Tapa Thursdays: Bar Zapico

Let me just say this: I do not live in Seville’s city center, under the shadow of the Giralda. I live in a working class neighborhood where I’m just known on the plazuela as “esa chica guiri,” where rent is cheap, transportation options are a bit scant and no one really knows what barrio I live in.

When I mentioned to Ryan and Angela, the duo behind Jets Like Taxis and Freshism, that I wanted to do a tapas crawl through my neighborhood, they jumped at the chance. Many of my friends have never been to my house because it’s simply too far, but these two adventurous eaters braved the 32 labeled POLIGONO SUR and joined me for lunch on a perfect Sunday.

The neighborhood adjacent to mine, Cerro de Aguila, is known as being typically sevillano. Low, squat duplexes line the streets shaded by orange trees, and the place abounds with the old man bars that I so love and small, family-run businesses. I did a quick google search and found one of the top-rated places was Bar Zapico, on Calle Pablo Armero, just two streets off of the thoroughfare. Its famous dish is its battered and fried shrimp, gambas rebozadas.

Our original plan was to have just one tapa and one beer in each bar, slugging along Calle Afan de Ribera until we couldn’t eat or drink anymore. Turns out, the bar packed full of old men, lined with azulejo tiles and where your bar bill is still tabbed in chalk right in front of you kept us there for more than just the food. In two minutes, enough time for us to toast our beers and have a sip, a shrill CAAAAATTTIIIIIIIIIII rang through the swinging doors and we had nine shrimp served up with alioli sauce. And this was simply a tapa! I read that Americans consume an average of two pounds of shrimp a year, which I could do in a month. These little gambitas were the best I’ve had.


We couldn’t just leave after a perfect introduction to my barrio’s culinary pride! Ryan and Ang are adventurous eaters, so nothing on the menu was off-limits. We chose stewed bull tail, cola de toro, which came right off the bone and was full of fat. There were hints of spice and we soaked up the broth with french fries and bread – my lunch guests are now full-fledged sevillanos. After chowing down, the bill came to just 13€ with drinks, and we had satisfied our food fix.

So much for a tapas crawl.

five beers 5,00€ // one tapa of gambas rebozadas 2,00€ // one media of cola de toro 6,00€ // total 13,00€

Bar Zapico is open daily, save Tuesdays, on the corner of Tomas Perez and Alvaro Benavides. Do you like old man bars, or do you prefer gastro bars?


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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English language academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Great read, Cat. Is it lunchtime already? Had you pegged as an Alfalfa resident but it looks like you can eat just as well where you live.
    Matthew Hirtes recently posted..Presa de ChiraMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I only wish I lived in Alfalfa…or anywhere a bit closer! I spent three years in Triana and loved living there. Close to the center but not having all of the tourists on top of me! The only other guiris I know in my area are the Mormons!

  2. Holy moly so cheap! I wish we had options like this in Germany – can’t even get a beer for 1€! And the food looks fantastic, I’d have a hard time leaving too

  3. That was a great experience and very nice to go to an “out-of-the-way” place that’s not stuck in the center. We like both, but we definitely prefer old man local places to gastro ones.

    Thanks again, Cat!
    Ryan at Jets Like Taxis recently posted..A Palace in Stages: The Real Alcázar in Seville, SpainMy Profile

  4. Love a good old man bar! There’s just something about the character, and also the feeling when you walk in and you’re pretty sure all the old men are thinking “what is this guiri doing here?”. It can be a little intimidating, but usually it’s totally worth it. And there’s plenty of random little holes-in-the-wall here in El Puerto, not so many gastro bars…
    MeghannG@HolaMatrimony recently posted..Little AmericaMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      It’s worth it because the food is usually a better value – the beer always is! The only bar I’ve been to in El Puerto are the casetas at the fair, and another non-descript one where we were the only chicks and I challenged an old man to a chugging contest. Memories!

  5. I think Spanish old man bars are hilarious! It’s so cute to see how they are all regulars and know each other and sit around and gossip like old ladies.

    It makes me sad we don’t have these types of bars in the US. If you went to a bar before 5 PM here, you’d be labeled an alcoholic. I guess the equivalent would be a coffee shop.
    amelie88 recently posted..Paseo por La LatinaMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      There’s a fantastic bar in Triana that has a sign reading, “ALCOHOL NOT SERVED BEFORE 12PM” under which sit the abuelitos sipping their anisette in the morning!

  6. Christine says:

    I so love the old men behind the bar, bars. I remember my last outing at my neighborhood bar in Malaga, my “abuelos” couldn’t understand why I was leaving to go back to the states. Somehow they thought it was solely on the fact that I had to leave my apartment (a less than 2 min walk to the bar). When I came in they had the name and number of friend who was holding an apartment for me… I so miss the 1.50Euro tapa & Cruzcampo and of course my abuelos.

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