I took a trip to Spain with my in-laws and husband over Christmas and New Year's this year. Here are the places I can remember eating:
Dinner at El Medievo - Plaza Mayor
We arrived late in the evening - around 10pm - and walked to the Plaza Mayor to find dinner. The places I had in mind were already closed, so we chose El Medievo restaurant because it was open and packed with folks. The food was homey and they were serving a very reasonably-priced menu, so we were very happy with our choice. This was our first introduction to Spanish migas - bread crumbs, chorizo, butter?, and and egg. Lovely!
Breakfast at the Parador - Calle Santa Beatriz de Silva, 1
It was almost worth staying at the Parador for the breakfast. Super lovely and incredibly wide assortment of meats, breads, sweets, fruits, yogurts, veggies... and they kept the cafes con leche coming. Breakfast is served in the former chapel of the former convent that is the Parador. Really nice way to start the day!
Jimena de la Frontera, Spain
Dinner at Bar Marilyn- corner of Calle Jincaleta and Calle Romo
We arrived in Jimena around 11:30pm and NEEDED dinner. The bar owner was nice enough to prepare a 5-course homestyle meal for us - albondigas (meatballs!), salad, croquetas, and a number of other dishes I can't remember. Extremely affordable - 6 of us ate a 5-course meal with 4 bottles of wine for well under 100 euro.
Breakfast every day at Restaurante La Tasca r- c/ San Sebastian on the main square
We enjoyed cafes con leche and tostadas con tomate here, served with a smile and conversation by the owner and his wife.
Two dinners at El Ventorillero - Plaza de la Constitucion 2
This restaurant is a gem - the owner sat down with us and described what he had on hand (setas, or while mushrooms, calamari, venison) and how his mother (yes) could prepare each item for us. We really enjoyed everything that we ate - so much, in fact, that we came back the next night. Wild mushroom croquettes, fried calamari, and the green salad with apples were among my favorite dishes. Later in the evening you'll find locals and British ex-pats, including a sauced local painter, at the bar. It all adds to the atmosphere!
Bodegas Santa Cruz - Calle Rodrigo Caro near the cathedral
This is a good spot to initiate yourself into the tapas culture in Sevilla. Yes, it's packed with tourists, but there are also a number of local folks (go back for cafe con leche and a tostada con tomate at the bar to meet the local breakfast crowd). Additionally, the bartenders are friendly and patient and will explain the ropes to you if you're unsure what to do.
La Flor de Toranzo - Calle Jimios 1-3
Now THIS is a tapas bar. We went for the first time on a week night and the place was packed with well-heeled, 50- and 60-somethings. The bartenders were ignoring my husband at the bar, so I tapped a gentleman patron on the shoulder and asked which tapas he recommended. He was kind enough to order for us and recommended the montadito (mini sandwich) of anchovies with condensed milk. We were skeptical but game and BOY was it delicious! Salty and sweet. The foie montadito was also delicious, as was the pork and gorgonzola. We came back on a weekend night and the place was packed with young people and we had no trouble ordering. I would go back there right now for the anchovy and condensed milk sandwich and a glass of albarino. There were a number of other good or reasonable tapas bars in this area - our experience was that you can't miss with a montadito or the albondigas.
Dinner at El Gallinero de Sandra - Elena Caro, 2
We had a really lovely dinner here - kind service by the waiters and excellent, Spanish/continental food from start to finish.
Lunch at ConTenedor - Calle San Luis, 50
We happened upon this awesome place while exploring the Macarena neighborhood. It reminded me of something you might see in Seattle or Portland, OR. The interior decor was cheeky and modern, and the menu was a long chalkboard list with only 2 permanent items. The chalkboard was in Spanish, but the waiter was extremely friendly and came by to translate without us even having to ask or seem confused. He was also extremely knowledgeable and helpful with the wine list - we enjoyed several interesting wines by the glass. I would absolutely go here again!
Tapa at Triana Market
We stopped here while walking around Triana and enjoyed a lively atmosphere, fresh fish, and a cold glass of Rueda. We also enjoyed walking around the food market and picked up a healthy amount of smoked paprika for 1 euro 40.
Dinner at Restaurante Arrayanes - Cuesta Marañas, 4
This is an interesting place. It's about as touristy as it can get - the owner (who I believe is Lebanese-Spanish) seems to speak about 15 languages and greets and serves everyone in their native language.
Dinner at Restaurante Oliver - Plaza Pescadería, 12
We felt welcome and well taken care of in the cozy dining room here. A great choice for a reasonably priced but higher-quality sit-down dinner. They take reservations.
Lunch at Terra Mundi - Calle de Lope de Vega, 32
We dined here again after happening upon it during our last visit to Madrid. This is a perfect lunch stop post museum (Prado, Reina Sofia, or Thyssen) because it's right in the neighborhood - this Galician restaurant offers a 10.50 euro menu del dia at lunch and dinner. Both times I've been they've offered a nice salad as a started and fresh fruit for dessert (among other options).
Dinner at Restaurante Bazaar - Calle Libertad 21 http://www.grupandilana.com/es/restau...
We were looking for a reasonably-priced sit-down dinner in Chueca. I wasn't blown away by the food or the service here, but it is a lovely restaurant with a hip, fun atmosphere and the prices were very, very reasonable. In general, I would suggest just tapas hopping if you'd like to eat and check out the Chueca nightlife. However, if I needed a cheaper, hipper sit-down place in this neighborhood again I'd look to Bazaar. They don't take reservations.
Lunch at Jose Maria - Cronista Lecea, 11
I think about this lunch every day. We went to Segovia just for about 6 hours on a day trip from Madrid. We knew that roast suckling pig was a big deal in Segovia, but hadn't decided whether to commit to the whole deal until we happened into this place for a drink and a tapa. Upon seeing the crowds of local folks (out and about in hoards for Three Kings' Day) pouring into the dining room, we asked about a table. Boy, were we glad we did. One thing that sticks out is the free tapa they brought us at the table. I think it was just really fresh cream cheese with chives. It was so, so good. One of those dishes where you just probably couldn't get the right high-quality ingredients to make it at home even though it's so simple. From there we enjoyed a lovely soup and salad and then... the main event. My husband ordered the suckling pig, which is cut with a plate because it's so tender! A serving is 1/4 of the pig, and it's plenty for one person and some tastes. I ordered some kind of pork-cheese-foie gras thing. Really, really good. The service was formal but friendly, the house wine was great. We really enjoyed this lunch!