One of the best ways to pass a hot, lazy afternoon in Seville is to leave the crowded city centre behind and go and picnic with the fishermen on the banks of the Guadalquivir river. For a greater chance of peace and quiet, head to the Triana riverbanks: the east side is a popular spot for Seville’s teenagers, who flock to the banks to hang out, drink and listen to music when the sun comes out. But the many secluded patches available on the other side of Seville’s emblematic river – which brought the city so much wealth and prestige during the 16th and 17th centuries – are ideal for a light lunch of cured hams, bread and olives accompanied by ice-cold beers.
Lovely Triana, Seville’s former Gypsy quarter, is one of the best places in the city to enjoy tapas. Tourists venture here, of course, but this achingly pretty neighbourhood is still a busy residential area that has kept its authentic feel. The barrio’s super-traditional tapas bars feature all the staples of Triana interior design: long chrome bars at which old men take their morning coffee and brandy, walls adorned with mounted bulls’ heads and countless pictures of a weeping Virgin Mary and attractive, locally-made ceramics and tiles. This is the proper environment in which to enjoy Sevillano classics such as pork loin in whisky, stewed bull’s tail and flamenquines.
Sadly, one of Seville’s key culinary delights is off-limits for vegetarians. But carnivores visiting the Andalusian capital must seek out somewhere to try stewed bull’s tail, or rabo/cola de toro. The tail is divided into thick segments and slow-cooked for hours, in a wonderfully rich sauce of red wine, stock and root vegetables. The meat is so tender that it collapses upon contact with your fork and has a rich, sultry flavour that has few equals in Spanish cuisine. Super-traditional bars – around the bullring or in Triana – are the best places to try this Andalusian classic, as you can enjoy it in its proper context – namely, surrounded by locals enjoying voluble catch-ups, whilst gazing upon walls plastered with bullfighting paraphernalia and mounted bulls’ heads. Rabo is normally accompanied by crispy fries and wedges of bread to mop up the sauce, which would be a crime to waste.
Until 2006, when Seville council decided to give the city’s run-down Alameda de Hércules a costly face-lift, visitors stayed well away from this vast plaza. It was once home to 35 brothels and was the notorious hangout of choice for pickpockets and drug dealers. But now, lined as it is with cool eateries, late-night bars and clubs, the Alameda de Hércules is one of Seville’s most popular and fashionable nightspots. Its spacious outside terraces are the perfect place to let pre-dinner drinks run into dinner and then after-dinner drinks as you watch the evening paseo, or promenade, weave its way through the square before you. An evening on the new Alameda is likely to be one of the most enjoyable dining experiences you’ll have in the Andalusian capital.