Castile La Mancha – Ciudad Real – budget eating

In true southern Spanish style, most of Ciudad Real’s bars will give you a free tapa with your drink which you can choose from a menu. Other than this calorific freebie though there probably won’t be many other servings on the menu smaller than a media-racion, which isn’t great for the discerning single diner. So don’t look a gift horse in the mouth…

All the places I mention below, and more, are on my Google map. Please see separate posts for more upmarket food and things to see and do.

The best down-to-earth places are all next to each other in Plaza Mayor, in the centre of town…

Acuario (Elementary B) at 11 Plaza Mayor you get a free tapa with your drink which you choose from a menu of mainly fried items. They are particularly known for their filling Huevo con Béchamel; a croquette with a hard-boiled egg inside (B+). With a large beer the bill came to €3.30.

At El Portalon de La Casona (High Elementary B) next door at 9 Plaza Mayor they are known for serving good value-for-money tapas. I had their Migas (fried breadcrumbs with or without a fried egg) which was quite simple but tasty (B-). With a beer this came to only €2.10.

Next door again (8 Plaza Mayor) at El Ventero (Elementary C), the Migas is more varied with chunks of ham and other things, but not particularly nice (C-) and certainly not worth the €9.50 I paid. They sell other typical Manchego dishes but I’m not sure I’d come here to eat again. However their tables outside are the best placed to view the Carillion clock which chimes at 6pm and 8pm in the evenings.

If your in Plaza Mayor during the daytime, Confitería La Deliciosa is a famous patisserie chain with a branch at 5 Plaza Mayor.

My personal favourite cheap spot is Bodegas Galiana (Low Intermediate B) at 2 Calle Hernán Pérez del Pulgar. It’s a popular and welcoming place, founded in 1953, recommended by the Repsol Guide and the fifth most reviewed on Trip Advisor in 2018. You get a free canapé with your glass of wine of which they have a wide selection, all good in my experience. The friendly waitress recommended a glass of lovely 2015 ‘Volver’ Tempranillo from the La Mancha DO and even doubled up my free tapa. I’d like to come back to try the food in the sit-down restaurant.

A few streets away Gabinadas (Intermediate B) at 3 Calle Montesa, is a popular place with the locals. Having eaten already, I wasn’t hungry enough to try the raciones on the chalk-board menu so I didn’t eat anything other than the free canapé of tomato and ham that came with my glass of wine. I’d go back with an appetite though as it all looks pretty good.

Overlooking Paseo de Picasso, at 1B Calle Giraldo de Merlo, is El Portalón de La Casona 2 (Elementary C), the sister branch of the original Plaza Mayor. Again it’s very popular because for a couple of euros you get a glass of beer and some very basic fried or bread-based free tapas such as the classic Migas; sautéed breadcrumbs with ham (C). Also recommended by the Repsol Guide, which surprised me. Perhaps it’s becuase the food so cheap and ‘typical’. They’re open most days including Monday and Sunday evening.

I did the short walk out of the town centre to try Doña Croqueta (Intermediate B-) at 11 Ronda Granada. It was the third most reviewed (my preferred criterion over ranking) and #8 on TripAdvisor in 2018. I love croquetas so I tried a selection of their Manchego (B+), Jamon (B-), and Boletus (B-) varieties which were okay but not as good as I know they can be. As usual you get a free tapa with your drink but I wasn’t keen on the deep-fried pork with strawberry sauce (D), yuck! There are other raciones on the menu but no more tapas other than the freebies.

This post was for the people who want to save money. Remember to see my separate post for the best places to eat!

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