Cádiz city sprawls along a 9km (5mi) peninsula that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea, with the walled Old Town squashed into the northern tip. With open water on three sides and a history as one of the longest occupied cities in western Europe, Cádiz is a great place to find authentic Andalusian cuisine at one of the many tapas bars, lounges and fine-dining restaurants around the city. Here are nine of the best.
Among the best-known restaurants in the city is El Faro (The Lighthouse), where every day for decades, Mediterranean catches, newly hauled ashore, have found their way into the restaurant’s fryers. One such staple is the tortillitas de camarones (shrimp fritters). You’ll also find much more elaborate delicacies on the menu, including sea urchin stuffed with shrimp tartare and oxigarum, a fish sauce dating back to Roman times that includes sherry vinegar.
For a place that specialises in regional Cádiz-centric dishes, Bodeguita El Adobo is the place to go, because local style is often all they have on the menu. Start with the cazon en adobo (dogfish marinated in lemon, cumin and garlic, then fried). In season, the morillo de atún (tuna steak) is excellent. Tuna season tends to be May, June and Aug-Oct, although availability varies. The other highlight at El Adobo is chicharrón, a deep-fried pork belly snack.
A few kilometres south of the Old Town, across the road from Playa de la Victoria, is the airy terrace of La Marea, where seafood dishes reign supreme. La Marea is best known for its arroces (rice dishes), which are like a soupy paella and packed with ingredients. Alternatively, you can select a fresh catch from those that rest on ice in glass display cases: lobster, red snapper and squid are common. In season, the bluefin tuna, either as a steak or in tacos, is also highly recommended.
Ventorillo El Chato
If you’re curious to know what it feels like to dine in an old hacienda by the sea, you must cast your attention towards Ventorillo El Chato, where old wagon wheels and fine porcelain are both decorative and utilitarian (as rustic chandeliers and to serve food respectively). The restaurant is tricky to reach without a car, being located south of the main city on the isthmus connecting old Cádiz to the mainland. Back in the day, a horse sufficed for reaching this quirky 18th-century waystation.
Freiduria Las Flores 1
All around the Plaza de las Flores, cafe tables sit in the shade, overlooked by the square’s numerous flower-vending kiosks. It is here that you will find Freiduria Las Flores, a busy spot selling an Andalusian fish and chips alternative with a Mediterranean twist. Deep fried squid (chipirones), calamari, cod balls (bacalao), sardines (boquerones) and shrimp fritters (tortillita de camarones) are the perfect accompaniment to a jug (jarra) of cold Spanish lager.
El Tío de la Tiza
Even with plenty of outdoor seating in the pleasant Plaza Tío de la Tiza, this eponymous restaurant gets booked up well in advance during the summer; that’s because many people consider it to be the best seafood joint in Cádiz. Whether or not they’re right, it’s certainly easy to find some unique dishes here, including sea anemones (ortiguillas), clams (almejas) and cuttlefish (chocos), which are cooked and served tapas-style with a simple garnish.
A key gastronomic bucket-list item for many visitors to Spain is to eat at a restaurant where hams hang from the ceiling. As one of the foremost jamón (ham) specialists in Cádiz, Cumbres Mayores fits the bill; even the beer is poured from taps shaped like hams. Its rickety wood and bare-brick interior (an authentic product of the restaurant’s age, rather than any contemporary design choice) adds rustic charm to the dining experience. The star dish here is the carrillada en salsa (pork cheeks in a spicy sauce).
Quilla restaurant is housed in a modern building that’s vaguely reminiscent of a boat or submarine. Although rather incongruous with the surrounding historic district, it’s also pretty apt, given that it’s located on the waterfront, moments from the imposing Santa Catalina Castle. The menu is equally familiar and unusual. Instead of standard tapas, you get bruschetta topped with Iberian ham and manchego cheese, or gourmet goat’s cheese and tomato marmalade burgers. The grilled red tuna in sherry wine with coquinas (clams) is pretty good too.
Are you looking for a tapas bar that puts a creative spin on Spain’s culinary highlights? If so, then the slightly more upmarket La Candela could be the place for you. The pulpo asado (roast octopus) is a highlight, served on a bed of mashed paprika potato and drizzled with squid ink and seaweed sauce. The interior, looking more like a neighbourhood tapas bar, is at odds with the gourmet dishes served. The best seats in the house are those at the bar.
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