Pass The Patatas Bravas – A Bit Of History


At the original patatas bravas restaurant in Madrid, Las Bravas

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Luckily, our writers for The Spain Scoop love to eat the unique food of Spain.  However, when it comes to patatas bravas, one of Spain’s most delectable tapas, writer Robin Graham, in his ever inquisitive way, digs into the history of this famous food. Caution: you may get hungry reading his story. 

By Robin Graham

In Britain it’s the chip, stateside the fry, the French eat pomme frites, and the Belgians do too. Cultural identities can be distinguished in the choice of ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar, and salt. Very little in the culinary world can arouse our enthusiasm, or make us so opinionated, as the fried potato.

In Spain, there is only one winner- originating in Madrid and served everywhere, it consists of chunky fried potatoes doused in a day-glo sauce made of hot pimentón, saffron, sherry vinegar, tomatoes, garlic, sugar, sometimes even some jamón (ham) and who knows what else.

Madrid‘s Gran Via

There are probably as many different recipes as there are bars that serve it, but nowhere has more of a claim on the original as Madrid’s Las Bravas, the little bar that opened for business on El Callejón del Gato in the capital city’s La Latina district in 1933.

In or around 1950 the owners, who had been serving mainly sardines, started serving up their fried potatoes with a spicy sauce and it did so well for them that these day there are two more branches in the neighbourhood and a whole country full of copycats.

Tapas on display at Las Bravas in Madrid.

They’ll sell you the sauce bottled, the original recipe closely guarded, but the best way to enjoy it is in the (brightly-lit, visually unattractive) bar, where madrileños squeeze themselves in to start an evening or finish off an afternoon’s shopping with a racion of the bright orange, deep fried dish.

You could have some pulpo (octopus) too or maybe some embutidos (chorizos and blood sausages) but it’s probably some kind of sin to come here and not try the iconic dish they credit themselves with inventing.


Robin Graham writes about Andalusia, Spain and some other stuff. His stories can be found, with accompanying photography, at alotofwindHe’s a private person but, strangely, doesn’t mind being followed: @robinjgraham or liked:  Photography at 500px

4 Responses

  1. Tastaolletes says:

    Very nice post! If you want to know more about food in Spain, you can visit my blog:

    Let me show you our treasures and share some easy recipes. As soon as posible we’ll ofer an english version as well.

    best regards

  2. admin says:


  3. At a bar in Madrid, they serve their patatas bravas in a sauce they call ‘Salsa Sagrada’
    ‘Why is it called ‘Holy Sauce’ I asked
    ‘Try some and see!’
    I did ….

    ‘Jesus Christ!!’ I exclaimed
    ‘That’s why!!’
    Keith Kellett recently posted…Cumberland PiesMy Profile

  4. The Spain Scoop says:

    Haha. That’s good Keith!

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