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Alicante, Spain: top 10 places to eat and drink

It’s worth lingering in this sun-baked city on Spain’s south-east coast to make the most of local squid, saffron-spiked rice dishes and turrón made from local honey and almonds

1. Bar hop

The main attraction of La Taberna del Gourmet is eating tapas at the bar, although there’s a separate space for larger groups and tables for those who prefer to eat from the main taverna menu. This is a region famous for its vegetables, so home-in on stovetop veg, fried baby artichokes and asparagus with romesco sauce. latabernadelgourmet.com

2. Saffron queen

An elegant building at the water’s edge, Monastrell is owned by María José San Román, locally dubbed the ‘saffron queen’. Any dish that includes saffron and rice, another of María José’s areas of expertise, will be skilfully done, but the most luxurious is the lobster caldoso braised with wild fennel. monastrell.com

3. Ham it up

In the Alicante area, some of the best cured meats, cheeses and fish preserves can be found at Jabuguito. Always select a jamón Ibérico de bellota. Ideally have it carved or sliced on the day you want to eat it and serve it at room temperature. jabuguitoo.com

4. Fine wines

The Alicante region is proud of its winemaking tradition. Bodegas Gutiérrez de la Vega makes wine in Parcent, north of the city, using moscatell and monastrell grapes. You can find bottles of the winery’s Casta Diva Moscatel Blanco Seco and Casta Diva Rojo y Negro at the Bernardino wine shop. bodegabernardino.es

Prawns in sauce

5. Lunch with a view

On your way to or from Castillo de Santa Bárbara stop for lunch at La Ereta. This modern restaurant is set in the heights of Parque de La Ereta and offers spectacular views of Alicante. Book before you go, then sit back and enjoy one of three seasonal set menus. Try the cuttlefish fideuà pasta. laereta.es

6. Safe harbour

Eating out in the port area is a great way to finish off a day at the beach. At Dársena rice is the speciality. Start with the Alicantinos appetisers, a tasting dish of cod fritters, squid and shrimp. Move on to the a banda rice (a dry-style rice) with fish broth, prawn and squid, or gamba roja (red prawns). darsena.com

7. Food theatre

The typical Alicante gastronomic experience involves a large bar filled with stunning food and a kitchen that interacts so closely with the bar that the bar staff come across as chefs. Nou Manolin and sister restaurant-cum-tapas bar, Piripi, are just such places. Try the huevos rotos (broken eggs with Ibérico ham) or, for a more traditional Alicante experience, choose from three styles of rice dishes – dry, soupy and creamy. noumanolin.com

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8. Mountain highs

For a taste of the country, head to Nou Salat in the small valley of Guadalest in the mountains around 45 minutes’ drive from Alicante. Homely dishes such as aspencat (roasted vegetables) or pericana (dried peppers, tomatoes and salt cod) are often on the menu, as are local sausages and rice dishes prepared on open fires. Sweet treats include amojabana (sweet fried rings of olive oil dough) and  pumpkin and chocolate pudding. Carretera Callosa-Km 2, Guadalest (00 34 965 885 019)

9. Sweet treats

Turrón is the Spanish Christmas treat. A honey and nut speciality made predominantly from marcona almonds, it comes in many styles. Usually it’s either hard (resembling a brittle nougat) or soft (like halva in texture). At Jijona, just outside Alicante, you can visit factories such as Turrones Pablo Garrigós Ibáñez, whose products are also sold at El Corte Inglés in Alicante. elcorteingles.es

10. Salted fish

Salazones are a coastal speciality in this region and date back to the Phoenicians. Many varieties and cuts of oily fish are cured to provide strongly flavoured and highly nutritious ingredients. For the best, head to Vicente Leal’s stall in the city’s Central Market, and look for mojama; salted and cured tuna loin (if there’s any cut from the almadraba catch, the tuna harvest that takes place in June, grab it – it’s very rare). Avenida de Alfonso X El Sabio 8


How to do it:

Return flights from a range of UK airports to Alicante start from around £50 (easyjet.com). Amerigo premium apartments, part of the smart Hotel Hospes Amerigo, start from 80, room-only, for two people (hospes.com/hotel-amerigo).

More info: alicanteturismo.com


Trust olive

Monika Linton is the founder of Brindisa, the Spanish foods store and restaurant/tapas bar company (brindisa.com). Her new book, Brindisa: the True Food of Spain (£29.95, 4th Estate), is now on sale.

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