When it comes to tapas, many of the Jiennenses seem to favour the bars in the old town, especially those on the streets just below and along from the cathedral square Plaza Santa Maria. Many of them are hidden in small alleys that are hard to find but I’ll do my best to describe where they are. My Google map might help you too.
A good place to begin your tapeo is along Calle Maestra, the old merchant’s street that starts in the north west corner of Plaza Santa Maria, the cathedral plaza.
La Pena Flamenca (Intermediate B), 11 Calle Maestra
A pretty tiled bar that’s nice for a drink although I haven’t tried the food.
There is a large back room where flamenco shows are held.
Casa Gorron (Elementary A), 7 Calle del Consuelo (second alley on the right off Calle Maestra), www.tabernagorrion.es
This is an old school taperia, the second oldest in town (1888) beloved by two of my culinary heroes; Sam & Sam Clarke from Moro.
Their local olives are great, as you’d expect. As is Andalusian tradition, you get them, and other little tidbits, free every time you order a drink. The house tipple is a thirty year old wine that is unique to the bar.
I wasn’t able to try the Ajilimole the Sams rave about in this Guardian article but I did enjoy the Judias con Perdiz, aka white beans with partridge (B+).
As you can see in the photo your bill is chalked up on the wooden bar.
Tasca de los Amigos (Elementary A), 10 Calle Bernardo López (third alley on the right off Calle Maestra)
Rough and ready with no charm in terms of décor but very popular with the locals, probably because it’s very good value. Their free tapas are a bit better and more varied than elsewhere too in my opinion.
La Manchega (Intermediate A), 8 Calle Bernardo López (third alley on the right off Calle Maestra, back entrance on both Calle Arco del Consuelo)
This is the oldest taperia in Jaen, since 1886, so two years older than its neighbour Casa Gorron. Good, simple tapas and atmosphere in spades.
When I was there in 2013 I noticed the waiters were letting people come behind the bar and go down some stairs. It turned out there’s a restaurant in the cellar so I came back to try it in 2017.
As you’d expect there’s a bit of a musty old smell but it’s an interesting environment. I had a miscommuniction with the waiter and got a Revuelto de Jamon y Habas without any ham, so it was just scrambled eggs with broad beans. It was still okay but not much to look at (B).
A good place for groups but the tapas bar upstairs is better for the lone diner.
Bar La Barra (Intermediate B+), 7 Calle Cerón (at the end of the alleys, parallel street to Calle Maestra)
This is a favourite bar of mine as I really like the vibe and people who work there. It’s not as old as the others but their collection of quirky antique paraphernalia makes the bar quite atmospheric.
The free tapas I got here were some excellent pork scratchings (A) and some moist black pudding in a butty (B+).
I was introduced to the Rossini cocktail here. An alternative to a Bellini, it’s a mix of sparkling wine and strawberry puree. Very nice, must make it for a garden party (B+). Recipe here. The bar also sells its own homemade vermouth.
Calle Maestra and the alleys off it are my favourite area for a tapeo (tapas crawl) in Jaen. Not to be missed.