Seville – the eating, the drinking & the flamenco dancing

by Karisa

The best food I had in Seville, hands down, was at a little tapas place around the corner from my hotel called Taberna Colonials (do click on this website link – the music is quite fun & makes for a great soundtrack to the rest of this post):


It had become routine for me to order a selection of tapas, a little bit of this and a little bit of that, so I could try a few new things.  But to my surprise, some of the tapas I ordered arrived at my table almost looking like regular sized, main meal plates.  I thought maybe there was a mistake.  But the waitress assured me that’s how they serve their tapas…  this was crazy to me because I already thought the prices were really really good, even if I was just gonna get a regular tapas portion.  Score!

Needless to say I literally rolled outta there.  But with a big smile on my face.  You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck here:


Clockwise from top left: quail egg & serrano ham crostini (1.95 euro), potatoes in “Brava” sauce (1.95 euro) and then the tenderloin in a whisky sauce (2.65 euro).  Everything was soooo good.

Then another place you simply just have to check out, mainly because it’s quite possibly the prettiest place to eat Seville, is Bar Giralda (close to the Seville Cathedral):


The space actually used to be the site of an old Moorish bath…  fancy…


But don’t worry, it’s not just a pretty face. The food’s pretty tasty too:


Left: tempura veggies with crumbed squid heads; Right: a stuffed pork dish with potatoes and a spicy veggie sauce.

Prices were higher here, but not ridiculous in any way.  It’s mainly just because you’re in a peak tourist area.  But come now, how many other opportunities will you have to eat in an old Moorish bath?

The final item on the topic of food is not really specific to Seville, it’s a popular dessert item across Spain: churros served with chocolate sauce.  A churro is kinda like a Spanish doughnut.  It’s deep fried, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  You can get it all over the place, but I chose a little spot in Calle Sierpes:


It certainly doesn’t beat a koeksuster… but it’s tasty. I found the chocolate sauce a bit rich and actually preferred to just sprinkle sugar on my churros. But I’m weird like that, I generally like the plain option.

D, Vo and I actually had a strange encounter with churros when we were at that Rock Werchter music festival in Belgium.  However, we had no clue what they were at the time. From afar they looked like deep fried, tubed mash potatoes.  Doesn’t that sound absolutely heavenly?  Anyways, with that in mind, we asked for ours to be served with sweet chilli sauce… blegh.  Not ideal, definitely not ideal.  I’m glad that I could level out that experience with a good one in Seville.

As for drinks, Bar Alfalfa was my pick for that perfect “casual corner bar with tasty bar snacks” feel:


The wine was good, the vibe inside was super cool and the ladies behind the bar were really warm & lovely.  What’s not to love?


I can highly recommend the carpaccio and some of the bruschetta options that passed by to other tables looked seriously good.

Now for a bit of dancin’…

Flamenco, although danced throughout Spain and across the world, is actually a truly Andalusian (fancy name for Southern Spain) art form.  There are several, quite touristy, flamenco bars in Seville.  I walked past El Patio Sevillano (close to the bullring) and there tickets started at 38 euros and went up to 72 euros if you also wanted dinner.

I wasn’t really too keen on that option to be honest.  I was very nervous that I’d be spending a lot of money just to be bussed in with a whole bunch of other tourists to see something that’s not really as authentic as it would be in just some casual, smoky bar in the middle of a nowhere street in a nowhere suburb of Seville…

Luckily with the help of Foursquare (a very handy app btw), I was able to track down a flamenco bar, where get this, the dancing is FREE – they just expect you to support the bar.

La Carbonería is a small, casual spot.  They’re situated in a very plain neighbourhood and every night, Mon – Sun, after 10pm, the music & the dancing kicks off.

flamenco1 flamenco2

Now flamenco is an interesting dance style in that it doesn’t really have any strict choreography.  Dancers improvise, using the rhythm of the music and how they are feeling at the time to create their dance.  They might express great sadness through their movements or love & happiness, it is really up to each dancer and how they interpret each piece of music.  But it’s not just about the dancer.  Key to the performance is the guitar player who plays a special flamenco guitar as well as the singer, who is usually male from what I’ve seen & read.

Rhythm is key in flamenco.  It’s mainly created by the guitar, but also by hand clapping, the dancer’s feet, and wooden castanets.  However, castanets aren’t always used.  In this little clip I took from the show I saw at La Carbonería, you’ll see the dancer is not using them in this instance.  But there’s a lot of clapping and foot stomping:

I was so glad that I found this spot.  It definitely felt “real”, not a touristy, flashy version of the real thing.  And it was a really great experience as my last hoorah in Seville.  Actually, this was my last hoorah in the whole of Spain, cause the next day I was heading to the Czech Republic…

I loved Spain, and I think my decision to see a bit of the north (San Sebastián) and a bit of the south (Seville), over and above the obvious choices of Barcelona & Madrid, ensured that I got a better feel for all the different cultures and flavours that make up this amazing country.

I left there with only one complaint.  The damn serviettes they provide in restaurants & cafes:


Yeah, it looks cute… but…

They feel like plastic, they don’t absorb anything, they kinda just move things around really. Like a cheap quality towel, that doesn’t actually dry your skin.  You know what I mean?

But hey, if that’s my only complaint.  Life in Spain is really not too bad… 🙂


PS.  Just as another Spain tip before we move on – watch out for pickpockets in Barcelona.  My phone got swiped.  I still dunno how they managed it… they are very slick. But just something to be aware of.  Certainly don’t go there stressing about it.  Mine was a very random incident while doing a load of laundry in one of those self service laundromats.  So just keep those eyes peeled, that’s all I’m saying.


Penelope R Aug 19, 2013 - 12:08 pm

Wow Seville! Looks fabulous

Karisa Aug 19, 2013 - 12:34 pm

It is. I really loved my time there. It’s a very special place…


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