Anchored by the cities of Seville and Granada, Andalusia stretches along the southern coast of Spain and is defined by two delicacies of historical significance: sherry and jamón ibérico de bellota, ham from pigs free range that feed on acorns in the surrounding UNESCO protected forests. Once you’ve checked out the main sights of the hub cities, such as the Alcázar Castle and the Alhambra Palace, embark on a foodie road trip to the region’s best tapas bars and tasting menus, tasting a mix of classic and contemporary dishes that have earned the region a reputation as the culinary cornerstone of Spain.
Located in El Puerto de Santa María, a whitewashed town on the Bay of Cadiz, Toros Tapas is housed in a former sherry bodega in the 250-year-old Osborne Cellar. The revamped space delicately balances the classic bones of the building with contemporary elements like copper light fixtures hanging above minimalist high tables. The tapas play on the typical dishes of western Andalusia and use fresh seasonal ingredients, as well as regional staples such as jamón, red tuna from Almadraba and tortillas de camarones, donuts made with tiny prawns from the Cadiz region.
Considered to produce some of the best hams in the world, Five Jotas has century-old drying cellars – designed almost like a mine – centered around the town of Jabugo, in a UNESCO biosphere reserve bordered by Mediterranean forests of cork oaks, chestnuts and pines. After touring the dehesas (or meadows) with the porquero responsible for tending 440 pigs, settle into the cellars’ tasting room for a wine and ham pairing with paper-thin slices expertly shaved by the master carver.
The restaurant and tapas bar combination won its first Michelin star this year for its refined simplicity – the dishes are made with just two or three ingredients and rely on the quality and freshness of the products. Live cooking is part of Canabota, as is the sustainably sourced seafood, which is delivered by dedicated fishing boats to Cadiz. If you’re in the mood for small plates and sherry, take a seat at the casual La Barra restaurant or watch the masters in action from the chef’s counter.
El Faro of Cadiz
A favorite in Cadiz, Faro (founded in 1946 and now run by third-generation family members) has been an institution in the historic port city for over 50 years due to its elegant yet accessible setting. Diners can stand and enjoy tapas at the bar or sit in the more traditional dining rooms lined with polished wood, walls of framed photos, and Islamic-influenced tiling.
Surrounded by pine forests, Finca Alfoliz is in a converted family home on a farm just outside the port town of Huelva. Michelin-starred chef Xanty Elías cooks over high heat with seasonal ingredients sourced from the on-site garden and nearby producers. The rustic menu of dry-aged sirloin, grilled Iberian pork and charcoal-oven vegetable paella is enhanced with items like artisan brioche and homemade sauces. Once you’re done in the dining room, linger with a coffee or cocktail on the terrace or on a hammock in the gardens.
Sevillian chef Juan Andrés Morilla worked in a few Michelin addresses in Spain before opening his restaurant with a tasting menu, Manzil, in the center of his hometown and earning his own star. Working in an open kitchen, Morilla creates whimsical variations rooted in the region’s classic cuisine. Reasonably priced menus include bites like a dollop of smoky broth topped with a slice of tuna and a deconstructed version of duck and rice.
Terraza rooftop bar at The Corner House
Above the bar-lined plaza of Plaza Alameda de Hércules in Seville’s historic center, The Corner House’s Terraza Rooftop Bar embraces the neighborhood vibe with dangling Edison bulbs, bean bags and industrial-style stools . The plant-filled terrace wraps around three sides of the building and makes a great perch for people-watching and enjoying some of the best views in town, especially with a negroni at sunset.
Images courtesy of respective locations, TK hero image