Archive for the San Fernando Category

Andalusia – San Fernando – eating around Calle Real

Posted in Andalusia, Cadiz Province, San Fernando, Spain with tags , , , , , , on May 11, 2019 by gannet39

Calle Real and its side streets are where all the best restaurants and bars are. See my next two posts for alternatives. Map here.

This is the best place in town for food in my experience…

El Patio de Benitez (Intermediate A), 2 Calle Hermanos Laulhé,, closed Monday

I was brought here by my local colleagues, Edite and her husband Wakim. This is their favourite place to eat in San Fernanado and I can understand why, the food is very good and the atmosphere is nice.

We shared a bottle of Beronia Crianza (B+), a good Rioja readily available at all Spanish airports, and several tapas (all A/B+/B).

The tapas we had were…

Crujientes Rellenos de Queso de Cabra y Berenjenas, crispy stuffed goat cheese and aubergines.

Saquitos de Bogabantes, ‘little sacks’ of lobster.

Barriga de Atun, tuna belly.

Albondigas Vietnamita, meatballs in a sweet spicy sauce.

Pluma con Reduccion de Mostaza Verde y PX, a tender pork neck cut with reductions of green mustard and Pedro Ximenez wine.

Lagarto Iberico (a cut of pork between the loin and the chops).

Pringaito de Carne al Toro, (a beef stew).

My favourite (A) was the Tosta de Setas, Jamon y Roquefort (Toast with Mushrooms, Ham and Roquefort).

The final bill came to just over €60 for the three of us, which is excellent value.

De Javier Taperia (High Intermediate B+), 58 Calle Real

This is a good place that has been #1 on TripAdvisor for quite a few years. The food is very good but I have a gripe with the fact that it calls itself a taperia but there are no tapas on the menu, only platos, ie big portions, which are a bit expensive for the non-sharing single diner.

One night I had this excellent Tataki de Atun Rojo de Almadraba, Wakame y Gazpacho de Tomates Verdes; traditionally caught, seared Bluefin tuna on a bed of seaweed with a green tomato gazpacho (B+).

It cost €14 which might seem expensive but it really isn’t for such top quality fish.

They have a good selection of local wines so I tried a few. I began with a local Palo Cortado called Monteagudo which was great (A).

The Tempranillo/Syrah/Cab Sauv blend by Fabio Montano scored well too (B+).

As did the (non-local) Rioja from Lopez de Haro (B+).

Latascona Gastrobar (Intermediate B), 54 Calle Real

This is a bright modern place on the main street selling a mixture of traditional and modern fusion cuisine. The service was nice and friendly and I liked the jazzy soundtrack.

The Salmorejo con Costrón de Algas, Huevas de Lumpo y Mojama, or tomato and bread soup with seaweed croutons, lumpfish roe and air-dried tuna was an interesting take on an Andalusian classic (B+).

The Medallon de Ternera, Foie Caramelizado, Gratén de Patata y Salsa y Boletus, or medallion of veal with caramelised foie, potato gratin and a mushroom sauce, was nice too (B).

Café D’ Anvers (Intermediate B+), 22 Calle Gral. García de la Herrán,

In 2017, after eating well at El Patio de Benetez, Edite and Wakim brought me here for an after dinner G&T.

Wakim especially likes his cocktails so you can bet this is a good place. Certainly the lady server knows how to make a good one. Here she’s pouring the tonic down the bar spoon so it keeps it’s fizz.

Thanks for a lovely evening out guys! 🙂

Pastelería La Mallorquina (Intermediate B), 42 Calle Real

Just over the way from the Hotel Salymar, this is the local cake and coffee institution. I enjoyed the tuna empanada and a slice of pine nut tart here (both B).

I’ve always stayed at the AC Salymar (Intermediate C) It’s relatively modern and well located on Calle Real but doesn’t really have much else going for it.

To my knowledge the only other four star hotel in town is the Hotel Bahia Sur which is in a shopping centre and a fair way from the town centre, so I was happy to put up with the Salymar.

Ignore the next two, they’re closed now and the reviews are just for my memory only…

El Real de Velez (Intermediate B) 40 Calle Real, NOW CLOSED

I came to El Real on my first night in town in 2015, after binning the takeaway Bienmesabe I bought at Freidor El Deán (see next post), simply because it’s near the hotel and I’d arrived in town too late to go further afield. Rather than going on the rating Trip Advisor gives a place I like to check out the most reviewed establishments which is why I ended up in this modern but tatty and otherwise nondescript restaurant.

As they had no local delicacies on their menu I had their tuna salad, some croquetas and Guisos Calamaritos; squid in a saffron stew with rice, all of which were edible but unexciting (B). Their 2014 ‘Yllera’ Verdejo was okay (B)

Asador El Anticuario (Intermediate B), 2 Calle Cayetano del Toro, NOW CLOSED

I came to this place on my last night in 2015. Recommended by a local, it’s next to the town hall in the Plaza del Rey, on a street with a few other restaurants. I was the only customer, possibly because it was carnival week and everyone was in Cadiz having a good time.

I had the Tartar de Atun Rojo (Bluefin tuna, thankfully now recovering in numbers) which tasted tired (B-). I also tried their Carilladas Iberica which were fine (B).


See my previous posts for food in other parts of San F. Huelva is coming next!


Andalusia – San Fernando – lunch time around Plaza Hornos Púnicos

Posted in Andalusia, Cadiz Province, San Fernando, Spain with tags , , , , , on May 10, 2019 by gannet39

This post is primarily for my colleagues as Plaza Hornos Púnicos is just a roundabout near the school I was working at and not an area to go out in the evenings (see my other San F posts for that).

However, in the middle of the roundabout you can see the mildly interesting remains of four pottery kilns which are of Carthaginian-Punic and Phoenician origin (hornos púnicos y fenicios) and date from between the 6th and 1st centuries BC. They were dedicated to the manufacture of amphorae and other containers for transporting fish, as well as other everyday objects. It’s the only archaeology in San Fernando that can be viewed by the public that I’m aware of.

There are a couple of places near the school where I went to eat lunch…

Disparate (Intermediate B+), 1 Avenida Almirante León Herrero,

This is a gourmet spot just a few minutes’ walk from the school. It’s on the roundabout, over the road from the kilns.

The service is nice and friendly but painfully slow, although you do get an amuse bouche will you’re waiting.

I had the Callos de Bacalao con Garbanzos y Setas de Temporada, a tasty soup stew of cod guts, chick peas and mushrooms (B).

With bread and water it cost me €11.40.

Bodegon Andalusia (Intermediate C), 10 Calle Rafael Alberti

I was brought to this everyday place for lunch in 2015 by John the school owner (more of whom in my Cadiz carnival post!).

I gave the ‘Bienmesabe’ another go and liked it more than I did at El Deán (C+) but it still didn’t live up to its name for me (‘good taste’).


Everything else was okay here though (B) and it was very busy and popular.

In early 2017 when Bodegon Andalusia was at #2 for San F on Tripadvisor, I got this update from a friend who found it “all rather beige. I thought the fish was frozen. Didn’t have one decent tapas to recommend and thought most dishes had been microwaved. Nothing really disgusting (except local fish) but not good either. So maybe give this one a miss as well!”

I went back in late 2017 and unfortuantely had to agree with her. The meatballs in a tomato sauce were C- and the chips were C. However it’s hard to argue with a Menu del Dia that costs only €7.50.

So while it’s still popular, it seems this place has gone down in quality in recent years. Disparate around the corner is probably a safer bet.

For some post-prandial exercise you could go for a stroll in the unnatractive but nearby Parque del Barrero where you can catch a glimpse of the world-famous Real Instituto y Observatorio de la Armada. As well as having a famous library, this is where the official time of Spain is set on atomic clocks. Free guided tours are available on request but are on weekday mornings only.

If you’re desperate to wash some clothes (as my colleagues often are) and you can squeeze it in between work, there’s a lavandería autoservicio called Lava+ at 1 Calle Muñoz Torrero.

It’s all on my map here.

Please see my other posts for better places to eat…

Andalusia – San Fernando – tapas around Plaza de las Vacas

Posted in Andalusia, Cadiz Province, Plaza de las Vacas, San Fernando, Spain with tags , , , , on May 9, 2019 by gannet39

Plaza de las Vacas is a scrubby square next to the castle, about a ten minute walk north east from the Hotel Salymar. Map here.

I’ve walked past the castle several times without realising. It’s been made so featureless that it’s virtually unnoticeable.

There are a few tapas bars around the square and a very famous music venue nearby…

Venta de Vargas (Intermediate B), Plaza Juan Vargas (no number),

Since opening in 1921, Venta de Vargas has become a legendary place in the history of Flamenco. Local boy and the most famous Flamenco singer of all time, Camarón, first sang here in 1959 when he was only 8 years old. His 2006 album is named after the venue and this video was shot there.

There were no flamenco shows when I was in town unfortunately but I still came to sample their traditional Andalusian cuisine.

I had the Croquetas de la Tia Maria which are actually made from leftover Puchero, a local stew (B).

Also a plate of Gambas Blancas Cocidas (€19 for 250g, about a dozen prawns) which were fine but I’ve had better (B). With a couple of glasses of mediocre Rioja Crianza, the bill came to €30.

So, average food, but still a good place to come if you can get tickets for the show. Check the website for info.

This next little bar is one of my favourite places in town…

Peña La Bandurria aka Guichi de Guerra (Elementary A) Plaza de Las Vacas, no number (north side of the square, midblock)

This tiny place is what’s known as a ‘gúichi’. a wine tavern where you can drink vermouth on tap and nibble on charcuterie and cheese. Why its nickname is ‘Güichi of War’ I don’t know as it seems a very friendly place.

It’s oozing with atmosphere with hams hanging from the ceiling, pungent cheeses sitting on the back bar and ancient paraphernalia hanging off the walls. On both my visits there were several people wedged in chatting with the owner, an old chap whose father opened the bar many moons ago.


To go with my glass of wine, I tried the powerful ‘Emborrao’ goats cheese (B+), one of twelve cheeses on sale, with Picos (small breadsticks).

This amusing poster on the wall tickled me (sorry about the blurry pic). It lists health problems and their remedies, all of which are different types of alcohol!


A good place to practice your Spanish should you be feeling sociable. Good luck understanding the accent!

Bar Leon (Elementary C+) Plaza de las Vacas, no number (east side of the square)

One evening I decided to try another local speciality, the Tortillita de Camarones, where tiny prawns are mixed into a chickpea batter (with wheat flour, chives, parsley, salt and water) and deep-fried. The chickpea element is a Genoese influence according to my research.

They were okay (B) but not ‘the best ever’ as one reviewer claimed. I wasn’t feeling the atmosphere so I barhopped to the next place below as soon as I finished eating.

El 15 (Elementary B), Plaza de Las Vacas, no number, (north east corner of the square)

Next stop was this marisqueria two doors down from the above. I came here at the suggestion of the waitress in El Real to try yet another local delicacy, Cañaillas, or sea snails. They are so popular here that Los Cañaillas is also a nickname for the local people! They were fine but nothing mind blowing (B).


There are a couple more bars in the square that I didn’t get to try.

This next place is a stonesthrow from the Hotel Salymar but I include it here as it’s on the way back from Plaza de las Vacas should you still be peckish.

Freidor El Deán (Elementary B), 57 Calle Real

This fish frying establishment is 200 years old so I thought it’d be a good place to try another local speciality ‘Bienmesabe’, or Cazon en Adobo, which is dogfish (a small shark) that has been marinated in vinegar, battered and deep fried. Sadly I wasn’t keen (C) as I found the vinegar overbearing and the flavor of the fish not to my liking, so it’s probably an acquired taste.

The shop sells other fried foods though so it’s still a good place to get fed quickly as it’s handy for the hotel.


So as you can see, there’s lots of culture in San Fernando if you’re prepared to dig it out. Please see my other posts for more places to eat and stuff to see.

Andalusia – walking and shopping around San Fernando

Posted in Andalusia, Cadiz Province, San Fernando, Spain with tags on May 8, 2019 by gannet39

San Fernando is a small town on the other side of the bay from Cadiz.

This is the first of four posts about the town, the other three are about places to eat. Everywhere mentioned is on my Google map.

Although San Fernando might not seem particularly special at first impression, the town has several claims to fame.

The town has very strong maritime and naval links. El Panteón de Marinos Ilustres, a mausoleum for famous Spanish sailors, as well as a training school for NCOs, the Naval Museum, navy barracks and an old royal shipyard are all located here. The navy’s Real Instituto y Observatorio de la Armada is one of the most important scientific centers in the world.

San Fernando is also where the Cádiz Cortes, the first national assembly to claim sovereignty over the whole of Spain first met in 1810. It met in the building now known as the Real Teatro de las Cortes.

It’s also the birth and final resting place of Camarón de la Isla, considered by many to be the greatest Flamenco singer of all time.

San Fernando is also famous for its food. The inhabitants are nicknamed Cañaíllas because of their love of eating a local sea snail from the Bay of Cadiz of the same name.

The Andalusian classic dish of Tortillitas de Camarones, a deep-fried mixture of tiny prawns and chickpea flour, was invented here.

While I’d say the Tortillitas are worth a go, another famous local dish called Biensamabe, aka deep-fried vinegared dogfish, is not.

San Fernando is also known as “La Isla” (The Island) because it’s located on an island surrounded by salt marshes (hence “Camarón de la Isla”). So another nickname for the locals is “Isleños“. Salt production was once a major industry in the area.

There are two indoor food markets quite near each other; Mercado de San Fernando behind the old town hall and Mercado de San Antonio on Calle Juan Van Halen, a side street a bit further along Calle Real. Neither are particularly impressive but they are good places to pick up local ingredients to take home, or for a hotel room picnic.

In 2017 I did my shopping at El Almacen del Pata Negra, a deli at 20 Calle San Diego de Alcalá, around the corner from Mercado de San Fernando.

My local colleague Wakim had recommended a local cheese; Emborrado by El Bosqueño, a mature sheep’s cheese from the Sierra de Grazalema (the highlands of Cadiz province), so I purchased a whole wheel of it here for €50. I can understand why it came third in the 2016 World Cheese Awards because it was superb (A).

I also picked up another local product; a bag of salt from Salinas San Vicente www.salinasanvicente, the last working saltern in San Fernando. The seemingly severe and unsmiling owner threw it in for free which was nice of him.

Wakim also recommended the Moscatel Pasa de Chipiona although I didn’t know where to look for it so I missed out. Next time.

In terms of architecture there’s not much to see. Most of the buildings you can see in the gallery are along Calle Real, the main pedestrian street running through the city. Although many of them are quite old (1755 was the oldest date I noticed), none of them are particular beauties.

There are a few newer buildings if you like that sort of thing (I do).

If you’re looking for a place to walk or run, or indeed to lie in the sun, you could make your way to Playa Camposoto. Just turn south down Calle Real and keep going as straight as you can (see map).

You’ll see a few salinas, salt collecting channels, along the way. It took me about an hour and ten minutes to walk one way from the Hotel Salymar to the beach after work one day.

Next time I’ll try the Salina Dolores trail to the north west of the town.

The next three posts are about good places to eat in different parts of San Fernando…

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