This blog post was originally posted on June 27, 2016, and was updated on March 23, 2017.
We’ve all heard the famous phrase, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’, but, in Seville, what exactly does it mean to eat like a Sevillano?
We all yearn to avoid tourist traps, immerse ourselves into the authentic way of life and experience the best of the best in any new city, but with such diversity in Spain, what it means to eat like a local is something that varies wildly depending on where you are.
Up north, we have skewered deliciousness in the form of pintxos, along central Spain, bigger shared plates called raciones, and our southern style of eating is the iconic tapas tradition – so how are visitors expected to keep up?!
Never fear, we’ve got you covered! Go where the locals go, eat as the Sevillanos eat and live a truly authentic experience in our beautiful city with these tips on how to eat like a local in Seville.
Photo Credit: Nicolas Vollmer, Text overlay: Devour Spain.
1. Get your timing right
Meal times are perhaps one of the most difficult things to adjust to when you arrive in Spain. Breakfast is later, lunch is later and, you guessed it, dinner is much later than visitors are used to! It may seem hard to believe, but authentic, local breakfast bars won’t be full until about 10:30 am or even 11:00 am when people step out from work for a hearty brekkie before getting back to it.
Lunch then won’t come around until between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, where Seville’s tapas bars are heaving with locals sipping a cruzcampo and devouring some delicious tapas. And dinner? Most restaurants will open about 8/8:30 pm for dinner but locals won’t arrive until 9:00 pm – at the earliest!
2. Breakfast time is tostada time
The breakfast at your hotel may be tempting, but having a delicious tostada topped tomato, or even with amazing jamón and olive oil, as well as the ultimate Sevillano sandwich the tostada de pringá– a pork stew toastie which is not often found outside the city, makes for a much more authentic desayuno.
There are a number of amazing breakfast places in Seville, but nothing beats the pringá at Bodega el Picadero (Calle Qrguilo, 6) or the fresh bread and local feel of La Cacharrería (Calle Regina, 14), where even our gluten-free friends can enjoy their tostada!
3. Tame your sweet tooth at ‘la merienda’
Seville, and Spain in general, may not be widely known for their desserts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a sweet tooth! The afternoon snack, or ‘la merienda’, is when you’ll see locals filing into pastry shops all over Seville to get their sweet hit! La Campana (Calle Sierpes, 1), a pastry shop which has been serving locals since 1885, is THE place to get a delicious pastry in the city and their torrijas (Spanish-style French toast bathed in sugar and honey) are unmissable.
Have you been dreaming of chowing down on some churros ever since you booked your trip? We don’t blame you! During the week, churros are a very typical merienda snack, but at the weekend, you will see Sevillanos enjoying some authentic churros for breakfast! The best churros in the city are found in Bar El Comercio (Calle Lineros, 9), a small, historic bar in Seville.
4. Have your main meal at lunch
Life in Seville centers around food and the most important meal of the day is definitely lunch. Until you’ve had your almuerzo, it’s still technically morning – even if it’s 2:00pm! The iconic Menú del Día is something you’ll see all over Spain, but Seville is one of few cities where you can (and probably should) have tapas for lunch. Head to local favorite Antigua Abacería de San Lorenzo (Calle Teodosio, 53), a gem of a restaurant in the Alameda neighborhood, and share some delicious plates among locals
5. Keep dinner light
After a significant lunch, dinner is typically one of the lighter meals of the day. The social side of food is extremely important to Sevillanos, so the tapeo, the tapas bar crawl through the city, is crucial if you’re trying to figure out how to eat like a local in Seville. To start, hop into small, lively tapas bar La Taberna, then head to nearby Bodeguita Romero and round it off with a trip to Bodega Antonio Romero in the Arenal neighborhood to really do as the locals do.
6. That paella may not be as traditional as you think…
We often get asked, ‘Where’s the best paella in Seville?’ but, the difficulty is, in order to get truly, authentic paella you really have to head to the home of the rice dish in Valencia, or a restaurant run by a Valenciano. While many restaurants offer it, it’s typically not fresh and the huge, brightly colored pictures of paella lining the door of a restaurant tend to indicate a major tourist trap!
…and while we’re at it, set down that sangria too!
We hate to destroy everything you thought you know about Spain, but, just like paella, sangria is typically more of a drink for tourists when served in bars and restaurants. We do drink sangria in Seville, but typically it’s something we make for special occasions or gatherings at home.
To make a proper sangria takes time and requires soaking the fruit in some form of alcohol (often rum or brandy), sometimes even overnight! So forget the sangria (and it’s inflated price tag!) and try a tinto de verano instead. A red wine based drink, a cloudy light lemonade is mixed with the vino and simply served with ice. This drink is not only delicious and refreshing but will often be nearly half the price of a sangria!
7. Don’t miss out on the local aperitif tradition
For Sevillanos, the pre-dinner aperitif is almost as crucial as the meal itself! Once an old lady’s drink, vermouth is experiencing a revolution in Spain and there are a number of great places to enjoy a delicious vermouth, such as El Comercio (Calle Lineros, 9) before your meal. Or, sip a traditional orange wine at Álvaro Peregil (Calle Mateos Gagos, 22) – a tiny, hole in the wall bar near the Cathedral that, over 100 years ago, introduced the sweet vino de naranja to the city of Seville.
And once the meal has started? Typically people will drink wine with dinner (and plenty of it!), but given its origins in the nearby province of Jerez, you’ll see a whole host of locals sipping glasses of sherry with their meals. Casa Morales (Calle García de Vinuesa, 11) have a wide selection of sherries available, and an extensive menu of amazing tapas to match!
Check out the video below to take a look inside Álvaro Peregil’s namesake bar, and a few more of our favorite foodie spots in Seville!
8. Be prepared to eat standing
In Seville, a busy bar is a good bar! To eat like a local in Seville is to nudge your way through a bustling crowd up to the bar, claim a corner for your own and stand at the bar while you eat. There are, of course, a number of great sit-down restaurants in the city, but the vibrant atmosphere of a busy bar is something Sevillanos thrive on!
As you’ll be standing for your meal, there’s no point ordering a huge feast right off the bat. Your best bet is to get a drink as you browse the menu and start your meal small, a tapa or two to share around, and then add more tapas as you go until you’re full, or until you’re on to the next bar!
9. Step inside the city’s marketplaces
In Seville, markets are not just to buy your produce and take it home, but also offer a great chance to try the delicious, fresh food on site. Our favorite markets to enjoy Sevillano cuisine are Mercado de Triana (Calle San Jorge, 6) and the Mercado de Feria (Plaza Calderón de la Barca), the oldest market in the city. With fresh fish, cooked fresh to order, delicious meats and some great rice dishes, there is a something for everyone and the markets are one of a number of unmissable places to eat in Seville.
10. Pay at the end of your meal and don’t overdo the tip
Typically, tapas bars will keep a running tab of everything you’ve ordered and you pay at the end. This makes life a bit easier for everyone involved, but the question is, how much should you tip? Tipping is welcome in Spain and if you’ve had a great experience in a restaurant, by all means tip, but it is not compulsory and doesn’t have to be the 15%-25% expected in other countries. Generally speaking, locals will round up the bill (think leaving €30 for a bill of €27) if they’ve enjoyed themselves.
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After studying in Andalusia, Jaimie made sure he was on the first possible flight back to Seville—the day after graduation! Many years later, he is fully immersed in Spain’s culinary world and has shown thousands of guests the secrets of sherry and tapas.