FOOD

On the trail of the perfect tortilla

The Spanish omelet is the undisputed darling of the country’s culinary heritage. Here are 10 versions of the dish that have made Spain what it is today

Tortilla at Madrid’s Bodega de la Ardosa.
Tortilla at Madrid’s Bodega de la Ardosa.DAVID VALDIVIA / ZOUK

Spanish readers of the EL PAÍS gastronomy section El Comidista will already know that we are all crazy about Spanish omelets. In fact, after exhaustive research, the driving force behind the website, Mikel López Iturriaga, has learned to make the perfect tortilla. But as not all of you will have the good fortune to try it for yourselves, we decided to compile a list of bars where the tortilla reigns supreme.

At first, we all but triggered a digital meltdown in our quest to round up the best tortilla haunts, so we dropped the technological approach and resorted to some basic fieldwork. This, of course, has required a deal more exertion on our behalf, but you can thank us later.

The following examples of tortilla eggcellence are largely golden and runny. So, if you happen to be fussy about raw egg or harbor a fear of salmonella poisoning, this is where to click off.

Lastly, don’t expect the definitive guide to the Spanish Omelet! We've done our homework, but that doesn’t mean we’ve visited every village in Spain. Feel free to tell us about a better tortilla in your town.

Bar Nestor

In San Sebastián, Bar Nestor produces the kind of tortilla that turns people into tortilla touts, because if you don’t order ahead, you don’t get. Chef Francis Paniego recommended this cradle of Spanish culinary tradition, and we are eternally indebted. The omelet is golden and runny and extremely delicious – in short, it ticks all the boxes.

Bar Nestor. Calle Pescadería, 11. San Sebastian. Map.

La Tita

Not so long ago, food blogger Jorge Guitián posted a pic on Instagram of a juicy slice of tortilla in an earthenware bowl. I asked him about it and he explained. “La Tita is famous for its extremely moist tortillas. The photo I put up is a tapa that comes free with a drink. If you ask for a ración, you get a big plate of it. And even though La Tita has changed owners, it has kept the tortilla as its trademark.”

La Tita. Rúa Nova, 46. Santiago de Compostela. Map.

Bodega de la Ardosa

David Valdivia, known for his love of bagels, wrote some time ago about the tortilla at the La Ardosa in Zouk Magazine, describing it as “the best tortilla I’ve tried in a long time.” Our very own Khaleesi, Monica Escudero is also a loyal fan of La Ardosa and its Spanish omelet. What more can I say?

Bodega La Ardosa. Calle de Colón, 13. Madrid. Map.

Casa Dani

Journalist and co-founder of the gastronomic enterprise Platunique, Nella Ruggiero suggested I try the tortilla at Casa Dani. “Their tortilla will make you weep,” she said. Seeing the lines forming outside the bar, it was clear she didn’t mean because it was so bad. And she really didn’t – it’s perfect!

Casa Dani. Mercado de la Paz. Calle Ayala, 28. Madrid. Map.

Norte

Barcelona is not known for its tortillas but the team at Norte isn’t from Barcelona, which is undoubtedly why they begin each day by rustling up one of their fabulous tortillas. You don’t often find them this good in Catalonia!

Norte. Calle Diputació, 321. Barcelona. Map.

Restaurante Coral

It’s unusual to give blood as an excuse for a gastronomic experience, but my donation was more than worth it to get my hands on the scandalously good tortilla served at Coral. Maybe my low hemoglobin levels affected my judgment, but I doubt it.

Restaurante Coral. Calle Nicaragua, 23. Barcelona. Map.

Sagartoki

Basque superchef Senén González, who runs Sagartoki, has created a range of frozen gourmet products. I got the frying pan out, followed the instructions and the tortilla was delicious. In fact Senén's tortillas have won at least five prizes since 2001, including the award for Spain’s finest tortilla. Let’s just say, the next time you’re in Vitoria, you’ll know where to find me.

Sagartoki. Calle Prado, 18. Vitoria. Map.

Mesón O Pote

Based in Betanzos – the home of the Spanish omelet – O Pote won the National Prize for the best tortilla in Spain in 2011. Three eggs for each potato and minimal cooking, and it comes out almost liquid. As I read once, there are two kinds of people in this world; those who prefer their tortilla runny and those whose palate is made of cork – though to be honest what it said was “those who have no f***ing idea what life is about” – but that might be going a little far…

Mesón O Pote. Travesía do Progreso, 9. Betanzos. Map.

Miren Itziar

It was 2014 when Ana Biscayenne Vega wrote a guide to the best tortillas in Bilbao. Interrogating her two years later on her recommendations, she sighed and said, “Half of them no longer exist. The result of the crisis and the gentrification of the city… My favorite among those that have survived is the Miren Itziar which only makes one tortilla a day at around 1.30pm with roasted pepper.”

Miren Itziar. Calle Atxuri, 17. Bilbao. Map.

Asador el Tahití

The Tahití tortilla departs in taste and texture from the others on the list. It’s drier, with more potato. Which is why I am including it here – to prove I am not a runny tortilla fanatic. Well, that and because it’s to die for.

Asador el Tahití. Calle Laurel, 20. Logroño. Map.