Spain's Best Undiscovered Restaurants

An insider’s guide to some of Spain’s best undiscovered restaurants, from traditional market bars to temples of modern cuisine.

Gerry Dawes 2011
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Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Andalucía)

The town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in the southern region
of Andalucía, is famous for its sherry, in particular the Manzanilla produced
by La Gitana, whose owner, Javier Hidalgo, once said, “If you ever have
Manzanilla at sunset on Bajo de Guía beach, you will never drink it again
without seeing the Sanlúcar sunset in the glass.” The best place for drinking
sherry on Bajo de Guía beach is Casa Bigote, where the tapas and Manzanilla are
legendary. Authentic, raffish and utterly captivating, the original building is
an old-time fishermen’s tavern crammed with bullfight posters and decades’
worth of oddities dragged in by local fleets’ nets (Roman amphoras, a whale’s
jaw, blowfish, etc.). Chef Fernando Hermoso, who began cooking on fishing
boats, serves only local fish and shellfish from the Guadalquivir River—where
Columbus and Magellan began their historic voyages—and the Atlantic Ocean. His huevo marinero, a sublime
monkfish-and-shrimp dish served bubbling hot with a fresh egg cracked on top,
is a culinary epiphany. Across the alleyway, in the restaurant’s upstairs
dining room overlooking the Guadalquivir, he serves his justly famous langostinos de Sanlúcar (prawns
steamed or grilled with sea salt). Or have the rape a la marinera (monkfish with saffron sauce) or raya a la naranja agría (skate in
bitter Seville orange sauce) while gazing out at the Coto Doñana, one of the
world’s great bird reserves, where researchers believe they may have found the
buried ruins of Atlantis. Dinner,
$70. 10 Bajo de Guía, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz, Andalucía; 34-956/362-696.

Where to Stay: In Sanlúcar’s barrio alto, the Posada de Palacio (rooms, from $110; 9-11 Calle Caballeros;
is an old family home transformed into a hotel.