Jerez de la Frontera – Eating & Drinking
My Google map with these places and many more that I didn’t get to is here.
All the recipes I’ve linked to are in Spanish. Just put them through Google translate to understand them. They don’t necessarily represent exactly what I ate but are the most similar I could find on the web in terms of ingredients.
Bar Juanito (Intermediate B+), 8-10 Calle de Pescadería Vieja, www.bar-juanito.com
Slightly hard to find, Juanito is down a side alley off Plaza del Arenal the main square. A mainstay in Jerez for more than sixty years, it’s feted by all the guides (Frommers, Lonely Planet, friends of friends etc) seemingly more than anywhere else in town.
I sat outside in the atmospheric alley and prepared to feast as this was my first time in Spain for a few months.
To begin, a complementary tapa of boiled cauliflower in vinegar and oil, which sounds terrible but was actually really nice (B+).
Next Alcachofas Juanito; artichokes with oil, water, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs and parsley. This dish is a past winner of the National Tapa Competition and they were one of the best ways I’ve ever had artichokes (A).
I nearly swooned over the Albondigas al Oloroso, or meatballs in oloroso sherry sauce (A+), I really must make them at home as I have the sherry.
Then Mollejas Salteados, aka sautéed sweetbreads. I ordered these as I’d developed a bit of a thing for sweetbreads (thymus glands) in Argentina a few months previously. Sadly though they were cut up too small and were dry and over fried (C). I should have had them ‘al Jerez’ as Frommers suggested but couldn’t see them on the menu.
All this washed down with some nutty ‘Alfonso’ Oloroso sherry (B+).
Juanito is a bit pricier than elsewhere but it’s worth it.
La Cruz Blanca (Intermediate B+), 16 Calle Consistorio, www.restaurantelacruzblanca.com
Another locally famous tapas bar but perhaps with a more modern attitude than Juanito.
I wasn’t too impressed with their free tapas of Tuna and Potato salad and another plate with some kind of boiled pork. They tasted tired and flavourless (C+) as if they’d been made a while ago, and they filled me up too much.
It’s impossible to argue with a Tosta de Queso de Cabra con Cebolla Caramelazida, Miel y Nueces (toasted French bread with goat’s cheese, caramelized onion, honey and walnuts) as it’s just too delicious (A).
I’d ordered the Miniburguer de Ternera con Queso de Cabra y Cebolla Caramelazida (mini veal burger served with chips) without looking at the menu properly and realized I’d overdosed on the goat’s cheese and caramelized onion! It was still good though (B+).
A good place but I couldn’t eat any more due to them giving me too much free stuff!
Restaurante Cafetería la Vega (High Elementary B+), 0 Plaza Esteve (sic)
This café seems to be a prime meeting place for the older generation of Jerezanos. It’s also recommended by the Sams from Moro in London as a good place for breakfast.
I went twice and liked it. The first time I had a Mollete con Jamon Iberico y Tomate which was good (B) but as it was February it probably wasn’t the best time to eat fresh tomatoes. My bad. Molletes are an Andalusian bread roll that are usually toasted.
The café also has a rep for Churros so I tried them the next time and they were very good (B+). If you sit upstairs on the balcony you can get a good view of the guy making them. It’s a mesmerising procedure to watch.
Fresh orange juice and café con leche is good here too. A prime breakfast spot.
Rody (Advanced B+), 1 Calle Chapinería, www.rody.es
Recommended by the Moro Sams again, this is a higher end place. The Sams are particularly keen on the croquetas made from leftover Puchero, an Andalusian stew of ham hock, chicken and pig fat and I wouldn’t disagree (B+).
However they liked the stuffed squid a bit more than I did. Not sure what it was stuffed with exactly and it didn’t really float my boat (B-).
I really enjoyed the local Tierra Blanca white wine they gave me (B). Imagine my shock when I saw it in a supermarket for €4! I got some posted over to me and it still only came to about £7 a bottle.
Mesón del Asador (Intermediate B+), 2 Calle Remedios www.mesondelasador.com
I came to this grill house on the recommendation of a friend of a friend who suggested I have the Rabo de Toro (stewed oxtail) which is an Andalusian classic. It was very good (B+) if too ugly to picture.
It went well with a bottle of Marqués de Cáceres, a popular brand of Rioja (B).
To finish I had the famous Jerez dessert Tocinillo de Cielo, which is similar to flan except that it just uses egg yolks rather than the whole egg. It was good but tooth-rottingly sweet (B).
A glass of PX with it was the only way to go. The wine (B) was called Caletero from Bodegas Almocadén, another local maker.
Bar Arturo (Elementary A), 9 Calle Guita
This place was recommended by Alejandro, the receptionist at my hotel. It’s a down-to-earth place in a working class area. Slightly hard to find but definitely worth the effort for their seafood.
On his suggestion I started with a tomato salad, served with raw garlic and olive oil (B+)…
… and followed up with their famous fried fish platter (A).
I finished with a shot of PX (B+) I hadn’t had before called El Candado from Valdespino, one of the oldest bodegas in Jerez.
I got great service from one of the waiters who wanted to practice his English. The final bill was very cheap. Would definitely come again.
Cortijo Mosto Tejero (Elementary B+), 2 Ctra. Trebujena, www.facebook.com/cortijomostotejero, Tel:+34 659 74 34 14
Another of Alejandro’s suggestions. Google translates the name as ‘farmhouse grape juice brick maker’! It’s one of several ‘cortijos’ that are just outside the city limits. I got a taxi there and walked back without too much trouble.
It’s very rustic and traditional, next to the road with no other buildings around. There’s seating on plastic chairs inside and a terrace outside where I sat in the February sun.
I had a glass of Oloroso sherry from Rio Viejo while I made my choices (B).
The first dish was Ajo Campero, a very local dish made principally with day old breadcrumbs, tomatoes, green pepper, garlic and olive oil and garnished here with grilled red pepper, boiled egg and a thick wedge of radish. It’s yet another Spanish recipe that uses up old bread and it’s very filling.
I could have stopped eating after the heavy Ajo Campero but I’d come here to try Tagarninas Esparragadas, the tagarninas being the strange spiny plant I’d seen in the market (see my Things to See post). It translates as ‘Spanish thistle’ although it’s not in the thistle family.
Esparragadas refers I think to it being cooked in spices; cumin (showing an Arabic influence?) and paprika and fried with olive oil, garlic and yet more breadcrumbs. Here they also put a fried egg on top. It’s a very particular taste, and I’m not sure I’m keen on it (C) but it was an interesting food experience.
A good place to go on a sunny day!
Tablao del Bereber, 8-10 Calle de las Cabezas
On my last night I was in the mood to party a bit so I asked the friendly waiter at Bar Arturo about a good club to go to and he directed me to Bereber. It’s a beautiful space with ancient walls (I read that it was once a fortress) and tastefully decorated with antique looking artworks and Arabic lanterns.
It was a bit quiet as it was midweek but I can imagine it would be buzzing at the weekend. Most of the clientele were young men who’d come to smoke shisha pipes in the bar area. I made friends with a few characters before hitting the hay in the small hours.
Thank you Jerez, I had a great time!