Oh yes, we ate well in Seville. We discovered some great restaurants with delicious and creative takes on local Andalusian ingredients. As in other cities we’ve visited in Spain where the people are very proud of their part of the world, these restaurants in Seville (Sevilla in Spanish) focused on food and wine from local producers.
I know, I know. When in Seville, you are supposed go out for tapas. But search online for tapas bars in Seville and you’ll be overwhelmed with recommendations. There are as many as 4000 tapas bars in Seville so you can’t walk far without finding one that looks interesting.
Instead, we decided to seek out a few restaurants where we could sit down and linger over a great meal. Prepare to become hungry, because this food is a pretty as it is delicious. This is the kind of food that I eat in my dreams.
conTenedor is located on Calle San Luis, a main street running through the Alameda and Macarena barrios. This less touristy area in the north of the city is known for its more trendy, contemporary shops and restaurants. At conTenedor, the decor is comfortable and artsy, with a modern vibe that is contrasted by the view of the 300 year old Iglesia de San Luis de los Franceses across the street.
This is a slow-food restaurant, meaning that they use locally sourced, seasonal, organic ingredients. The menu is hand written on a chalk board every day. The basic dishes stay the same but the ingredients change daily depending on what is available at the markets. The menu board is brought to the table by the server, who brings everyones attention to the menu as they go through each dish in detail.
conTenedor does not do tapas. The closest things are platters of jamons, cheeses, or housemade pates for the table. The rest of the dishes are large plates that are easily shared. We enjoyed the food so much that we returned multiple times during our visit. On each occasion we found that two plates shared were more than enough for a meal for two. If we lived nearby, I think we would be here weekly.
Tartar de Salmon con ajoblanco de anacardos
Did I instagram this dish? You bet I did. It’s breathtaking. The freshest salmon mixed with mango and avocado in a shallow bowl of ajoblanco de anacardos, a traditional Andalusian cold soup usually made with almonds, garlic, olive oil and bread, but here the almonds are replaced with sweeter cashews.
Pappardelles caseros con gambones a la plancha
Two big grilled prawns sat atop wide, tender housemade pappardelle noodles with sauteed vegetables. Underneath, another layer of shrimp swam in a pumpkin cream sauce.
Chuletitas de cordero con cus cus
A mountain of tiny little lamb chops on top of cous cous with hazelnuts and sauteed chopped vegetables. A puddle of rich and aromatic toasted garlic cream spilled out to swipe each chop across.
Arroz crujiente con setas y pato
This is conTenedor’s most famous dish, the crispy rice with duck. It is said to be the only dish that is always on the menu due to its popularity. A large meaty duck thigh and leg was poised over the rice with mushrooms. A creamy mushroom puree surrounded the bowl. I completely agree that they should keep this out there.
The desserts were creative, like this orange cream with oloroso sherry slush and crispy rosemary cookies. But more often, we found that a glass of sherry from nearby Jerez was sufficient to top off our meal.
They have an extensive list of wines by the glass, so we were able to pair each course with a different wine that complemented the dish. They have wines from throughout Spain and of course vino blancos, tintos, rosados, and sherry from the local Andalucian region.
*Note that there was an 0.8 euro bread charge per person.
c/San Luis 50, 41003 Sevilla
Hours: open every day
Lunch: 1:30 – 4:30PM
Dinner: from 8:00 – 11:00PM*
(*Weekends and holidays from 8:30PM to midnight)
Catalina Casa De Comidas y Mas
Near the edge of the Casco Antiguo (old town) on Plaza Padre Jerónimo de Córdoba, Catalina Casa De Comidas y Mas occupies a corner with a terrace that faces a busy bus stop. The traffic didn’t seem to bother the other patrons, as the terrace was packed on a nice afternoon. We however, opted to eat inside where we were very comfortable and happy at a high table in the bright sunny bar area.
Beautiful produce fills a deli case by the bar, hinting at the freshness of the food to come. Opened in 2011, Catalina Casa is also a slow food restaurant. Chef Gonzalo Villalba is a member of the International Slow Food movement, focused on fresh seasonal local products from small local producers.
The menu includes creative takes on traditional food with Peruvian, Asian and even Mexican touches. There were a lot of items on the menu that we wanted to try, so we returned again to work our way through the selection of plates. The light airy house-made pork pate that came with our wine at each visit was so good we were glad to pay for it (There was a 1 euro bread charge).
Thin leaves of artichokes confit were layered on each other and topped with a creamy brandade of bacalao. The artichoke leaves were so tender and velvety they practically melted in the mouth.
Tacos Mexicanos de Cazon en Adobo
Cazon is dogfish, a kind of shark that is common in Andalusia. Chunks of the fried marinated fish were served on two tacos with a dollop of hummus and pico de gallo.
Arroz Cremoso de Setas
This creamy rice with perfectly al dente grains was richly flavored with mushrooms and green asparagus. A puddle of blue bufala cheese melted into the rice as we dug through it.
Canelon crujiente de Cola de Toro
In this unique version of oxtail cannelloni, the shredded oxtail meat burst from a super thin, almost nonexistent pastry over pureed potatoes. It was flavored with a broth containing Trumpet of Death and Caesars mushroom, two incredibly intense wild mushrooms.
Tiradito de Presa Iberia
This was a surprising dish – in a good way – as we’ve never had raw pork. The thin slices of this special cut of Iberica pork was surprisingly tender and mildly flavored, complemented by a tangy sauce of black garlic and herbs.
Raviolis rellenos de Confit de Pato
These two fat raviolis were packed with duck confit. The sauce of Pedro Ximenez sherry with figs was so tasty I could eat it with a spoon.
Catalina Casa de Comidas y Mas
Plaza Padre Jerónimo de Córdoba, 12, 41003 Sevilla, Spain
Hours: 12:00 – midnight (kitchen open at 1:30)
closed all day Sunday and Monday nights
Taberna La Sal
Walking through the center of the barrio Santa Cruz near the cathedral, we happened to glance down a cute little side street and saw a lovely terrace with about a half dozen tables outside. We picked up a menu for Taberna La Sal and their unique list of seafood starters piqued our curiousity. While we would love to have enjoyed that terrace, unfortunately our weather was cold and gray. Instead, we went inside to the equally charming interior.
Taberna La Sal specializes in dishes using Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (called red tuna in Spain) that is caught off the coast of Cadiz using an ancient method of netting called Almadraba. While we’ve been taught to avoid bluefin tuna because it is endangered, the Almadraba method is supposed to be sustainable method of fishing. Charo Alvarez, whose family also runs a restaurant in the seaside town of Zahara de los Atunes in Cadiz, opened this spot in Sevilla in 2009.
The menu includes a section of award winning tapas from the Ruta del Atun (Route of the Tuna). The Ruta del Atun is an initiative by the Association of merchants of Zahara de los Atunes to promote gastronomy based on Almadraba tuna. It seems that they have recipe competitions each year. We tried three of these special tapas. They were each interesting and tasty but I should warn that this is not big food. Each tapa was just enough for a few bites, so this could be considered expensive for Spain at 4.95 each.
Bluefin tuna cheek with rice, oil, garlic and parsley
A juicy little tidbit of tuna on a bed of rice, drizzled with a tasty parsley infused garlic. The tuna cheek itself was small, so we each only got a bite. Fortunately the rice was also richly flavored and made the overall dish quite satisfying.
“Tanto monta, monta atún”
This curry bread sandwich with marinated sardine and bluefin tuna was a 1st prize winner in 2014. It was a motley assortment of flavor combinations that played well together, especially the curry bread. We should have each gotten our own, as this little sandwich was difficult to split.
Mcdraba por el mundo (around the world)
This tapa was accompanied by a paper scroll describing the dish. We learned that bluefin tuna travel all over the world’s oceans. This tapa is a tribute the bluefin tuna migration that occurs in May to spawn in the warm waters of the Mediterranean around Sicily, Sardinia, and Tunisia. The ingredients of the tapa follow the route of the migration, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and back to the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil. The bread was made from Venetian Rye; Ajo blanco espesito with Mediterranean almonds, seaweed from Cadiz and red peppers from Mexico.
With lots of room left, we ordered some additional starters.
Scallops and foie with boetus edulis sauce
A half racion dish came with three whole-body scallops lusciously topped with slices of seared foie gras and mushroom broth. A combination that you just know is going to be good.
A mousse of shredded crab meat was layered within thin sheets of wonton pastry. It was covered in an asparagus flavored aioli and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
While Taberna La Sal’s menu was heavily focused on seafood, they also offered some rice and meat dishes.
*Note that there was a bread and cubierto (service) charge of 1.50 per person.
Taberna La Sal
Calle Doncellas, 8, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday
12:00PM – 5:00PM, 8:00PM – midnight