La Curiosidad de Mauro

Mauro Barreiro has a considerable reputation as a chef, having worked at various big name restaurants before opening his own in Puerta Real, and then recently relocating to Cádiz. This was just a brief “end-of-tapeo” stop for us, and the experience didn’t leave much of an impression. Modern style “tapas with a twist”, you can see Mauro is trying to be inventive. And it’s certainly popular enough, with plenty of people packed into the long, narrow bar space (there’s also a restaurant at the far end, but I couldn’t get through the crush to get a photo). Will have to give it another shot on our next visit to Cádiz.

Veedor 10
Tel 956 992 288
€ € € €

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Food 7 | Wine 7 | Service 6 | Ambiance 6

cola de toro (oxtail) bomba

presa Ibérica and aubergine with creamy cheese

pullet cannellone with truffle bechamel

chef Mauro

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Salicornia is owned by chef Juan Höhr, who returned to his native Cádiz to branch out on his own, and opened Salicornia in November 2016 in Calle Plocia, currently becoming fashionable as a good area of town to eat. We were taken there by our friends, Cádiz locals and serious foodies Pilar and Juan Antonio, and immediately fell in love with the place. It’s small (seating for just 22, and a small bar) and cosy, and the service very friendly. The whole experience was very enjoyable.

The menu is full and half plates, with Spanish origins and some novel twists, innovative and delicious. Among other things we shared a carpaccio of presa, some butterfish, and an off the menu salmon tataki, and all were excellent. Definitely recommended.

Plocia 2
Tel +34 856 661 403
€ € € €

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Food 8 | Wine 8 | Service 8 | Ambiance 8

tuna tartare with guacamole

creamy rice with Cádiz mountain mushrooms

presa Ibérica carpaccio

chef Juan Höhr

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Opened in the summer of 2015 by the brothers Ruibal and Pancho Jiménez, Ultramar&Nos takes its name via a play on words from the traditional Spanish ultramarinos (corner shop) that previously occupied the site. That corner position and the large windows give the premises plenty of light, and with fairly minimalist decoration that combines an element of rustic with a kind of “industrial chic”, the restaurant seems quite spacious. Service was efficient and friendly enough for a good background to the food.

The menu is of modest size, and combines traditional Spanish and international food in an interesting way. Although enticed by several of the menu descriptions, in the end we only tried two dishes, a starter of housemade beef sausages wrapped in chard instead of the usual intestine casing (very tasty), and the cachopo – a kind of big flat flamenquín with beef, cheese, aubergine and cecina (air-cured beef). The cachopo was so big, in fact, that we were left unable to try anything else. Next time!

Plaza de Mina 1
Tel 856 076 946
€ € € €

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Food 8 | Wine 8 | Service 8 | Ambiance 8

marinated carrots

beef sausages wrapped in chard

inside the sausage

beef and cheese cachopo

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Mini Bar

Mini Bar is one of those little hole in the wall tapas bars with a limited menu (basically fried fish) that nevertheless succeeds in exuding atmosphere and being very popular. It has a convenient location between the market and the Plaza Candelaría, so it’s great for a snack and beer stop between other activities. Owner Paco has been running the show for over thirty years and makes you feel at home as soon as you walk in the door.

Doctor Dacarrete 3
Tel  856 174 303
€ €

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Food 8 | Wine 6 | Service 8 | Ambiance 7

affable owner Paco

fritura variada

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Updated July 2017

Situated on the banks of the River Guadalete in the sherry town of El Puerto de Santa María, Bespoke embodies a youthful approach to the sherry culture of the region, in an atmosphere that’s relaxed and fun. It is the creation of Carmen Gutiérrez, whose family owns Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosía next door. The décor and decorations are entirely hand made by Carmen using materials recycled from the bodega (barrels and implements), with lots of colour and whimsical touches. As you would imagine, there’s a good range of sherries, and of wines from other regions of Spain, accompanied by traditional local tapas and plates.

We only stopped in for desserts and a couple of sherry cocktails, but will certainly be back to try the food on our next visit to El Puerto.

Avenida de la Bajamar 36
El Puerto de Santa María
Tel 956 106 412
Bespoke Website
€ € € €

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Food (haven’t tried yet) | Wine 10 | Service 9 | Ambiance 9

bespoke (3)

bespoke (7)

bespoke arabic dessertsarabic pastries

bespoke cocktailssherry cocktails

bespoke (2)

bespoke (5)

bespoke (4)

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Updated July 2017

La Vinería del Negro

vineria negro
Opened just a few months ago in the Barrio del Populi in Cadiz, down the street from the Arco Blanco, La Vineria del Negro is proprietor Rafael Cabrera’s second establishment (the first is La Vinoteca del Negro in nearby San Fernando), and as the name suggests, it’s primarily about the wine.

There’s a very good list, both by the bottle and by the glass, accompanied by a small but good quality selection of tapas. The bar has a nice traditional look and feel to it, with a main dining area and a couple of cosy nooks, as well as a sidewalk terrace. Lots of the striated “sea-stone” that is so typical of Cádiz, white plaster, a big painting of flamenco dancers, and lots of wine bottles on shelves and in cupboards. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in this interesting old part of town.

Wine tastings and other events are held regularly.

Mesón, 16
Tel 625 124 439

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Food 8 | Wine 8 | Service 8 | Ambiance 8

vineria negro (12)

vineria negro (13)

vineria negro olivesolives

vineria negro breadhot crusty bread

vineria negro kitchen

vineria negro rosadoRamón Bilbao rosé

vineria negro tuna heartcured tuna heart

vineria negro gambasgrilled prawns onna stick with parsley salsa verde

vineria negro croquetassquid ink chipirón croquetas

vineria negro solomillo montaditotoasted montadito of solomillo with salsa verde

vineria negro (11)

vineria negro (8)

vineria negro terrace

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The last few of times I’ve been to Cádiz I’ve passed up on the opportunity to pay a first visit to Balandro, despite the fact that it came recommended and well-reviewed, and seems to be well-frequented, but this time I felt I could no longer evade my responsibilities. In the end, it turned out pretty much as I expected. The U-shaped bar and main dining area are in a slick modern style, and pleasant enough, but seem lacking in real warmth and personality. The staff likewise.

The menu was typical gastrobar – more style than substance –  and a menu this long (you order by number) makes me think that there’s bought in, pre-prepared food involved. The tapas we had were good enough, but I didn’t find that “something special” that would bring me back. In the last analysis, if you like this trendy style of “concept” bar, you’ll like Balandro. If, like me, you usually prefer something with more character, this isn’t for you.

Alameda de Apodaca, 22
Tel 956 220 992
€ € €

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Food7 | Wine 7 | Service 6 | Ambiance 6

balandro (3)
balandro filo cheese baconfilo with cheese and bacon

balandro lubinasea bass in “tempura” with rice noodles and stir-fried veg
in a mess of store bought “Asian” sauces.

balandro menuorder-by-number menu

balandro (2)

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La Esquinita

la esquinita (1)
Although it’s only been open since 2011, La Esquinita does a pretty fair impression of a typical fried-fish bar that’s been there forever, right down to the ice-filled model boat for displaying the fresh fish. The food we had was good, a boquerones (anchovies) al limon, fried cuttlefish and puntillitas (tiny squid), washed down with some of the excellent local sherry. If you’re in any of the towns along this stretch of the coast, you’ll end up in a fried-fish bar at some point – this one was pretty good.

Calle Misericordia, 1
El Puerto de Santa María
Tel 676 90 83 29
€ €

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Food 7 | Wine 7 | Service 6| Ambiance 6

la esquinita (2)
la esquinita (5)boquerones fritos

la esquinita (6)chocos fritos

la esquinita (7)puntillitas (tiny squid)

la esquinita (3)
la esquinita (4)

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Puerta de la Victoria

puerta victoria
This relatively new bar a minute’s walk from the main square was recommended to us by Juan Hidalgo during our visit to the bodega, and turned out to be the best food experience of our Sanlúcar break (having said that, we didn’t make it down to the Bajo de Guia this visit). The bar is traditionally styled with lots of wood, sherry casks and shelves full of glasses and bottles, but doesn’t go overboard with the “fake antique” look, and there’s a little terrace in the pedestrian street outside, which was very pleasant on a relatively mild summer’s day.

There’s a nicely balanced menu with tapas ranging from 2 – 3.5€ (with one exception – a splendid stuffed & fried choco al amontillado for 4.50€). And I dare say that the tortillitas de camarones are every bit as good as at the better-known Casa Balbino around the corner. I’d like to go back with more friends to try some of the raciones (larger plates). Very good wine list with lots of options by the glass.

Calle de la Victoria, 7
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Tel 956 365 925
€ € €

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Food 9 | Wine 8 | Service 8 | Ambiance 8

puerta victoria (3)

puerta victoria jamon quesojamón Ibérico and Payoyo cheese

puerta victoria tortillitatortillita de camarones (prawn fritters)

puerta victoria tortillita arttortillita art

puerta victoria (8)carrillada (Iberian pork cheek)

puerta victoria choco amontilladochoco frito al amontillado with jamón and fried egg

puerta victoria bar

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La Carboná

carbona (3)
I had been hearing so much about “sherry chef” Javier Muñoz Soto from various friends and colleagues that while in Jerez for Vinoble at the end of last May I convinced two friends to join me for lunch there. I was keen to try the place for myself as I had also been recommending it to clients who were visiting Jerez. And well, either we were unlucky and the chef was having an off day, or the place has been over-hyped. The other day I saw another friend praising her meal here on Twitter and I was dumbfounded. Then again she was with a VIP group visiting Jerez so perhaps they pulled out all the stops for them.

The restaurant itself was unexpectedly massive, with tall beamed ceilings, which felt less barn-like as it started to fill up a little. There are also a couple of attractive private dining rooms that you can book for private parties (btw, apologies for quality of photos here – the restaurant was very dimly lit inside, even at midday).

Wines were good and reasonably priced (all things considered) with starters ranging from 4.50 – 12.50€ and main courses from 12 – 22€. Although the food was pleasant enough (other than an overcooked turbot, which in the end we weren’t charged for) it also wasn’t sensational – and for 20€ a plate you really do expect something above average. Most dishes were accompanied by a sherry sauce of some sort (hence the “sherry chef”) but it was only really apparent in the presa dish that came with a lovely PX sauce. All in all we found it a lacklustre experience. Not bad, but not really worth the money.

Finally, we were not only charged 1.25€ each for bread (5€ for bread?), but the IVA was not included in the prices on the menu. The latter not only feels like a cheap trick, but I believe this is also not legal in Andalucía.

San Francisco de Paula, 2
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel 956 34 74 75
€ € € € €

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Food 6 | Wine 8 | Service 7 | Ambiance 6

carbona barthe bar

carbona (5)

carbona (6)presa Ibérica and mushrooms

carbona (1)artichokes with sweetbreads

carbona (4)whole turbot

carbona (2)tuna belly with rice noodles

carbona fireplace

carbona private dining roomprivate dining room

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