Seville is home to everything quintessentially Andalucian – flamenco dancing, bull fighting, passionately celebrated festivals, the scent of orange blossom, swarthy Spaniards, tapas bars and late nights. Accommodation booking agent, visitor host and long time Sevillano, Rocio Sopeña shares her tips for the best places to eat and drink in the city with Holiday Goddess.
EAT … TAPAS, TAPAS, TAPAS
Popular amongst the locals, Restaurante ConTenedor (Calle San Luis, 50) is a hidden gem, with friendly multi-lingual staff dishing up great food (the fish and duck get rave reviews). Near the Cathedral in Mateos Gago Street, Bodega Santa Cruz, (known by the locals as Las Columnas for its characteristic marble columns) is a great spot for cheap and cheerful tapas and views of La Giralda. The fresh produce market on Calle Feria near the El Omnium Sanctorum is one of the oldest food markets in Europe. It’s a great place to sample local cheese, ham, olives, fish, local vegies and of course, tapas. There are bars scattered around the market all serving freshly made tapas including the market’s own bar, La Cantina. Tucked in between the market and the church wall, it’s a great place to drop in for fresh grilled fish tapas (a la plancha) and a glass of beer. La Cantina is only open at lunchtime, but the rest of the market bars are also open at night. For the best Spanish breakfast head to any of the cafés in San Buenaventura – try out the tostada entera con jamón serrano y aceite (toast with full toast with Serrano ham and olive oil). Or eat breakfast like the Spanish King at the popular churros stand on Calle Arfe (next to the gate of El Postigo). Rumor has it that when the King stays in the Alcazar he sends someone out to pick up his morning breakfast of churros from here.
For a cocktails with a view of the Cathedral, head to the rooftop bar of the EME Catedral Hotel or the luxury Hotel Doña Maria. Make sure you get there early (by Spanish standards) as tables can be hard to come by and the lights on the Cathedral go out at 11pm. For a casual beer with a dash of history at Seville’s oldest bar, drop in for a beer and a tapa of espinacas (Spinach) at El Rinconcillo (Calle Gerona, 40, near Plaza de Los Terceros). The collection of antique liquor bottles are so rare that companies who still produce the brands have tried to purchase them back from the bar … unsuccessfully.
On a hot summer night, tackle the queues at Rayas (Calle del Almirante Apodaca, 1) for the best icecream in Seville. In winter, pop into their chocolate shop next door. Or for something a little out of the ordinary, buy sweets at the Convent of Santa Paula (Calle Santa Paula,1). The Convent is home to 32 Jeronimas nuns who make a living selling sweets, jams, quince preserves and muffins. Ring the bell and when you hear the nun say, ‘Ave María Purísima’ (‘Hail Mary, full of grace or Hail purest Mary’), respond by saying ‘Sin pecado concebido’ (‘conceived without sin’). Ask for what you want (Rocio recommends the Crema de Castañas – chestnut puree), place your money on the turnstile, spin it around to the nun on the other side and wait for your sweet treats to come back to you.
© Kris McIntyre and Holiday Goddess, 2012.