Gourmet heaven in four Spanish cities

From San Sebastian to Cadiz, a tour of some urban enclaves that boast exquisite cuisine

Ultramar & Nos, in Cádiz.
Ultramar & Nos, in Cádiz.

Barcelona

Tapas in Sant Antoni and views of Pedrera from the Alaire terrace

9am Breakfast: The Granja Viader (Carrer Xuclà, 4-6) has been serving hot chocolate with cream and mini sponge cakes since 1870. Charmingly historical and fragrant, it is in the heart of Barcelona and has a breakfast menu guaranteed to set you up for the day.

12pm Aperitif: Crossing the city to the Sant Antoni neighborhood, we found ourselves on Calle Parlament, where we sat out on one of the most pleasant terraces in town at Bar Calders (Calle Parlament, 25). There’s first-rate Vermouth – particularly Falset – accompanied by mini pizzas with pear, Gorgonzola and caramelized onion as well as unbeatable hummus.

Bar Calders, in Barcelona
Bar Calders, in Barcelona

2pm Lunch: In the Born area, we rolled up at the classic Senyor Parellada restaurant (Carrer de l’Argenteria, 37), which excels in traditional Catalonian fare with wonderful cannelloni, escudella (a kind of meat and veg broth) and codfish, not to mention the famous Parellada shellfish rice.

6pm Snacks: Art, views and eye-opening architecture is on the menu at the Miró Foundation’s bar in the Montjuïc Park. You can sip your early evening drink while admiring the Josep Lluis Sert building and Miró’s sculptures scattered around the gardens.

9pm Dinner: Once in Montjuïc, we decided to have dinner on the terrace of the Martínez restaurant, which offers one of the best views of the city, making it a perfect spot to spend a summer’s night (Carretera de Miramar, 38). A glass of Elixir Martínez vermouth on arrival was a great way to be welcomed.

11pm Drinks: In the summer months, late-night drinks are all about terrace hopping. Situated on the rooftop of Hotel Condes de Barcelona (Paseo de Gracia, 73), the Alaire bar offers magnificent views of Gaudi architecture at La Pedrera and the Sagrada Familia basilica. Another option is the classic Merbeyé (Plaça Doctor Andreu, 2) at the foot of Tibidabo with great cocktails, live music and the best views of the city’s skyline.

View of San Sebastián with the club Naútico in the background
View of San Sebastián with the club Naútico in the backgroundG. Azumendi

San Sebastián

A foie tapa, stewed apple and other Basque delicacies

9am Breakfast: According to its website, the Barrenetxe (Plaza Gipuzkoa, 9) has been a baker and chocolate maker since 1699 and there are plenty who swear that it’s the best cake shop in San Sebastián. Certainly, their breakfast, which includes chocolate, lemon cake or a txintxorro, or even almond cake with orange jam, is irresistible.

1pm Aperitif: To get the best tapas, we went to the old quarter, where we chose three local bars: La Cuchara de San Telmo, which serves foie gras and stewed apple to die for, El Munto, which does perfect asparagus, and El Gandarias, where pigs’ trotters à la mille-feuille is the specialty of the house.

2.30pm Lunch: One of the highlights of the Paseo de La Concha is the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra (1865), which takes you back to the era of Mata Hari and Toulouse-Lautrec. The Marie Galant brasserie is on the bottom floor (Calle Zubieta, 2), offering views of the bay and a menu of Basque delicacies.

6pm Snacks: As its names suggests, la Mejillonera has fabulous mussels, particularly stuffed mussels, or Tigres as they are known (Calle del Puerto, 15). Nearby, we stumbled across the terrace outside the Royal Yacht Club, built in the 1928 rationalist architectural style. It’s an ideal place for having a drink by the ocean. For those with a sweet tooth, there’s the mouth-watering La Viña cheesecake.

9pm Dinner: We dined in luxury at the Rekondo (Igeldo Pasealekua, 57) at the top of Monte Igeldo with beautiful views of the city and bay. Ask for a table on the terrace and savor a classic Basque menu and wine selection.

11pm Drinks: Behind the Buen Pastor Cathedral, we found great bars on Calle de los Reyes Católicos, such as Taska, El Viena or Never Stop. The Gros area of town, close to Kursaal de Rafael Moneo, is also a great place to party.

Ultramar & Nos, in Cádiz.
Ultramar & Nos, in Cádiz.

Cádiz

In the Rincón Gastronómico of the market, try a tipple of sherry

9am Breakfast: There is a slice of France in the center of Cádiz, next to the Abastos Central Market, in the shape of a wonderful café that has a quintessentially French bakery called Le Poeme SL (Calle Alcalá Galiano, 3). Don’t miss the apple tarts with cinnamon, or the macaroons.

1pm Aperitif: The old meat market has become a treasure trove of cuisine. The so-called Rincón Gastronómico is one of the best places in Cadiz for drinks and tapas, with tuna specialties and plenty of sherry. Make sure to pop into El Colmado and La Sartén (Plaza de la Libertad, s/n).

2.30pm Lunch: In the heart of La Viña neighborhood, we found La Tabernita (Calle Vírgen de la Palma, 32), a small restaurant with delicious tapas and great wine. For those who prefer a beach vibe, El Nahubeach on Cortadura is a beautiful ‘chiringuito’ with great cuisine (Carretera Cadiz-San Fernando, kilometer 0.5). The Arsenio Manila (Paseo Marótimo, 12) on Victoria beach is also very good.

6pm Snacks: Afternoons in this part of the world are laid back and the chiringuito Bebo los Vientos near Arsenio Manila is one of the best places to chill out with a drink (Paseo Marítimo, 11). Open from 9am until 3am, this is said to be the top spot to watch the sunset.

9pm Dinner: On our to-sample list in Cadiz was Ultramar & Nos (Enrique De Las Marinas, 2), a contrast between modern décor and traditional cuisine. The place is everything Trip Advisor promised it would be, with first-class tapas made from quality produce. They also serve a wide range of rice dishes.

11pm Drinks: To round off the day, why not wander over to the old colonial buildings and the Archivo de Indias (San Antonio, Abad, 8), a late-night bar with different rooms, each inspired by a different colonial era. It’s near the cathedral in the Pópulo neighborhood.

Entrance to Vuelve Carolina, in Valencia.
Entrance to Vuelve Carolina, in Valencia.

Valencia

Creative tapas in the Quique Dacosta gastro bar and a café in the Ruzafa area

9am Breakfast: Inside the Mercado de Colón, one of the most spectacular modernist buildings in the city, is Suc Lluna, a terraced café where you can enjoy fresh eco-bio juice or a glass ofhorchata –tiger nut milk.

12pm Aperitif: Facing the sea in a charming area that feels 100% Mediterranean, is La Más Bonita, a bar-cum-café-restaurant on the Patacona beach in Alboraya that opens from 8am to 1.30am. Having a vermouth with olives or homemade tart on the terrace is a memorable experience. If the aperitif drifts into the afternoon, the lunch menu is one of the most seductive in the city with tables in the interior patio. Bicycles are welcome here.

2pm Lunch: Valencia without paella is unthinkable. We opted for the classic La Riuà (Calle del Mar, 27) where the atmosphere is typically Valencian. A real party for the palate, there’s all kinds of rice, from the oven-baked variety to lobster flavored… While waiting for the paella, we tried the traditional esgarraet – pepper and cod salad and all i pebre eels.

7pm Snacks: Rizada is the trendy end of town with bars such as Slaughterhouse (Calle Denia, 22), a café-cum-bookshop, which is a great place for afternoon coffee and cake.

9pm Dinner: El Mar d’Avellanes (Calle Avellanas, 9) has traditional fare with modern touches. Other options include Vuelve Carolina (Calle Correus by the town hall), the Quique Dacosta gastro bar and Manuela Romeralo.

11pm Drinks: One of the most fashionable terraces is in Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences, namely L’Úmbracle Terrassa, which has a magical garden with trencadís mosaics where you can enjoy music and a gin and tonic under the light of the moon.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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