Avenida Martín Alonso Pinzón is the main pedestrian street coming off Plaza de las Monjas, the main square in the centre. It’s the street which has the highest concentration of my favourite tapas bars and as luck would have it’s also the same street as my hotel, the Hotel Eurostars Tartessos www.exehotels.com (decent breakfast, nice reception staff but the gym is a joke).
There are so many other good places to eat in the centre so to make everything more accessible I’ve broken them down into three separate posts of which this is the second. All the places mentioned are on this Google map.
D Alutura (Intermediate A-), 8 Avenida Martin Alonso Pinzon
Another favourite. A fun, modern place just up the street from the Hotel Tartessos.
The food is very good but I also like the design of the bar which has two tiers of tables running along the length of one wall to maximise space.
It’s quite fun sitting up high but surely there must have been some tipsy people who have tumbled down the steps at some point.
Not sure if eating at this height would pass health and safety in the UK.
I had the Croquetas de Queso Azul, a half portion of Jamon Bellota and the Milhoha de Presa, finishing with some cheese. All excellent or very good (A/B+).
The Paco Garcia, Martin Berougo and Carramimbre wines were pretty decent too (B+/B).
I had nice friendly service from an older guy but I think the younger ones could smile a bit more.
Another grumble was they wanted to charge me €14 for a glass of Luis Felipe, a favourite brandy of mine.
Granted it’s a top notch brandy but €10 would be more reasonable. Hoever they also do copas of cheaper Magno for a reasonable €4.50, and the waiter is very good at pouring. Video here.
A great place, check it out.
Kalaka (Intermediate A), 20 Avenida Martín Alonso Pinzón, www.kalaka.es
This small but very popular place is fortuitously located directly opposite the Hotel Tartessos where I was staying.
It’s very hard to get in, for lunch or dinner, so reservations are essential.
I went for lunch and had a very tasty Ensalada de Pollo (A)…
…and the Porcini Rissotto which was top notch (A+).
Both together came in at the ridiculously cheap price of €6! I really need to come here again.
Garum (High Intermediate A), 4 Avenida Martín Alonso Pinzón, www.garumrestaurantes.es
According to the teachers I worked with in 2015, this is the best arroceria (rice restaurant) in town. They were kind enough to invite me for a late lunch to celebrate the end of the Christmas term which was an offer I just couldn’t refuse!
We began with some top quality Jamon Bellota from nearby Jabugo, a town that I’m told has nothing going for it other than the fact the area around it produces some of the best cured ham in Spain.
This can be tested by raising the plate to a vertical position. If the ham sticks to the plate and doesn’t move, it’s a sign that you have the best stuff. It was indeed sublime (A).
After this some nice clams in a garlic sauce (A).
And some of the famous Gambas Blancas de Huelva.
For the main, a seafood paella utilising some of Huelva’s fantastic seafood (A). I just wanted to keep eating it but I had to stop for fear of appearing too greedy.
One of the teachers Carmino was from Galicia and I put it to her that her region of Spain had the best seafood in Spain due to its colder water. She was very diplomatic with her answer, perhaps because her Andalucian husband was sitting next to her, and just said that the species of sea life in the Med and the Atlantic are completely different and so don’t bear comparison (the delicious white shrimp above being a case in point), which of course is completely true. I still think that cold water seafood has more flavour though as the creatures need to take on more fat.
The wine selected to go with the seafood was a local white called Barredero which at only 12% was soft and light, just what was needed (A). It seems a popular choice in Huelva as I was offered it again at Azabeche.
The dessert of choice for my fellow diners was pineapple from Costa Rica which is typically eaten around Christmas time in Spain.
This is an excellent restaurant and somewhere I’d love to go again. Bear in mind though that you need at least two people to share a rice dish which is rarely made for just one. There is another branch of Garum in nearby Punta Umbria.
And finally a couple of cautionary tales…
Gran Via Uno (Intermediate C-), 1 Avenida Martin Alonso Pizon
Another Guardian pick, but I had a bad experience here sadly. The Croquetas were cold in the middle but the young guy who served me tried to tell me they were okay. I think that because I was English, he thought I didn’t know what a croqueta should taste like. I insisted and got them back warm, but they were still just average (C).
I then tried to ask what kinds of Rioja he had and was subjected to a long and fast explanation of Rioja wine, obviously thinking that because I was English I didn’t know anything about Spanish gastronomy when in fact I’d be willing to bet I know more than he does. Our relationship broke down at this point so someone else came to serve me and I got a glass of Bai Gorri Crianza without any fuss.
The main of Ventresca de Atun was nicely cooked and quite good (B) but the vegtables I got with them had a strange and quite unpleasant earthy flavour and I only ate half (D+).
The Vina Barradero I had with it was okay though.
I might be persuaded to go again but next time I’d rather sit in the posher restaurant area rather than the gloomy tapas bar.
El Ambigú (Intermediate D), 479 Plaza las Monjas, NOW CLOSED!
While we were at Garum, the teachers also told me the place next door was good, or at least the meal they’d had was. Unfortunately that wasn’t my experience when I went for lunch a couple of days after the wonderful meal at the arroceria.
To begin with I had really poor service from a young and rather dim member of the staff who responded to my query about what the specialities of the house were by reeling off a list of everything they sold.
The situation was rescued by an older waiter who brought me a menu with the specialties (!), San Jacobo Casero (deep fried cheese and ham, similar to Flamequin) and Berenjenas Rellenas (stuffed aubergines), clearly displayed. Unfortunately they didn’t have any aubergines and I’m not a fan of Flamequin so I settled for a rack of prawns and a glass of wine. The wine was fine but the prawns weren’t very fresh as their darkening heads showed. Rather than have anything else at this place, I decided to go round the corner to Azabeche to finish my lunch.
I went to the toilet first though and the washroom was a mess as well which was the final turn off for me. In their defence they had only been open a couple of days, the signs on the windows from the previous restaurant were still on the windows, but all the same this was not a good show from a restaurant pretending to be better than it actually is. I’d like to say they’ve got their act together now but they’re getting absolutely slated on Tripadvisor.
So you it is possible to get bad food in Huelva, but generally speaking I ate extremely well. Even more tapas next!