September 30, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Expat, Food and wine, Spain

I’ve got a soft spot in my pretend Spanish heart for American chicas who’ve randomly happened upon their
maridos while here in Spain. This latest guest post comes from one of those chicas: Melanie, a Michigan native, who met her Spanish husband, Alvaro, on a bus while traveling from Madrid to Cáceres in 2006. Now living in Dallas, Texas, she knows a thing or two about embracing her inner Spaniard and getting her tapas fix while a continent away.

Upon returning to the USA after having lived in Spain, my Spanish husband and I thought that our evening tapas routine (tapas for dinner – our favorite!) would have to come to an end. Suddenly we could not find our Spanish cured meats or cheeses anywhere. While jamón ibérico (Iberian ham) is still something we greatly miss, over time we have been able to find some pretty appetizing alternatives – or sometimes, even the real thing – in the gourmet grocery stores around Dallas, TX. For those of you with Spanish palates who have relocated to the USA, here are some of our favorite tapas:

Mild crackers or bread

A tasty tapa is best accompanied by a mild cracker, toasted piece of bread, or “picos” (small, crunchy Spanish breadsticks).


We have found and enjoy chorizo (Spanish sausage) from the Palacios brand. This chorizo is on the spicier side, but it is very flavorful. Cut into thin, round pieces, and enjoy with picos.

Manchego Cheese

Manchego cheese, depending on the cut and age, can be mild to strong. We prefer strong Manchego cheeses, cured about 6-12 months. Cut off the rind, slice thinly, and enjoy with picos.

Italian salami

This cured meat choice is not Spanish, but it tastes much like Salchichón (“spiced sausage”), and that is why we like it. We usually pick the Fratelli Beretta Gemelli salami. Cut into thin, round pieces, and enjoy with picos.

Serrano ham
We prefer the “Revilla” brand sliced thinly for taste and versatility. Because the Revilla brand is quite flavorful, thin slices are enough to provide a rich flavor. A thinly sliced piece of Serrano ham goes very well rolled around a pico or rolled up on top of a cracker. Or simply – eaten alone!

Sidra (“cider”)

And last but not least, to drink we recommend a cider, or a beer that tastes close to it. We have been able to find here the Spanish sidra made by Mayador. The seasonal variations of the cider from Woodchuck are also decent replacements for sweeter brew lovers.

While living in the USA is no Spain when it comes to tapas, we have been able to recreate and continue to enjoy our fabulous ham and cheese plates for dinners. It has taken two years or so of exploring various local supermarkets, but these selections are some of the best and closest-to-the-real-thing that we have tried. If you are looking for similar alternatives to Spanish tapas in the USA, give these a try and enjoy!

Has anyone else found legit Spanish tapas while in the States? Share the details, please!


4 Responses to “Guest post: Your USA tapas fix”

  1. Christine Says:

    So there’s hope if I ever return to the States! Thank goodness 🙂

  2. Erin Says:

    My thoughts exactly!

  3. Sam Says:

    Two things I consistently find pretty easily are manchego (one variety only, but it’s good!) and “drunken goat” cheese from Murcia. Also, usually fairly easy to find the Marcona almonds. We did a little taste of Spain for a picnic recently and brought both the cheeses along with some Spanish tapas crackers (another find I was impressed to locate at a local gourmet market), olives and the almonds.

    There are more decent Spanish/tapas restaurants too, but I still find most of them disappointing in comparison. Will happily continue trying though:-) Sometimes I think, why try…I should enjoy other things we can get here and just wait until returning to Spain for these favorites, but I never stick with that. More and more selection of Spanish wines here too! (And thankfully, as a former visiting Valencian, my hubby has perfected paella (as close as we’ll probably get here with the ingredients…and that little bit of mysterious something you can only get into a dish when done in its homeland).

    Great post to help us seek out some goodies for our “fixes”!

  4. Erin Says:

    I totally know what you mean about the Spanish restaurants – I’m always going to try them out and they are ALWAYS a disappointment. But it’s like this obsession I have to find a decent one – I just can’t not try them! Mostly, I get my fix by going to Whole Foods and other fine-foods grocers and just buying the Spanish imports. Truly though, until I can find decent jamon iberico, nothing will ever be good enough.

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