One of the things I like most about traveling is tasting new foods and learning about other cultures through their food-related practices. Being a vegetarian can complicate this a bit, but I had no trouble finding plenty of delicious vegetarian food at reasonable prices everywhere I went in the Iberian peninsula!
Vegetarian or not, there is lots to enjoy in the food culture of Portugal and Spain. Since I do my best writing early in the day, I like the practice of eating meals later (than most Americans do). I also enjoy being in a restaurant where the assumption is that you want to take the time to enjoy your food, rather than be rushed or interrupted regularly. In my experience, Portugese and Spanish people take a lot of pride in their cuisine, and are pleased to bond with others by sharing it!
In case you are interested in some recommendations, here are a sampling, in no particular order:
Lisbon, Portugal: Lisbon has tons of excellent and inexpensive food, and since almost everyone can and is willing to speak some English, knowing little to no Portugese won’t be an obstacle to a happy belly. Consider trying: Jardim do Sentidos, The Green Room, Taste of Lisboa (a food tour: I recommend the one at Campo de Ourique), Cruzes Credo, Pois Cafe, La Creperie da Ribeira, Santini, Primo Basilico, Casa Nepalesa, Time Out’s Mercado de Ribeira, Queijaria Nacional, and/or Restaurante Oasis. There were so many places I wanted to try that after five weeks in Lisbon, I still had only made it about halfway through my list!
Guimaraes, Portugal: I wasn’t in Guimaraes for long, but Cor de Tangerina was so good that I went there multiple times.
Madrid, Spain: There seem to be a lot more vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly food options in Madrid than when I visited a friend there in 2007. Some of my favorites include: Yerbabuena, Restaurantes Vegetarianos Artemisa, Guaranga Transcendental Food, Mercado de San Miguel, Indian Aroma, El Estragon Vegetariano, and/or Phuket.