Gijón is a fantastic destination for food and drink, especially seafood and the famous Asturian cider. Below are my reviews of a Marisqueria (seafood restaurant), a Sidreria (cider bar), a Quesería y Vinoteca (cheese & wine shop) and a Parrilla (grill). Between them I managed to try most of the classic gastronomic experiences this region has to offer.
These are all in the Centro, please see my other Gijón posts for more suggestions. There’s a map with everything on here.
La Zamorana (Intermediate A), 38-40 Avenida Hermanos Felgueroso, www.lazamorana.net
I came to this old tavern on my first night and it was my best and most authentic experience during my stay. It’s the only place where I experienced cider being poured in the traditional way, by hand from a great height in order to aerate it, which is a great skill.
Inevitably some ends up on the floor and the waiter will also dash out any dregs in your glass by simply tossing them against the wall. No surprise then that the smell of cider permeates the air.
I had a really nice friendly chap pouring mine, and everyone else’s, and it was basically all he did all night. He’d only pour a quarter glass at a time as you’re supposed to drink it straight away. If you leave it he’ll chuck it.
In terms of food, I was so excited to be here that I had the full works of traditional fare on the menu.
After some complimentary deep-fried prawns I began with a half portion of the famous local belly busting bean stew made with chorizo and morcilla; Fabada Asturiana which was great (A).
Then Rodaballo a la Plancha, or grilled turbot, simple but also very good (B+).
While I was eating, another couple came in and wanted crab so the waiter brought them one to the table to show them. It was huge and still very much alive!
Next a hefty slab of the legendary Asturian blue cheese, Cabarales (B+), which goes surprisingly well with a glass of Andalucian PX raisin wine (B+).
It would have been rude not to try the local cake Tarta Gijonesa (B+).
With two bottles of cider, some complimentary choccy biccies and a (southern) Cardenal Mendoza brandy the total came to €67.70. Not cheap but for me, totally worth it for the experience.
Tino (Elementary B), 9 Calle Alfredo Truan, www.restaurantecasatino.com
This is a friendly, family-run pincho bar recommended by Frommer’s guide. There’s a restaurant attached but it looked pretty closed when I was there. I was enticed into the bar by the retro feel and the fact it seems popular with the locals.
I asked the young guy for some traditional local food and somehow ended up with a full portion of Calamares Fritos, a dish I really try to avoid in Spain. They were as uninspiring as ever (C) and not cheap at €15.
The classic dish of Merluza a la Sidra Asturiana was better (B) but also a bit pricey at €23.50. This recipe makes it with clams but otherwise it looks pretty similar.
The cider here is served in the modern way, via a plastic electronic pump in the shape of a little man that slots on to the top of the bottle. Much less labour intensive and still quite fun.
I also got to try a shot of ‘La Praviana’ Licor de Guindas, cherry liqueur, which is a fine use for cherries! (B+). According to their website, they add some fresh sloes and a bit of anise.
So a nice neighbourhood place where I learnt a bit more about local food and drink, but I’d only go again if I lived here.
Coalla Gourmet, 8 Calle San Antonio, www.coallagourmet.com
I came to this modern deli on the recommendation of my gourmet teacher friend and ended up doing an extended cheese tasting. All the cheeses mentioned here are local but not the wines.
The second tabla was much better as it included some of the teacher’s local favourites. His list included Afuega‘l Pitu and Queso Casin but these were both sold by the unit so I didn’t get to try them.
The server gave me Maximo Rey Silo (B+) as a replacement for Afuega‘l Pitu as it was similar. My favourite was La Peral, an excellent blue (A), and I also really liked the Gamoneu Sobre Cueva (B+), at the top of the picture.
I had a couple of glasses of red to go with the cheese. The 2013 La Zorrina (B+) was the most expensive…
… but just as good was the La Garnacha Mustig (B+).
I also had a glass of Maritavora Ruby Port for the blue cheeses (B+).
So, a good spot for cheese and wine. For the cheese it’s best if you know what to ask for so keep my tips in mind.
This next place is just down the street…
Los Patios (Intermediate B), 10 Calle Instituto, www.restauranteparrillalospatios.com
I came to this grill-bar when my first choice was shut. I’d heard of it through a local blog but I wasn’t that impressed. It’s handy for the hotel but there are lots of other modern bars around these backstreets that look quite nice too.
I’d had a big lunch so sausage and chips was all I could manage. First I tried the Chorizo Rojo (B)…
…then the Matachana (B), a kind of morcilla, originally from nearby Leon, which you split open, scoop the insides out and spread on bread, or in this case chips (patatinas).
I also tried a local red wine called ‘La Fanfarria’ which is from Cangas , the only wine DO in Asturias. It was much better than I’d been led to believe (B) but definitely not on a par with the great Spanish reds.
Everything here was okay but I’d go for different meat selections if I went again.
While we’re talking about meat, I picked up some great steak knives at Jesus Pastor, a kitchen and dining equipment shop at 110 Calle Cabrales. I don’t know of anyone who does a better knife for meat than the Spanish.
So I think I managed to try a fair selection of local products in just these few places in the Centro. Check out my other Gijón posts for some more restaurants in the old town and other areas.