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SEVILLA, 2012. Notes on restaurants, bars, markets

Barcelona and San Sebastian garner most of the attention, but Sevilla is a fantastic eating city! Since my last visit in 2003, a sprinkling of "gastro-tascas" have cropped up on the edges of the Centro. Together with the better known traditional bars, these provide some of the best food value I've found anywhere in Spain in recent years. This is the first time in recent memory that I have arrived in a new city with no restaurant reservations. (I did make one advance booking after arrival; more on that later) In 6 days in the city, we concentrated on tapas bars, most of which do not take reservations. Most restaurants offer the majority of their dishes in several sizes, with tapas being the smallest and raciones being the largest. Many restaurants that will take advance bookings stipulate that diners at reserved tables order dishes in the larger sizes. By arriving shortly after opening time, usually either 8:30 or 9pm, we were always able to snag two counter seats, or a table. Be aware that many restaurants have variable opening times, so it is best to inquire in advance by phone.

I found this blog to be immensely helpful in planning; apart from this one, most of the relevant online sources are in Spanish. (The restaurant that proved to be our favorite on this trip receives barely a mention on any English-language sites.)

http://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilletapa...

Here are the places we ate, and notes on some of the dishes we sampled:

AZOTEA. Owner Juan Gomez speaks fluent English and offers a very warm welcome to diners at the main location, on Calle Jesus de Gran Poder, which we visited twice during our 6-night stay. During our first light dinner at the restaurant, we sat at one of the ten or so small tables, and thus were restricted to the larger serving sizes.

Chipirones, Tierra y Mar. These were small squid, bathed in a sauce of their own ink and topped with bits of jamon Iberico. Simple. So impressive that I ordered them again at a subsequent lunch at the branch restaurant on calle Zaragoza. (10e; half racion

)

Croquetas de Morcilla con Mermalada de Tomate. Delicious croquettes (a version of which appear on every menu in the city and beyond) made with blood sausage and potato and served with a marvelous, sweet tomato marmelade scented with thyme. (6.5e)

Costillas Ibericas. These ribs were a special of the day. (9e for a half racion)

Ensaladilla de la Casa. Many diners here gauge a chef's talents by his or her ensaladilla, a potato and mayonnaise-based cold salad. This one was thick with smoked trout, smoked tuna, smoked salmon, and shrimp and spiked with black peppercorns and capers. The sum was far, far greater than the individual parts and a far cry from the insipid "Russian salads" found at mediocre bars throughout Spain. A gift of the house, I would consider this an essential dish.

Coulant de chocolate, a molten chocolate confection scented with orange blossom water and served with terrific house-made vanilla ice cream. (5.50e) Desserts are a strong point here.

Total for this light meal, with two glasses of Castilla de Maetierra "Guerilla" from Rioja, and water: 36.75e. Outstanding value.

We visited this location a few nights later for a few tapas at the bar; on that night, a large basket of porcini just brought in from the countryside had pride of place on the counter.
The rainy weather that we encountered had one benefit: The season was shaping up as a superior one for mushrooms.

Cremoso, a mousse-like preparation, of duck foie, with Pedro Jimenez jelly and shitake mushrooms. 5e for a tapa.

Croquettas de Morcilla, served this time with pineapple marmelade and again outstanding. 3.50 for a tapa.

On yet another day, we sampled the second of the 3 Azotea's, on calle Zaragoza, a bit closer to the tourist center of Sevilla. Lunch here draws a large business crowd and we had to wait some time before being seated at a table (the counter was full). Our lunch was a reprise of the chipirones, and yet another version of croquetas; because we were seated at a table, we were confined to portions larger than tapas size.

http://www.laazoteasevilla.es/

I will continue this report as time permits.

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  1. ZELAI

    Just north of Plaza Nueva, this sleek, shiny space encompasses a long counter and a small dining room in the rear. I sampled two liquid tapas: A version of the Andaluz classic gazpacho, made with cherries instead of tomatoes, and enriched by a dollop of mascarpone. (4.50e) Not as sweet as it sounds, this was very good, but my second dish was wonderful: Capuccino de mejillon, or capuccino of mussels, (5.50e) which was a creamed shellfish soup dense with briny mussels and topped with creamy coconut foam. The combination may sound offputting but the actuality was anything but. Outstanding. Zelai opens for lunch at 1pm; for dinner at 9pm.
    http://www.restaurantezelai.com/

    BECERRITA

    Owned by a brother of well-known restauranteur Enrique Becerra, this cozy restaurant on the edge of the center turns out well-executed versions of traditional favorites, along with a few more modern dishes. Their version of salmorejo on that day was made with squash and eggplant and topped with a quail egg and bits of jamon. It was delicious, and the toast of fresh duck foie, served with raspberry marmelade, was excellent as well. Portions are generous. Very friendly staff including at least one (Portuguese) server fluent in English. http://www.becerrita.com/

    ENRIQUE BECERRA

    We had enjoyed their signature lamb with honey at a sit-down dinner on a previous visit, but this time we concentrated on tapas at the bar. One of the city's most well-known temples of Andaluz cuisine, they open in the evening earlier than most; when we wandered in about 7:30 there were already a few tourists, and locals, seated at the small bar in the front room.
    Unfortunately for us their signature lamb in a honeyed sauce is not available as a tapa, but we did enjoy excellent lamb meatballs with mint, Albondigas de Cordero con Hierbabuena; two generous meatballs are a bargain at 3.30 e, along with an outstandingly delicious saute of mixed mushrooms and small shrimp topped with a tiny quail egg (from the specials menu; (3.50e)) and bomboncillo de Pollo, nuggets of golden chicken with a sweet and piquant mostarda (3.20e) Warm and welcoming place, popular with locals and well as visitors. I do not believe that the (long) tapas menu is translated.

    http://enriquebecerra.com/

    4 Replies
    1. re: erica

      VINERIA SAN TELMO

      As the name implies, this is an Argentine-owned restaurant situated in prime tourist territory at the edge of the Murillo Gardens. The other places on our list were closed on Sunday, so we walked by the day before and booked a table for lunch. This turned out to be the least favorite of our dining experiences in the city. Nothing was bad, in fact, both dishes that we sampled were very good if lacking somewhat in imagination. But this was the only place that neglected to offer a warm welcome and attentive service. Perhaps this is a result of their high ranking on TripAdvisor, or perhaps we just had bad luck. They were out of two dishes that sounded most interesting--pastilla, a version of the Moroccan b'steeya, made with chicken, and a sautee of mixed mushrooms. Seated at one of the tables in the small dining room (they also have a pleasant sidewalk terrace overlooking the park) we chose:

      "Tarte" (actually a terra cotta ramekin) of Castuera cheese with caramelized onion. Yes, this was only melted cheese and onion, but anyone familiar with the Extremaduran Torta de la Serena, which ranks second only to its sibling, Torta del Casar, in my personal "best" list of Spanish cheeses, will know that this sheep's milk delight is not just any cheese. Delicious.

      Toast of Grilled Foie Gras with compote of apple. Yet another foie gras preparation, this one was very good.

      Deterred a bit by the cool and perfunctory service, we opted to leave after only two dishes. Together with bottled water and a glass of mosto, the bill totalled 11euro. Open every day, including Sunday.

      http://www.vineriasantelmo.com/index....

      BAR ESLAVA

      This is a tiny bar, with adjacent restaurant, fronting a plaza in the Barrio San Lorenzo, an area dotted with interesting-looking restaurants and bars, including Azotea, mentioned above, which is but a couple of blocks distant. The mood is low key and the food--dishes are written on a blackboard -- is creative and very good. I would have returned here if we had had the time.

      Prices given are for tapas-sized portions:

      Costillas a la Miel, or pork ribs with honey. Outstanding, sticky goodness in a traditional preparation. (2.50e

      )

      Charlota de Calabacin. A layered squash terrine-type dish, this was far better than my paltry description. (2.50e)

      Solomillo de Pato. Slices of roast duck "sirloin." (What is a "sirloin" of a duck?). The meat was layered over Pan de Queso and served with a grape conserve. (2.30e)

      Finally, the highlight of the evening, "Farm Egg over a Porcini Biscuit" Luscious; chosen as the winning tapa in the 2010 Sevilla en Boca de Todos competition. (2.50e)

      Opens at 7:30pm, but many dishes (including the egg) will not be available until the head chef arrives around 8pm.

      http://www.espacioeslava.com/es/resta...

      Tapas menu: ‎www.espacioeslava.com/assets/pdf/ESLAVA_carta_tapas.pdf

      1. re: erica

        Solomillo de pato, which actually translates as fillet or tenderloin of duck, is the supreme – the small muscle under the breast – of the duck. I know that some dictionaries translate solomillo as sirloin, but it is actually the fillet.

        1. re: SnackHappy

          Thanks for that explanation. I see that term on a lot of menus (though rarely applied to duck) and was never clear about what it meant.

        2. re: erica

          Tks so much Erica for this fabulous report! Like you, we loved Zelai and Becerrita. At Zelai (over one of those awesome cappuccinos of mussels + coconut milk, pic attached) we got talking to a lovely guy at the bar who raved about Azotea and insisted we MUST go on our next visit (we'd run out of time/meals by then) - we're off down there again in February and will certainly include it, along with Bar Eslava and your latest find Puratasca. Our only disappointment was Abantal (a bit stiff, almost empty, very molecular, bossy sommeliere), which in fact was our only 'real meal' - left us wondering what's the point of eating anything but tapas in Seville - your view too, obviously :-). Heavenly place, sublime food at sensible prices and lovely people, can't wait to go back

           
      2. Thank you so much for the wonderful report on Sevilla. We've visited it three times but sadly not for a couple of years. It is one of the most enjoyable city: the food, the people, history, invoking the wonderful images of Andalusia. We enjoyed some of the places you ate at: Enrique Becerra (not since he expanded the front bar), Becerrita, Zelai, Eslava (tiny long bar that is always packed out and with the most friendly staff; surprised you say 'low key').

        12 Replies
        1. re: PBSF

          PBSF: So happy you found it interesting. I must take this opportunity to thank you again for all your help on this forum over the years. You are a treasure! The "low key" comment must connect with the fact that we were inside Escalva on that night from opening time at 7:30pm until about 8:30pm, so the bar was not at all crowded.

          I had been worried about getting into all of these places (I am one of those who usually makes advance reservations before I arrive in a city); but I found that if one does not mind arriving at an unfashionably early hour, there was no probem getting a seat in any of the places we visited. Arriving early also gave the added bonus of being able to chat with the bar and wait staff. In every place we visited, with the exception of San Telmo, the staff were exceptionally friendly and welcoming, and thrilled to discuss their offerings, and Spanish food products iin general.

          Unlike many of the traditional bars that I remember from ym last trip, and unlike EB and Becerrita in this report, some of the modern "gastro tascas," including Azotea, will not allow patrons to crowd in until there is no room at the bar. A host near the door would allot places and when the counter/bar was full, arriving patrons must wait their turn for a vacant spot.

          I will add more notes soon...coming up, our favorite of this Sevilla visit: PuraTasca.

          1. re: erica

            So sorry to hear that crowding in is no longer acceptable. One of my halmarks for rating an establishment was how a none spanish speaker was treated while wedging in for that first glass of sherry and some olives.

            It has been more than 10 years. Now you have me yearning for my favorite triumverate in Europe, Seville, Jerez de la Fonterra, and Cadiz.

            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              SEVILLA FOOD MARKETS AND BAKERIES

              I wish that I could recommend a bakery in Sevilla and while I cannot, it was not for lack of trying. We sampled sweet confections at almost everyplace we passed, including the landmark La Campana (where I stocked up on my beloved caramelos de violeta, boiled sweets in the shape of a violet) and the always bustling Horno San Buenaventura, and I finally had to come to the conclusion that I was not a big fan of Sevillano pastry, a large majority of which are baked with lard which imparts more than a slight hint of pork flavor to the pastries. I was not until we reached Ronda, and sampled the wares at Confiteria Daver, that my sweet tooth was totally satisfied. (I have not broken into my stash of turron yet!)

              We visited three of the food markets located in the center--Arenal, Triana, and Mercado de Encarnacion in the Parasol. While the Arenal market felt a bit forlorn, with many stands empty, both Triana and Parasol are gastronomic kaleidoscopes, albeit small ones as compared to those in larger cities, where we spent many hours wandering, shopping, and standing mesmerized watching as jamones were sliced with surgical precision, and much jovial banter was exchanged between proprietor and client. A note on pimenton: While it is fairly easy to find this smoked pepper from the La Vera Valley in the sweet and picante versions, the agridulce, or sweet and sour, is far less available. I did find a supply at the Encarnacion market, at the stand featuring bacalao in many guises, priced at 1.55e for the 70g tin. Toward the rear of both these markets, bars offer simple tapas and drinks, including fresh orange juice which sells for 1.50e to 1.80e per glass of a bout 12-14 ounces.

              Over and over we were struck by the warmth and willingness of the vendors to inform us about the products on offer, and about local food in general.

              The only great, if expensive, supermarket we found in the center (there are several branches of Mercadona, but not within walking distance of the center) was the ever-reliable El Corte Ingles, on Plaza del Duque. Since I had not found a saffron source at the markets (there were many selling bulk spices, but I found no La Mancha saffron, and little tinned pimenton), I headed to the department store basement food department to stock my spice pantry. I was surprised at the increase in the prices of saffron since my last visit to Spain in early 2011, when I had stocked up at La Ribera in Barcelona and at Valencia's Mercado Central for prices that seemed much more reasonable.

              1. re: erica

                Like you, I am not fond of the pastries in Seville. Actually, I don't mind so much of the lard but none has any complexity, just sugary. I do love the atmosphere of La Campana, can't beat the people watching at an outside table on the busy corner of Sierpes/Alphonse XII or the big inside square standup bar. Good coffee though.
                Again, thank you for the wonderful posts. Really enjoyed reading them.

                1. re: PBSF

                  PURATASCA

                  Located in a residential section of Triana, about a 30-minute walk from our apartment on Calle Habana and about a 12-minute walk from the Triana market, this miniscule '70s "gastro tasca" was the setting for two dinners that provided us with some of the best eating of our two-week-plus vacation. I had phoned ahead to book a table for our first dinner here. The restaurant takes bookings only for its 30e 11-course tasting menu, which must be shared by all diners at the table. Fearing the weekend crowds, we signed on and duly presented ourselves shortly before 8:30pm on a Saturday night in late October and were greeted effusively by one of the owners, Cayetano Gomez. Along with our server, Eva, they were extraordinarily welcoming and eager to share descriptions of the parade of dishes that began to arrive at our table:

                  Jar of Cantabrian anchovies preserved in olive oil and accompanied by tomato jam

                  Platter of dried and cured meat and fish: Mojama de Atun, air-dried tuna from the Andaluz tuna capital of Barbate; Guijuelo Salchichon Iberico; and the highlight: Morcon Caravajal 5Jotas Cabeza de Lomo. Made from the muscle that connects the head of the pig to the shoulders, these pimenton-spiked slices were some of the most delectable salumi I've ever tasted.

                  Foie Gras de Pato, duck foie gras served with a hillock of apple compote and accompanied by a tower of brown bread slices. My notes for this dish read simply: "Wow!"

                  Salmon "Burrito," really more of a futuristic egg roll with soy reduction, mango jelly and curry mayonnaise. Another "Wow!" in my notes. (Although this dish is usually made with raw salmon, my partner had responded to the query about allergies, likes, and dislikes with a request for no raw fish)

                  Confitado de Bacalao Pil Pil, a mound of chunked bacalao with squash, onion, and egg topped with crumbled Marcona almonds. Outstanding.

                  Arroz Meloso con Setas y Cordoniz. The "wows" continued with this ethereal mushroom-rich risotto studded with tender cubes of braised partridge. After one taste, we decided there and then that we had to return for a second dinner.

                  Unfortunately, although we struggled valiantly, we were totally sated by this time and could not eat one more morsel. The kind Eva took pity on us and informed us that we could call a halt to the parade of food and simply pay for what we had consumed. Regretfully, we agreed, vowing to return the following week. With 1 glass of Dr. Loosen Riesling and 1 caña, the bill was a most reasonable 37.60euro. PuraTasca is open from Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1pm to 4:30pm and from 8:30pm to midnight.

                  http://puratasca.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: erica

                    Glad you made it deep into Triana!

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      BB: I had one more dinner at PuraTAsca and I will post brief details soon. You were right about Triana. although we loved the location of our apartment on Calle Habana, if I were lucky enough to live part-time in Sevilla I think I would choose Triana.

                      Although Calle Betis, along the river, is lined with fancy restaurant/catering halls and cocktail bars with names like "Funky and Fuzzy," (just kidding but close), once you get a block or two inland, the place becomes a small village.

                      Small note: Last time I was in Sevilla I remembered that Triana was thick with ceramic workshops and stores selling all manners of painted tiles. The only similar shop I saw of this ilk on this trip was in the Calle Sierpes area. Did the Triana workshops lose out to inexpensive ceramics from Asia??

                      1. re: erica

                        Could be. They shops also apparently got a reputation for being so touristy and dreadful that maybe serious shoppers fled. And then there is this thing that's been going on too long now in Spain called "austerity"...

                        By the way, do you think a home cook could make "Confitado de Bacalao Pil Pil, a mound of chunked bacalao with squash, onion, and egg topped with crumbled Marcona almonds" -- ? Do you have a picture? (I don't have the Marcona almonds, but I have everything else!) In what form was the egg?

                        1. re: barberinibee

                          The egg was cooked lightly and added to the salad. Think of the egg in fried rice, more or less. I saw Juan Mari Arzac make a hake cheek pil pil dish on a cooking program a few years ago. It looked within the grasp of a home cook but then, I guess a great chef can make anything look easy. Worth a try..you do not need the curry mayo or the nuts...but you must promise to take a pic if you do it, and to let us know how it turns out!!

                          http://www.spain-recipes.com/bacalao-...

                          Here is a pic:

                           
                          1. re: erica

                            And here is the second meal at PuraTasca, and a bit more; I will try to attach more photos, too:

                            We returned to PuraTasca on the following Tuesday night, sans reservation this time. By arriving at the opening time of 8:30, we were able to snag one of the few tables of regular height (there are a couple of other bar-height tables, and a few seats along the counter). Having been told by Juan Gomez at Azotea that many Sevillanos judge a restaurant by the quality of their ensaladilla, we opted to try the dish at PuraTasca and were not disappointed. Although it did not reach the heights of the smoky, textured delight served at Azotea, this version was thick with "Iberico del Mar," or red tuna caught in the straits near Zahara de los Atunes and Barbate by the controversial almadraba net method. It was served with a mild sauce of green olives. (4.40e)

                            Piruletos de Chorizo (3e) are bite-sized bits of chorizo tempura alternating with strawberries on a stick, forming a "lollipop." A novelty, but tasty.

                            Niscoras, a coveted seasonal mushroom, were offered that evening (8.60e) and because I had never tried them, and because they seemed to arrive at every other table, I followed suit. These meaty beauties were beautifully prepared with olive oil, garlic and parsley but I could not jump on the bandwagon, as I found the mushroom flavor to be elusive.
                            There was plenty of flavor in the Arroz Meloso con Setas Y Cordoniz, the mushroom and partridge risotto that had been a highlight on the previous visit and was one on this night as well. A marvelous, creamy, scrumptious dish enhanced by copious lashings of Parmigiano and truffle oil. (5.50e)

                            Desserts are prepared for the restaurant in advance by Manu Jara, a former pastry chef at Madrid's Zalacain who now helms MasQue Postres, near Sevilla. They are served in either glasses or sardine-type cans, which are clustered together on a wooden tray and brought to the table for diners to make their choice. We chose one tiramisu (3.10) and one crema catalana (4.60); neither was outstanding but not a morsel remained in either vessel.
                            http://www.manujara.com/

                            FREIDURIA PUENTE DE CARNE

                            I wanted to try one of the city's famous freiduras and this one is close to the Barrio Santa Cruz' Casa de la Memoria, where we attended a flamenco performance, so we stopped in for a snack.
                            Be sure to order one of of the items just out from the fryers in the rear, not one that has been sitting under the heat lamps. Fish and a few non-fish items are sold by weight; 2.60e brought me a hefty paper cone of anchovies, which were well fried and not greasy. A place to sample once, but a good address for those on a tight budget. Mostly take out although there are a few outdoor tables.

                            http://www.freiduriapuertadelacarne.com/

                            Here are a couple of additional pics from PuraTasca, from left to right"

                            Foie Gras with Apple Compote and Tower of Brown Bread (slices of mojama on the white plate at far right)

                            Salmon Burrito with curry mayonnaise

                            Arroz Meloso with Mushrooms and Partridge

                             
                             
                             
                            1. re: erica

                              Those tapas are much bigger than I was imagining. I was thinking reading your first post: "Really? They were full after just that many tapas?" But I can see now. I was also envisioning the bacalao dish as having the elements more separate. so the picture set me straight. I just love the idea of cod and squash. Even if I don't make that dish, I'd like to try the combo. (There is a dish from Trieste with cod and squash.) I also instantly thought how nice strawberries and chorizo could be together! (no good chorizo where I am though. :(

                              I just got an e-mail from a friend who said he is moving back to Sevilla. So I can look forward to visiting and taking him and his wife to your faves. Thanks!

                2. re: erica

                  Anyone shopping in Triana market must find the "nut lady" displaying multiple hand-packed varieties roasted so fresh.

                  Grabbed a 3 euro plastic container of the "regular" roasted almendras...they were head and shoulders better than any industrially-packaged Marconas, at less than half the price.

                  FYI - El Corte Ingles is definitely a good resource when all else fails or if you're unsure that the market packaging will pass USDA / Customs muster. Ticked-off family in front of us declared food items, was sent to the scanner and had about 35 lbs. of chorizo, jamon and other meat/food items stripped from their bags on the conveyor belt. Be warned: regardless of what the merchants tell you over there, read the rulebook before you board the plane.

          2. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this post. My family leaves for Seville tonight and I haven't had time to do any research. Your advice will make our trip!

            1. Seville Trip Report - March 2013

              We (my husband and I) visited Seville to experience Semana Santa (Holy Week). We'd been to Spain but not Andalucía. The information from this discussion thread and Azahar-Sevilla.com were all we needed for 6 days of fantastic eating. Thanks to all of you for the information you shared.

              I was concerned about whether restaurants would be open during Holy Week, but my fears proved baseless. When their hours of operation were different, restaurants indicated this on their websites, and there were few changes.

              We made lunch our big meal of the day. In the beginning of our stay, we arrived early because we needed time to translate the menu. As we became more familiar with the local cuisine, and my Spanish revived, arriving later was no problem.

              We ordered 3 to 6 dishes per meal (most often tapas and one media racion), a bottle or 2 of water, and drinks for each of us (wine or sherry). Our tabs ran between 30 and 50 euros. Given the excellent fare, this is amazing value.

              LA AZOTEA: Standing at the counter on Palm Sunday, we ordered ensaladilla de ahumados, every bit as good as Erica described. The grilled ventresca de atún (belly tuna) in a soy marinade was scrumptious. The morcilla a la plancha (blood sausage) was flavored with curry, producing a delicious contrast with the accompanying sweet onion marmelade. The chipirón tierra y mar joined jamon ibérico and mushrooms with grilled squid and baby octopus. Grilled baby octopus is a fav, and it didn't disappoint.

              ENRIQUE BECERRA: We arrived early, were seated at a table and ordered tapas. Our meal: pavias de bacalao (lightly fried bundles of salt cod), lomo ibérico a la mostaza (pork loin in mustard), cebiche de atún, berenjenas de fritas rellenas de gambas (shrimp wrapped in eggplant & then fried), crujiente de puerros y gambas (a crusty "tort" made of leeks and shrimp). This was my husband's favorite place. For traditional tapas, I doubt it gets better than EB.The berenjenas were insanely good.

              BECERRITA: Of the six places we went, this was the only one to which I wouldn't be in a rush to return. The food was good but a couple of notches lower than the other places. The dishes lacked the finesse we experienced elsewhere. Because it was Semana Santa, there was a special menu of raciones and media raciones only; no tapas. However, the servings weren't so big that we weren't able to eat several. The waiter's attempts to help made us feel pushed rather than assisted. The plating of the dishes was indifferent. This stood out because the plating was so attractive everywhere else.

              Our meal: croquetas de cola de toro (bull's tail), hamburguesita de gambas al ajillo (shrimp hamburger with garlic), "lascas" de berenjenas fritas con salmorejo y bacalao (eggplant with salmorejo sauce and salt cod), albondiguillas de zamburiñas y gambas con la salsa de calabacines (scallop & shrimp meatballs with zucchini sauce). The high point of the meal was dessert: tarta limon con helado de merengue (intensely lemon) and helado de natas con virtuas de chocolate y Pedro Ximénez (ice cream with chocolate chips bathed in Pedro Ximénez - a thick, sweet sherry-like spirit but made from a different grape). Sue Style, your dessert description was spot-on.

              Given the great reviews in this discussion thread, perhaps Semana Santa threw Becerrita for a loop.

              ZELAI: We arrived early and sat at the bar. When I ordered a glass of manzanilla, something clicked with our waiter. He took our interest in cuisine seriously and guided us accordingly. The tapas: hamburguesa de langoustines con pan de algas y aioli de vino fino (langoustines with seaweed bread & sherry mayonnaise), taco de foie a la saltén con la reduccíon de vino de naranja (goose liver cooked with orange juice), tartar de atún rojo con ajoblanco de pistacho (cold pistachio soup with raw tuna), stew with shrimp, garbanzos & spinach, jamon ibérico served with idiazabel cheese and marmelade. The langoustines were incredible.The foie was a close second. This was a thoroughly satisfying eating adventure.

              BAR ESLAVA: Holy Thursday is an important day in Seville. Everyone goes to church and then out for lunch. We arrived between 3:30 and 4pm, and the bar was packed. Crowding in was definitely ok, and after a while, we got seats at the bar. Our feast: croquetas caseras, solomillo de pato pan ques (duck), strudel de verduras (like spinach pie), gambas con bechamel de mariscos (croquettes in which the shrimp were covered in bechamel and then breaded/fried), costillas a la miel (lamp in honey). Everything was delectable. The costillas were sensational.

              PURATASCA: We arrived around 3pm. When we asked about eating tapas, we were told they were only serving small plates. We savored: tartar de atún rojo con almadraba con fresas (raw tuna with fresh strawberries), arroz meloso con setas y cordoniz ("risotto" with mushrooms & partridge) and bacalao confitada al queso de cabra. The tuna and strawberry combo was gorgeous to look at and tasted even better. All three dishes we were knock-outs.

              In a week of great food, PURATASCA was my favorite. PURATASCA is less formal, more of a neighborhood place than the others. The service was warm and friendly, but a bit less attentive. While I'd be happy to return to all of these restaurants with the exception of Becerrita, PURATASCA would be first on my list.

              ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: Watching the Semana Santo processions meant that we were out and about all hours, which required snacks.
              *When we were most tired, hot chocolate and churros provided comfort. *Since our hotel was in Santa Cruz, we happily snacked at Bar Las Teresas. BLT isn't a culinary hot spot, but it delivers basic tapas well with lots of atmosphere.
              *The packages of nuts sold in corner stores were of surprisingly high quality.
              *While we had ample opportunities to drink Rioja, we enjoyed the cavas just as much. After observing Sevillanos drinking sherry with their meals, I started to do the same. The sherries paired well. I had fun tasting them, especially manzanilla which I'd never had before. If I'm lucky enough to visit Andalucía again, I'd taste more of them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: inkieD

                Totally agree with Azotea and Eslava.

                On your next visit (or wherever they're sold), broaden your wine horizons with a few Ribera del Dueros. Body and soul in a bottle.

                It's quite an adventure walking off your meals at 1:00 AM thru the plazas and down otherwise lonely narrow streets and allies, while crews scrub the streets.

              2. Thanks, Erica. I love to eat! So anything goes except for maybe the blood sausage. Will try to eat where you recommended. Budget to mid range prices.