Some restaurants just feel right as soon as you walk in the door. Anyora Bodega was like that for us. They welcomed us to sit at the long bar, where a dozen people can have a drink or order from the full menu. The comfortable and traditional decor made us feel like we had walked right into a grandmother’s kitchen with bundles of herbs, garlic, and peppers hanging over our heads and folksy murals on the walls.
The food matches the decor. Owner and Chef Roman Navarro prepares traditional dishes typical of Spanish home cooking passed down through generations. Navarro opened Anyora Bodega in April of 2017 in a space where a tavern has existed since 1937. They are proudly located in the El Canyamelar neighborhood, one of three neighborhoods (along with Cap de França and El Cabanyal) that make up what is commonly called simply “El Cabanyal”.
We like to begin with a glass of vermouth while looking through Anyora’s menu. They serve Petit Vermut, one of our personal favorites made from Petit Verdot grapes that give it a deep red color and fresh fruity flavor. It is handmade in the town of Alfafara next to the Sierra de Mariola mountains south of Valencia. A section of Anyora’s menu is dedicated to vermut friendly tapas like conserved seafood, olives, nuts, cheese, and charcuterie.
Before getting deeper into the menu we absolutely must talk about the wine. Nicola Sacchetta (Nico) has put together a unique wine list with a commitment to natural wines. A vino blanco that we enjoy is Gratias Sol by Casas Ibañez, made in Albacete Spain from a rare grape varietal called Tardana. His wines by the glass change constantly and can be found hand written on the chalkboards above the bar. We always find something new and interesting to try. Nico also uses an argon gas wine system to be able to serve special higher end wines by the glass.
When it comes to the food, a favorite starter is the chuleton de tomate, a large tomato steak with mango, avocado and white prawn. The salad topping the tomato incorporates lots of flavors and I love the tangy bits of pickled onion. It’s nice to get something healthy into us before diving into meat.
We tend to go straight to the “Select Meats” section of the menu. One of Anyora’s specialties is offal: organ meats and the other bits and pieces like ear, tongue or snout that Americans so rarely eat. These are actually very traditional dishes that have been eaten in Spain for generations. My husband and I are fascinated by offal and try it whenever possible. (Many thanks to Sebastian behind the bar for his help deciphering the menu, because we tend to ask a lot of questions when we come here.)
Sweetbreads are the most prized of the offal (in my opinion) and a longtime favorite, as they are fairly common in American restaurants. Called Lleteroles on the Spanish menu, this confused us at first because we are used to seeing the word mollejas for sweetbreads. They were beautiful bite size pieces of thymus, lightly sauteed and very tender but with a little crispiness outside. Mild leeks and a savory salty lemon and roasted chicken sauce rounded out the dish nicely.
We’ve only recently learned to appreciate pigs ears, first trying them here in Spain. Anyora’s sumptuous Orejas a la plancha were served under a crispy crust of smoked potato. The ears were incredibly rich with multiple layers of flavors.
The pork snout was a first time for us. Here it was served with smoked eel and nuts; a pretty bizarre sounding partnership, but unbelievably good together. The smoky acidity from the eel balanced out the rich decadence of the tender pork snout.
Rooster’s crest? I had no idea that eating the comb on a rooster’s head was even an option. I can’t believe that we actually debated whether or not we should try them and I’m so glad that we did. The photo can’t possibly do justice to the rooster crest with langostinos. The gelatinous combs were so soft they defied being held up for a full view. That soft jelly-like texture is what was so wonderful and satisfying about them. The flavor was very delicate, served in a sauce mildly flavored with garlic, paprika and vinegar, and a few langostinos tossed in for good measure.
Not so adventurous? There are plenty of other good things on the menu, from patatas bravas and croquettes, to seafood, meat, and egg dishes. The rock octopus was simply prepared, very tender, and served with a thick romescu sauce. The canelones gratinados were rich without being overly so, having a nice balance between the cheese and the filling of veal and foie gras.
La paletilla de cordero feliz (shoulder of happy lamb) sure tasted happy, with the intense flavor of lamb that has grazed in open pastures. The meat was so tender it fell apart on the fork. A smooth potato purée served as a sauce to pull the bites of lamb through. We are often disappointed with lamb as it can lack the nice gamey flavor we are looking for, but not so here. This tender delight was full of wildness.
The fried bimi with toasted hazelnut alioli was a nice diversion among all of this protein. Bimi is broccolini, a cross between broccoli and Chinese cabbage. Here it was lightly battered and fried, served with a nutty spicy alioli of toasted hazelnuts. Delicious and healthy. Well…delicious anyway.
The daily Menu del Dia is a great value. Just €12.90 euros gets you three starters to share among the table, your choice of a main dish (with an upcharge for the more elaborate dishes) and dessert.
We are not the only ones that have fallen for this restaurant. Competition for the bar seats is getting tougher and if you prefer a table, it’s best to reserve in advance.
Carrer d’en Vicent Gallart, 15
Tuesday-Thursday 1:00pm – 11:00pm
Friday, Saturday 1:00pm – 11:30pm
closed Sunday, Monday