The ‘new town’ isn’t officially an area but for the purposes of this post it’s the more modern part of town, on the lower slopes of the hill. In particular I mean the two roughly parallel main streets, Paseo de la Estacion and Avenida de Madrid, and their offshoots.
Here’s my Google map of Jaen that shows all the places mentioned in all these posts, and a few more besides. The best place to eat around Paseo de la Estacion, or anywhere in town, is Casa Antonio which gets its own post.
As Jaen has such a good rep for quality ingredients, a visit to the local deli for take home treats is a must. The most famous one in town is Casa Paco.
They have two locations, one at 7 Plaza de los Jardinillos (opposite the main post office), and the second at 12 Paseo de la Estacion, both of which are very well stocked with local goodies.
I always pick up a couple of local prize-winning olive oils here. The Paseo de la Estacion shop usually have a display of the best eight local oils on a special shelf.
I’d loved to have taken a big batch of the actual olives home too but one of the kind ladies said that the plastic tubs would explode in my baggage at an altitude!
Casa Paco are also known for their crisps which they bag on the premises. www.patatascasapaco.com The toasted almonds are a good buy as well.
Meson Rio Chico (Intermediate B), 12 Calle Nueva
A small friendly place recommended by Frommers, although without a star rating.
I came here on my first night and had my first experience of the famous local olives. These tasty specimens were fairly typical of what every restaurant provided. They’re definitely the longest olives I’ve ever seen!
The tasting menu looked like a good deal so I gave it a whirl. It consisted of…
Hojaldre Relleno de Guacamole, Salmon y Delicia de Pina (puff pastry stuffed with guacamole and salmon with a pineapple sauce).
Tosta de Cremoso de Patata con Crujiente de Lomo de Orza y Reduccion P.X. (creamy potato with a crispy fillet of orza and a reduction of Pedro Ximenez sherry).
Timbal de Veruditas de Temporada y Queso de Cabra Caramelizado, Tomate y Albahaca (a timbale of seasonal veg and caramelized goat cheese, tomato and basil).
Lomito de Atun en Cama de Ajos Tiernos, Pasas y Crema de Citrico (loin of tuna with tender garlic, raisins and citrus flavoured cream). I remember I wasn’t too keen on this combination.
Carrillada Iberica en Salsa de Esparragos Trigueros (beef cheeks in wild asparagus sauce) was tasty but didn’t look like much.
To drink I had a bottle of Campo Ameno, Syrah Barrica from the local Tierra de la Sierra Sur de Jaen IGP. Judging from the pattern on the bottle, this was made by the same people as the excellent Marques de Campomena I had at the parador.
Finally, Tarta ‘Puro Chocolate’ con Dulce de Natillas y Frutos Rojos (‘pure chocolate’ tart with sweet custard and red fruits) which I had with a glass of PX.
This is a cheaper place than Casa Antonio with similar ambitions but not quite achieving them (B/C). I’d definitely go again though.
Casa Vincent (Intermediate B), 3 Calle del Cristo Rey, Tel. 953 232 222, Closed Sunday eve and Monday
A Frommers one star suggestion, this is reputed to be one of the best places in town. It’s old school and a bit formal with a dark wood interior and bulls heads on the walls.
If you are interested in the Moorish influence on local cuisine, this would be a good place to come, although the ‘typical local dishes’ I requested were just interesting and not particularly amazing. I’m sure if you stick to more standard orders you’d score it higher than I did.
As well as the usual olives, some excellent toasted almonds were put in front of me as soon as I sat down.
For the first tapa I had cardoons with egg, a dish of Moorish origin, which came sizzling on a plate in a beautifully carved wooden tray. It looked better than it tasted (C).
I also had artichocke hearts with ham (B) and some pork with chips and gravy which I wasn’t particularly keen on (C+).
This was washed down with another decent (B) local red called ‘Glosa’ from the Sierra de Sur Jaen IGP.
Finally a shot of Crema de Café (B) made by the same Castillo de Jaen brand who also made the Anis I had at the parador.
Service was friendly from the younger English-speaking guy but the older chap (the owner?) didn’t want to try to understand my Spanish. I would come back but again give me Casa Antonio over this traditional place any time.
La Verja (Low Intermediate B+), 56 Paseo de la Estacion, at the bottom of the hill
A good place for simple home-cooked local dishes near the school I was working at. There’s nothing fancy about the food or the surroundings.
I had a menu-del-dia type lunch here twice and enjoyed it both times. The lentil soup, mixed salad and rabbit with garlic all stick in my mind as being good (B+). Can’t remember how much the bills came to but it was definitely very cheap.