Fun fact: churros were one of the first food items that RF and I bonded over. There were (still are?) churro carts at the L.A. Coliseum. RF was not much of a sports fan back in the day, but the churros and I managed to lure him to a few of our college football games. Stadium food isn’t usually the best version of any given item, but those churros were really delicious! The perfect ratio of crunchy exterior to fluffy interior with exactly the right amount of cinnamon-y sugar sprinkled over the entire churro. Always hot, never greasy. We haven’t found a suitable replacement since.
Sooo…we had very high hopes for the churros here in Spain. When the holiday market opened in front of our building, there was a stand on every single corner along the route. It seems they’ve cut back now that the height of the season is passing, but there is still a holdout practically right outside our door. So, we’ve sampled our fair share. We also ventured to a highly rated shop I discovered on Yelp, where we tried stuffed churros. Oh yes, you read that right! And how do they compare??
On the left we have Xurreria Anna Maria, street vendor to the stars…ok, just us regular folks, but we have lots of churro stars in our eyes!
On the right, Xurreria San Roman. Founded in 1969, there are two storefront locations in Barcelona – Eixample and Sant Andreu.
Though they offer chocolate covered and stuffed churros, as well as bunyols, potato chips, and various other fried delights, Xurreria Anna Maria has been our consistent source for traditional churros:
Traditional Churro Pros:
- Always warm. Fried pastry that’s gone cold can get mushy and lack the full flavor of its warm counterpart.
- Nicely crisped exterior. Fried foods can quickly go from golden to burnt – burnt is never good.
- Lots of sugar. Xurreria Anna Maria is generous in their sugaring. We stopped at a small stand early in our visit where they skimped on the sugar, rendering the churros quite plain.
Traditional Churro Cons:
- Too skinny. Not something that either of us will be after eating so many churros! But, a skinny churro lacks the fluffy center that I love.
- No cinnamon. While sugar is sweet, a little spice is also nice. A mix of sugar and cinnamon was the default option of our early churro experiences, but we haven’t that choice here at all.
- We can’t figure out the system! OK, this isn’t a quality of the churro, but every time we’ve gone to buy these churros, there’s a different system…buy them by weight, buy a certain number, ask for a certain number get a certain weight. Obviously, the real problem is that we don’t speak Catalan. But how hard can it be to buy churros?!
Speaking of the system, we didn’t really know what it was at Xurreria San Roman either. We pointed and asked for one of each flavor, which we mistakenly thought was two. Not so! They offer three filling options: chocolate, dulce de leche, and crema. Why choose?! We took one of each.
Stuffed Churro Pros:
Well that’s easy… 1. Chocolate. 2. Dulce de leche. 3. Crema! Okay, okay…more details.
- Amazing fillings! We had a little smackdown between us about the best filling. For RF, chocolate was the hands-down winner. Crema was easily my fave. The chocolate was rich and thick, definitely very delicious, but IMHO more like cake frosting than a pastry filling. RF had zero problems with this, and about the same amount of love for the much lighter, vanilla-y custard that I adored. Eh, more for me.
- Doughy churro. The actual churro part of these is much doughier than the traditionals, probably because it needs to be thicker to hold the filling. I like that.
- Caramelized, sugar-coated exterior. If we were in diabetic shock already, the exteriors were nicely browned and the sugar was applied right out of the frier, not when we ordered them, so it had a nice little bit of caramelization to it.
Stuffed Churro Cons:
- Cold. I’m sure that San Roman already does a big business, but I’m guessing that they could stir up some serious enthusiasm with the addition of a Krispy Kreme “hot now” sign. Cold churros just aren’t as delicious.
- Dulce de leche. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but neither of us really cared for the caramel filling. It was dense like the chocolate filling, was overly sweet (I know! How is that possible?! Trust me, it is!!), and had a bit of a burnt aftertaste. I would be willing to give it another try, in case of an off day, but we both had such solid winners that we probably wouldn’t chance it.
- Take it away! OK, this is just about as petty as “Can’t figure out the system!”, but if you spring for the storefront, why not add a few little tables and make some coffee? There are a couple of stools that face a small wall counter, so you can sit, but you can’t people watch or even really enjoy being there. We took our churros to a nearby park. If they had been hot when we bought them, they wouldn’t have been by the time we found a place to sit and enjoy them. Meh.
WINNER: The golden paper bag goes to…Traditional Churro! Hands down. You won’t get any arguments from us that the stuffed churro is amazing. We oohed and ahhed over them, for sure. But, they’re definitely more of a special treat that we might seek out 2-3 times a year, especially given all of the other chocolate-covered and cream-filled options in town. But traditional churros make a terrific snack, dessert, or even breakfast! They’re not nearly as heavy and you can buy two or ten, whatever you’re in the mood for. Or, at least we think that’s how it works! Suffice it to say, we’ll be pretty bummed when the churro truck disappears.