León might not be a very big city, but it’s positively brimming with excellent places to eat, from elegant high-end restaurants to gastro bars and cosy tapas spots. The region of Castilla y León has its own unique cuisine and specialises in dishes such as roasted lamb and roast suckling pig, so look out for these on the menus. Here’s our pick of the ten best restaurants in León.
Croquetas from El Rebote in León, Spain | Courtesy of El Rebote
This lively and popular tapas bar, located in Leon’s Barrio Húmedo is every croqueta-lover’s dream. They’re famous for their deep fried crispy ovals, filled with thick béchamel sauce and various flavours. Here, it’s not just regular flavours such as ham or spinach, there are also croquetas of pizza, jalapeño chilli and wild mushroom.
Carnivores will be in for a treat at Parrilla Louzao, specialising in grilled meat cooked over hot coals, and Castilla y Leon’s famous lechazo asado – grilled lamb. They also served braised vegetables such as artichokes, peppers and asparagus, as well as tapas bites, from plates of ham to croquetas.
Located in the city’s Barrio Húmedo, El Besugo is a cosy and homey restaurant, serving typical Leononese cuisine. Here you can taste some of the most classic dishes of the region, from roast suckling pig to frog’s legs. There are also a great array of homemade desserts to choose from.
Sitting on the lovely cobbled Plaza del Grano, Taberna La Piconera exudes rustic charm. Choose to dine outside on the sunny terrace or inside in the pretty pink dining room. The restaurant serves both tapas bites such as boquerones (small pickled fish) and fried Padrón peppers, as well as larger plates of grilled meats and vegetables served with chips. They also serve tasty tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelette).
Restaurant Las Termas belongs to the Hostal Albany and is set in a sleek and classy dining room. There are also tables out on the small side street, where you can people-watch while you dine. It serves traditional menus of the day, featuring plates such as salad or traditional ham for starters, and grilled octopus or salmon-filled cannelloni for mains. Made-to-order paellas, grilled meats and gourmet starters such as tuna belly with caviar and exotic fruits are also available from the main menu.
One of the best fine dining restaurants in the city, Cocinandos is a classy restaurant with white starched table cloths and dishes that look more like works of art on a plate. It offers a weekly menu for €44, featuring dishes such as crispy rice with blood sausage foam, potatoes with wild boar and mushrooms, and carbonara with leeks, eels, apples and fennel.
Housed in the old residence of the Conde Consorte de Sagasta, which was built in the early 20th century, Restaurante Zuloaga is located in the centre of the city, close to the cathedral and Gaudi’s Casta Botines. An elegant choice, it specialises in game and red meat. The restaurant offers a daily menu for €16 and nightly menus for €20. Dishes from the menu include sirloin with goat’s cheese, duck confit with raisins and port, and venison loin braised with red berries. It also has some good seafood dishes.
Specialists in cod and red meats, Alfonso Valderas is a cosy and traditional restaurant in central León. It offers more than 40 different dishes, which includes plates such as cod risotto with crunchy vegetables, lamb ribs or scrambled egg with cod. Set menus start at €30 and include two courses, a dessert, wine, water and coffee. There’s also a special menu and many different dishes especially for coeliacs.
Wok with mushrooms and hazelnuts at Clandestino León | Courtesy of Clandestino León
Trendy gastro bar Clandestino León can be found close to León Cathedral. With its bare brick walls and graceful chandeliers, it’s the embodiment of chic. The bar serves both tapas plates and main meals. Dishes on the menu include creamed potatoes with eggs, black truffle and pancetta, squid ink croquetas and shrimp dumplings with seafood hot sauce. There are also some Asian-inspired dishes from red tuna with avocado, mango and wasabi to pad Thai.
Restaurante Lav, León, Spain | Courtesy of Restaurante Lav
Restaurante Lav is a modern, arty-style restaurant, serving stunningly presented dishes. The tasting menu costs €35 and includes six different courses. Choose from starters such as ceviche with olives and a lime and coriander ice cream, mains such as tuna with baked avocado and green tomatoes, and desserts such as quince jelly with cheese and honey.