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Food in Alicante

My husband and I will be in the city of Alicante in February. What should we eat and where? I'd love any and all suggestions--sweets, meals, local specialties, restaurants and take-away food. Anything memorable, all price ranges. In the city is preferred, though a day-trip is possible.

So far all I have is Pasteleria Torreblanca and Monastrell

Many thanks,

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  1. Tapas restaurant in Alicante: "El Piripi" at 30 Oscar Esplá Avenue, "El Foc" at 13 Tomás López Torregrosa St., "Nou Manolín" at 3 Villegas St.
    Intimate Basque restaurant: "Egun" at 38 Jazmín St.
    Paella restaurant: "La Dársena" at Muelle de Levante overviewing the marina.

    Local drink: horchata (orxata in Valencian)
    http://spanishfood.about.com/od/spani...

    Where to have horchata and 'helado de turrón' (nougat ice cream): "Kiosko Peret" at Explanada de España, the boulevard close to the marina or "Heladería Espí" at 4 Alfonso el Sabio Ave.

    1 Reply
    1. I haven't been yet but I'm also looking at Monastrell as well as La Taberna del Gourmet. These are both owned by María José San Román.

      La Taberna is more casual and serves tapas.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Aleta

        Please let me know what you think and what dishes you enjoy.

      2. Another vote for the Nou Manolin.

        Horchata is very much a summer speciality, my favourite place, horchateria azul, will be closed at that time so the Kiosko Peret I'd agree with only because it's the best chance you'll have at a decent horchata off season.

        A speciality of Alicante you may not have heard of is Coca Amb Tonyina. The Panaderia Llorens has some of the best in the city
        http://www.panaderiallorens.com/

        The panederia "La Murciana" is spreading rapidly around the region. I've always liked their empanadas and this would be a good place to sample the Mucian pasteles de carne (you can compare their cocas with the Llorens panaderia also
        )http://www.pastelerialamurciana.es/ti...

        For good traditional food and a traditional welcome that's easy on the wallet there's the venerable "La Marmita". Little has changed there in the past 20 years. It's small, intimate, and gives great value for money http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Diaz+...

        A bit more expensive is another local institution
        http://www.restaurantejumillano.com/ which specialises in foods and wines from Murcia
        (my take on Alicantinian cuisine is that it leans more towards Murcia than it does Valencia, but that's my opinion.

        )

        The Torreblanca shop (very near the Corte Ingles by the rail station) is very much a must. Currently, the fabulous caramelised mi hojas are on sale on Wednesdays for just 2Euros a pop - a true bargain. Earlier this month we bought my daughter's 2nd Birthday cake from here and chose the Ceylon Tea infused milk and chocolate mouse with a Genovese sponge, it was wonderful. This (and the Chinato Oleoteca) is the ideal place to buy gifts for those back home.

        I don't get to go out for rice dishes very often as my family and friends treat me to home cooked arroces in their homes and fincas. But there is a local Alicantinian who has begun a marvellous blog detailing her experiences - she's been getting some wonderful recommendations as word has got out so the blog just gets better and better. So lots of ideas here:
        http://blogs.mis-recetas.org/pepa/
        I'll be going to El Titi in Campello at some point this weekend based solely on her recommendation.
        Arroz dishes in Alicante, their variety, and why they aren't the same thing as a Valencian paella is a HUGE subject. To try and (badly) condense to a sentence or two and horribly over generalise, Alicantinian Arroces will usually veer to a more golden reddish colour, the Valencian paella is more of a greenish yellow. One of the prime reasons for this is the nyora based Salmorreta which is of huge importance in many of the Alicante rice dishes (there is also more of a tendency to stir fry the rice before adding water - in a Valencian paella the rice is added after the water and only boiled).

        3 Replies
        1. re: MoGa

          Thank you for this amazing information. I will frequent Pepa's blog--and hopefully improve my lousy Spanish. Let me know hoe El Titi is.

          1. re: lsinicki

            You can use this coca master class (where Toni Llorens - from the Llorens panaderia I recommended - gives a master class showing how to make a few modern cocas whilst also demonstrating a 'historic' coca, based as faithfully as possible to the original Roman/Jewish/Egyptian kind. According to Mr Llorens the modern coca and the Napolitan Pizza are first cousins with the same ancient Roman grandmother) to brush up your Spanish. See if you can pick out the occasional words and phrases in the Alicantinian/Valencian dialect.
            I'm not convinced about coca canapes, but then I haven't tried one...
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwTiIG...

            Since you'll be in Alicante in the winter you might want to try a very, very traditional food which has a longer history in the region than the rice dishes. Gazpacho - but not the Andalucian kind, this stuff pre-dates both rice and the tomato in Europe.
            It's often called 'gazpacho manchego' to differentiate it from the liquid stuff but it has a very long history which firmly links it to Alicante and Valencia. The other confusing part is that there are many, many styles of these non-liquid gazpachos.
            The most famous place to eat it is Castella near Villena and it's a food perfectly suited to the winter. Many people from the region will travel to the "ruta de los gazpachos" on a Sunday in order to eat it.
            Castalla, apparently, has more restaurants per head of population than anywhere else in the region. I've heard good things about Nou Trinquet http://www.restaurantenoutrinquet.com/
            You can see a wiki page on this regional speciality here:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torta_de...

            There's a nice photo at Casa Roch here:
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/churrosc...
            Link to that restaurant:
            http://www.paginasamarillas.es/fichas...

            I just remembered about La Marmita - the food is traditional but NOT necessarily from the region. A lovely place, but not somewhere for Alicantinian specialities - sorry!

            1. re: MoGa

              Thank you, so much for all the help. I'm learning so much--which will just make my trip that much better. When we went to Madrid last Spring we ate excellent food but I hadn't studied enough before the trip to understand which sorts of foods were from which regions.

              My daughter is living in Alicante now. She's just arrived, but her friends suggest La Tablera, Pirpi and Los Gordos--which seconds the advice I have already.

        2. I'm pleased this thread has been started - we are off to Alicante for a weekend trip this weekend and had done a search of the board with no joy, so will be sure to try out some of these places and report back.

          1. My daughter, who is in Alicante for the school year stumbled onto a bakery she thought was great.

            I'll ask her to send the name and address, but here is her post:

            http://unanoenespana.blogspot.com/201...

            3 Replies
            1. re: lsinicki

              This is one of the branches of the Rafael Frias C.B. panaderias/pastelerias. They have at least two locations in Alicante.
              I just got back to London from Alicante yesterday and didn't see this thread whilst I was there (I arrived on Friday evening), however, I have a plastic bag in front of me which says Horno - Pasteleria Artesana - MA (with the crown over it) - Panaderia - Rafael Frias C.B. - Fabricacion Propia.
              Basically, I went to the same place (but the other branch) to pick up some empanadas and rosquitos (my daughter loves the rosquitos from here).
              The address your daughter wen to is Cardenal Belluga, 4, 03005, Alicante
              http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=carde...
              I would have preferred to have got some cocas at Llorens but a friend was taking us to the airport and this place was local and convenient to her.

              Has your daughter tried the ensaimadas yet? Although these are a speciality of Mallorca they are very popular in Alicante and you could consider them to be the home grown version of the croissant. Just like croissants, they are an artisan product which is difficult to do well, and just like croissants it can be hard to locate a decent version of them. The Rafael Frias Pastisseria would be a very good place to start.

              P.S.
              I went to El Titi at Campello (the trip takes 30 minutes and 1.25Euros on the tram from the centre of Alicante) on Sunday for one of their 'arroces'. It cost 10.50 with two portions as a minimum order. Loved it (I had rape gon gambas-monkfsh and prawns). Note that this isn't something I would call 'paella' even though it is cooked in a paella pan. The rice was only about 4 or 5 grains deep but the grains were moist, juicy and succulent even where the minimal socarrat was, nothing like the texture I associate with a true paella. The ailoli was light and perfectly suited to the rice but for this particular dish I wouldn't recommend the lemon juice - I tried a little but it 'flattened' some of the flavours. My mother had a Red Monastrell wine with hers which she felt was well suited.
              Also - HIGHLY - recommended are the bunuelos de bacalao here which are as light as a feather, best I've ever had.

              1. re: MoGa

                Thank you again.

                I sent her an email suggesting she try the ensaimadas. Will let you know how she likes them.

                And I will add the tram to Campello to our list of activities for our visit. I haven't been able to find a decent guide book, so your activities suggestions are as much appreciated as your food suggestions.

                Any good wineries we can access with public transportation?

                1. re: lsinicki

                  I don't know of any decent wineries with one point to point easy journey, but the Enrique Mendoza cellars are amongst the best in the region and amongst the easiest to visit. I'm recommending them as the Monastrell variety of grape is particularly important to Alicante
                  http://www.bodegasmendoza.com/en/bode...
                  It's in Alfaz del Pi and that's a local bus ride from Benidorm, and Benidorm is very easy to get to from Alicante.

            2. So we have just come back from a lovely weekend in Alicante, having eaten some great food - thanks everyone for the recommendations.

              We up having lunch twice at La Terazza del Gourmet, which is the sister restaurant of La Taberna around the corner. It was convenient to our hotel, but the food and service is what made it great, the first day we had croquettes, hake in tempura batter, paella of the day, and bikini with jamon, truffle and cheese, which were amazing. The service was absolutely charming, although they did forget a beer however it wasn't added to the bill so we let that one go! The next day we went back and had the bikini again, (it was that good!) the crystal bread with tomato (a must have), a seafood salad and tomato with tuna, all good again.

              For dinner we went to Nou Moulin which was disappointing. We should have known better, but the minute we sat down the waiter suggested we have the plate of ham while we decided what else to order - at 30 Euros! While it was very good jamon iberico it did leave a slightly bitter taste in our mouths. The rest of the food was hit and miss - little tuna burgers were excellent, albondigas were just awful, and for 15 Euros an absolute rip off. They were so tasteless and overcooked and we only managed to eat one each.

              Our final lunch was at Monastrell, which was excellent. A bit more high end than La Terrazza del Gourmet, yet with some similar styles of cooking. We had the excellent crystal bread again, the selection of cheeses (which had an amazing Mallorcan cheese that was a bit like parmeggiano in texture and taste, anyone know what this is?), octopus and calamari in tempura batter, and the most delicious gazpacho with goats cheese. We also had a duo of burgers, both which were tasty but the patties were way overcooked. Service was lovely and it's a really nice setting, would definitely recommend.

              I was really pleasantly surprised about the quality and variety of great restaurants in Alicante, and can't wait to go back to try more!

              6 Replies
              1. re: pj26

                "(which had an amazing Mallorcan cheese that was a bit like parmeggiano in texture and taste, anyone know what this is?)"
                Queso Mallorquín Viejo?
                Aged Majorcan Cheese?
                Here's a picture of a a Mallorquín Cheese that has been aged for a year:
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Que...

                I much prefer this to any of the Manchego cheeses.

                1. re: MoGa

                  That could be it - thank you. It was amazing, and I think I agree with you, I now prefer it to manchego, has so much more depth of flavour.

                2. re: pj26

                  Pj26,

                  Thanks for sharing your food experiences! As I mentioned above, I already have Monastrell and La Taberna del Gourmet on my list for next year, so I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. I noticed on their website menus that Monastrell lists only 2 paellas, whereas La Taberna has many more (and they are cheaper too for the same things.... maybe smaller portions?).

                  Since paella is my primary interest and Alicante will be a daytrip for us, I think we'll have lunch at Monastrell and early dinner at La Taberna or La Terrazza (isn't it a very casual cafe on the esplanade?).

                  1. re: Aleta

                    FYI--My daughter, who is living in Alicante for the year, tells me the family she lives with considers Piripi to be their favorite nice restaurant. She hasn't been there personally yet but is anxious to try it.

                    1. re: Aleta

                      Aleta - you're making the classic tourist's mistake when looking at the Taberna del Gourmet's menu and comparing it to the two arroces en paella offered by Monastrell.
                      Only three (perhaps four - I don't know what kind of rice the arroz con pluma de cerdo actually is) of the dishes from the rice menu at the Taberna del Gourmet will approximate the kind of 'paella rice' people think of when they think of paella - and one of those will be black with squid ink. The rice dishes containing 'caldoset' or 'meloso' will be very wet and even soupy. The fideua isn't made with rice at all.
                      Personally, as someone from the region, I would protest strongly about either of these restaurants offering any paellas at all. Arroz en paella is NOT the same thing as paella. If you're after paella, go to a proper arroceria where they make real paellas cooked over orangewood or grape vines. Otherwise, forget about this silly word and enjoy great arroz dishes made by people who know a thing or two about getting the best from rice (Senia is one of our local grains and takes lots of skill in getting the best from it). Arroz a banda is one of the best loved rice specialities from the Alicante region. It's definitely my own favourite.

                      1. re: MoGa

                        MoGa, where would you recommend for arroz a banda?

                        We will be going to Alicante for a few days in Sept. So far I have Nou Manolin, Piripri, and Darsena (which looks very touristy, but not my call). Nou Manolin and Piripi are by the same owners it seems like.

                        We asked some locals and also got recommendations for Govana and Mi Casa.

                        Thanks for your help!