Top five places to eat in Seville
Never mind the Alcazar and the Giralda… when you take a break somewhere like the Andalusian city of Seville, one of the main attractions is good food. But, like many wonderful places, this Spanish hotspot attracts lots of visitors and thus has its fair share of tourist traps. On a recent visit (September 2016), my partner and I collated our five favourite haunts:
1. La Bartola – Calle San José (24)
Go for the tapas, buzz and octopus.
A small but characterful restaurant in one of the many back streets in the Santa Cruz district. La Bartola is the kind of place where guests intermingle and staff make jokes with rather than at tourists. Even here, right in the centre, the ‘tapa’ (small plates, considered about a quarter of the size of a main) aren’t expensive – five or six plates feed two people like royalty and (depending on what you have of course) can be as cheap as twelve euro each for seriously high quality nosh! Octopus is kind of a thing in Seville – we had some of that, which was lovely in a chewy kind of way, grilled, along with roasted vegetables and salad. Next up was croquettes (devilish, deep-fried potato blobs), delicious tomato sauce-cum-soup (not bad) along with a ‘medio’ portion (double the size of a tapa) of tasty lamb and cous cous.
2. Helados Rayas – Calle Almirante Apodaca (1)
Go for ice cream, ice cream and more ice cream.
Plonked on the corner of one of Seville’s busiest central streets in Barrio Santa Cruz, Helados Rayas is hard to miss. It’s not just the location either; the glass front means you just have to look at the huge range of ice creams inside, most of which involve some kind of nut, chocolate and caramel combination… Taste before you buy, and beware the sizes; we aren’t shy when it comes to dessert but both of us found a small portion enough to share after dinner. Then again, we did go back the following night for more…
3. El hombre pez – Calle Alfonso XII (23)
Go for the high quality coffee – to drink in or take away for home use.
Surprising at it seems, the whole coffee revolution just hasn’t reached Seville. Sure, you can get very mediocre coffee in almost every cafe you sit in, but the brew that most people here drink around the clock isn’t caffeinated, it’s alcoholic: beer. Thank goodness then for El Hombre Pez, a central safe haven for java fans and anybody who can’t stomach gritty old beans. It’s the only place we found in the entire city where you can buy an excellent cuppa (more espresso than latte though – milk isn’t really on the menu) and also choose from a broad selection of coffee which you’d like to take home – ground or just as beans.
4. Mechela – Calle Bailén (34)
Go for cosy ambience and seriously good food.
We stumbled upon this on our way back from Seville’s Museum of Fine Arts and somehow managed to get a table. Minutes later there was a queue, and our food arrived so we began to understand… Mechela is a true melange of interesting dishes (our duck confit and cream cheese salad with fruit was unexpectedly memorable) old favourites (vegetable lasagne that had no pasta but tasted sublime, largely due to thick layers of cheese) and meaty delights (pork cheeks that fell away from the fork, soaked up in sumptuous potato puree). Slightly more expensive than the average tapas bar, but still not pricey – our total bill came to around thirty euro for a hearty lunch for two. #Result
5. Taberna Los Coloniales – Calle Fernández y González (36)
Go for cheap tapas and local feel.
Let’s save the best for last (or lunch): Taberna Los Coloniales is a true find, tucked away in a quiet central square, unassuming and unadvertised. Yet there is almost always a queue, and for good reason: the tapas isn’t just delicious but also incredible value (for Londoners at least). We scoffed down massive cheesy ‘croquettas’ (my partner’s newest addiction), some kind of tomato sauce-smothered fries, jamon iberico (the revered local ham) tuna steak, roasted peppers and an exquisite kind of garlic-vinaigrette-carrot concoction that has changed my view of these orange vegetables for good. Total cost (without wine) = about twenty two euro. No wonder the place is stuffed full of very satisfied looking locals.