This fantastic little bar and restaurant is so old-school it doesn’t even appear when you put its name into Google Maps, but rest assured it does exist. Facing the gracefully ageing Santa Marina church in the heart of Córdoba’s old town, this place has been serving the neighbourhood’s locals for generations. Out of its tiny kitchen come all the Spanish classics, made entirely from scratch every day. These can be enjoyed with a vermouth (a favourite tipple here) in the bar, as you survey walls plastered with yellowing bullfight posters from the early 20th century and faded pictures of a weeping Virgin Mary. Alternatively, there are a few tables set up in a small room behind the bar – Santa Marina’s version of a formal restaurant.
The walls of Meson Juan Peña’s no frills, eight-table dining room are completely given over to the arts with which Andalusia is most often associated: flamenco and bullfighting. Paraphernalia from the worlds of both – including mounted bulls’ heads – is everywhere you look in this super-traditional eatery, which is known for providing some of the best Cordoban food in the city. Customers particularly recommend the local classics of salmorejo (a thick, garlicy tomato soup garnished with ham and hard-boiled egg) and flamenquines (deep-fried rolls of cheese and ham) as well as the bull’s tail croquetas and the wonderful homemade bread. You might have to wait for a table – especially if you arrive after 2pm for lunch or 9pm for dinner – but the hearty, unpretentious cooking and excellent service will make it worthwhile.
Av. Dr. Fleming, 1, Córdoba, Spain +34 957 20 07 02
The restaurant of the Silversmith’s Guild of Córdoba has one of the best traditional kitchens in the city. Situated in the heart of Córdoba’s oldest quarter, Maria Auxiliadora is a cluster of old-fashioned rooms, bars and patios, some of which feature beautiful striped arches modelled on those in the Mosque-Cathedral. All the rustic staples of Cordoban and Andalusian cuisine can be enjoyed here, but the restaurant distinguishes itself by specialising in cod dishes. Cod with orange, cod with rice and chorizo and a delicious lasagne of cod and aubergine (which you’d be hard-pressed to find in other traditional restaurants) are just a few of the imaginative variations on this popular Spanish ingredient on offer here.
Calle María Auxiliadora, 25, Córdoba Spain +34 617 03 63 68
Though it’s been in business since 1948, La Montillana is not your average Cordoban traditional restaurant. While you’ll find all the regional classics on offer (salmorejo, flamenquines, stewed meats and fried fish), you can also tuck into stir-fried chicken in a yakisoba sauce or a salmon curry taco. In an imaginative touch, dishes are divided into evocatively-named categories, such as ‘Memory of the Mosque’ and ‘On the Banks of the Guadalquivir’ (the river that runs through Córdoba). The decor here is fresher and more modern than seriously old-school joints like Santa Marina (see above), yet still dominated by bullfighting-related art and artefacts. Contended diners also rave about the desserts, especially the ‘grandmother’s tart’.