I ate, drank and propped up bars with such pleasure during my short stay in Jerez. For a town of hardly more than 200,000 residents and not an overwhelming lot of tourists passing through, there’s an awesome lineup of dynamic restaurants and bars. With memories of authentic Spanish food and drink, served with warmth and pride in evocative settings, my heart (and appetite) remains in Jerez.
There must have be something particular in its air (or was it in the sherry?) as I was raring to go with more second wind energy than I usually tend to muster when out and about anywhere else. Shutting down the bars and reveling into the wee hours of the morning – I was indeed feeling fino. Maybe I was simply so keyed up aware of being surrounded by so many great bars and restaurants within such a short distance?
Here’s a look at my favourite sips and sups of my trip. All venues are in Jerez de la Frontera, walking distance from each other and with prices way more affordable than anything remotely comparable to be found in London (or much of the rest of Spain for that matter).
Bar & Restaurante Albores
Calle Consistorio, 12, 11403
Great mix of traditional tapas and more adventurous “global cuisine” at Chef Julian Olivares’ bar and restaurant, Albores. The arroz negro with cuttlefish and prawns was especially exquisite. Interiors were attractive but more so during my early afternoon visit was the prospect of dining outside in the restaurant’s cobbled courtyard setting. Service was informative, friendly, and swift. Since that lunch at Albores, when I’ve endured a less than appetizing meal, I wistfully and longingly remember how splendid every bite at Albores had been.
Calle San Francisco de Paula 2, 11401
A rustic tavern with a giant hearth at its center, La Carbona boasts an amazing and thorough list of sherries – and is an ideal setting for a first taste of Tio Pepe En Rama (unfiltered “raw” sherry). By the way, if the idea of steak paired with sherry sounds likes a trainwreck of an order, I urge you to reconsider with a hunk of chuleton (in-bone rib steak) coupled with a bottle of semi-sweet and chestnutty oloroso, such as Gonzalez-Byass’ Alfonso. It’s a thing – at La Carbona anyway – and a delicious one at that.
Restaurante La Cruz Blanca
Calle Consistorio, 16, 11403
Bustling tapas bar and restaurant with speedy service and excellent range of dishes, both tried and true (killer tortilla, irresistible puntillitas fritas) and tweaked (croquetas with leeks, prawns and wakame). Dine outside on the plaza for people watching. Expect speedy service and low prices.
Tabanco el Pasaje
Calle Santa María, 8, 11402
This tiny 90-year-old “passage” of a bar wedged between two tight alleys is an atmospheric epicentre of live flamenco performed nightly (but you best double check dates for your visit to avoid disappointment). As the story goes, flamenco’s roots are deepest in Jerez, and the city claims to be the birthplace of this most heartfelt and emotive of folk music (I described the shows we caught at el Pasaje as ‘Thai massage for the soul’ to the crew I was travelling with; they did not argue against my summation). I hit Tabanco el Pasaje twice during my three-night stay in Jerez and would have gone as many more times as possible after discovering it. There’s a basic menu of typical tapas (the lomo is a treat), and complete range of sherries from bottle and cask.
More to come in my series about Feeling Fino in Jerez.