Venta Esteban

esteban (1)

Founded in 1983 by the five Ballesteros brothers, Venta Estevan moved to its present location just outside Jerez in 2002. It is located in a large chalet-style building with ample parking (if you don’t have a car it’s about a 9€ taxi ride from Jerez). I’d been hearing about this place for years from various foodie friends and so finally did the taxi thing on a recent visit to Jerez, to try it out.

As you walk into the bar area there are displays of jamón, fish and seafood and local wines. There’s also a large terrace and several light, spacious dining rooms. The menu offers classic dishes, with just a few tapas in the bar, so best to go with a group of friends so you can share big plates (raciones). We sat in the bar, which felt a bit less stuffy than the dining area. Of course we had to try the house speciality El Antojo (The Craving) which was a huge plate of chips and fried onions, fried eggs and jamón. Then we tried the breaded artichokes and finished with grilled presa Ibérica (pork shoulder). Everything was very good quality, but perhaps another visit with more people would make it feel more special. And perhaps with someone who knows the staff, because although the service was okay, we felt a bit like we were being given the “tourist treatment”.

Colonia Caulina (Seville-Cádiz motorway)
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel 956 316 067
€ € € €

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Food 8 | Wine 7 | Service 6 | Ambiance 7

esteban (5)

esteban (4)

esteban el antojoEl Antojo: fried eggs, fried onions, chips & jamón

esteban artichokesgrilled artichokes

esteban presagrilled presa Ibérica

esteban (2)

esteban (3)

esteban (9)

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Tabanco Las Banderillas

las banderillas (1)

Opened in 2012 by Fernando Lobato and Lucas Soto, Las Bandarillas replaced an existing bar-restaurant of the same name. As well as sherry and vermouth from the barrel there are preserves and delicatessen products to eat on the premises or take away, and a good selection of hot tapas. In fact, it has more of a tapas bar than tabanco feel to it. It’s a fun and lively place to stop and is also excellent value for money. Don’t miss the house speciality rabo de toro (slow braised oxtail) and the sizzling gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns). Service is a bit frenetic, but friendly. My favourite place for traditional tapas in Jerez.

Caballeros 12
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel 619 006 988
€ € €

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Food 9 | Wine 9 | Service 9 | Ambiance 9

las banderillas (13)

las banderillas (7)

las banderillas (6)queso payoyo

las banderillas auberginesfried aubergine (eggplant) with salmorejo

las banderillas calamarcalamares a la romana

las banderillas gambas ajillosizzling garlic al ajillo

las banderillas croquetas spinach roqueforte, bulltailcroquetas: spinach & pinenut and oxtail

las banderillas fried goat cheese with bacon leek saucefried goat cheese with bacon & leek sauce

las banderillas prawns auberginesprawns wrapped in aubergine (eggplant)

las banderillas hakebreaded hake

las banderillas riñoneskidneys in sherry sauce

las banderillas albondigaspork meatballs

las banderillas presagrilled presa Ibérica

las banderillas rabo torocola de toro – braised oxtail

las banderillas (2)

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Atuvera opened its doors in June 2015, on the site of the former Taberna Jerezanam, which had closed in 1996 after some 40 years of operation. The name is derived from the refrain of a song by the flamenco artist Lola Flores, whose statue stands in the plaza outside. It’s a fairly small bar, with an attractive rustic chic décor that falls just short of hipster (a good thing), with one large table and three small tables, but with additional seating along one wall and at the bar itself. Traditional touches include the exposed brick wall behind the bar, and the dark painted wood doors. The food is fairly modern, rather than typically traditional, and owner Carlos is friendly and welcoming, immediately making you feel at home.

We loved the fried chicken in super-crunchy cornflake breading (though I think it needs a kickier sauce than the mayo that comes with it – recommend asking for some mojo picón). The simple tostas with smoked sardine and marinated anchovy are also delicious, as is the cod in black squid ink batter. We didn’t feel adventurous enough to try the pork ribs in chocolate and orange sauce, and found the tender pork cheeks (another house specialty) a bit underwhelming. But overall it’s a very pleasant bar that I am happy to try again.

Ramón de Cala 13
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel 684 358 394
€ € €

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Food 8 | Wine 7 | Service 9 | Ambiance 9

atuvera (2)the bar

atuvera sardina anchoasardine with beetroot cream, anchovy with carrot purée

IMG_6131secreto (pork) burgers

atuvera (4)cornflake breaded chicken

atuvera (5)cod in squid ink batter

atuvera (6)

IMG_6135pork cheeks with hoisin mayo

atuvera carlosowner Carlos

atuvera (3)

atuvera (9)Lola Flores statue in the square

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El Bichero

el bichero

El Bichero (The Boathook) is a relatively new restaurant just off Jerez’s main Arenal Plaza, opened in 2011 by Fermín Anguita. There’s a pleasant outside terrace, a restaurant upstairs and – my favourite spot – a small bar downstairs for tapas (though you can also order from the restaurant menu at the bar). Specialities are local fish and seafood, but there are some good meat options too. Good wine list, nice staff… a must-visit whenever I’m in Jerez.

Pescadería Vieja 2
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel 956 342 986
€ € € €

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Food 8 | Wine 8 | Service 8 | Ambiance 8

el bichero (13)

el bichero gambas saladsalpicón de gambas

el bichero smoked sardineCantabrian achovies

IMG_5015smoked salmon

IMG_4995blue tuna tataky with soy sauce

el bichero sanlucar prawnsgrilled prawns

el bichero calamar arroxstewed squid with rice

el bichero chipichipirón and chips

el bichero mollejasgrilled sweetbreads and chips

el bichero chocos calamarefried calamari & chocos

el bichero cazon adobocazón (dogfish) in adobo

el bichero arroz marineroarroz marinero

el bichero Maitre Henry, owner Fermín and VIP cliente Narcisomaitre Henry, owner Fermín and VIP cliente Narciso

el bichero fish displayfish display

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Tabanco El Pasaje

el pasaje

Tabancos are a combination of tavern and wine shop that is typical of Jerez de la Frontera. Wines (sherries) are sold either by the bottle (to take away or consume on the premises), or direct from small casks. Tapas are also sold, and there is a close association between tabancos and the culture of flamenco.

El Pasaje is probably the oldest still existing tabanco in Jerez, dating officially to its founding by Don José González Navarro in 1925, though prior to that it had been first a food shop and then a peña (flamenco club) for local waiters. It’s name (the passage) derives from the fact that it has two entrances in parallel streets. Under the current management a small side room that had been blocked off has been reopened.

There are regular flamenco events (times vary depending on time of year), and often impromptu performances, with a great atmosphere. The wines (sherry) are by Maestro Sierra, and there’s a very nice range of cheese and meat tapas, montaditos, and a few hot dishes. Bar service only.

Santa María, 8
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel 956 333 359
€ €

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Food 7 | Wine 9 | Service 7 | Ambiance 9

el pasaje barrels

el pasaje quesocheese and beer

el pasaje mojamaamontillado with mojama (cured tuna)

el pasaje front roomthe front room

el pasaje variadastapas variadas

el pasaje sherry flightsherry flight

el pasaje chicharrones cadizchicharrones de Cádiz

el pasaje lomolomo in PX sauce

el pasaje chicharronesoloroso and chicharrones

el pasaje impromptuimpromptu afternoon performance

el pasaje back roomthe back room with stage

el pasaje showscheduled evening show

spontaneous Sevillanos

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Cuchara de Palo


Cuchara de Palo (formerly Ajonegro) is a bit of a walk out from the centre, but it is worth the effort. Located in the NH Hotel, it’s not the sort of place I’d normally be attracted to, but the setting is spacious and bright, with lots of natural light from the massive floor to ceiling windows. There is also a terrace, though it’s on a rather trafficky street.

The menu hasn’t changed much since it changed hands. You can find both tapas and raciones and it’s a nice mix of traditional and fusion (mostly Asian influences). Must tries include the beautiful artichoke “flowers”, which taste as gorgeous as they look, and we also liked the courgette “pasta” with watercress pesto and the grilled presa Ibérica. The wine list is interesting with lots of good options by the glass.

Service was a bit… weird… with the waiter first telling us we couldn’t drink the tap water because it came from the well (huh?) and that we’d have to order mineral water. We didn’t. Though perhaps he was just having a bad day because he seemed to warm up after awhile and get a bit chatty. But really… a smile goes a long way.

Avda Alcalde Álvaro Domecq, 10
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel 956 33 23 71
€ € € €

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Food 8 | Wine 8 | Service 7 | Ambiance 7

ajonegro bar

cuchara de palo (3)

cuchara de palo (2)

ajonegro artichokesgrilled artichoke flowers with olive oil

cuchara de palo cazoncazón (marinated small shark) in batter

ajonegro burgermini beef burger with bacon

ajonegro chickenpanko breaded chicken with guacamole

cuchara de palo calabacin pastacourgette “pasta” with pancetta, watercress pesto & parmesan

ajonegro prawnsking prawns in tempura with kimchee

cuchara de palo rib stripsstrips of pork ribs with shiitakes and bamboo shoot

cuchara de palo presagrilled presa Ibérica with chips

cuchara de palo (4)

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Updated June 2016

alboresAlbores has more than doubled in size since my first visits, having expanded into the space next door. What used to be the entire restaurant is now a bar area with both low and high tables, and the new spacious dining area is stylish and comfortable. There is also an ample terrace on the pedestrianised street. And the location is also very good, just of the Plaza Arenal. The only thing that hasn’t kept up is the service. Head-set wearing staff are now less friendly and efficient than previously.

The menu, with daily specials, has also seemed to have suffered after the expansion in terms of quality and consistency, and tends to be hit and miss. The all-day kitchen makes it a popular spot for tourists, but it’s definitely not as good as it used to be.

Calle Consistorio 12
Jerez de la Frontera
All-day kitchen 13.00 – midnight
Tel 956 32 02 66
€ € € €

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Food 7 | Wine 8 | Service 5 | Ambiance 7

albores (4)

albores (2)

albores grilled veggrilled veggies

albores puntillitaspuntillitas (small whole squid)

albores pulpo tempuraoctopus in tempura

albores calamarcalamares

albores croquetasprawn fritters

albores croquetasprawn and spinach croquetas with pistachio sauce

albores tuna ventrescagrilled tuna belly with creamy soy sauce and tomato jam

albores morcillacrispy grilled morcilla de Burgos

albores albondigasmeatballs and chips

albores keftakofte lamb kebab with yoghurt sauce

albores presapresa Ibérica a la plancha

albores carrilladacarrillada Ibérica

albores presa salmorejopresa Ibérica with salmorejo and jamón Ibérico

albores profiteralsprofiteroles

albores browniechocolate brownie

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albores (5)

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Updated June 2016


A stylish modern restaurant with a small tapas bar area and covered terrace (the latter not ideal due to its location on a busy street, just down the road from the Royal Andalucian School of Equestrian Art). Chef Israel Ramos has created a pleasant menu of contemporary tapas and raciones – some favourites include the asparagus in tempura, confit pork jowl with grilled octopus, and the secreto meatballs. Service is professional but could be a bit friendlier. Good wine list.

address Conjunto Residencial Valdespino 6 /corner Divina Pastora
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel 956 34 64 88
€ € € €

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Food 8 | Wine 8 | Service 7 | Ambiance 8

albala (2)

albala (13)

albala tortillitatortilla de camarones

albala croquetascroquetas de rabo de toro (oxtail)

albala asparagusasparagus in tempura with soy mayo

albala tacocochinita taco with chilli threads

albala chili prawnschili prawns

albala albondigassecreto Ibérico meatballs with baby broadbeans and baby octopus

albala pulpo papadaconfit pork jowl with grilled octopus and artichokes

albala (3)

albala (10)

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Casa Balbino

Updated March 2017

Casa Balbino could lay a very reasonable claim to being the best known bar in Sanlúcar, its fame due in part to its prime location on the pretty main town square, its age, and its reputation of being the place that all visitors have to go to at least once. I’m not sure that it quite lives up to the hype, but its still a very typical bar in a prime location, with reliably good food. It’s been going from strength to strength since founder Balbino Izquierdo Aldea arrived in 1924 and joined the staff of a small ultramarinos (grocer/corner shop), became its proprietor, and extended the business by opening a bar in the adjoining property. More recently it has also extended into Plaza de Victoria with a separate location that shares the same kitchen.

The bar is actually quite large, half essentially stand-at-the-bar or at the small shelves along the walls, the other half with about eight or nine tall tables with seating. Decor is dozens of old framed photos, mainly of bullfighting or scenes of the old town. The signature dish is undoubtedly the tortillita de camarones (shrimp fritter), and the menu is heavily biased towards local fish and seafood. And yes, you probably should come here at least once while you’re in Sanlúcar. But check the seafood prices before ordering… those large prawns can end up costing about 4€ each. Also be aware that it’s all self-service and the place can get crazy busy, so you’ll have to be very proactive about getting your food and drink. But the barmen are very friendly and helpful and, if you give them a wave, they will come over to refill your sherry glass.

Plaza del Cabildo, 14
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Tel 956 36 05 13
€ € €

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Food 6 | Wine 7 | Service 7 | Ambiance 7

balbino (15)
balbino self service
balbino tortillitastortillitas de camarones (prawn fritters)

tortillita perfection

balbino croquetascroquetas de merluza (hake)

balbino aubergine
balbino presa

balbino pincho morunopincho moruno (lamb kebab)

breaded cuttlefish

balbino langostinoslangoustinos – 4€ each!

balbino chistorraschistorras (spicy chorizos)

balbino gambas al ajillogambas al ajillo

pork meatballs in tomato sauce

balbino (16)

balbino (14)

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Updated March 2017

Taberna Der Guerrita

Taberna Guerrita came highly recommended as one of *the* bars to check out in Sanlúcar. The bar was actually rather nice, pleasantly rustic without overdoing it, and with a local neighbourhood feel. We had been told that the food was original and varied, but the tapas menu turned out to be modest in size. Favourite tapa was the mojama, some of the best I’ve had anywhere. And as you might imagine, there was a very good wine list with many good by-the-glass options at very reasonable prices.

Guerrita is well known for its “sacristy” (in the sherry world a section of a bodega used for special wines), a room/shop adjacent to the bar used for holding catas (wine tastings). The evening we were there there was a cata in progress, hosted by owner Armando Guerra, despite the fact that we had been told only a couple of hours earlier that there was no cata that night, and Armando would be free to meet with us. So we missed out on two of our reasons for being there. Next time!

Calle San Salvador, 34
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Tel 697 826 096
€ € €

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Food 6 | Wine 8 | Service 6 | Ambiance 7

guerrita bar

guerrita mojamamojama (cured tuna)

guerrita carne salsameat in sauce

guerrita champis jamonmushrooms filled with bacon

guerrita wine tasting

guerrita nook

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