
Abastos 2.0 is a hole-in-the-wall tapas joint that forms part of the Santiago market. Owners (and brothers) Marcos and Iago cast a keen eye over the market produce each morning, buy whatever looks good, then cook it up for guests.
As you’d expect, the preparation is simple, the ingredients are ultra-fresh, and once something runs out… well, there’s always tomorrow, right?
3. El Caballo Blanco
If you’re looking for gourmet Galician food, this is not the place for you. But if you like cold beer, generous free tapas, and a salt-of-the-earth wait staff, then you’ve come to the right place.
4. Casa Marcelo
Whoever thought of combining the cuisines of Galicia, Peru and Japan must have known what they were doing. After all, this place got a Michelin star for it!
If you’re hankering for fresh, inventive and cooked-before-your eyes food that’s both comforting and surprising, then hit up Casa Marcelo. The communal tables are a nice touch.
5. Mercado de Abastos (Santiago Market)
This traditional food market opens every morning, but is especially lively on Saturdays. Vendors selling meats and seafood line the vaulted passageways while local gardeners sell a cornucopia of freshly picked crops outside. You’ll see mountains of Padrón peppers, and this is perhaps the most authentic place to try pulpo a la gallega.
6 & 7. Los Sobrinos del Padre Benito & Pulpería os Concheiros
Apart from the market, we recommend two spots for the best pulpo in Santiago. Los Sobrinos del Padre Benito and Pulpería os Concheiros are both rustic joints that are locally famous for their octopus.
Where to Eat in Santiago de Compostela FAQs
Galicia is located in the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula. It is a region of Spain that sits directly to the north of Portugal.
Some of the most famous Galician foods are boiled octopus with paprika, empanadas, tetilla cheese, T-bone steak, and almond cake.
Santiago de Compostela is the ending point of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. The city’s cathedral is traditionally the ending point for pilgrims walking one of the several routes, which are each hundreds of kilometers long.
Update Notice: This post was originally published on November 10, 2013 and was updated with new text and photos on June 4, 2021.
Enchanted by the country’s exhilarating culture and cuisine, Devour Tours cofounder and COO James has written about Spain for international publications, including the Guardian and the UK Sunday Times. He hosts a popular YouTube channel about Spain, and has appeared on the BBC and British Channel 4. A wine lover, he is WSET Level 3 certified.