Seville is one the most beautiful European cities with history so vibrant that it attracts million of tourists from all over the world year after year. The city never stops. Whether the culprit of sleepless nights and energy-boosting locals are the thunderous bells of the cathedral reminding you every hour, not, every 15 minutes that time passes with their powerful ding-dong, remains a mystery to me. But, I would bet that the almost always-open tapas bars may play a substantial role in Sevilla’s lively scene.
Having an opportunity to eat and drink out any time of the day one would possibly desire to, is a subject of imagination of many outgoing travelers. Seville brings it to reality.
The locals can have a little bite as early as 7am before they get to work, continue with a stand up lunch and a song or two, and right after work – whether at 4pm or 8pm – jump once again straight to one of the hundreds of tapas bars in the town.
If you look for traditional atmosphere and authentic cooking, head to one of the older establishments. Some of these with history spanning over three centuries and a vibe that the cool hip new places cannot match up with! Look at the hot dancers bellow spontaneously twirling around. Hola!
El Rinconcillo has been serving food since 1670 making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, tapas bars in Seville. Its ‘back in the times’ atmosphere will transfer you back to Seville of the 17th century. Busting, life-full, beautifully decorated and with upbeat staff serving hundreds of hungry and thirsty excited tourists and locals alike. The fact that you find locals at El Rinconcillo is assuring of its quality and authentic atmosphere.
The only minus is that you will have to stand while nibbling on your tapas and sipping on your drink. There are sit-down tables only for the restaurant, and who wants to eat a restaurant in a city famous for its tapas bars?? Also, you have to be quick to grab your spot at one of the tables along the wall or at something reminding a kitchen sideboard as we did at first. Then swiftly wave over the heads of customers at the bar at the bartender for some food. Do not expect any knowledge of English so just order whatever looks good to you on others plates or the staples such as tortillas and aceitunas (olives) and all kinds of Jamón, chorizo and queso (cheese).
We have started with Aceitunas Gordales, the local soft and juicy olives and a tapa of Chorizo Cular Iberico. Both simple and good, especially the spicy chorizo. Later, he waiter handed us over the heads of the bar-diners a plate of Queso Puro de Oveja, hard cheese similar to Manchego from the nearby La Mancha region. The cheese is excellent with a glass of a nutty (oxidation) dry sherry.
From the warm tapas we got Espinacas con Garbanzos, spinach sautéed with chickpeas and walnuts. A nourishing, yet very oily dish. Our favorite was one of the daily suggestions the Berenjenas Rellenas, a baked eggplant stuffed with chopped meat (often pork – ham), vegetables such as peppers or tomatoes and bechamel sauce with a touch of manchego cheese. It is in this recipe, where you can see the Moorish influence in the region once under the rule of the Islamic culture.
There are also plenty of desserts (postres) so if your sweet tooth desires you can taste one of their flans (caramel-based custard cake).
The atmosphere is the main reason to come to El Rinconcillo, the food is also good, yet very rich and oily, so be prepared to splash it down with a couple of beers or wines. The Spanish are of beer and there are many local breweries to choose from. The wines by the glass selection is not wide enough for me, but a glass of red Rioja or Ribera del Duero and Tio Pepe sherry is not a bad although a limited choice to enjoy with two or three tapas.
Address: The Rinconcillo: C / Gerona 40 and Alhóndiga 2, SEVILLA 41003.
Contact: +34 954 223 183; firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening hours: 1pm to 1:30 am in the morning
is another ‘star bar’, in this case its name bears the translation as Bar Estrella means Star Bar. Open since 1936, it is also a grandmother between the tapas children all around Seville.
It is a lovely place tucked away from all the hustle of the cathedral and other historic sites. Its advantage can turn into a drawback since it might be difficult to find it. I bounced into it by accident while lost in the maze of Seville’s narrow cobbled streets. What a discovery though! Its cosy small rooms decorated with old black and white photographs of old Seville and its inhabitants may overwhelm you with a bit of melancholy, but the great food, wine and beer will surely cure all sorrows.
Bar Estrella is famous for its Bacalao con Tomate, cod-fish with tomato sauce. The fish is very delicate and soft, the sauce is real – not a ketchup kind of stuff – as it is made from quality tomatoes, otherwise it would not taste so deliciously! With a glass of local dry white wine (Garrido Fino grape) with soft hints of green walnut Marques de Eliche from Bodegas Gongora, it is a light and healthy option after all these greasy tapas elsewhere.
Address: Calle Estrella, 3, Seville, Spain 41002
Contact: +34 95 456 1426
Opening hours: Noon-midnight