From Paella to Tapas: Exploring the Rich Gastronomy of Alicante and Costa Blanca

Alicante and Costa Blanca are renowned for their rich culinary traditions, influenced by their coastal location and diverse cultural history. This region offers a vibrant food scene that combines fresh seafood, traditional rice dishes, and sweet delicacies, making it a must-visit destination for food lovers.

Iconic Dishes of Alicante and Costa Blanca


Paella originated in the Valencia region, just north of Alicante, in the mid-19th century. It was initially a peasant’s dish, made with whatever ingredients were available, typically including rice, beans, and snails, cooked over an open fire.

There are numerous variations of paella, with the most famous being Paella Valenciana (rabbit, chicken, and beans), Seafood Paella (with shrimp, mussels, and squid), and Mixed Paella (a combination of meat and seafood).

Tapas: Popular Tapas Dishes Unique to the Region

In Alicante and Costa Blanca, some unique tapas dishes include:

  • Esgarraet: Salted cod with red peppers and garlic.
  • Pericana: Dried peppers, garlic, and salted cod, typically served on bread.
  • Montaditos: Small sandwiches with a variety of fillings, such as chorizo, cheese, or anchovies.

Arroz a Banda: Traditional Rice Dish

Arroz a Banda, which means “rice on the side,” originated as a fisherman’s dish. It was made using the leftover fish and seafood that couldn’t be sold, cooked with rice and fish stock.

The dish is made by cooking the rice in a rich fish broth, usually flavored with saffron and accompanied by seafood such as squid and shrimp. The rice is served separately from the fish.

Turrón: Sweet Almond Nougat, Especially Famous Around Christmas

Turrón is believed to have Moorish origins and has been made in the Alicante region for centuries. It became particularly popular during the Christmas season.

There are two main types of Turrón: Turrón de Alicante (hard nougat made with whole almonds) and Turrón de Jijona (soft nougat made with ground almonds).

Caldero: Fishermen’s Stew from Tabarca Island

Caldero is a traditional dish from Tabarca Island, originally made by fishermen. It consists of fish cooked in a rich, garlicky broth, often served with rice.

The fish is typically cooked with tomatoes, peppers, and garlic, then served with rice that has been cooked in the same flavorful broth.

Wine and Beverages


This red grape variety, also known as Mourvèdre, thrives in the hot and dry climate of Alicante. Monastrell wines are known for their deep color, high tannins, and rich flavors of dark fruit, spices, and herbs. These wines are often robust and full-bodied, making them perfect for pairing with the region’s hearty dishes.


A white grape variety used to produce both dry and sweet wines, Moscatel is prized for its aromatic qualities. Moscatel wines from Alicante often feature floral and fruity notes, making them refreshing and versatile. Sweet Moscatel wines, in particular, are celebrated for their balance of sweetness and acidity.

Traditional Beverages: Horchata, Agua de Valencia


Made from ground tiger nuts, water, and sugar, horchata is a refreshing, slightly creamy drink that is especially popular during the hot summer months. Originating from Valencia, it has become a beloved beverage in Alicante as well. It is often enjoyed ice-cold and served with a sweet pastry called farton.

Agua de Valencia:

 A popular cocktail made with cava (Spanish sparkling wine), orange juice, vodka, and gin. It’s a vibrant and fruity drink that perfectly captures the spirit of the region.

Alicante and Costa Blanca offer a unique culinary journey, where traditional dishes like paella, Arroz a Banda, and Turrón tell stories of the region’s rich heritage. Visiting local markets, engaging with vendors, and participating in food festivals provide immersive experiences in the vibrant food culture. Savor local wines, such as Monastrell and Moscatel, and try traditional beverages like Horchata and Agua de Valencia.

For a hands-on experience, join a cooking class or culinary tour to learn how to prepare authentic dishes. Exploring the gastronomy of Alicante and Costa Blanca will not only delight your taste buds but also give you a deeper appreciation for the region’s rich cultural tapestry. Enjoy your culinary adventure!