Restaurants & Bars 9

Granada, Priego de Cordoba, and Cordoba - Report

Steve | Aug 28, 201107:17 PM

Three nights in Granada and three in Cordoba for this family of four from Washington, DC sandwiched around one night in Priego de Cordoba.

On our first night in Granadawe stumbled into Ocana at Plaza Realejo. A truly locals hangout from the looks of it. We didn’t get tapas, which was a mistake, and our meal here was mixed. The only standout was rabo de toro, incredibly rich, and it tasted like it was marinated for days in olive oil and drenched with spices. Very delicious and intense. Good croquetas as well, but I’m not sure I had any bad ones in Spain. The other highlight was a superb cafe helado, very strong, rich, and impressive. Other dished like pil-pil shrimp, gazpacho, and salmorejo were not well prepared. We should have had tapas here as the food was not as cheap as the surroundings might indicate.

Our next night had us investigating the Arab quarter for tapas. We first stopped at El Ladrillo on calle des panadores where we were served the incredibly generous tapa of a platter of anchovies and olives with lemon. Stunning. Next we stopped at Placeta San Miguel Bajo to eat at two places. At Meson Yunque we got a tapa of small breads stuffed with pork –eh- and we ordered three other dishes. Berenejas con miel were fantastic, so expertly cooked and creamy. We were floored. Also had piementos fritos and an avocado salad. A good blend of flavors. Our next stop was across the way at a bar (didn’t note the name) for a tapa of potato with marinated bits of peppers and tuna. Good stuff, and a very satisfying evening overall.

Our last night we went to the seafood specialty restaurant near the cathedral, Cunini. Some great stuff here and mediocre as well. Overall expensive. The garlic and bread soup was out-of-this world, but the ajoblanco – with raisins on the bottom – tasted like a gritty yogurt soup. Tortilla Sacromonte was overcooked (though I’m not sure if I would have liked it anyway). A couple of other dishes, like shrimp cocktail and Russian salad with shrimp had us picking through industrial quantities of mayo. Grilled monkfish was nice if a bit dull as was freshly steamed percebes (goose barnacles). My daughter exclaimed the percebes looked like baby dinosaur feet and prompted me to take my only food photo of the trip. For dessert, we had ice cream at Los Italianos, which is open only during the summer and has a huge reputation with crowds to match. Some of it is excellent, especially the crema tostada, the nougat, and the orange.

One night in Priego de Cordoba and we ate lunch first at El Ajibe. It was a fine, rustic meal full of highlights. We vowed to return, didn’t, and we regretted not going back. Goat with an almond sauce, monkfish with a seafood sauce of shrimp and clams, red peppers stuffed with a fish paste, and Sephardic salads. Our other meal in Priego had us eating at the rather working-class Casa Pepe, and the food was not good.

We ate well in Cordoba. This time we returned to a restaurant we loved – Bodegas Campos where we ate twice in the tavern. High quality throughout, especially the great ajoblanco. Hard to go wrong here, but the marinated dogfish and the creamy fried cod were excellent. Another great meal at the Casa Mazal, a Sephardic restaurant run by the same people who operate the Casa Sefarad house-museum a block away. A gorgeous starter of lentils and rice infused with coriander, and delicious main dishes of chicken with dates redolent with anise, and a kabob of swordfish. Lamb cakes were served with hot tomato slices and arugula drizzled with a cilantro dressing. Everything delicious.

We walked into an obscure cafeteria on a commercial shopping street for a fine salpicon de pulpo – like a vinegary coleslaw with octopus and patatas bravas that were not exceptional but good. Nearby, across from the roman temple ruins on calle Claudio Morcello, was a heladeria that had an exotic almond horchata, spectacular, along with an iced lemon drink with good bite to it. I got the feeling that the average Cordoban restaurant serves food that is better than the average for Granada.

Overall we never met a horchata we didn’t like. We can only get the powdered version where we live, which is nice but gritty and too sweet. In Spain, it was a delight for us every time.

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