Eating out in Jerez is all about grazing and grazing is what you should do here. Even when the locals sit down to eat, in contrast to snacking on tapas while standing up at the bar, they rarely go for three courses, so do as the locals do.
Eating out in Jerez is a real delight, whether you’re tapas bar hopping or sitting down to tuck into some comfort food. Below is a selection of our favourite experiences from two weeks of eating out in Jerez, grazing at tapas bars and digging into hearty dishes in local restaurants. We ate at every place once, and, er, some even twice…
Eating Out in Jerez
Meson del Asador
When it comes to eating out in Jerez, this would have to be our pick of the best restaurants and tapas bars, and quickly became our favourite spot. Meson del Asador is located in an atmospheric space at Remedios 4, with a long bar dominating the room with mouthwatering jamon hanging up behind the counter, and wooden tables covered with red and white checked tablecloths. Grilling is the specialty and you can choose from a long list of tapas and raciones or a enormous plates of steaks and other grilled meats. There was nothing we didn’t love, but what we mainly returned for the second time (yes, we broke our long-standing rule of only eating at a place once!) was the tabla de patatas – a mountain of the most heavenly potatoes on earth piled onto a board with four dipping sauces including a very tasty aioli. Somewhere between a potato slice and a freshly fried potato crisp, they were crunchy on the outside and soft inside, the delicious flavour of the potatoes enhanced by the quality of the olive oil, and sea salt grains sprinkled on top. It’s truly frightening how much of this delightful dish we ate.
This pleasant spot is known for its deft handling of classic tapas dishes. You can dine outside on the prettily painted green, rickety, wooden chairs and tables on the cobblestones of the Pescadera Vieja (old fish market), inside standing up at a tiled bar, or you can sit down in the larger, more formal space out the back. While some of its clientele suggested that it must be in the guidebooks, don’t let that stop you, because the friendly service and fine tapas demonstrates the guidebooks can get it right. While the specialty here is artichokes, the alcachofa juanito was actually the only disappointing dish, way over-cooked, mushy, and lacking flavour, however, everything else was incredibly tasty. Highlights were some very delicious albondigas oloroso (meatballs in the local sweet sherry), and a sublime carne de toro con patatas, which fell off the bone, and got me thinking about a bull-related recipe for The Dish.
El Gallo Azul
Prop yourself up at the bar, hop atop a stool at one of the barrel-tables, or ease back into a chair if the sun is shining at one of the outside tables at this characterful bar located in one of Jerez’s most splendid buildings, and something of a landmark, on Santamaria 2. While you’ll find all the usual suspects when it comes to tapas on the menu, under the glass display counter there’ll be an array of modern (and muy rico) tapas that we suggest you opt for. We tried a delicious pulpo con potatoes chafadas (super thin slices of tender octopus on mashed potatoes), milhojas de foie y queso de cabra caramelizado (foie gras with caramelized goats cheese), and lasaña de boquerones marinados con verduras asados (tiny layered squares of fresh marinated anchovies with grilled vegetables). A single tapa serving included two pieces, which at €2.40 each was great value.
La Cruz Blanca
When it comes to eating out in Jerez, you can’t go wrong with this local favourite. Located at Consistorio 16 on a lovely square with shady alfresco seating outside and an interior that gets crammed with locals for lunch and dinner, this place must be one of the most popular tapas bars in Jerez. The place just buzzes with the sound of groups of friends enjoying each other’s company and the delicious tapas on offer. A warning though: the ‘½ raciones’ of hearty, rustic, local cuisine are enormous. Even if you’re sitting down at a table rather than eating at a bar you’re much better off ordering the tapas size rather than the raciones unless you’re famished or a culinary masochist. We loved the ragut de setas al oloroso viejo (mushrooms in an old sweet sherry), the rabo de toro, which fell off the bone and melted in our mouths, and the tasty albondigas, served on soft potatoes that soaked up the sweet gravy, were sublime.
Meson El Patio
A very atmospheric place, with paintings covering the walls and a wonderful collection of vintage transistor radios, this is a good choice for meat lovers and became one of our favourite places for eating out in Jerez. Locals casually imbibing and nibbling sit on one side of the room, while the more serious diners sit on the other. The menu is (thankfully) short compared to most restaurants in Jerez, but what they do, they do very well. We started with a lovely consóme de Jerez (sherry consóme) and some of the tastiest chicken and ham croquetas caseras we’ve ever had, followed by huge plates of paletilla de cordero asado con fino de la tierra (which was translated as “roast lamb shoulder with thin soil”) and cochinillo rechal asado al oloroso viejo (which was translated as “roast suckling pig to man olorosso” — make of that what you will!). Both dishes were on the pricey side for Jerez at €20 each, however, one dish could easily have served two, and if we weren’t sampling it to write about it for our readers, we would have followed the locals and simply ordered one main each. The sacrifices we make!
Run by the friendly Pepe and located on the corner of calles Zarza and Ramon de Cala in the quaint neighbourhood of San Miguel, La Abaceria is a local bar of the kind you can very easily keep returning to. La Abaceria means ‘corner store’ and traditionally these were places where you’d buy your basic provisions, which is why the sandstone walls of this lovingly restored interior feature shelves lined with tinned foods with retro labels, big jars of enticing preserves, and bottles of gorgeous green virgin olive oils. This friendly bar is the place to come for a truly local experience and some traditional local specialties, such as a very tasty, hearty menudo (tripe with chickpeas) and papas con melva (potatoes with a type of marinated mackerel), all washed down with local sherry of course.