San Fernando is a small town on the other side of the bay from Cadiz. There’s not much to see but it has an interesting food culture.
Here’s my Google map.
I stayed for just three nights at the AC Salymar (Intermediate C) at 32 Calle Real, Plaza de la Iglesia www.hotelsalymar.com. It’s a fairly modern but fading establishment, unattractive but adequate and centrally located. I think it has a sun roof overlooking church opposite but it was February so I didn’t investigate.
The only other four star hotel in town is the Hotel Bahia Sur www.hotelbahiasur.com which is in a shopping centre and a fair way from the town centre, so I was happy to put up with the Salymar.
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 the 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 and it’s handy for the hotel.
El Real de Velez (Intermediate B) 40 Calle Real
I came to El Real after binning the Bienmesabe as it was also 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)
Bar Leon (Elementary C+) Plaza de las Vacas, no number (east side of the square)
The next 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 chick pea element is a Genoese influence according to my research which also seems to indicate they were invented in this bar by a woman called Maria Aguilar who opened the bar in the 90s.
She was nowhere to be seen when I entered, in fact this scruffy place doesn’t seem to have had a woman’s touch for quite a while and my portion of tortillitas were fried by an old chap who seemed to be in charge of the kitchen.
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.
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.
There’s heaps of atmosphere; hams hanging from the ceiling and several people wedged in chatting with the owner, an old chap whose father opened the bar many moons ago.
I tried the powerful ‘Emborrao’ goats cheese (B+), one of twelve cheeses on sale, with Picos (breadsticks) and a glass of wine while trying to understand the strong dialect everyone was speaking in. I didn’t have a clue so instead I turned my attention to the amusing poster on the wall (sorry about the blurry pic) which listed health problems and their remedies, all of which were different types of alcohol!
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).
All the last three places are in Plaza de Las Vacas. There are a couple more bars in the square that I didn’t get to try.
Asador El Anticuario (Intermediate B) 2 Calle Cayetano del Toro
I came to this place on my last night. 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, probably 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). I’m sure it’s a good place on a busier night.
Bodegon Andalusia (Intermediate B+), 10 Calle Rafael Alberti
I was brought here for lunch by John the school owner (more of whom in my next post!) and I gave the ‘Bienmesabe’ another go. I liked it more than I did at El Deán (C+) but for me it still didn’t live up to its name for me (‘good taste’). Everything else was good here though (B+) and it seems very busy and popular.
A brief but educational stay. Next up; a short drive to Cadiz and carnival!