A weekend tapas odyssey in Seville – part two: Saturday

If you haven’t seen part one, you can read it here

On Saturday, you could get up early and go to the Alcázar, the cathedral, the Bellas Artes museum, the Casa de Pilatos, the ceramics museum or go on a river cruise – to give just a few suggestions. There are lots of great things to see and do in Seville, but let’s just assume that you’ve been before and have already done the top sights, so you can just relax and enjoy the city without the guilt trip of a cultural agenda. Anyway, we are concentrating on eating here which doesn’t leave a lot of time for much else. Instead, get up late, take your time over breakfast, then have a toddle around town, stopping off for another coffee or two wherever takes your fancy. You are on holiday, after all.

Before you know it your thoughts will be turning to where to go for lunch. I went to La Lonja del Barranco, one of the new gourmet markets that are sprouting up all over Spain.

The huge iron structure on the banks of the Guadalquivir river – by the Triana or Isabel II bridge –  is believed to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel and was built in the second half of the 18th century to house the fish market. Now it contains a couple of dozen stalls, specialising in seafood, rice dishes, traditional stews, cheese, charcuterie, sushi, burgers, cakes, wine and quite a lot more, including a microbrewery. There are tables inside and – more importantly – outside on the large terrace by the river. You go around picking up different things from the stalls then find somewhere to sit to devour your haul.

Out on the terrace, some friends and I ordered a few cold beers to go with our olives, ibérico ham, prawns, langoustines and fried anemones which, with their pungent marine flavour, are a bit of an acquired taste but I rather like them. I think. This is a very handy place as it is open all day every day and you can get lots of things to take away too. Several hours seemed to slip by before I eventually slid off my stool and slowly strolled back through the centre to meet Shawn and some other friends at the Gourmet Experience Duque on the top floor of El Corte Inglés department store on Plaza del Duque de la Victoria.

The Gourmet Experience concept is a combination of delicatessen and upmarket food court, which I was already familiar with as I had been to the ones in Madrid and Alicante. This one has a great terrace with views across the city, making it a particularly good place to meet at dusk for a glass of cava – which is what Shawn suggested, funnily enough.

Inside, you can choose from a few tapas stalls – Egaña is rather good – or go for Mexican food or burgers. At that time of day, as afternoon was slipping into evening, a lot of people were going for coffee and cake or ice cream, while others were already on the cocktails. A great thing is that you can buy anything from a jar of nuts to some cheese or ham in the delicatessen section and the very helpful staff will put it on a plate and serve it to you – at no extra cost. And the same goes for wine. You can always just order a glass at the bar, but if a particular bottle takes your fancy on the shelves, you can buy it and they will open and pour it for you with no corkage charge.

It only closes a few days a year and is open until at least midnight, even when the store is shut. If you want to buy gifts for foodie friends, you’ll probably find everything you need here in one hit, which of course leaves more time to get back on the tapas trail.

It was somehow time to start eating again, so we walked up to La Pepona (Javier Lasso de la Vega 1), just a few minutes away. We were greeted by Juanlu Fernández, the manager, who told us about the specials they had on that day. Shawn said we had to order the soy marinated sardines on sesame toast and who were we to argue?  As Eduardo, one of our group, said, “We are being looked after by the queen of tapas today.”

The sardines were just exquisite. We also had steak tartare – but this was presa pork rather than beef –  baby squid stuffed with buckwheat and ibérico pork sausages and kid goat neck with cous cous,  mint and yogurt. All seriously good. As you might expect by now, the wine list was really interesting too, with dozens to choose from by the glass. A great thing they do here is offer half glasses of wine, 75 ml (mostly around €1.50-€2.50) – with the idea that you can try a few more. But we just went with normal glasses of course… Just let Juanlu advise you on what will go with whatever you’ve ordered – which may well not be on the list.

You can sit at the bar or at a table, but Juanlu and owner Pepón López are keen to stress that this is a tapas bar rather than a restaurant. I don’t mind what they call it but the food was really impressive – and not expensive either. Our bill was €34 for the four dishes we shared and a glass of wine each.

We could happily have stayed there and worked our way through the menu but in the spirit of the tapeo, or tapas crawl, we spilled back out onto the street and decided to go for a drink at El Rinconcillo (Gerona 40), again a few minutes’ walk away.

El Rinconcillo has been in business since the 17th century and claims to be the oldest bar in Seville. With its beamed ceilings, tiled walls, hanging hams and shelves packed with bottles, this place is as traditional as it gets. We were just having a glass of wine – Botani again – but if you fancy a tapa, try the spinach with chickpeas, the croquetas or the pavia de bacalao  – saltcod chunks in batter.

The only drawback with El Rinconcillo is that it is in all the guidebooks so it can get a bit overtouristy. For your next beer or glass of wine you might want to pop across the street to Los Claveles (Plaza de los Terceros 15) – as we did – which is a relative newcomer in comparison as it has only been going since the mid-19th century.

Our last stop was La Fábrica (Correduría 1), near the Alameda de Hércules. This square and the surrounding streets have become very fashionable in the last few years with a buzzing nightlife. Just mentioning it in case anyone is in the mood for a cocktail later.

On the off chance that you are still awake now, I will talk about La Fábrica and its sister restaurant Besana Tapas in part three.

How to make this Seville weekend happen

Have a look at Sevilla Tapas Tours for details of the different things on offer as well as tapas, which include flamenco and visiting markets. There is more information on all the places mentioned here and a lot of handy advice on the whole tapas thing in Seville. We Love Tapas offers shorter tours in Seville and Malaga.

Getting there  British Airways flies to Seville from London Gatwick – fares are often very reasonable if you can be flexible on dates.

Where to stay   The Fontecruz hotel has 40 pretty rooms around an elegant courtyard and has a very welcome outdoor pool. It is in a handy location with the cathedral and Santa Cruz on the doorstep.

Find out more  See Visit Sevilla and the official Spain tourism portal for more information. There is also a Visit Sevilla app with a useful gastronomy section with a list of tapas bars.

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