Eating Coruña: The City’s Best Restaurants

Galician food makes my heart flutter – the piping hot pimientos del padrón, raxo smothered in roquefort sauce, fresh-caught shellfish displayed  in every window of every bar on every street.

There are two reasons I spend my summers in Coruña, crossing my fingers that there will be little rain: one is because it’s way cooler, and the other because the food is incredible.

Even though I spend the majority of time eating in the camp cafeteria, the other teachers and I get the chance to actually go out and get some good food in our bellies. Before I tell you where, you need a primer in typical coruñés fare:

polbo a la feira – boiled octopus served over boiled potatoes with olive oil and paprika

navajas – razor clams that are pan seared and often served with lemon

pimientos del padrón – flash-fried green peppers. As the saying goes, some are spicy, others are not

empanada gallega – a pasty, most often stuffed with tuna or ground beef with peppers and onions

percebes – goose barnacles. I didn’t like them on my first run and now love them!

raxo – marinated pork loin, typically served with potatoes

zorza – spicy ground pork, treated with paprika and marinated in other spices

queso tetilla con membrillo – creamy ‘tit cheese’ served with a quince paste for dessert.

La Bombilla

Javi picked us up from the airport high above Coruña’s city center and promised us a surprise. We elbowed our way up to the counter, toasted to new friendships and chose tapas of off the short menu – tortilla, milanesa and croquetas the size of a baseball. La Bombilla, with its turn-of-the-century-esque bar and cheap thrills (aka tapas for just a euro apiece), is a staple in Coruña and one of my favorites. Locals sidle up to the bar at seemingly all hours of the day, so be sure to arrive early for lunch or dinner, or you’ll be forced to grab a plastic plate and find a place to sit on the ground outside. Calle de la Galera, 7

update: I read the sad news that La Bomilla will be closing on December 30th. Rumor is that it will re-open, but likely without the same encanto. Really bummed I didn’t get one last giant croqueta.

O Renchucho de Mayte

Far and away my favorite in Coruña, this little corner bar is always packed for its cheap, home-cooked food and exceptional service. You can’t miss the raxo con roque or the crispy calamares, and the bar now features takeout, too. I am a sucker for their croquetas and cheese, and the tapas are generous and inexpensive. The bar is closed Sundays. Portico Andrés, s/n

The cafeteria at the Yacht Club with no name

Oftentimes, a menú del día, the Spanish equivalent of a three-course meal, is too much for me to eat. But everytime I’m in Coruña, I’ll skip breakfast in favor of the views of the port and across the bay to Santa Cristina beach from the yacht club. While the food is often billed as generic (think caldo gallego or a mixed salad for firsts), it’s served fresh and in heaping portions. What really makes the meal is the atmosphere, with the sea breeze ruffling your napkin and the sun peeking around the enormous glass building. Located in the Club Náutico on Avda. del Puerto.

Parillada Alcume

After all those rounds of pulpo and empanada, I need meat. When it comes down to it, I am a corn- and beef-fed Midwesterner, so I can’t pass up on a parrillada, or a restaurant where meats are grilled over open coals. I’d passed Alcume loads of times, as it’s just off the shopping district, but it wasn’t until a camp vegetarian suggested its mixed plate of meaty good that we decided to try it.

You know it’s good when even the veggie-lover wants to go. We often have to wait to sit down, particularly at the wooden tables outside, but filling ourselves to the brim with sausages and flank steaks makes it worth it. And it’s a lot easier to identify the parts than it is in the camp cafeteria. Calle Galera, 44-46

Pan de Lino

I heard a rumor that there were bagels in Coruña. I gasped, horrified that there would be a place that sells my favorite breakfast food in a small port city before my beloved Seville.

As it turns out, this was merely a rumor (though I did have a bagel sandwich in Cafetería Vecchio, near the Casino), but Pan de Lino’s inviting bakery counter, beautifully mismatched furniture and organic menu is a nice change from the old man bars I usually frequent. The service is terrible, but as long as you’re accompanied with friends and something delicious, you can let it go. Calle Rosalia de Castro, 7

O Mesón Galego

The cream of Galicia’s crop is, without a doubt, its shellfish. As has become tradition, we take our camp cash to the nearest marisquería for a mariscada, or a seafood smorgasboard. I’m sure there are places that are much better (and thus more expensive!), but we group into three and split a 46€ heap of shellfish with a bottle of crisp albariño wine. The kitchen is open, and you can watch the robust cook hack away at crab legs like it ain’t no thang. I’ve also had their pimientos and empanada and approve. Calle de la Franja, 56.

Asiayu Japanese Restaurant

I thankfully have a few friends in Coruña who are always quick to point out new finds and tear me away from Mayte and Bombilla. When Julie and Forrest discovered an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet next to the beach, half of the teaching staff went down to pig out on something other than carbs. The dinner menuú runs 13,95 plus a drink, and you can choose two hot plates in addition to everything that comes around the belt. The sushi was hand rolled right in front of us, but I was too busy pouting about sitting at the end of the loop and not being able to grab the fried sushi or the dumplings before the greedy hands of the other Ts got them (though this did distract them from my terrible chopstick skills). Calle Buenos Aires, 7 Bajo

There are loads of other places I’ve tried – a hidden Mexican joint with great margaritas, an Indian place with an affordable menú, nondescript holes-in-the-wall whose names I’ve long forgotten. Then there are the places I’d love to try, like Spoom’s creative cuisine. But, somehow, the appeal of one euro tapas, a sushi conveyer belt and the tried and true always win out. But really, I’ll go anywhere I see an upturned octopus in the window.

Have you ever been to La Coruña and have any places to recommend? If you liked this post, you can download an offline version of the article with the GPSMyCity app!

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?


Tapa Thursdays: Gurumelos

I will buy you a beer if you knew what a gurumelo is before this post. I mean it.

Santiago confessed to never having been to Plaza del Salvador, so I knew just where to take him on a perfect, late winter day in Andalusia. The morning cold had given way to a cloudless blue sky, whose bright color set against the albero and salmon colored buildings of the square was dreamy on a day like today. As we sidled up to the bars for a beer, I bumped into my coworker, Helen.

Indeed, she was the fourth person I’d ran into in the center. If the world is a handkercheif, Seville is that pañuelo folded into fourths.

But, I digress. This post is about FOOD glorious FOOD.

Two beers were ordered for my friend and I, and he quickly ordered a revuelto de gurumelos. I had no idea what a gurumelo was, but since Santiago is Galician, I could only assume it was some kind of fish. He’d ordered to quickly, not even bothering to ask if I liked what he’s shouted across the busy bar to the bartender. I HATE eggs, making reveueltos one of my most disliked foods, along with ensaladilla rusa.

I asked Santiago what gurumelo was, and he grasped for the word in English. “Funghi, I think,” he stammered, not quite sure. Sweet, I also dislike mushrooms.

In the end, the revuelto was perfect – light, con su puntito de sal, and tasty, plus peppered with potatoes and bits of ham. The texture of mushrooms tends to throw me off, but this stuff was a perfect way to catch up with an old friend.

What it is: A large mushroom, named so for its weight (up to 1 kilogram!). Its characteristics are its fleshy white cap.

Where it comes from: The gurumelo is commonly found in the southerwestern part of the penninsula; in nothern Huelva, Badajoz and Portugal, to be exact. Because they’re only picked and sold in springtime, go get one quick or look for them in a supermakret or market. Here are some recipes for inspiration.

Where to eat it: La Antigua Bodeguita, one of the bars located adjacent the Iglesia del Salvador, is honestly the only place I’ve ever even seen mention the fungus. The bar is open daily for lunch and dinner though the tables are outside.

Tapa Thursdays: Hamburguesas

“You not liking a hamburger would tell me you’re more Spanish than American,” Samu says as he served us a hamburger, his style, at Taberna la Tata. The mini ox burger has carmelized onions and beets, as well as a healthy dollop of cream cheese, served with buttered carrots. I died. Twice. Turns out I am a hardcore guiri.

In fact, hamburguesa was one of the first words I ever learned in Spanish, so it’s no surprise that the all-beef patties, special sauce (usually mustard)…ended up on menus in Spain.

And I don’t have any qualms ordering it.

What it is: Some type of beef patty, whether from a cow, bull or ox, and usually served in miniature.

Goes great with: It’s ok to say a big, cold Cruzcampo and a fútbol game, right? There are loads of variations on the plate, but the most common are typically carmelized onions and cheese.

Where to find it: Taberna la Tata have served me up two different “burger towers” – the one mentioned above and the one pictured above (I can only vouch for the one on Avion Cuatro Vientos, 105, though there’s another on Avenida la Buhaíra, 17). Another great joint is Bar Viriato right near the Setas, whose portions are oversized and the burgers perfectly seasoned (Calle Viriato, 7). And if you’re looking for a true American burger, you can always pay a ridiculous sum of money to chow down in a Spanish version of Americana at the Friday’s in Nervion Plaza.

Where are your favorite places for burgers in Seville?

Love tapas? Want to see a specific one featured Thursday? Leave me a comment, or post a picture of you eating your favorite tapas to my Facebook page!

Tapa Thursdays: Champiñones

If I were to list the three foods I most despised, it would be easy: canned tuna, eggs and mushrooms.

Yes, I picked three of the most commonly used ingredients in Spanish cuisine, and the only big additions to ensaladilla rusa.

You might say the Novio is on a mission to change my tastes, but I’ve been slowly trying. Afterall, I once didn’t eat fish, and it’s practically a staple in all Spanish diets. Champis are slowly working their way into my palette, disguised in tasty tapas without my knowledge more often than not.

What it is: A plain old mushroom. Wild mushrooms are often called setas or boletus.

Where it’s from: Mushrooms are cultivated all over Europe, but nearby Aracena is known for their wild mushrooms, which bloom in the fall.

Where to find it in Seville: Believe it or not, there are a few ways that I eat mushrooms. Most often, they get consumed in risotto (try the creamy dish at Zelai, C/Albareda 22), but I love the mushroom heads with a minty green sauce as Las Golondrinas (C/Antillano Campos, 26). Even I am daring enough to add chopped up pieces to hamburger patties!

Love tapas? Want to see a specific one featured Thursday? Leave me a comment, or post a picture of you eating your favorite tapas to my Facebook page!

Tapa Thursdays: The Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

When I came to Spain to study, my first meal was far from memorable – a slop of mayonnaise, potatoes and nothing else discernable. I was convinced that I didn’t like Spanish food, nervous to move back and not whiddle away to nada.

Turns out, I like Spanish food, and a little too much.

I was invited on the Signature Tour of Madrid Food Tours, a relatively young business venture designed to showcase the Spanish capital’s culinary treats. Mercado de San Miguel was one of our locations along a route that included several stops and twice as many tapas.

The market was bustling, even at 11:30 in the morning. Stands ring the outside of the glass-plated hall, with high tables in the middle, making the market an idea place to mingle. Vendors sold everything from vermouth and Spanish wines, to pintxos and paellas that were ready to eat, to dried legumes and fresh seafood. A treat for both my eyes and my stomach, as we stopped to sample several foods along the way.

The market has a long history – from the times of Napoleon when it was an open-air market! The market then moved indoors, as an iron and glass structure was made to house it. In 2009, it reopened as a gastronomic capital, becoming popular with tourists who visit Madrid for its proximity to the historic center.

If you go: the Mercado de San Miguel is mere steps away from the Plaza Mayor and Calle Mayor in a square of the same name. From Sunday – Wednesday, vendors are open from 10am until midnight, with hours extended until 2am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Go with an empty stomach for nibbling!

I was invited as the gracious guest of Madrid Food Tour, but all opinions expressed are my own.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...