One of the many pleasures of travel in Spain is the food. Tapas, wine, complex seafood, cured meats and abundant seafood make the Iberian Peninsula and its islands a foodie’s paradise. Here are some tips on eating out in Seville, from local writer Cat Gaa.
They say a Sevillian’s living room is the street. Indeed, once night falls or even midday, it’s common to find the streets buzzing with people, often enjoying a quick bite or drink before heading home.
To eat like a local in Seville, have a glass of beer or wine with a small morsel of food, and then head to the next establishment. Dining in Seville is a privilege due to its abundance of bars and choices, but ‘ir de tapas’, or bar-hopping, is not always cheap. Here’s a few local tips to find cheap eats in the Andalusian capital:
What to Steer Clear Off: Skip the restaurant that’s…
… right next to the monument. You’ll pay a premium price for poor service and poor quality. Walk away from the mist machines and duck down an alleyway – you’re much more likely to stumble upon a place with more reasonable prices and better food.
…got a poorly translated menu. Another rookie mistake is to eat wherever the menu is in your language. But does “tomatoes attacked by angry vegetables” actually sound appetizing (as seen at a restaurant in Carmona, meant to be ratatouille)? Step outside of your comfort zone and order what looks or smells good, or use whatever Spanish you may speak to
…empty. ‘Sevillanos’ will often skip over bars that aren’t crowded. You should, too.
Consider a Menú del Día
Midday, you can expect to see many establishments offering a ‘menu del día,’ which is a multi-course meal for a fixed price. If you’re starving or money conscious (or even both!), a ‘menú’ is a great way to get your fill for a wallet-friendly price. Typically, you’ll get a choice of starter, main dish, dessert or coffee, plus bread and a drink for 8 – 11€ in the city center. Not all places offer this type of deal, but those that do tend to advertise it well.
Your Best Bets
Los Coloniales – this staple of cheap eats in Seville serves up enormous ‘raciones’ to share at low prices. Even the tapas are colossal, so go hungry and with plenty of friends. Their most popular dish is probably the chicken breast with almond sauce, though you can’t get wrong with their wide selection of tapas – there’s something for every taste. Tapas are under 2,50€ and ‘raciones’ not much more, which has made this place extremely popular, so arrive early and expect a wait. (Plaza Cristo de Burgos, 19 and Calle Fernández y García, 36 y 38. Open for lunch and dinner daily.)
Las Golodrinas – a local’s favorite, this neighborhood bar in Triana is full of colorful tiles and usually people, too. The menu is a bit more limited – think lots of pork and ‘aliños,’ or vinegar-treated vegetable salads – but you won’t pay much to fill up. If you do splurge, may it be on their great house wine. (Calle Antillano Campos, 26. Open daily for lunch and dinner.)
Bar Alfalfa – Standing alone in the apex of two streets, Bar Alfalfa offers simple tapas and a cramped but airy interior. It’s long been a great meeting point for travelers, as it’s just off the plaza of the same name. (Calle Candilejo, 1)
Bodega Santa Cruz Las Columnas – If you’re looking for a typical tavern, Bodega Las Columnas is it: bull heads watch you eat cheap tapas that get washed down with beer while the waiter adds up your tab in chalk on the wooden bar. Las Columnas is just steps off the Giralda and surrounded by bars with less character. Their star dish is the ‘montaíto de pringá,’ a small, minced meat sandwich. Most tapas will run under 2€. (Calle Rordigo Caro, 1A – look for the yellow building while walking down Mateos Gago.)
A Bit of Bar Etiquette
Culture in Seville lends well to the bar and tapas scene, which means you’ll have to keep a few things in mind:
-Lunch hours are roughly 1 – 4pm and dinner 8pm – 12am. If you need a snack in between, try a bakery for crispy pastries.
-Smoking in bars in no longer legal in Spain. People sometimes do it anyway.
-Go ahead and throw those napkins, toothpicks, etc. on the ground!
–Tipping is no expected or necessary. If anything, round up to the nearest euro.
Eating out in Seville really is a cultural event, so ‘a comer!’ (Let’s eat!)
Cat Gaa left the skyscrapers of Spain for the olive groves of Andalusia six years ago. Since then, she’s combed the streets of Seville in search of the perfect Spanish omelette, but always relies on her old favorites. She writes about food in Seville and much more at Sunshine and Siestas.