Huelva has so many good places to eat in the centre that I’ve had to break it down street by street. My favourite places are in my Part One – Calle Vazquez Lopez post but some of these are very good too, and the same for Part Three. Everywhere mentioned is on my map.
Puro Chup Chup (Intermediate B+), 6 Calle Rábida, www.purochupchup.com
I came here for two reasons, firstly to try their international fusion cuisine for a change from the norm and secondly because they’re open Sunday evening, albeit with a reduced menu. Inside the restaurant is bright and modern and the staff are really very nice.
To start I had their Banh Mi de Cordero, Pina Asada y Encurtida con Pepinos, Chile Fresca y Salsa “Lamb of God” (lamb, roasted pineapple and with pickled cucumbers, fresh chilli and salsa) which was served in a hot dog bun. Although it was nothing like the real thing (it should be pork in a crispy baguette) , it was still tasty (B+). However the sweet “Lamb of God” sauce that was slathered on the top of the bun made it quite difficult to eat without making a mess.
I followed up with the Chateaubriand which arrived looking like a Modernist painting. The bits and pieces you can see in the photo include Apple Chutney, Foie, Pistachio Yoghurt, Apple Pearls and tiny Ice Cream Cones containing Afuega’l Pitu, a cow’s milk cheese from Asturias with a long history.
This all went well with a couple of glasses of a decent Garnacha (B).
For dessert I had the deconstructed Tiramisu as recommended by my excellent waiter. I’m not usually one for coffee based desserts but this one was really good (B+), and very filling.
With this I had a glass of fantastic Muscat dessert wine by Jorge Ordóñez from Malaga. There are four sweet wines in their line and this is called Victoria #2. It’s one of the best muscats I’ve ever had (A+) and I have since ordered a few bottles on the internet from www.decantalo.com for about €17 a half bottle.
However I’d advise against having this Portuguese almond flavoured digestive (C). It tastes like marzipan and I could virtually feel my teeth rotting when it was in my mouth.
Total cost €30.90. Puro Chup Chup is a nice change from the usual and I’d love to go again to try some of the other items on their menu.
Bar Paco Moreno (Elementary B+), 18 Paseo de la Independcia
Bar Paco is a plain and simple place with nothing going for it other than it’s excellent seafood. It’s a good place to try the excellent local prawns, Gambas de Huelva. They’re the best in Spain in many people’s opinions and you can get them here on the cheap for just €8 for 250g.
I also tried the fried cuttlefish, Chocos Fritas, which aren’t something I usually go for, but they were pretty good here.
At the bartenders insistence I also had a tapa of Adobo, the house special. Sadly though I could only manage one of these deep-fried vinegared fish (D+). It’s a rare foodstuff that defeats me in Europe but I just can’t get my head round this style of preparation. Biensamabe Adobo (dogfish) is another similar local speciality I just can’t find a way to like. Think you need to be brought up on it…
I’ll be back for the prawns though, and lots of them.
If you’re staying at the Hotel Monte Conquero, this place is just over the road.
strong>El Picoteo de la Rocina (Intermediate B+), 5 Calle Pablo Rada, open all day Sunday and Monday (which is unusual).
This place is a Lonely Planet top choice and it was also recommended by a local who said it’s a good spot for Sunday lunch. It’s always rammed so either reserve or get there as soon as it opens (9pm in the evening). Its popularity might explain why the staff seem so stressed, or perhaps they are chronically understaffed. Either way they seem to be running around like headless chickens with little time for pleasantries.
I began with some good Jamon Bellota (B+).
Next I had the gruff waiter’s suggestion of Entrecot de Ternera Gallego, a huge slab of Galician veal (500g I’m guessing) which was excellent (A-). However they were a bit stingy with the chips and I wasn’t that keen on the gloopy sauce on the side.
With this two glasses of an excellent Ribera del Duero (A) called Melior by Bodega Roble de Matarromera who also made the nice verdejo I had at Portichuelo. Finally, with some Manchego Curado, the total came to €45.60.
Bar Pappi’s (High Elementary B+), 6 Juan Antonio Perez Baez
A Guardian pick but also on my radar from a previous visit. It’s a twenty minute schlep from the Hotel Tartessos but worth it as they’ve been locally famous for their tapas since 1981.
They specialise in Andalucian montaditos, round buns filled with a extensive choice of fillings. I started with the El Mambo; seasoned chicken, Serrano ham, alioli and lettuce, which is their best seller.
I can also recommend the tapas of Musakas de Berenjena y Calbacin con Boloñesa (moussaka with aubergine, courgette and Bolognese sauce)…
…the Brocheta de Pulpo (grilled octopus paprika)…
…the Bola de Rape (battered monkfish cheeks with ham and mayonnaise)…
I think this was the Solomillo. By this point I was too busy chatting with my neighbour who was going to study in my hometown Sheffield!
My notes say this is the Hojalbre but it doesn’t look like puff pastry. It wasn’t on the menu but I managed to get it by showing them a picture of it from Trip Advisor.
There’s a good choice of wines. I enjoyed the Rioja especially.
And finally some dessert. Don’t ask me what it is but I’m sure it was good.
By the time it came to the brandy I was chatting with the friendly owner. The atmosphere definitely lends itself to meeting people so it’s a good place to practice your Spanish.
A plain, ordinary place but the tapas are good quality and quite imaginative. Definitely recommended.
Taberna Gautine (Intermediate C), 4 Calle Miguel Redondo
I really wanted to like this place but I wasn’t impressed by the food. Neither are the locals as it never seems to be busy. The international influences the Guardian mention didn’t seem so apparent when I went, perhaps because Pura Chup Chup has cornered the quirky fusion market.
On my friendly waiter Daniel’s recommendation, I had the Mejillones de Carbon; huge charcoal grilled mussels from Galicia which he said were better than the small local ones. If I’d known how big they were and how far they’d travelled I’d have ordered something else as I wasn’t too impressed (C).
The Huevos “Pa Romper” con Presa Iberica; lightly fried goose eggs with shoulder pork and cured ham were very rich and also too much for one and I left two of the yolks. The combination with the ham worked very well (B+) but the presa was oversalted and left me cold (C).
NB As I understand it Presa is a specialized muscle within the shoulder. It’s quite tender and juicy, but leaner than either the Plumas end loin or the Secreto flank steak. Pa Romper seems to be a reference to a Reggaeton track (huge in Spain).
To drink I had an Albarino with the mussels and a glass of Vizcarra, both of which were okay (B).
I also had a half racion of local cheeses which were great (A/B+).
When I asked for a brandy the waiters said they didn’t have any but I spied one of my all-time favourites; Ximenez Spinola ’10,000 Botellas’ which I was gobsmacked to get at only €8 a glass. It’s priced the same as Luis Felipe which is also €8, which is crazy as they both cost about €90 for a bottle. Ximenez Spinola is a local bodega so maybe they get it on the cheap. I went back a few nights till I drank the bottle dry.
Even more great tapas in part three, coming next!