Tortilla de Patatas

Madrid |
cooking tortilla de patatas at cooking point

Spanish Omelet (or more commonly, Potato Omelet, “Tortilla de Patatas”) is considered the most emblematic recipe of Spanish gastronomy. It is easily found in a wide variety of venues, from the humblest tavern to the fanciest restaurants of our territory.

Its humble ingredients: potatoes, eggs, onion, olive oil and salt, as well as its apparently simple preparation, turn the omelet into a very suitable meal when you require preparing something quick, filling and yummy. Besides, as it keeps very well at room temperature, it is a basic in any picnic hamper, lunch box or catering service.

My First Tortilla

It is not unusual for many Spaniards having made their first omelet when they are kids, moreover if they are boys. For many, an omelet is the holy grail of having plenty of carbohydrates and proteins in a single piece of food, tasty and easy to eat at the same time, all with just a bunch of potatoes and eggs. But, what about cooking it? Probably they have seen their moms hundreds of times peeling and slicing potatoes and onions. They have seen them frying the onions and potatoes using a skimmer to turn them over. Needless to say that flipping an omelet is thrilling for a kid eager for new experiences.


Where and When to Eat Tortilla de Patatas

The most common way of eating potato omelet is probably in a sandwich (“bocadillo de tortilla”), easily found in cafeterias, convenience stores, food stands, bus stations and, of course, bars. It is the perfect snack (or full meal) when you are in a hurry and want something filling, ready-made and reasonably healthy.

Obviously, you can make your tortilla sandwiches at home to take away to work, for picnic, hiking or beach. Remember that it keeps very well at room temperature, so it is suitable for being carried in a tupperware or aluminum foil.

It is also staple in family dinners, when children claim their share of energy. However, it is not common for lunch if they had enough time to cook. Remember, in Spain, lunch is the big meal, so we normally have two courses and dessert.

However, the tortilla reaches the summit of Spanish gastronomy is many restaurants around Spain that serve it not as a snack or fast food, but as a delicate mixture of potatoes, eggs and (not always) onions. In those places, the omelet is cooked on the spot and served warm and juicy.

The way of cooking the omelet just lightly, keeping the inside juicy and the outside just cooked enough to hold the filling is commonly called “Betanzos Style”, as that town from Galicia is famous for hosting several restaurants awarded with the Best Omelet of Spain prize for years.


Best Tortillas in Madrid

In our tapas cooking class you will be able to make the best tortilla ever, but meanwhile you learn it, we suggest you a few places in Madrid famous for their omelets:

  • Taberna Pedraza (Calle de Ibiza, 40, Retiro district). Located in Retiro, probably the highest concentration of high-end tapas places, this restaurant stands out for their Betanzos style omelet.
  • Casa Dani (Mercado de la Paz, Salamanca district), usually packed with locals, this bar inside the market is said to be the one who makes the most tortillas a day in Madrid. Definitely, the nicest way to finish a visit to this local market.
  • Las tortillas de Gabino (Calle de Rafael Calvo, 20, Chamberi district). Its name says it all. Restaurant specialized in tortillas: regular, stuffed, stewed, ...
A Little Bit of History

Till recently, Navarra was thought to be the cradle of this Spanish delicacy. The first testimony of this recipe appears mentioned in a document submitted in 1817 to the Courts of Navarra, where it is said that two or three eggs omelets were enough to feed five or six men as women cooked them with fried potatoes.

Legend has it that General Tomás Zumalacárregui visited a tavern to have lunch and the landlady did not have enough eggs to prepare an omelet due to shortage war periods, and she got creative cooking the few eggs she had with fried potatoes.

Nevertheless, recent discoveries suggest that Villanueva de la Serena (Extremadura, Southwest Spain) was, in fact the place where this delicacy was born in 1789. The invention of the dish is credited to two nobles determined to tackle famines, so recurrent at that time in Spain. Their goal was to create a cheap alternative to bread replacing part of the flour with potatoes. The dough would then be shaped in rounded slices (“tortitas”) and fried in oil. Eggs seemed to be added to the recipe shortly after because they were already mentioned as a natural addition to this mix.


But what are the exact ingredients of Spanish Omelet? If you are a foodie (which is more than likely if you’ve got to this blog) you are more than likely to have done some online research which has probably led you to a great variety of versions, such as Jamie Olivier’s which included chorizo or peppers. But the truth is the genuine recipe includes only potatoes, eggs and optionally, onions. This last ingredient has proved to be the most controversial of the components of Spanish omelet, for there are as many supporters as detractors of this version.

how to flip an omelet


  • 350 gr potato
  • 125 gr (eq. 1/2) onion
  • 3 large eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt


  1. Peel and chop the potatoes into thin slices.
  2. Fry them in olive oil at very low temperature. Reserve.
  3. Slice the onion into strips and fry until translucent.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with a good pinch of salt, add the drained potatoes and onion.
  5. Coat a clean frying pan with olive oil and add the egg mix and cook over a low heat.
  6. Once the bottom is firm, flip the omelet with a plate to cook the other side.
  7. Allow to cool before serving.

You can learn this and more recipes in our hands-on tapas cooking class. This class is a perfect immersion into the Spanish tapas culture in a fun evening Monday through Saturday.

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