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Our Trip To Spain: Part 2. Food continued

Our Trip To Spain: Part 2. Food continued

May 19th, 2001, 12:08 PM
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Our Trip To Spain: Part 2. Food continued

We ate a lot of tapas and relatively few sit-down meals because the Spanish custom of dinner at 10 PM was too hard an adjustment. Fortunately some restaurants open at 8:30. (Some tapas places have only a bar, others have tables as well.) In spite of what guidebooks say, we generally found tapas bars all about the same in quality of food and drink. The big names were no better than the places we just walked into for convenience. Iíd recommend going for interesting atmosphere. You can get good food anywhere.

Be prepared for a few new dining customs in Spain. Restaurants automatically put bread in front of you, but itís not free and you pay extra for it. (You donít get charged for bread with tapas, however.) Iíve heard that the same thing can happen with appetizers, but never saw it. You generally get free olives on the table when you sit down, both in restaurants and often in tapas bars. Further, restaurants may not automatically tell you that they have a menu del dia, so always ask. Of course, if you want water, you have order mineral water at an extra cost. The Spanish are also very laid back about your paying the bill. You almost have to mug the waiter to get the tab Ė service is included so the waiters have no need to rush you. A 5% tip is customary, anyway. My wife claims that they often ignore womenís request for the bill. In tapas bars, you pay only when ready to leave and not dish-by-dish.

We ate at so many places, that I canít remember them all or many details. We had menu del dia for lunch a lot. It was always a bargain, except for one place in Granada where it was a bit of a rip-off. We ate a lot of gazpacho, tortilla espana, shrimp in garlic, langostino, ham and salmon. The seafood was better and far cheaper than anything we get a home, so it was usually our default choice. There are a lot of restaurants that specialize in grilled food, but we never got around to trying one.

Here are a few notable high and low lights.
May 19th, 2001, 12:09 PM
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El Schotis. We only ate one sit down meal in Madrid. After failing to get into Botin, wandered around until coming across El Schotis, which is recommended in many guidebooks. I had steak presented in the unique Madrid style. It is a thick cut which is merely seared and served on a very hot plate. You slice off pieces and continue cooking it on the hot plate until it reaches the desired doneness. The steak was tasty and the whole affair was a lot of fun. My wife had some very nice roast lamb. All was not perfect, however. The dinners came with the detestable Castillian soup and some indifferent French fries. (The Spanish seldom fry food to crispness,) The dessert Flan was tasteless. We had a decent bottle of wine for a very cheap price and the waiter surprised us by topping the meal off with a nice shot of apple schnapps-like liquor. Despite the low points, it was a very pleasant dinner for about $35.

Maes Flandes. Returning at midnight from The Day From The Hell in he countryside (more about that later), we just wanted to grab something close to the hotel. We stumbled into Maes Flandes, figuring that Belgian beer would be a good idea. We also got muscles, which turned out to be absolutely great, especially at 500 pesetas an order. We had them cooked in wine and Flandes style Ė cooked in milk. We really liked the place. (Or maybe it was just the beer when we really needed it. Yes, Iím leading up to quite a story later.)

La Tourina Cerveceria. Our favorite tapas bar by far. Bright and tiled with the walls covered by stuffed bullsí heads and pictures of bullfighters in various stages of being gored. (Right on!) Looking into the eyes on one of the massive, snarling heads gives you a new respect of what it must take to be a bullfighter. The tapas is variable. This is where I learned to avoid croquettes, although the shrimp ones had some taste. . On our second visit, we had salmon and shrimp on bread tapas, which were great. I also developed a taste for sidra, fermented apple juice there and was disappointed not to make it to Casa Mingo (sidra central in Madrid.) La Turina is not to be missed for atmosphere.

Museo de Jambon. It sounded like a hoot Ė a museum of ham. In fact, it was a little on he boring side. They have walls lined with hanging hams, but the fact is that you can get the same cured ham bocadillos anywhere and the atmosphere is nothing special. Itís worth a quick stop, but not much more. Itís a chain, as we saw at least three of them (McJambon?).

ChocolaterŪa St Gines. The star of the chocolate and churros circuit. Itís a popular spot to end an evening of tapas, which we did several times. By far, it was the best chocolate and churros that we had. Try ordering some liquer to throw in your chocolate. My wife did this and the staff was so shocked that they threw in the liquor for free. I guess no one had thought of it before.

May 19th, 2001, 12:10 PM
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Toledo really goes dead at night, except for Zodocover square and itís array of tourist traps. After returning from the Parador where we went to watch sunset, everything was closed except for the place some near the hotel. You canít miss it because it has a big patio. It was not bad.


Casa Pepe. Here we had our tripís best tapas, a crab salad that was fantastic. In fact, we stopped on our way back to Madrid to get it a second time. The glass of gazpacho, very surprisingly, was not so great. Our only disappointing gazpacho. Everywhere else it was great and taste basically the same.


Parador. I had a very nice roast lamb, which was a bit salty. We canít remember what my wife had. But we enjoyed the evening. You can walk into town to other restaurants, but the Parador is no nice that you donít want to leave, even for dinner. Overall, Parador food was good but a bit pricey. However, Iíd recommend eating at good paradors because it is a bit of rare old-style elegance and because it really is part of the overall experience of staying there. Afterwards, you sit on the veranda and look at the magnificent view with your cafť con leche and brandy, smoke your Cuban cigar and wonder what the peasants are doing this year. A good Parador is more an experience than just a hotel.


Cervezaria Giralda. We had two tapas meals here. I canít remember what we ordered, but do remember that we liked it a lot. The Cervezaria Giralda has one great benefit; itís across from the from the Giralda Tower, so you can actually find it. The same street has many other tapas bars and is tapas central in Sevilla. We tried a few others. As I said, about the only thing that really distinguishes tapas bars is the dťcor, so unless there is something notable about them, they quickly run together in memory.

Miami. We followed the guidebook suggestion to try eating in Triana, across the river. We planned on Restaurante Maria Angeles next to the river, but surprisingly, it and many of the guidebook recommended restaurants were closed, even at 10. We just walked into Miami, which proved to be one our favorite stops on the trip. We had fried seafood tapas, which was very good, grilled langostinos plus other stuff that I canít remember. The place has great dťcor and atmosphere with old pictures of Sevilla on the walls. Highly recommended. (Much to our surprise, Triana proved to be quite dead. The Paseo in Sevilla is very subdued compared to Madrid.)
May 19th, 2001, 12:11 PM
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Restaurant Jerez. We expected to eat at Tagabuche, but it was too pricey and a little too outrť. Next we looked at Don Pedro, another well-known spot, but it was bit pricey, too. We were hungry and just tried Restaurant Jerez because it was the first place we saw. My wife had this wonderful velvety salmon and I had, what else, fried seafood, which was so-so and the least good version of the dish that I had in Spain. We had a bottle of good Spanish bubbly for only $10 with the meal.


We were so exhausted after wandering around looking for our hotel that we ate cold cuts that we had bought for lunch in our room. (Although we were tempted by a place called ďA Taste of England In Spain.Ē Well, isnít the chance to experience English cooking the main reason that everyone goes to Spain?) The next morning we woke up early and went down for breakfast, only to discover that nothing, and I mean nothing, opens in Nerja until at least 9 AM. Really weird.


Ladrillo II. A Rick Steves recommendation, located way up in the Arab quarter. I followed his advice and got a ďbarco,Ē a boat of fried seafood. Just as he said, it was enough for 2-3 people. We also ordered grilled shrimp and the waiter ordered a salad. All very good and cheap, except that it was enough for 4 people and we left half of it. Arab music made a nice exotic atmosphere. Iím not sure that it was worth climbing all the way up the hill for, though. Iíd recommend taking the little shuttle bus if you want to go far up the hill.


Parador. I had my best restaurant dish of the trip when I ordered roast suckling pig that had been cooked in herbs. My wife had duck, which was so-so. The first course, dessert and wine were OK but not exceptional. For $45, a decent dinner overall. Anyway, unlike Carmona where you can walk into town, Jaen offers little alternative to eating at the Parador.

Next: Part 3. Attractions
May 19th, 2001, 05:36 PM
Oaktown Traveler
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You have brought back so many memories. I begged my DH to come in and see what you wrote. He did. He "hates" the internet and that I spend so much time on this board so, I used up a big favor...

Thanks again
Jan 24th, 2010, 04:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 12
I thought my old trip report might be worth reactivating. It’s probably a bit outdated, especially prices, but it still has a lot of useful, realistic, information.
eddiemarsreturns is offline  
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