El Cabañal, or El Cabanyal in Valenciano, is the old fisherman’s district in Valencia that also includes the beach area (see next post). It was once a separate municipality and it stills maintains a sense of otherness. The locals even still talk of ‘going to Valencia’ even though the area has been part of the city for well over a century.
The buildings in the area are all completely individual and have been constructed in a mish-mash of styles including Art Noveau and Art Deco. Many have beautifully tiled facades. It’s a great place to walk around with a new surprise on every street.
Sadly the area is under threat from the town planners who want to extend a central avenue from the city centre down to the waterfront. The demolition has been completed but the money ran out and the avenida hasn’t been built. Consequently the neighbourhood is in limbo with many people selling up and moving away.
Casa Montana (Intermediate A), 69 Carrer Josep Benlliure
A venerable institution with spades of atmosphere, this is probably one of the most famous places in the city, well worth the taxi ride from the centre. The owner is a nice chap who learnt his English working at a power station near Middlesbrough!
The food is very good (B+) but many come here for the huge choice of wines ( there are over 20,000 in the cellar). Very reasonable prices too if I remember correctly.
On one visit I had a variety of tapas including Habas Estofado (stewed broad beans) (B), Clochinas (Valencian mussels) (B), Calamar de Playa a la Plancha (unbattered calamari from the grill) (B-), Patatas Bravas (whole potatoes rather than chips with a mediocre mayo and spicy sauces (C+), Croqueta de Bacalao (codfish croquettes) (B) and a Txistorra (Basque sausage) (B-). For pud, Tocinito de Cielo con Mermelada de Tomate (flanlet with tomato jam) (B) goes well with a glass of PX.
On another occasion with my buddies Luke and Dominic we had the Habas (broad beans with ham), Jamon Bellota (acorn fed ham) and the Moricilla (black pudding), all very good.
Casa Guillermo (Intermediate B+), 15 Carrer del Progres
For the last fifty years this place has proclaimed itself as ‘El Rey de la Anchoa’ or ‘The King of the Anchovies’. We had them grilled (A) as well as from tins, steeped in oil with thin slices of raw garlic (B+).
I wasn’t as keen on the mixed tinned seafood (B-) but the ‘fried milk’ pudding with cinnamon was good (B). The décor is modern and bright white and there’s an outdoor area. It’s supposed to be very popular but we got seats without any problem.
Please see the next post for the beachfront area of El Cabañal along Paseo Neptuno.