La Herradura is a pretty village located along the south coast of Spain, in the rocky region of Andalusia. I’m fortunate enough to have visited this lovely place last weekend and benefited from it’s crystal clear waters, sunshine and, of course, delicious food.
Frequent visitors to Andalusia will know it’s custom there to receive a complimentary tapas with every drink ordered (in general you get one tapas between two). My three travel companions and myself took advantage of this and tried to visit as many bars and restaurants as possible for the two nights we were there. Here’s a rundown of where we went.
This little bar is set just slightly inland and mostly attracts locals. We ordered some drinks and the first complimentary tapas to come out was a gorgeous meat stew served with a slither of Spanish tortilla and some bread. I think the meat was a mix of pork and rabbit – it was an extremely tasty little plate of food and the sauce was perfect to mop up with the bread.
Just after the next round of drinks were brought out came a good plate of little battered fish – I assume whitebait. I snuffled this one all to myself and I’m glad I did – the batter on the outside was crispy and thinly surrounded the actual fish, which was succulent and had a good, strong flavour. It was just a squeeze of lemon and dollop of aioli away from heaven.
My dining group consisted of a vegetarian and someone who didn’t eat fish – unfortunately the vast majority of El Salon’s dishes are either meat or fish. As someone who will eat everything and anything, I would’ve stayed there all night drinking Tinto de Veranos and sampling their traditional and delicious array of tapas, but in a large group with different dietary requirements you might have some trouble.
Amount spent: 13 euros paid for 6 alcoholic drinks, 3 decent plates of tapas were free (we got 2 of the pork and rabbit stew).
The bottom line: Authentic and traditional tapas bar – if you want a real taste of rustic Andalusia and are an avid meat/fish eater, this is perfection. By far my favourite of the bars we visited.
Just slightly down the road from El Salon is Bola Marina, which has a more refined decor and attracts a mix of locals and tourists. There was no room at the bar so instead we sat down at a table and ordered some drinks, which came out pretty quickly alongside some lovely toasted mini bagels with cheese and some sort of salami. By this point the non-meat eaters in our group were all absolutely ravenous, so we decided to actually pay for some food as well. A friend had raved about the meatballs here, so I knew I had to try them. Needless to say they did not disappoint; served in a delicious pepper sauce with super-skinny fries, they were absolutely divine.
The vegetarian in our group was very happy with her choice – fried aubergine with camembert. I had a little taster and it was delicious, particularly the aubergine – which sometimes I find has a slight bitterness about it, though on this occasion that was certainly not the case. Our other choice was calamaritos – fried baby squid – which were also very good. I loved the fact that the whole body of these little squid could be eaten in just one bite and they were certainly a bit sweeter than their adult counterparts.
Amount spent: To be honest I lost track of this somewhat but tapas were slightly more expensive, around 6 or 7 euros each – still good value for money as the portion sizes were quite large. We also got one free with our round of drinks.
The bottom line: Upmarket and slightly more pricey but absolutely delicious and able to cater for a wide variety of different dietary requirements.
Across the bridge from Bola Marina is another more traditional bar/restaurant called Mesón Baena. Quite a lot of people were watching the football in the front bar so we chose to sit in the restaurant part towards the back of the premises.
Our drinks were accompanied by some traditional Spanish tortilla. Usually I’m not a massive fan, but this one was light and quite good although it could’ve done with being a little warmer. We ordered a tomato and avocado salad which was fresh and went down well with a little oil and vinegar added.
Amount spent: Again I was a bit terrible at keeping track of this but all in all it was fairly cheap, particularly as most of us were drinking wine or Tintos de Verano.
The bottom line: I wish I got to try a few more dishes out here as it looked like it was the venue of choice for a lot of locals. Cheap and food was decent.
Full disclosure, we all had quite a lot to drink during the day and by the time we got around to walking along the seafront we were all pretty ready to have a final drink somewhere quiet and go home. So in we stumbled to a little canteen-style place hosting only one other group of people. We ordered our drinks not really expecting the usual complimentary tapas to be applicable here but, to our surprise, out came a little plate of food. I didn’t get a picture of these, but they were mini burgers that, to my already-stuffed dining party, looked a little underwhelming. I decided to give them a go anyway. They were actually quite nice – the burgers were flavoursome and contained a little chilli relish on top of the beef.
Amount spent: 4 Tintos de Veranos came to about 7 or 8 euros, the little burgers were free.
The bottom line: Probably wouldn’t go just for food again but the Tintos were decent and it was cheap.
At this point we all gave into tiredness/too much drink and headed home. There’s still plenty of places we didn’t visit in the little horseshoe bay of La Herradura and I’m sure there’s many more gems to be discovered. The benefit of staying somewhere which is still, to some extent, quite rural is that you get a good selection of very traditional places that give you a more authentic, rough-and-ready flavour of Andalusia. All four of us went back to our holiday home from our little tapas crawl very full and very happy.