Suggestions for Oviedo and Asturias generally please
Hello Hounds. I'm holidaying in Asturias in a couple of weeks for 15 days (me, husband and 2 kids 5 and 9 yrs old). We're starting in Santander and working our way westwards mostly along the coast but may also go inland, and we'll probably spend a day in Oviedo. Can anyone recommend good places to eat, family friendly rather than fine dining. We'd be looking for mid range places also cafes, anywhere that serves good food, preferably local and fresh. I speak Spanish.
OK I'm sitting right down and writing myself a letter, as no one else is.
In a nutshell Asturias is I believe all about hearty, somewhat unimaginative mountain fare, or seafood.
We were on a camping holiday and on a budget and with kids so we ate more of the former.
As to recommendations all I can authoritatively say is LAMasBarata in oviedo is not what it's cracked up to on tripadvisor (very mediocre paellas or arroces as the Spaniards call them). There's a nice cafe on the harbour in Luarca (charming place) called Matute and the little street off this going towards the beach has a couple of good spanish style delis and a butcher where they sell good chorizo at more than reasonable prices. In Luarca the Meson del Mar sells great looking seafood but we didn't go in : prices seem high, as is always the case for seafood eg 40 euros mixed platter for 2, that kind of thing which isn't do able for a family of 4 on our budget.
In Llanes there.s a narrow street off the bridge which was chock full of locals on a Saturday lunchtime.
In Cangas de Onis we stopped for a meal at a place next to the church on the high street, unfortunately can't remember the name, grumpy staff, horrid food- coarse, poor quality ingredients and generally unappealing.
A lot of the mountain towns and villages sell local produce such as cheese and honey. Bought some local heather honey which was very strong tasting, liquoricey. A note of caution about the cheeses, many are vacuum wrapped with very long shelf lives and contain an assortment of E numbers which I found off putting.
All in all in my opinion Asturias cannot compete with regions such as Catalonia or probably Galicia gastronomically. Having said that we had a lovely hoilday, it's fresh, uncongested with a beautiful coastline and a nice atmosphere.
Alas, I just joined and saw this query. I am sorry you did not have a great gastronomic adventure in Asturias as some of the best food I have ever eaten was in Gijon! Some has been quite fine, and some has been in the amazing neighborhood sidrerias. So, while not helpful for your visit, I offer these recommendations to others visiting Asturias:
Ciudadela - close to San Lorenzo beach, good for a meal or wine and tapas
El Candil - a lovely small unpretentious seafood place in the middle of Gijon.
La Galana - an excellent sidreria in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento (my favorite place on the main plaza), especially nice on the terraza
El Globo - on Calle San Bernardo, close to the Ayuntamiento, a classic old-style sidreria.
A bit further afield, in the neighborhoods of El Llano, Pumarin, Contrueces, Monteville, and Roces you can find many excellent places from wine bars to Italian to ciderhouses. Some recommendations:
La Pastra Nostra
La Gran Manzana
Outside of town:
Casa Trabanco - a lovely setting above Gijon in the hills south of town (just above Lavandera), home of one of the most successful brands of Asturian cider, you can eat very well in the restaurant.
I will add more as time allows.
I am puzzled by your comments about cheeses. Buying cheeses at most small markets, I find the portions I want are usually cut from a large round or block and wrapped fresh for me. Vacuum packed cheeses I have only purchased for ease of travel when bringing back some cheese to the US. And, while you are right that LaMasBarata is not extraordinary, in my half-dozen visits it has always been a reliable place for a decent arroz negro.
We are getting ready for our fourth trip to Gijón (husband gave a lecture at the university which, to our delight, is getting to be an annual thing), and this is the first time I've seen it discussed (exc for my queries) on CH. I agree that the food is great. We've had memorable meals at La Pondala and Casa Gerardo. We had two great dinners at La Solana, but last year discovered that the owners had closed it and moved into town. They took over El Puerto and now do just fish. I think we've been to El Candil -- sort of long and narrow with a cider machine thing at the front? It was very good, more expensive than it looked to be. Near Santander (where we flew, on Ryan), Cenador de Amos was fabulous and we're going back this year. And there's a fabulous trattoria-type place just outside Santillana whose name I have to look up (we found it in the Michelin) so we can go back. Everybody got cans of anchovies for Christmas.
Looked up El Candil. It's not the one described above, but we did go there (and forgot) and liked it very much (pictures on the website jogged my memory). The one near Santillana is Hostaria Calvo.
Check out the FEVE, Ferrocarril de via estrecho. One of the stops along the way is a little town
by the name of Infesto. We had tornedos de res, with a sauce of caso de Cabrales. I will never
forget that meal.
In Oviedo up stairs in the back of the public market are several small stall type restaurants which are
patronized by employes of the market. They are great..... Very family frendly, very cheap, very good.
barberinbee, if you enjoyed Galicia, I suspect you will similarly love Asturias. A brief note for now: The tradition in Asturias is to give a small snack - a pincho - with each beverage ordered (with coffee it is usually a small cookie). In many sidrerias you will find trays of pinchos on the bar, which are at intervals passed through the crowd by one of the camareros (waiters). You can do a "pub crawl" from ciderhouse to ciderhouse and make a meal of the pinchos. Of the places I mentioned (and I'll extend my post soon), La Gran Manzana and Uria are two favorites. Just find a place at the bar, or a free table (if any), order una sidra and enjoy the snacks! I should note that in mid-afternoon you will often NOT find any pinchos as the kitchens will be closed. But, before lunch - between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. - and in late afternoon/evening - around 8:00 p.m. and after - you will find a wide selection. You can then make the rounds of the sidrerias (in Gijon or Oviedo) with sidra y pinchos well into the night.
In Oviedo, La Calle Gascona is famous for its sidrarias. Cimadevilla in Gijon, has traditionally been a place to go out, but there are now many other such zones in the city.
Also, when you are in Asturias you will be a short (about 1 hour) ride from Leon city, Capital of Castilla-Leon. The Catedral there is wonderful (one of the great Gothic Cathedrals of Spain and part of El Camino de Santiago) , as is the the Basilica de San Isidoro. Next to the Cathedral you can enter Barrio Humedo, a neighborhood within the old Roman walls. This is one of the best areas in all of Spain for a tapas crawl starting by about 9:00 p.m. Typically one pincho/tapa with each drink. You can extend the evening and visit more places by ordering "cortos" - de cerveza o vino (a short beer or wine) at each place you visit. Alsa ( alsa.es) runs buses between Leon and Oviedo or Gijon, including one that leaves at 12:30 a.m. and another at 3:40 a.m. (times might vary). So, you can go for the day, see the sights, stay and enjoy the night life, and then grab the bus back to home base. The bus takes about 2 hours.
Escanciado la Sidra Natural en Asturias:
It is very generous of you to write up all that for me. I am certain that I will go to Asturias with a car --- although the idea of of crawling onto a bus at 3.40am to take a 2 hour ride home after a tapas crawl does sound like something I could boast about for the rest of my life if I, in fact, survived the experience.
We're planning a rolling road trip, but we'll probably stay some nights for sure in Oviedo and Leon, maybe Aviles, and skitter along the coast and into the hills, and make a pilgrimage to Cabrales rather than Santiago. We'll probably make lunch our biggest meal (with no drinking), and not attempt a restaurant meal at the traditional Spanish dinner hour, which I assume Asturias honors.
By the way, is there anything in northern Spain that is the equivalent of the Slow Food guide in Italy, which is a very high quality guide to eateries serving the best local traditional food?
JCraig thanks for getting the ball rolling again. Paul Balbin I did spot the restaurant at the top of the market in Oviedo and regretted not going there. It's obviously patronised by locals, looks very authentic and good value. Not sure if it's open in the evenings though, but probably a good bet for lunch.
I definitely don't pretend to give the ultimate feedback on Asturias and am aware that we most likely missed out on a lot of good places.
But doesn't the anticipation and memory of food in Spain sometimes exceed the reality? I think a lot of the pleasure comes from the general experience- the street scene around you, the relaxed ambience (no need to worry about your rowdy kids there, the Spaniards out- noise them every time), the mixture of the familiar and the exotic.
>>But doesn't the anticipation and memory of food in Spain sometimes exceed the reality?<<
Felt a need to respond to say that my recent trip to Galicia was a return to Spain after a somewhat long absence. It only happened because I was very curious to visit Portugal, and figured that as long as I was so close, I'd take a peek at Galicia, about which I've long been curious. I had actually forgotten what a joy the evening scene is when it comes to tapas and pintxos. I was vaguely dreading the 10pm dinner hour. But some of the food I had was really outstandingly fresh. Some of the wine was dreamy.
I have always been a bit underwhelmed by Barcelona and Sevilla, but northern Spain and Madrid have been wonderful food destinations for me.
I do appreciate what you are saying about loving a food culture perhaps even a wee bit more than what's on the plate itself. I can enjoy eating in a Roman restaurant even when the food is probably not what I'd recommend anybody walk out of their way to eat.