The city of Santander sits along the northern coast of Spain and is the capital of the Cantabria region. It’s particularly known for its excellent seafood dishes, such as fish stews, and has a lot of influence from the neighbouring Basque region (including its pintxos). Game such as wild boar and deer also feature heavily, as does pork. Here’s our pick of Santander’s best restaurants.
Michelin-starred El Serbal is one of the finest dining venues in Santander and a must-visit for true foodies. Serving traditional dishes with a modern twist, the restaurant sources all their main ingredients locally from the Cantabria region. Its signature dishes are steak tartare and steak flambé, and they also serve homemade artisan breads. The wine list is particularly impressive.
Overlooking the atmospheric plaza of the same name, Cañadίo is a classy restaurant, lively tapas eatery and bar in one. It offers traditional Cantabrian cuisine with a contemporary twist, but is best for pintxos (small pieces of bread topped with various ingredients), paired with a glass of wine. They also serve excellent seafood dishes, presented like works of art. The bold red interior is made even more animated with the addition of live music in the bar.
A great pick for lovers of international cuisine, Días Desur offers something different to the usual Cantabrian fare, with dishes such as Indian samosas, Greek moussaka, Japanese sushi and chicken teriyaki. They also do excellent burgers and have an extensive salad menu – great for vegetarians. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you won’t be able to resist entering their trendy black and white interior, decorated with stunning photography.
A very traditional bar with old wooden beams and exposed brick work, Bodega del Riojano is filled with traditional wine barrels and legs of ham hanging from the bar. Classic dishes include snails ‘a la riojano’ style, stuffed green peppers, salt cod with tomato sauce, and Cantabrian-style hake. They also have a good selection of barbecued meats, and of course wines. Look out for the colourful circular wine barrel lids on the walls, painted by local artists – this is known as the restaurant’s ‘circular museum’.
With its sustainable farm-to-table concept, La Ventana uses only organic, locally-sourced and natural ingredients, served in a modern and contemporary environment. Its meat, poultry and fish dishes are all cooked in a wood-fired oven and served in their own juices. They also serve plenty of vegetables, salads and filled pasta dishes, but are particularly renowned for their excellent brunches and breakfast buffet.
Trendy, modern and stylish, Restaurante Vors serves beautifully presented dishes, which taste as good as they look. Choose to sit inside the bare-stone-walled interior or in the garden-like terrace, surrounded by potted plants. They offer seasonal menus, raciones (a little bigger than tapas plates) and also a brunch menu for weekends. Don’t forget to save room for afters, with their delicious dessert menu.
This cute little vermouth bar is filled with lovely carved wooden shelves and a beautiful blue and white tiled bar. A great place for a drink and a variety of tapas bites and snacks, Solórzano won’t disappoint. Pair your glass of cool vermouth with dishes such as fried green piparra peppers, pork cheeks in a thick sauce, steamed mussels or seafood preserves such as sardines or anchovies.
The best pintxos bar in Santander, Casa Lita makes for a great night out if you want to sample a variety of local ingredients. Always crowded and popular, the bar serves over 300 types of pintxos, including those in small glasses or in mini burger buns, as well as classic varieties on slices of baguette. These include everything from prawns and cod to sausages and quails eggs or thick succulent slabs of tortilla.
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