Finding Tapas Bliss Outside Seville's City Walls
So, you've climbed La Giralda, toured the Royal Alcázar, photographed the tile-clad patios of the former Jewish Quarter. By some standards, including UNESCO’s, you’ve seen what parts of Seville could qualify as mission-critical. But by other metrics—geographical ones, say—you've only covered a tiny fraction of the Andalusian capital.
If you explore outside Seville’s beguiling walled districts, you will find a swinging, spirited city. "There's life beyond the old walls," says Pilar, a native sevillana whose fascination with Andalusian food culture often leads her into unlikely bodegas and obscure villages. "Even if you only have a few days in Seville, it's worth venturing into the real neighborhoods—the barrios barrios—to sit down with a pitcher of tinto de verano in a local place full of neighbors and families."
Hungry for whatever the sevillanos were pairing with their city’s favorite summer spritzer, we asked Pilar to take us on a tapeo. "Con gusto," she said gamely. "Tonight, we're doing tapas extramuros." Tapas beyond the walls. And then she delivered exactly the local flavor we were craving…
Here are four delicious destinations beyond Seville’s historic core.
"I can't think of a better place to start our walk than the original city wall, itself. Of the few sections that survive today, the best-preserved cuts through the soulful barrio of La Macarena, about a half-hour's stroll north of the Royal Alcázar. It is one of our most significant (and most underrated) monuments. It is also part of the ambiente at La Pastora, a footloose freiduría with plastic patio tables arranged right at the foot of the wall, under a leafy arbor. To accompany the fried fish and seafood, which are sold in bite-size pieces, by the kilo, you have all of the aliños so characteristic of summertime in Andalucía: marinated salads with roe, octopus, shrimp, beets, peppers, and a great variety of pickles. The garden setup is perfect for group dinners and for children, who have plenty of space to run around and blow off steam after polishing off paper cones of crispy pescadito. For several generations of sevillanos, La Pastora's terrace is a portal back to childhood summers. Now we return with our own children, just as our parents did with us, to enjoy our favorite frituras next to a five-meter-wide double wall built a millennium ago by Moorish occupiers. Picturesque? Certainly. But absolutely alive and real."
What to order: "Puntillitas (the tiniest calamari—they come fried whole), any of the aliños (I like the one with tomato, cucumber, and red peppers), and a pitcher of tinto de verano."
La Pastora; Calle Muñoz León s/n
"Situated just across 'La Ronda' (the avenue that loops Seville's casco histórico), not a five-minute walk from La Pastora, Yebra reads like a typical Andalusian tapas bar. In many ways, it still behaves like one. But at some point in the establishment's decades-long career, at a time when innovation was still a foreign concept, Don Florentino started riffing on the the regional tapas canon. Tapas had always been humble bar snacks, simple by nature; creativity had never been the point. But at Yebra, you find all sorts of novelties: carne de corzo (Iberian venison), urta (a native sea bream), and wild boar—jabalí. Essentially, the Yebras serve restaurant-caliber food in tapas format, at tapas prices. With the exception of certain off-menu specials (those seasonal wedge clams will cost you), dishes typically run €3.50-4.00 each. I will never forget how startled I was the first time I dined here, to encounter such imaginative cooking in a low-key place outside of the center."
What to order: "Start with boquerones al limón and a local fino or manzanilla sherry. When you move on to something richer, order an oloroso. Pairing tapas with sherry is always a good idea, especially at Yebra, where the wines are expertly sourced and served."
Yebra; Medalla Milagrosa 3
"Casa Pepe might be the quintessential Sevillian bar. There's the wall-to-wall azulejos, the useless little napkins, the energetic fútbol politics (the city has two teams: Sevilla and Real Betis; here the staff is fiercely sevillista). The obligatory Cruzcampo tap sports a collection of "mejor tirado" accolades; lest there be any doubt, this is a place where much attention has been given to the art of properly pulling a draught beer. The kitchen does all of the super-classic Sevillian tapas—the ones we've been eating all our lives: espinacas con garbanzos (spinach and chickpeas), menudo (tripe), carrillada (pork cheeks), presa ibérica (pork shoulder), ensaladilla rusa (the oft-snubbed Russian potato salad that sevillanos have enthusiastically adopted), and my favorite, chuletas de cordero a la brasa (grilled lamb chops), which are not always easy to find. Fortunately I can almost guarantee that twenty years from now, Casa Pepe will still be serving them exactly as they have for the last twenty. It's one of these places that exists outside the bounds of time."
What to order: "It depends on the time of year. In the colder months, Casa Pepe serves the hearty spoon-stews we call cuchareos, and during snail season (typically April, May, and June), this is one of the best places in the city to participate in the annual frenzy over caracoles and cabrillas. But in the heat of summer, I'd go for a traditional chilled soup like gazpacho or salmorejo. And always, always a Cruzcampo."
Casa Pepe; Avenida de Miraflores 13
“I wouldn't send you home without an ice cream from the neighborhood heladería. Another independently-owned barrio standby, Heladería Villar has a few decades on other scoop shops and about a thousand flavors from which to choose. There's always a queue, which means you'll have plenty of time to determine whether you want to go classic or outré. This time of year, I tend to opt for something refreshing like maracuyá (passion fruit) or mango sorbet.”
Heladería Villar; Avenida de la Cruz Roja 74
Ready to plan a “tapeo” of your own? Pilar will show you a side of Seville’s tapas scene that outsiders rarely get to taste. Ask her to curate a delectable, custom tapas adventure (with nary a tourist in sight).