On the Costa Verde in Asturias, Spain, the bustling Atlantic port city of Gijón enjoys a vibrant nightlife that clusters around the seafront, from Cimadevilla to Playa de Poniente. One type of bar common throughout the region is the sidrería (colloquially known as a chigre) or traditional cider bar. You’ll find plenty of these, along with tapas bars, all around the city. Here’s our pick of the best.
Initiate yourself with the local way of things by making a trip to a sidrería. At Tierra Astur Poniente, the best tables are inside the huge, old cider barrels. Once seated, opt for a green bottle of the local sidra (cider) and wait for the full sidrería cider-pouring experience. In this common practice, the bar person holds an empty glass as low as possible in one hand and pours cider into it from as great a height as possible with the other – no doubt a skill that diminishes with every drink.
As the name suggests – it means the Happy Life – the atmosphere at this tiny but popular bar is always upbeat. There’s a real bonhomie to the service that makes it feel more like your local pub than a bar you’re visiting for the first time. The tone is upheld by impromptu jazz and folk music performances, usually in the evening and with the latter often utilising traditional instruments. Art by local creatives adorns the interior, and decent wine is available.
El Monje, meaning the Monk, is a wonderful, unpretentious local wine bar close to the marina. You’ll find a fantastic range of Spanish wines sold by the glass, including reds from Rioja and La Mancha, and crisp whites from the Rías Baixas region of Galicia, which are underappreciated outside Spain. In good weather, the best seats are on the outdoor terrace on the bar-lined Calle Cervantes.
On the weekends, Cimadevilla plays host to some of the livelier bars in Gijón, and you’re sure to find cocktails and dancing at La Habana, overlooking the city marina. As its name suggests, the house special is the mojito, but there are plenty of other classic cocktails and a decent selection of gins, too. This place is open until 5am on most weekends, with a live DJ and a busy central dance floor overlooked by the seating on the second floor.
There’s something very fulfilling about watching a grown adult pouring a glass of cider from a great height. You can expect this wonderfully theatrical drink preparation every time you ask for una sidra at Sobiñagu. The simple Asturian bar also has plenty of fresh fish and seafood ready to be prepared; seafood platters of crab, mussels and clams are popular, as is the extensive wine list, with the verdejo making an excellent pairing.
If you’re looking to take a mid-exploration al fresco pit stop in a central location, La Plaza is a good choice. During good weather, the basic outdoor seating commandeers much of the space on Plaza Corrada, which is part of the ambling hodgepodge of pedestrianised streets in Cimadevilla. Take a break with a cold caña or small bottle of Asturian cider. If you’re lucky and there’s live music in the square, you’ll have a prime seat on La Plaza’s terrace for the show.
If two of your passions happen to be good beer and good guitar music, then La Mina is the ideal place. There’s a good range of beers from around the world, including Ireland (Guinness, Murphy’s Irish Stout) and the UK (BrewDog, Young’s). Posters of rock gods adorn the walls, and the speakers blast all sorts of rock, indie and punk from the playlist. It all makes for an excellent atmosphere.
Heading east out of central Gijón, the coastline becomes verdant and meandering, with gentle cliffs ebbing and flowing into the distance. In an area called La Providencia, near the Playa de Serin, there’s a lovely little bar where you can start and end a circular coastal walk. The vibe is rustic, with the main seating area in a shaded courtyard surrounded by potted plants. Cheese and meat boards are recommended, and the tapas come in generous portions and pair perfectly with a local cider.
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