4 days in Seville
Don't miss the opportunity to go to "Hacienda Benazuza" which is a short cab ride out of town. This is the el Bulli hotel and the menu features el Bulli's greatest hits. It is rumoured that Ferran Adria can often be found in the kitchen here in the off season (i.e. when el Bulli is closed). They have a great formal restaurant for the evening, a pool side restaurant (which does inovative food), and a simple tapas bar.
One other thought, this the area of Spain that you can get "Carabineros" which are bright red langoustines. You never see these outside of Spain and rarely see them in other regions. Obviously the best place to try them is by the beach, a good spot with locals (very few foriegn tourists) is "Zahara" which is down the coast from Cadiz, about halfway to Tarifa (one of the worlds top windsurfing towns - so a big scene).
There is an interesting seafood chain across this part of Spain with a branch in Seville called "Romerijo", it is fast food Spanish style, where you select your fish, or shell fish and have it prepared for you then served at busy open air dining area. It is areally good experience and the food is pretty good.
The tapas bars near the cathedral are quite good - follow the usual rules and avoid ones with English menus, look for those busy with locals, and move from bar to bar having a dish or two at each (never a good idea to simply eat in one bar).
I had 4 days in seville last year and my favourite place by far was this place:
Las Columnas (Bodega Santa Cruz) |
: c/ Rodrigo Caro / corner of c/Mateos Gago. :
: Typical Andalusian
Close to the Cathedral with a sign that reads Bodega Santa Cruz. Don't believe it - everyone here calls it Las Columnas. There are a few tables inside and outside but in general very little seating. People tend to crowd around the bar to order tapas while the bartenders keep their tab running on the bar in grease pencil. Most of the bartenders have been in Las Columnas forever and are accustomed to helping foreigners with their order, even if it means simply pointing to the chalk board. The chaotic pace of the place means their patience has a limit: don't be surprised if they walk away as you decide, only to come back in 20 seconds to see if you are ready. Always a mix of lost looking tourists and locals. Tapas are between 1,40 - 2,20€, and if you tip you may see them throw it through the Chicago Bulls nerf hoop and into the pot. Damn, they renovated and the nerf hoop is gone. Hooray - they added a refrigerated room to keep the Cruzcampo extra cold! I have dreams about the ensaladilla at night...
ensaladilla (potato salad with tuna, crab, peas, carrots)
flamenquin (pork wrapped in ham and filled with cheese then deep fried - can you say Homer Simpson?)
pinchito de cerdo (brochette of seasoned pork)
montaditos (grilled sandwiches - various)
pollo frito (fried morsels of chicken)
my favourite was the rabbit though.
In the center, Enrique Becerra serves very good traditional Andalucia specialities as well as a small tapas bar. For a full sit down dinner, the upstair rooms are better than the downstair. The food at their other family restaurant, Becerrita is more creative and just as good. For tapas, Bar Europa and Sol y Somba in the center, Bar Yebea and Bar La Manchega (also very good and inexpensive sit down) in Macarena. A little further out in Alameda is Eslava which has great tapas but is always very crowded. Across the river in Triana, La Oliva and Casa Cuesta (another branch in c/Zaragoa in the center but the Triana is better and more atmospheric) are good.
Seville at this time of the year is pretty hot so you may want to stick to tapas during the day and evening and eat a late, late dinner which most of the locals do.
I find the area around the Cathedral to be a bit of a tourist hell hole (the number of Starbucks gives the game away) so I'd just stay there long enough to look at the Giralda and visit the Alcazar. Speaking of which try and go when it opens in the morning. The queues will be non-existent, it will be cooler and the place will be relatively empty. Unless you like manoeuvring past huge tour groups I'd avoid the Barrio de Santa Cruz at this time of year as well. If you must visit very early or late.
As you move a few streets away from the Cathedral things become a lot more pleasant and interesting. Get lost in the maze of streets of the Centro and La Macarena, wander between the two bridges in the barrio of Triana, explore Arenal the area between the river and the Cathedral. You can tell when you're in a less touristy area because you'll get a freebie when you order a drink.
There's are plenty of bars but the ones that stick in my memory are Yebra in La Macarena for more evolved type tapas. It's a nice place for a sit down lunch as well. Across the bridge in Triana I'd highly recommend the buzzy Cerveceria La Grande which serves piles of prawns and cold beer and not a lot else, El Riconcillo is the oldest bar in town and worth a trip to see the spit and sawdust interior, Blanco Cerillo in Centro is cheap and does great fried stuff. Bar Kiko is a tiny family run joint serving great lagrimitas de pollo (marinated and battered chicken nuggets). But really just stroll around and duck into anywhere that looks interesting - for instance I walked out to the Sevilla football stadium and found some great places along the way.
Look out for freidurias which are like fish and chip shops without the chips - a lot of these are in Triana,
At this time of year you'll see signs saying "hay caracoles" which means you can try the little snails in a spicy broth that the locals go mad for. Suck the the snails out of their shells rather than try and pick them out.
Try Adobo which although a cooking method usually comes as dogfish marinated in a vinegar based sauce before being deep fried in a batter. There will also be Ortiguillas fritas which are deep-fried sea anemones.
Flamenquin comes in several variations but is basically a roll of ham stuffed with cheese and deep fried.
As a break from fried stuff try Salmorejo which is a thicker version of Gazapacho and has bits of jamon added. It's actually from Cordoba but available in most parts of Western Andalucia.
Drink the Cruzcampo beer during the day which is served ice cold in big pours and is very refreshing.
Finish off the night with a cafe cortado and an anis seco con hielo.