Tapas bars in Seville are some of the best in Spain. If you're looking for truly authentic dining, try a few of these favourites
According to local legend, Seville is the birthplace of tapas. A 'tapa' was a small dish that the barman placed on top of your glass to keep the flies off it. Hence the name: it means 'lid'. These days tapas in Seville is a way of life. There's even a verb in Spanish, 'tapeo', to go out for a tapas session! Locals move from one bar to another, sampling a dish or two in each. It's great fun and very Sevillian. Grazing rather than eating three courses makes perfect sense in the hot climate here and it's also a great way to sample a host of new dishes in the space of just an evening. So dust off your dodgy Spanish and try a few these favourites. …
Best for touristic tapas
Tourist areas are usually best avoided if you're looking for good food, but for me one of Seville's best tapas bars is in Barrio Santa Cruz, the labyrinth of whitewashed passageways that's the focus for tourists to the city. Las Columnas is a classic. Lunchtime here is Seville at its most theatrical, with people spilling out onto the pavement, orders being bellowed back to the tiny kitchen, beers being slammed down on the counter and locals calling out orders at the tops of their voices. Fantastic! The various tapas are written on chalkboards behind the bar. Deep fried aubergine with honey is one of my favourites here. Your bill is chalked up on the bar-top in front of you.
Rodrigo Caro 1
Best for neighbourhood nibbles
Ambigu is well off the beaten track, in the slightly more earthy Macarena district, which is one of my favourite parts of Seville. I lived around here for several months whilst writing the Frommer's Day by Day guide to Seville. It's a typical local tapas bar with cheap metal tables and chairs on the pavement. You'd walk past it without batting an eyelid, but the food is excellent and surprisingly original. Last time I was here we had basmati rice with prawns and alioli and potatoes in green-bean dressing. Yum. You sometimes have to wait at the bar for a table. Your name is added to a list by the barman
Best for trendy tapas twists
La Sopa Bopa is right outside the flat I lived in in Seville. It's one of several places in the city that's really pushing the boundaries with its tapas. Served on curved glass dishes with attractive garnishes, they’re seriously inventive - a real step up in style; but not in price. If they're still on the menu, try mini hamburgers with apple sauce (delicious) or how about baked goat’s cheese and chicken kebab with strawberry jus? There are usually several specials as well. Some of the bar staff talk a little English too.
Joaquin Costa 10
Best for magic Moorish flavours
Seville was ruled by the Muslim Moors from North Africa for many centuries and as its name suggests, Madrasa takes inspiration from this history, adding a spicy North African twist to its tapas - which come in huge quantities. My favourite here is beef tagine with prunes – a pungent stew packed with ginger and cumin – easily enough for two to share. This is another place that's seriously popular so you may have to wait for a table, or better still arrive early at around 8pm. Most locals don't head out for tapas till after 9.30.
Peris Mencheta 21
Best for busy bites in Alfalfa
The area around Plaza Alfalfa is one of Seville's busiest and best for good-value bars and bistros. One of my favourite tapas bars here is also one of Seville's oddest shaped, stuck precariously between two streets at a junction – genuinely triangular. It beats me how they manage to cook up such great tapas in their tiny kitchen. The specials chalked up on the blackboard are the ones to try. They do crunchy bruschetta-style toasts and the fried aubergine in balsamic is lip smacking. If you're bored of beer and wine, try washing it down with a glass of chilled Manzanilla sherry. The ambiance here is relaxed and typically Alfalfa – locals and a few tourists squeezed into the tiny space.
Best for fab photos
Another hotspot for great local tapas bars is Plaza de los Terceros. There are several good ones, but the obvious place to try is Rinconcillo. The staff here will tell you that tapas were created in this atmospheric old bar, which dates back to 1670. The walls are full of dusty booze bottles, hams hang from the ceiling. It's picture-perfect. Tapas here are a little standard, but the atmosphere is totally authentic. Take a stool at the bar, order a tinto de verano (refreshing mix of red wine and lemonade) and a tapa or two. The old chaps who serve behind the bar look as if they’ve been there as long as the bar itself, but they’re a friendly bunch.
Low cost airline ClickAir has flights to Seville from Gatwick. Low cost airline Ryanair flies to Seville from London Stansted.
There are plenty of good hotels in Seville - a few of my favourites:
Cheap: Hospederia el Patio Cruces - a small hostel on one of Santa Cruz’s quietest squares, close to the action, but tranquil, clean and friendly. (Plaza Cruces 10)
Mid-range: Hotel Murillo
- hidden away in the heart of Santa Cruz, the Murillo is a lovely two star in a great location. Rooms are comfortable and attractively furnished. (Lope de Rueda 7–9)
Mid-range: Hotel Alminar
- it’s the service that makes this friendly place stand out: Francisco and his team are the most helpful in Seville - and the hotel's well located too. (Alvarez Quintero 52)
Splurge: Las Casas de la Juderia - a luxurious warren of ancient houses and patios; each room is unique, some fantastically opulent. There’s a lovely rooftop pool too. (Callejón de Dos Hermanas 7)
Seeing the city
Really Discover offers interesting small group Seville tours a little off the beaten track for 25 Euros per person.