From tortilla to tuna tataki: Seville’s evolving tapas scene

Seville is widely acknowledged as the true capital of tapas. Today, the reliable delights of traditional tortilla and ensaladilla are being supplemented by bold new staples – step forward, tuna tataki and sea bass ceviche. It’s time to set off on a culinary adventure in the hot-blooded southern Spanish city, accompanied by new-generation local wines.

A word of warning for non-meat-eaters: ask your waiter to confirm if your dish has meat or you may find ham sprinkled on your soup or salad.

Banner image credit: iStock.com/tbralnina

ConTenedor

Located in the down-to-earth Macarena district, this Slow Food champion prides itself on sourcing local and organic ingredients. With mismatched furniture and an open kitchen, the hip feel of this tapas joint is enhanced by contemporary art on the walls, painted by co-owner Ricardo. With a set-lunch deal at 13.50 euros, which includes their famous duck rice, it’s a new venue that’s increasingly hard to beat. An impressive, well-explained wine list contains some local gems too. Try the organic Solo from Lebrija, near Seville – it’s similar to a sherry and a delight made from palomino grapes, also used to make vino fino.

Sal Gorda

sal-gorda

Image credit: Fiona Flores Watson

This bijou joint, with its glass-plate windows, was formerly a zapatero (shoe store). Located down a narrow pedestrianised street in the city centre, it has a cosy and informal feel with two floors and a small outside terrace. Sal Gorda certainly produces imaginative taste pairings – chilled almond soup with dried tuna and caramelised sesame seeds is the star dish, while their tartar de atun stands out as sublimely sweet yet piquant. A selective wine list accompanies the exquisite tapas and features Mirlo Blanco, an organic viognier, from the Sierra Norte mountains near the city.

Sahumo

Mouth-watering aromas of smoky sizzling meat greet you as you enter Sahumo (sahumar means to scent with smoke in Spanish). That warm welcome is all down to the speciality grilled pork, beef and fish dishes being prepared. The tapas seating section offers a pricy but high-quality menu, including presa iberica a la brasa (grilled Iberian pork), the delectable steak tartar with savoury mustard sauce, and macerated mackerel. The in-depth wine list provides information on grapes and aging while my recommendation would be the unfiltered Pagos de Fonte Reina, a smooth merlot from Constantina, north of Seville.

Palo Cortao

pablo-cortao

Image credit: Fiona Flores Watson

Although this bar is small in size, with just three tables, it packs a big punch with its tapas and sherry. Owners Angel (chef) and Ana (sherry connoisseur) offer daily fish specials (chickpeas with prawns, creamed cod), as well as the ever-popular tomate de atun, a tasty stuffed tomato. The extensive sherry list features the outstanding Cruz Vieja fino en rama (unfiltered dry sherry) and no less than eight palo cortados, from Leonor to 30 year old Tradicion.

Vineria San Telmo

Argentinian Juan has been drawing the crowds to his restaurant since 2004. With a well-stocked, glass-walled wine store, a long and varied menu and superb service, it’s no wonder you’ll need to book. I recommend sampling the hake pâté with squid ink, cod buñuelos (fried balls), and prime Argentine beef out on the large terrace, heaven on summer evenings. If you still have space, the puddings, made by Juan’s wife Reyes, are sublime.

Mercado Lonja del Barranco

market

Image credit: Fiona Flores Watson

Housed in a beautiful 19th century steel and glass riverside building, this gourmet market has 20 stalls offering a king’s banquet of choices: rice dishes, fresh seafood, tacos, croquettes, jamon, and even octopus. If you’re feeling adventurous, try salmorejo, a thick cold soup of beetroot topped with cheese ash and sunflower seeds, or avocado with ceviche of local freshwater fish. For dessert, look no further than the delightful cake pops or fruit sushi while the plentiful outside seating will give you views of Triana bridge.

Zalata

zalata

Image credit: Fiona Flores Watson

This newcomer offers a refreshingly evolved take on tapas – an exciting fusion between South America, North Africa and Spain. Head chef Younes is from Morocco and his wife, front of house manager Viviana, is Peruvian. Expect the most authentic ceviche outside Peru and Sevillano twists on world-classics like their cola de toro pastela (bull’s tail pie), originating in Morocco. These superbly innovative taste combinations, and accompanying well-chosen wine list, are delivered with one of the warmest welcomes in Seville.

Related articles