When it comes to food and wine, Riojanos are pretty uncompromising: only the best will do.
The strength of Rioja's local food is the ample supply of fresh, top quality, locally-grown produce combined with the experience of the region's local artisans.
Master charcutiers produce some of Spain's best products and Logroño's chorizo sausages are renowned for their quality. Local asparagus, artichokes, Swiss chard and many other fresh vegetables from Rioja's gardens are often served in local restaurants.
Tomatoes and peppers are the basis of many local Riojan dishes. The tomato is the essential ingredient to the traditional Riojan sauce called the “tomatada” used to accompany meats and fish. Peppers are an essential ingredient in Riojan cooking and come in various forms: the “piquillo” pepper is a favourite, often stuffed with meat, vegetables or cod ; the “guindillas”, are very hot, green chilli peppers often eaten as an accompaniment ; and the “alegrías Riojanas” which take their name from the sensation of these hot peppers in the mouth. They are often grilled on vine twigs, peeled and cut into strips before being added to local dishes.
The hearty dishes found in Rioja make great partners with the region's wines. Unmissable riojan dishes include the famous "Patatas a la Riojana" (hearty chorizo and potato stew), "Pimientos Rellenos" (stuffed peppers), "Bacalao a la Riojana" (cod in tomato and red peppers sauce). Try any of these with a Red Crianza!
Another famous local dish which must be tried is “Chuletillas”, lamb cutlets traditionally grilled on Rioja vine cuttings on open fires. These go to perfection with a red Rioja Reserva!
As a visitor, you will be spoilt for choice from numerous tapas bars to traditional family restaurants serving local fare. From the “Asadores” (grills) specialising in the freshest, juiciest local meats cooked on the open fire, to the ultra modern, Michelin-starred restaurants which are redefining Riojan cooking.