Seville has been the place that I´ve lain my hat now for over 4 years, and in that time I’ve witnessed its culinary stock rise beyond all recognition, despite the never ending proclamations of economic gloom and doom. At this juncture a few locals might disdainfully arch an eyebrow at the suggestion that their hometown hasn’t always been the centre of the eating out universe. But as a non-pork consumer, I can only begin to describe how wearing a tapa of spinach and chickpeas can eventually become despite how delicious it might have initially seemed.
1. La Brunilda
Tucked away in ‘pijolandia’ or in other words Arenal, is La Brunilda, a place that had been whispered with reverence in my ears for a while now. ‘It’s impossible to get a table’ is the general consensus. And it kind of is, unless like us you pitch up before even they open their doors, and even then there´s a queue forming. But having eaten there a couple of times now, I understand the hype.
The food, while featuring some of the usual suspects of tatakis, risottos etc somehow takes things to a whole new level in taste, presentation and freshness. I particularly loved the buñuelos de bacalo with a pear alioli and the desserts are a knock out. The decor is of the moment minimalist bare brickwork although despite this it somehow manages to remain cosy inside. With all this high praise, one would imagine the prices to be astronomical, and while not at the cheapest end of the market, Brunilda sits comfortably in the mid price range. A definite must for any stay in Seville.
La Brunilda, Calle Galera 5
Eslava is one of those places that you save up for special occasions. Not because it’s ridiculously expensive or particularly fancy pants, it’s just a wonderful dining experience that you want to reserve for those particular moments like birthdays, parents coming to town, promotions at work etc. It might also be that it is a bit of a rigmarole to get a table, as unless you’re perched at the bar, there are only a few tables at the back, and always a long waiting list to be seated, but it’s always worth the effort as the food is delicious.
Everything is incredibly fresh and you can find a mixture of classic dishes like Salmorejo for instance, alongside more experimental modern variants such as their award winning dish which is a melt in the mouth, bite sized egg, balanced on a mini boletus mushroom cakey thing.
The service is friendly and efficient, and they’re prepared for non Spanish speakers with an English menu at hand for those awkward lost in translation moments. And here for once it´s an advantage to feel like eating dinner before 11pm at night, as your almost guaranteed to get a table if you arrive at the much more anglo saxon time of 8pm.
Calle Eslava 3
Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I live about twenty paces from Yebra. Tucked away in a backstreet in the Macarena district, it’s a world far removed from the trendy gastro bars of the centre. That’s not to say that Yebra doesn’t go that extra mile with its tapas. They are inventive, elaborate and use only top quality ingredients.
If you’re veggie though, it’s probably not the place for you, because the menu is quite fish and meat heavy. But every dish is a winner combining exquisite colours, textures and flavours, in elegant bite-sized morsels. I also love the waiters. I mean I seriously do. They are super efficient, brusque at first, but then warm hearted and charming. Plus there’s not a hipster beard in sight.
Yebra, Calle Medalla Milagrosa, 3
4. Maravilla Social Club
A recent addition to the fusion/gourmet tapas scene, Maravilla Social Club provides an oasis of culinary cool in the no man’s land in between Calle Luis and Calle Feria. The food has some international flavours; my favourite dishes being the fake risotto and salmon with roasted vegetables. It’s best to try and book in advance as tables soon fill up. Plus there’s a delightful outside terrace for summer dining.
Maravilla Social Club, Calle Maravilla 1 (off Calle Castellar)
Telephone 955 67 20 18
5. Ovejas Negras and Mamarracha
They’ve been around for a while, but it took me a while to cotton on, but Ovejas Negras and Mamarracha (owned by partners Juan Manuel Garcia and Genoveva Torres Ruiz) have just got the balance right in Seville’s current gastronomic love affair with funky, fusion and fun.
In Ovejas Negras you’ll find tapas, most with a creative twist while Mamarracha, who is more like the sophisticated sister of the two, is all about keeping it simple on the charcoal grill whilst accompanying your meat or fish with a selection of side dishes. Go to either and you’ll be guaranteed delicious food in a buzzing atmosphere at an honest price.
Ovejas Negras, Calle Hernando Colon 8, Tel 955 12 38 11
Mamarracha, Hernando Colon 1, Sevilla, Tel 955 12 39 11
6. La Azotea
Rather unasuming from the outside and always rammed to the rafters, this stylish eaterie had been on my ‘must visit’ list since moving to the city. The food is modern and taste bud tantalising, the service scores ‘bendover backwards’ on the amenability scale and the wine list is second to none. I’ve only been to the original location on Jesus del Gran Poder, but you can also check out their sister restaurant on Calle Zaragoza and the more low key Abaceria on Calle Conde de Barajas.
Calle Jesus del Gran Poder 31
Calle Zaragoza 5
Calle Mateos Gagos 8
7. Sidonia and Duo Tapas
Hailing from the same owners, I’ve waxed lyrical about these two in the past, but they never disappoint. Both offer a modern take on the classic tapa, presented exquisitely and served with panache, all at affordable prices.
I’m just longing for the menu to be updated (it operates on a ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it policy).
Sidonia, Calle Calatrava 16
Duo Tapas, Calle Calatrava 10
8. No-Lugar the art company
Tapas doesn’t get any more ‘fusion’ than at No-Lugar whose kitchen boasts an impressive triumvirate of Spanish, Pakistani and Moroccan chefs. Impeccably decorated and achingly cool, you could be fooled into thinking that only hipsters are welcome, but this is definitely not the case as the clientele seems to span all ages and nationalities. Recently I’ve enjoyed their Philippine rice and Pakoras, plus they offer some of the most generous and delicious salads in Seville. This is a table sharing concept affair, so don’t be put off if that intimate table for two doesn’t materialise.
Calle Trajano, 16
Upmarket eaterie Dmercao, a stone’s throw from Eslava, falls within the fashionable ‘de autor’ sector. Chef Jorge Manfredi pushes the boundaries of traditional cuisine, combining a seasonal Mediterranean style with his love of Japanese gastronomy. So expect to see unusual flavour combinations such as their raspberry and wasabi ice cream.
Sit on the tall tables at the front and you can avail of the more informal tapas menu, where as inside you’re looking at a more formal, restaurant experience.
Calle Conde Barrajas 23
A funny thing happened about 5 years ago on Calle Calatrava. It started to fill up with modern, fusion/gourmet tapas bars boasting stylish interiors and young, hipster waiting staff. One of the first to blaze the trail was Antojo, which can be found right at the top of the street within spitting distance of the Barqueta Bridge. It’s now become rather a formula for success, but Antojo still continues to deliver delicious, modern takes on Spanish classics. Standout dishes include the cod encased in what looks like coal and the egg nestled on mushrooms and creamy potato.
Calle Calatrava 44, 41002 Sevilla, España
Tel 955 42 53 37 (reservations)