The Best Traditional Restaurants in Córdoba, Spain
As you’d expect, Córdoba is home to a huge number of traditional Andalusian restaurants. Typically decorated with bullfighting paraphernalia, old sherry barrels and colourful flowers and ceramics, these are the best places to enjoy classic Spanish cooking whilst visiting this fascinating city. Read on for the top seven traditional restaurants in Córdoba.
Restaurant, Bar, Spanish, $$$
One of Córdoba’s most famous old restaurants, Bodegas Campos is a must-visit if you want to eat and drink with the locals in a typically Andalusian environment. A labyrinth of charming rooms, patios and corridors split over several levels, Campos serves traditional Andalusian dishes with flair and imagination. You can enjoy the rustic, flavour-packed dishes whilst propped at the bar in the informal tavern or seated in the restaurant, but wherever you are you’ll receive excellent service. Accompany your food with a glass of their very own Montilla – the city’s favourite sweet wine – for a truly Cordoban gastronomic experience. The stewed bull’s tail, another southern Spanish classic, is also a must-try.
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 super-traditional interior of Bar-Restaurant Santa Marina; Encar Novillo
Meson Juan Peña
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.
Facade of Restaurante Sociedad Plateros María Auxiliadora, Córdoba | Martin Haisch, flickr
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.
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’.
Stewed bull's tail (rabo de toro) is an Andalusian classic and served in Córdoba's best traditional restaurants | David M G, shutterstock
A favourite among locals ever since it opened its doors in 1879, Taberna Salinas boasts a beautiful internal courtyard decorated in true Cordoban style, with locally-made ceramics and pots of colourful plants. In this lovely space you can enjoy generous and well-priced portions of Andalusian classics, with the salmorejo and stewed bull’s tail often described as ‘phenomenal’ – high praise indeed given how many restaurants in Córdoba serve these dishes. As you’d expect for a restaurant that’s been going for almost 140 years, the decor inside is classical, with earthenware jugs and pots adorning the walls and dark oak beams on white ceilings. The service is also highly praised, as is the price-quality relationship.
Bar Santos has a reputation for making the best and biggest tortillas in Córdoba. Proudly displayed in the bar’s windows, which directly face the eastern wall of the great Mosque-Cathedral, they look like fat yellow tyres. Given that not even the hungriest tourist could eat a whole one, you’re served a thick slice on a paper plate with a plastic fork, and the custom here is to enjoy it out on the street, with a beer or a wine, as you marvel at the Mezquita. Santos’ location on one of the city’s main thoroughfares means it’s always packed, making for a great atmosphere as you tackle the largest slice of tortilla in Córdoba.