Top 10 Bars In Seville
Monday, February 13, 2012
Seville is not a cheap city. On the other hand, it is the epicentre of tapa culture and cuisine. The tapas here aren’t free, as they are in Granada for example, but they are good — maybe the best that Spain has to offer. And it isn’t as if there isn’t any good value.
In the more generous establishments, three tapas (somewhere between five and ten euros, depending on choices) will easily feed two people. As the capital of Andalucia, the city offers more than just tapas of course, and a couple of the bars listed here are not food destinations, they’re just great bars. So next time you’re in Seville, make sure to visit one or all of these 10 great bars in the city.
1) Los Coloniales
Los Coloniales can’t be beaten. If you want a table, leave your name and wait. Eventually, you’ll get a table. If you want to do it properly, find yourself a square inch of bar space and scream for service over the roar. A waiter will roar back at you and then bring you something very nice and much larger than you expected.
The solomillo (pork tenderloin) al whisky is famous and the solomillo al oporto is better. The tablas — thick, toasted bread slices with salmorejo and jamon — are topped with quails eggs and draw crowds. Does dressed carrot sound exciting to you? They make it exciting here. When it comes you may have to hold it in your hand or balance it on the head of a nearby child (did I mention it gets busy?)
Plaza Cristo de Burgos, 19
2) Bar Garlochi
They only serve drinks, but that’s not a problem here. Tucked into a side street near Plaza Alfalfa, there isn’t a tapa in sight and just as well: eating would be strange with the reek of incense that hangs in the air. Every item of décor is salvaged church tat. Brass candleholders and funereal flower arrangements abound, as do portraits of saints and devout sevillanos. You can’t even get a glass of red wine, just cocktails, shots and beer. What you do get is the campest barroom experience in Seville, and all under the watchful eye of the Virgin. Its score on the atmosphere front isn’t exactly hurt when a bunch of women at the bar burst spontaneously into flamenco. They don’t look like they quite know what they’re doing, but still.
Calle de los Boteros, 26
3) La Trastienda
This place isn’t pretty. I call it the chipper on account of its fluorescent-lit similarity to a British fish & chip shop. The duck liver is so tender it melts if you look at it, the gambas they serve are the size of a baby’s arm and the imperial anchovies are almost as big. The owner here cares: He keeps his eye on the door to see who comes in and will probably be watching as you take your first bite. His co-workers are friendly and up for a chat. Maybe they think they have to try harder because they’re surrounded by more famous places, but popping in to La Trastienda is all about warmth and welcome . . . and duck liver.
Plaza de la Alfalfa, 8
4) Bar Alfalfa
Just next door to La Trasteiandea, Bar Alfalfa is a tiny and beautiful corner bar with standing-room only, and there is, of all things, an Italian twist to the tapas. The caprese is made with good buffalo mozzarella and dressed with oregano rather than basil, just to keep things Spanish.
A member of the staff may well ask you to move aside so that they can scale a ladder and fetch a bottle of wine, such is the premium on storage space here. There’s an important difference between being crammed and being cosy though, and Alfalfa is definitely the latter. Just next to Plaza Alfalfa and a neighborhood favorite, it attracts a young crowd and is always lively.
Calle Candilejo, 1
5) Bodega Santa Cruz
Right on the main tapa drag in Santa Cruz, and just up the street from the cathedral, there’s some debate about whether this place — also known as Las Columnas because of the pillars out front — is more beloved among the locals or among foreign students and tourists. In fact, if you take a look around, there’s plenty of both. Well established, this is old-school Spain; your account will be totted up in chalk on the bar in front of you just as it is in La Trastienda. Arrive at a busy time and you may have to enjoy your drink and tapa outside. If so, I’ve no idea how they keep track of your spending, but they do. A popular spot for espinaca con garbanzos, but for my money the espinaca con queso is even better.
Calle Rodrigo Caro, 1
6) Casa Morales
Whatever your position on bullfighting, the bull ring in Seville is a great place to be near if you’re hungry. Casa Morales, or Bar Hijos de E. Morales as it says over the door, provides another fix of old-school charisma. The back room is packed with enormous tinajas (stoneware sherry barrels) and the front room is lined with wine bottles and wood panel. The staff here wear pressed shirts and waistcoats and know what they’re doing. I try the salchichas al vino blanco and a little ensaladilla rusa. Both are excellent; brittle little potato chips soak up the white wine while I soak up the antique ambience.
Calle Garcia de Vinuesa, 11
7) El Rinconcillo
These guys set up shop back in 1670 so you’d expect them to know a thing or two about running a bar by now, and indeed, they do seem to have gotten the hang of it. Let’s be honest, when you’re in a place this old and this ridiculously charming, it doesn’t really matter whether the tapas are any good or not. Fortunately, they’re not bad at all. They keep it simple here, serving up the reliable classics. Espinaca con garbanzos is ubiquitous in Seville and this is the place to try it; it seems a bit spicier and a lot tastier. The kind of place where one finds oneself looking around a lot, especially at the walls, wondering how many hundreds of years old that thing is.
Calle Gerona, 40
8) Casa Roman
How does one write a review of Casa Roman without using the word “institution”? Oops. People come here for the jamón de Jabugo that hangs overhead. I order the fried cod, and it’s fantastic. The bar fronts out onto the beautiful little Plaza de los Venerables, which is served by several other bars as well so when you’re all pigged out on jamón and fancy something else you don’t have far to go. One of them, Hostería del Laurel, is number eleven on this top ten list.
Plaza Venerables 1
9) La Flor de Mi Viña
Right in the middle of the shopping district, this is a real Saturday afternoon stop-in. Most of the shoppers fleeing the crush of Calles Tetuan and Sierpes don’t get this far. They turn in at bar Blanco Cerillo on the same street, which is famous for its fish. In fairness, you can smell why, but it’s well worth the few more steps that take you to this wonderful little bar with its excellent range and very warm service. I have some beautiful riñones (pork kidneys) and a glass of manzanilla wine from Sanlucar de Barrameda. It certainly beats shopping.
Calle Jose de Velilla, 7
10) Cerveceria Internacional
Ok, it’s seven bars since you found yourself in a tapa-free zone. Cerveceria Internacional isn’t tapa-free in fact, but it might as well be: People who come here come for the beer. I didn’t count (bad reporter!), but there are probably over 100 different types on sale; a good selection on tap and an incredible range by the bottle. Since they’ve run out of O’Hara’s Red Ale (damn!) I go for a pale ale from the wonderful St Peter’s brewery in Cornwall. Next time I’ll try the Domus, a craft beer from Toledo. For the hell of it I have some chickpeas too, infused with the flavour of flaked cod. Win win.
Calle Gamazo, 1
By Robin Graham
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robin Graham has written for In Madrid, The Expeditioner and the Matador Network. He regularly contributes to The Spain Scoop and blogs at the award-winning Alotofwind. Follow him on Twitter: @robinjgraham.