Go Messy or Go Hungry

Spain Travel Guide

May 5, 2017 | Europe, Featured travel, Travel

Spain Travel Guide | Go Messy or Go Hungry

Alright, brace yourselves for a long post! About a month ago (?!!), Marc and I took a 10-day trip to Spain, and today I’m sharing all things we ate and my tips for traveling in Spain on the low FODMAP diet.

I’ve covered tips for traveling and done a few travel posts in the past, but international travel is it’s own beast. The only other place I’ve been since seriously starting the low FODMAP diet is Australia, which definitely doesn’t count since the Aussies invented the diet! (Seriously – it was easier to find food there than here!) So needless to say, I was a little nervous to go to Spain – granted, it’s not bread and pasta centric as Italy, but I wasn’t sure what I’d find.

Luckily, I found that being low FODMAP in Spain wasn’t significantly more difficult than in the States. I fairly easily found lactose free milk and gluten free bread, and I’ve been doing this long enough that I could find something to eat pretty much wherever we went. I did get to eat some fun & interesting things, which I’ll get to below, but pretty much my Spanish culinary experience could be summed up in three words: salad, potatoes, jamón. (And vino!)


Alright! Some general things first: unsurprisingly, I brought a container of homemade granola with me for breakfast. I also stocked up on these low FODMAP Happy Bars, which were super good! I always made sure to have one in my purse just in case of a snack attack. Finally, when we were in Spain, we bought some gluten free bread and lunch meat and made sandwiches for lunch most days.


One other general thing: maybe you’ve heard, but the Spaniards have an eating schedule that’s a bit different from here in the States. They may or may not eat breakfast (pretty sure in Málaga people just slept till noon and then got up and had lunch), lunch is a bit later, siesta from 3-5ish, tapas around when we would have happy hour or even dinner, and then actual dinner around 9pm. I was pretty apprehensive about this situation, because I follow a pretty regular breakfast at 8-9, lunch at noon, snack at 3, dinner at 7-8 schedule, and I find my stomach is not happy if I eat at irregular times. I’m happy to report though, that with a bit of planning, snacks on hand for whenever I got hungry, and plenty of water (seriously, we brought our camelbacks and I had at least 2L of water every day), my stomach was pretty alright the entire time!


So I COMPLETELY FORGOT both there and back to request the gluten free meal on the airplane ??‍♀️. On the way there the dinner was just “grilled” chicken or something, but on the way back it was a breaded chicken parm-type thing, and I had to scrape the breading off. So definitely don’t forget like I did. We flew Delta and I know you can just check the option in their app – pretty sure most airlines have something similar.




Breakfast / Coffee

Aforementioned granola, with lactose free milk we bought from Mercadona (along with gluten free bread and some lunch meat), a grocery store in the Málaga train station.

For coffee we stopped at Tejeringos, which wasn’t the best ever but it got the job done. We also split a churro the first day – not low FODMAP, but just a little didn’t hurt (plus, cultural experience > diet sometimes).


tapas / lunch

Taberna Mijana is where we had our first ever patatas bravas, and Marc says they were his favorite the entire trip.

La Tertulia is where I learned of almond sauce! It actually has not great reviews and was pretty touristy, so if you’re looking for a “real” salsa de almendras / almond sauce / romesco sauce experience I’d suggest looking elsewhere, but if you’re just really hungry and need a snack, it’s not bad.

We also went to The Good Burger for lunch down by Muelle Uno, which is Málaga’s waterside shopping district. I felt super touristy and American for eating a burger and sweet potato fries, but I was starving and it was the only thing around that sounded good (so starving in fact, that I accidentally ate the bun… whoops).  But it turns out that I think the Spaniards are kind of obsessed with hamburguesas, because we saw them everywhere.

Gelato is a must in Europe, so we got some at Heladería Cónico. Side note: no matter how much I tell myself “I’m going to speak Spanish,” I only know how to order gelato in Italian. Which very much confused the Spaniards.


Our first night we had dinner at Morrisseys Irish Pub (LOL) because it was close and because we were too tired to look for anything else. But from what I remember, I did have a pretty tasty salad with salmon. Also side note: speaking to someone in Spanish at an Irish pub is a very strange experience.

The next night we ate seafood paella at El Trillo which was quite tasty. We actually tried to go to Casa Lola which we had heard good things about, but there was a really long wait so we found dinner elsewhere.

Our last night, we wandered into New Clandestino which was probably my favorite place in Málaga. We had some sort of melted cheese thing as an appetizer, I had some hake (which is a fish), and Marc had the gnocchi (ñoqui in spanish, lol). Also, they had these olives that were OUT OF THIS WORLD. I’m not even really an olive-lover. But I ate them all.

Non-food recommendations

Málaga AirBnb (this is probably the coolest AirBnb we’ve stayed in!)

Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro – beautiful old fort / castle with awesome views

Malagueta (bullring) and museum – funky and fascinating little museum about the history of bullfighting (which I was not knowledgable about)



We ordered an egg breakfast at La Rollerie, which was very good. They also had cinnamon rolls which are obviously not low FODMAP, but they looked delicious.


Mercado de la Reina was close to our hotel so we stopped there for tapas of patatas bravas (obviously) and una brocheta of some sort of meat, which is a skewer / kebab type thing. And vino of course. This place gets pretty packed so get there early. Actually that applies to a lot of places in Spain. They seemed to be either packed or empty.


We found Esplore when we were getting pretty desperate looking for food, but it was one of my favorite meals in Spain. We had jamón prepared two ways – I think one was called “secreto,” and I can’t remember what the other was called but they were both delicious.

Rosi la Loca was a sort of tropical-themed restaurant that I chose because I just couldn’t handle any more traditional Spanish food at that point (this was our last night in Spain). We had some seared tuna and probably patatas bravas.

non-food recommendations

Our hotel in Madrid (Iberostar Las Letras Gran Vía)

Royal Palace – it gets a little claustrophobic in here, as they have a small, roped-off path that everyone must follow through the palace (and literally EVERYONE had giant baby strollers for some reason), but it’s kind of awesome to see where the king used to “perform the ceremony of getting dressed” < actual quote, and where he would lunch, and dinner (separate room, obvs), etc.


Tapas / Lunch / Snacks

I just want to take a moment to point out that Tex Mex Doritos are a thing in Spain, and that they’re essentially just normal Doritos.

La Bodegueta: best tapas we had in Spain. Definitely more pricey too, but oh man. That jamón ibérico. Sooo good.

Conesa: Actually found this place when I was researching the gluten free situation in Spain. I had been craving a simple ham + cheese sandwich the whole time, and this finally satisfied it. Highly recommend this place. Also highly recommend taking your sandwich and eating it on the steps of the cathedral down the street.


Maestró was a fun little craft brewery / restaurant (with good branding, which I will fully admit is why we went here). In Spain, it’s totally common to sell small beers (like 10ish oz), which I 100% support, as that’s really only the amount my stomach wants. I also had some tasty salmon with some weird-but-cool crispy stuff on top.

We went into Rovica Bar Cafeteria after La Bodegueta (see above), because it fit my bill of not crazy crowded but not empty. It was a mistake. The only thing on the menu I could have was essentially a pork chop – remember how I talked about not liking pork chops because I thought they were dry and flavorless? This brought me back to those days. Don’t go here.

Our last night in Barcelona we did a fancy dinner / early birthday celebration for me at Can Solé. Aside from making the mistake of walking there in new heels (read: not broken in) and walking in flustered and in pain, this place was wonderful. The food was delicious – we got some bread + olive oil + tomato to start, split the cod “Can Solé,” and had chocolate ice cream for dessert. It was not a low FODMAP meal – the fish was breaded a little bit, and of course ice cream, but the whole thing was so delicious and worth it. Seriously, the most chocolatey and delicious ice cream I’ve ever had. I think the best part of the meal might’ve been the cooks though – the kitchen was open and right next to where we were sitting, and they were just having a blast. At one point one woman went outside so a friend could push her up and down the street in what I think was a stroller? (We couldn’t see anything, but they kept laughing about how she was a bebé and such), which was altogether unexpected and hilarious.

Non-food recommendations

Barcelona AirBnb – this place was also nice and in a great location

La Sagrada Familia – a must. But buy your tickets beforehand. And do go inside; it’s worth it. So worth it.

Spain maps

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  1. Hi! Thank you for sharing about your experience. I’m looking at going to Madrid for a few months and I follow the FODMAP diet pretty strictly. I’m curious how strictly you follow it (I’m new to your blog), because a lot of the images of food here made me immediately think milk or garlic or onion just based on the image. I’d love to hear more about the specifics of how accommodating restaurants were when you asked about ingredients. Thanks for your help!

  2. Hi Katia! Glad you found this post! So, as you can tell from the pictures, I don’t follow the low FODMAP diet super strictly. (It’s actually NOT recommended to eliminate all FODMAPs entirely, as that would be depriving yourself from important vitamins + minerals, but that’s a conversation for your nutritionist or GI ?) Basically, I’ve figured out over the years what my threshold is, and I pay attention to how many FODMAPs I’m consuming and try not to overdo it — for example, if I eat some gelato one night I make sure to be extra careful the next day so I don’t feel lousy.
    That being said, I think you’ll find eating low FODMAP in Spain not too much more difficult than anywhere else. I’d recommend hitting up a supermarket first thing to stock up on basics. I had no trouble finding lactose free milk, and most places seemed to have a gluten free section with bread / crackers / such. We stayed in AirBnbs, which made it super easy to keep breakfasts & lunches for during the day.
    Spain, like much of Europe, focuses more on high quality fresh ingredients instead of covering dishes in lots of (onion & garlic filled)! I found that, in general, food had less garlic & onion in it as opposed to the US. It’s also not a super bread-focused culture like Italy or somewhere, and I could usually find a salad (with meat) or a meat-centric dish that I could eat. And, obviously, I ate a lot of potatoes and jamón which are naturally low FODMAP! ?
    I personally didn’t spend a lot of time asking our servers about specifics of the food I was ordering (my Spanish isn’t great lol), so I can’t speak to that, but I would recommend learning food words so you can read menus if you haven’t already (Although assuming if you’re going to Spain for a few months your Spanish is better than mine!)
    Lastly, I’ve got a “tips for traveling” post which I link to in this post, as well as a “tips for eating out” post which is here: http://gomessy-or-gohungry.com/tips-for-eating-out/
    You can also look at my resources page (in the nav up top ^) for some low FODMAP products and other tips!
    Ummmmm…. sorry this was super long but hopefully it was helpful! ? Don’t hesitate to reach out with any other questions!


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