Sunday 12 April 2015

A Beginner’s Guide To Seville’s Best Tapas “Tapas Trail”

Covering 8 of “the best” taperías in Seville and presenting 36 different tapas dishes, this post is already going to be quite long so I’ll try not to waffle on too much in the introduction.

You’ll probably already know that the word ‘tapas’ comes from the Spanish verb ‘tapar’ which means ‘to cover’; used because bartenders would kindly cover the sweet sherry with a salty snack to stop the fruit flies from having a cheeky sip (obviously nothing to do with making customers thirsty so they drank more). If you didn’t know that, now you too can bore people with this piece of useless information.

When travelling to a city for the first time, I typically spend quite some time researching the places to eat at using published guides, blogs, critic reviews and recommendations from the good folk on twitter. For this trip however was a surprise sprang on me by parents as part of my birthday gift; as such I drew up my ‘hit list’ at short notice using the Michelin guide and a couple of twitter “recs”.

Of the eight places visited, my favourite overall was Eslava – the menu was short yet interesting; there was tradition with modern touches and the people were delightfully friendly.

The only place I wouldn’t revisit is El Burladero – although beautifully presented, I found the food a little lacklustre and the modern hotel dining room lacked atmosphere (you couldn’t eat from the tapas menu outside!).

If you like a modern setting Don Juan de Alemanes and Uno de Delicias are the places to go – both are in great locations by the Cathedral and Gold Tower (Torre del Oro) respectively. The folk behind Don Juan de Alemanes also own the more traditional Robles Placentines around the corner.

For a more traditional tapas experience, El Rinconcillo certainly has the most historical charm. Sadly we arrived whilst the kitchen was having a siesta so could not pick from the full tapas menu (most tapas places in Seville serve hot food from around 12 noon or 1pm; these tend to close around 4 or 5 and reopen after 8pm).

I also rated Casa la Viuda and Dos de Mayo (same owners) - Casa la Viuda is in a great spot for people watching on the corner of a busy narrow street; they serve a small selection of tapas and larger plates at the outside tables but you have to eat in for the full selection of 70+ dishes (most are priced between 2 & 3€). Dos de Mayo is located in a charming little square – there is no waiter service so once you have located at table (or spot at the bar), order at the bar (you may have to clear your own table if they are busy).

Assuming all the tapas were tasty, which they were, I have included a star rating which roughly means something like this: * = tasty, ** very tasty, *** very, very tasty, **** = super tasty and ***** = exceptionally tasty!

(Eslava 3)

What Michelin say: ‘Recognised by the public and critics alike, it is not for nothing that this restaurant has received a variety of awards in different gastronomic competitions. From its kitchens, enjoy tapas based around traditional cuisine with a modern touch, alongside a choice of stews.

Centro de vieira sobre de algas y fídeos de kataifi ****
(Scallop over seaweed purée & kataifi noodles)

Caballa asada con picadillo de tomate, cebolla y pimientos ***
(Roasted mackerel with diced tomato, onion & pepper salad)

Navajas a la plancha con limón ****
(Grilled razor clams with lemon)

Ortiguillas rebozadas *****
(Breaded sea anemone – typical of Cádiz)

Habas con chocos **
(Fava beans with squid – typical of Huelva)

Un cigarro para Bécquer ****
(A cigar for Bécquer – brie pastry cigar with cuttlefish & algae)

Sangre encebollada ***
(Chicken blood boiled with caramelised onions)

Costilla de cerdo con miel de romero al horno *****
(Roasted pork ribs with rosemary honey glaze)

Uno de Delicias
(paseo de las Delicias 1)

What Michelin say: ‘A restaurant with a combined rustic, colonial and industrial look, the latter provided by the high ceilings and exposed ventilation pipes. Traditional-cum-contemporary cooking centred around fresh ingredients.

Patatas Bravas con salsa picante y alioli **
(Potatoes with spicy tomato salsa & alioli)

Croquetas cremosas de gambas ***
(Prawn croquettes)

Epsañolito – Solomillo Ibérico ***
(Iberian steak with caramelised onion & brie)

Foie con compota de manzana ***
(Foie with apple compote)

Chipirones encebollados con arroz Salvaje ***
(Baby squid with onions & wild rice)

Don Juan de Alemanes
(Alemanes 7)

What Michelin say: ‘This modern and spacious tapas bar located close to the cathedral has an eclectic feel. This is enhanced by the healthy and different dishes on offer here, which will appeal to an urban clientele. Updated traditional cuisine.

Jamón Ibérico puro de Bellota ***
(Ibérico ham from acorn-fed pigs)

Croquetas de cola de toro **
(Oxtail croquettes)

Croqueta cuadrada de langostinos ***
(Square croquette with king prawn)

Chanquetes fritos con hilos de huevo **
(Fried whitebait with egg threads)

Arroz negro meloso con chipirón *****
(Rice with baby squid cooked in ink & garlic mayonnaise)

Robles Placentines
(Placentines 2)

What Michelin say: ‘This typical bar is adorned with a profusion of wood on the ground floor, which leads to a dining room upstairs where the decor takes its inspiration from the world of bullfighting. Enticing choice of tapas.

Boqueroncillos macerados en vinagre y aciete de Olivia ***
(Anchovies in a vinegar and olive oil marinade)

Lascas de mojama de atún de Isla Cristina ***
(Dried and salted Isla Cristina tuna shavings)

Pan de bacalao ahumado y crema de gazpacho suave ****
(Smoked cod & a smooth gazpacho on toast)

Bastones de berenjenas con crema de gazpacho **
(Aubergine sticks with gazpacho cream)

Revuelto de matanza **
(Scrambled egg with minced chorizo)

Patatas y champiñones con crema de Roquefort *
(Potatoes & mushrooms with Roquefort cream)

Casa la Viuda
(Albareda 2)

What Michelin say: ‘This centrally located restaurant has a typical tapas bar atmosphere and a huge choice of enticing options to choose from. A great place to meet and chat with friends over a relaxing drink.

Espinacas con garbanzos **
(Spinach & chickpeas)

Cola de toro ***

Bacalao de la Viuda **
(Baked cod in vegetable sauce with potato au gratin)

El Burladero
(Canalejas 1)

What Michelin say: ‘This gastro-bar has a modern decor and is decorated with photos of bullfighters. It boasts a good display of wines and Iberian cold meats, a dining room with two private rooms, and some delicious contemporary tapas dishes.

Croquetas de jamón ***
(Ham croquettes)

Tartar de atún, aguacate y jengibre *
(Tuna tartar, avocado & ginger)

Terrina de foie y cola de toro *
(Foie micuit & oxtail terrine)
Dos de Mayo
(pl. de la Gavidia 6)

What Michelin say: ‘This establishment, which has been fully renovated in a classical-antique style, oozes history and tradition as it dates from the late 19C. Typical local tapas are served.

Paleta Ibérica de Bellota ***
(Slices of cured Ibérican ham shank)

Salmorejo Sevillano con huevo y melva *****
(Sevillian tomato soup with tuna & boiled egg)

Roulade de foie y cabra ***
(Foie gras & goats cheese on toast)

Tostaditas de macerado y alemendras ****
(Smoked & marinated cod with almonds on toast)

El Rinconcillo
(Gerona 40)

What Michelin say: ‘El Rinconcillo occupies two premises, one a former grocery store. This is a compulsory stop on any tapas tour with its authentic charm and sense of tradition.

Morcón Ibérico ***
(A large, leaner type of chorizo)

Queso de Oveja Viejo **
(Aged sheep cheese)

Espinacas con garbanzos **

(Spinach & chickpeas)

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