San Gil is the barrio in the northern part of the Casco Antiquo. Its upper perimeter has the best preserved section of the old city wall. Built by the Almohads, the wall stretches from the Puerta de la Macarena (Macarena gate) in the west, to the Puerta de Cordoba (Córdoba gate) in the east.
One of San Gil’s principal streets, Calle Calatrava, runs off the northern end of La Alameda. There are several bars along here, some of which I’ve eaten at and can vouch for.
They are well placed for the Teatro de la Alameda over the road. My friends John and Chris took me to see a show here that merged circus (clowns and a trapeze artist) with flamenco (singer, dancer and guitarist) which was a truly wonderful production to see. It’s definitely worth checking out what’s on here.
After the show we went across the road to…
Dúo Tapas (Intermediate A), 16 Calle Calatrava
This is a modern and very popular tapas bar with good quality, value-for-money food. I was too busy chatting to grade individual dishes but they were all A/B as I recall.
Capirotes de Langostinos.
Tartare de Atun.
Berenjas dressed with a Pedro Ximenez reduction.
Carilladas aka beef cheeks (so good we ordered two!).
Tataki de Atun.
And a Tapa de Queso Payoyo, which just happens to be mine and John’s favourite local cheese.
With six big beers, four glasses of wine and two waters the bill came to just under €60 for 3, which is pretty good value.
According to my search in 2017, this next place is now closed but I want to remember the experience so I’ve included it.
The owner has five other bars as well so he must be doing something right. His venues provide an interesting case study on how to run a small, innovative chain that follows current trends. Check out the group website equipompuntor.com for more info on what they’re up to now.
Nikkei (Intermediate B+), 34 Calle Calatrava, CLOSED!
Having read somewhere that this Peruvian-Japanese restaurant opened at 8.30 I arrived exactly on time but the unsmiling chef told me to come back at 9pm when the kitchen opened. I received a slightly warmer welcome thirty minutes later but they should definitely work on their customer relations.
As someone who often toys with the idea of opening their own bar, this place fascinates me. Everything here seems to be done on the cheap albeit it with some style.
I was seated on a wonky wooden table on an uncomfortable metal folding chair. The sink in the gents was basically a rusty old bucket and the toilet lid didn’t stand up. The sheets of corrugated iron on the ceiling complete the industrial look however it’s still quite atmospheric thanks to the bare brick walls and old ceramic floor tiles. All very cleverly done.
The penny pinching seems to extend to the food as well. The soya sauce on the tables is in Kikkoman bottles but I’m pretty sure they’d been filled with cheaper, inferior, Chinese soya sauce.
The complementary Edamame that arrived at the table were brown and shrivelled and some of the worst I’d ever seen, although they were still edible (C).
First off I had a row of Nigiris, namely Presa (A), Huevo de Cordoniz (A), Sardinia (B) and Shitake (C).
I had a decent Verdejo to go with the fish (B).
To follow, Tuna Tataki (B+).
I also pigged out on Salmon Tradito (B)…
…and Secreto Iberico (B) served with some really horrible Quinoa (D). All these dishes were served on rather ugly painted black slate.
Some dishes were neither Peruvian nor Japanese, presumably to please unadventurous locals. The Bolas de Pollo (B)…
…and the Mini Hamburguesa with chips (B+) were both good and very reasonably priced, but not at all authentic.
Overall I liked the concept so it’s a shame it didn’t work out. Better food and a nicer chef might have helped.