The Spanish bocadillo is a staple of everyday life. A humble yet iconic pleasure and comfort food at its finest. Bocadillos are made with baguettes or barras de pan (a little wider than a baguette) and the bread is cut lengthways and served around 8 inches long.
What is a Spanish bocadillo?
A Spanish bocadillo is a type of sandwich that is served in a baguette or similar type of bread. It is by no means your typical sandwich, and bocadillos are celebrated in Spain as a hearty and filling worker’s lunch.
You’ll find bocadillos on virtually every menu all over Spain, from regional roadside restaurants to bustling city cafes and bars.
Occasionally, salad will be used as filling, although it is more likely a little sliced tomato will be used just to soften the bread. It is most common for bocadillos to be served with cold food, although some bocadillos will be served warm. One such example is made by perhaps the most famous bocadillo shop in Spain…
The most famous bocadillo in Madrid – bocadillo de calamares
Undoubtedly, Madrid’s most popular bocadillo is the now famous bocadillo de calamares and when searching out the authentic Madrileño food experience, you can’t go past the bocadillo de calamares.
As the name suggests, the bocadillo de calamares is made with fried battered squid rings placed in a nice soft baguette and best when topped with a generous spread of alioli and a squeeze of lemon.
Where to Eat the Best Bocadillos de Calamares in Madrid
There are several places that have sprouted up in recent years offering Madrid’s favorite sandwich, but there’s just one restaurant that most Madrileños will frequent. La Campana has a long history.
Open for almost a century in the same location, the now super popular no-frills bar has been making bocadillos de calamares for more than 70 years. They typically serve it fresh with a squeeze of lemon so be sure to ask for alioli if you want this too.
La Campana is located just off the Plaza Major and is down a small winding side street. It’s a blink-and-you-’ll-miss-it kind of place, so just look for the queue of people that often snakes out of the door and down the street.
Calle de Botoneras, 6, 28012 Madrid
Want to explore more of Madrid’s thriving tapas scene?
Be sure to download one of our FREE Madrid tapas walking tour guides; they’re self-guided and there are 4 to choose from: Central Madrid (including Plaza Major), La Latina, Goya, Lavapies & Delicias.
Bocadillo fillings and flavors
Spanish bocadillos are often quite conservative when it comes to fillings and will typically rely on a small selection of quality ingredients. Some of the best flavor combinations are really simple (and easy to make at home!).
Butter and margarine are rarely used on the traditional Spanish bocadillo, instead, good quality olive oil (preferably extra virgin olive oil) is used, if anything. EVOO is a considerably healthier option compared to other cooking fats, including butter and margarine. Read more about olive oil nutrition facts in our blog section.
Bocadillos won’t be covered in sauce like mayonnaise or tomato sauce. Instead, a small drizzle of olive oil is often added to the cut side of the bread to help soften the bread. Another method is to rub the bread with ripe tomato halves, and garlic is often added too. In the case of seafood ingredients such as calamari, Spanish aioli, and/or lemon will typically be used.
Here are a few favorite bocadillo flavors that you’re sure to find all over Spain.
Ham Sandwich – Bocadillo de jamón Serrano and Manchego cheese
Bocadillo de jamón is perhaps the most quintessential of all sandwiches in Spain. It is made with the typical baguette or barra bread, drizzled with some good quality olive oil, and a few generous slices of Spanish ham such as jamón Serrano (Serrano ham) are added as filling.
Occasionally, you’ll find Bocadillo de jamón made with jamón Iberico (Iberian ham) but these will of course be more expensive. Enhancements to the traditional bocadillo de jamón include slices of Spanish cheese (often Manchego cheese), sliced tomato, roasted peppers, and pitted marinated olives Spanish-style.
Bocadillo de lomo is another favorite in Spain and is made with tenderloin pork steaks that are cooked and served in a fresh crisp baguette and seasoned with just a little salt. The bread is softened by the warmed meat and oil and the resulting flavor is very rewarding.
Additional fillings can also be added, and slices of fresh tomato along with sliced cheese are popular choices with the bocadillo de lomo.
Potato tortilla sandwich – Bocadillo de tortilla
It doesn’t get much more Spanish than this combination! The bocadillo de tortilla is a classic bocadillo recipe that you’ll find all over Spain. This sandwich is made with a fresh baguette and loaded with a generous wedge or two of tortilla, a little salt, and some good quality olive oil, and that’s it.
Simple, filling, and oh-so-delicious, the bocadillo de tortilla is without question one of the best examples of Spanish comfort food.
The beauty of bocadillos is in their simplicity. They’re super easy to make, affordable, require no special equipment, and you only need to source some simple ingredients.
Here are some tips for making the very best homemade bocadillos:
Best bread for a bocadillo
Spanish bocadillos are typically served on baguettes or barras in Spain. The fresher the better, so be sure to hit up your local bakery for the freshest bread they have on offer.
Use a serrated knife to cut the baguette lengthways, then slice it into 8-inch / 20 cm pieces. From there, you’re ready to add your favorite fillings.
Hot and cold bocadilllos
This all depends on what fillings you use. Bocadillo de lomo is best served hot or warm. Bocadillo de tortilla is also lovely when served warm, although you’ll find plenty of places serving it cold too.
Bocadillo de jamón will always be served cold.
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