Alicante foodie guide: where locals 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
Looking for restaurants in Alicante? Want to know where to eat in the southern Spanish town? Local Monika Linton (founder of Brindisa foods) shares her insider tips for the best restaurants in Alicante, along with where to find the best Spanish wines, jamón and tapas bars.
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La Taberna del Gourmet – for upmarket tapas
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.
Monastrell – for saffron dishes
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.
Bernardino – for Spanish 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.
La Ereta – for 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.
Dársena – for seafood in the port
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).
Nou Manolin/Piripi – for tapas
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.
Nou Salat – for lunch in the mountains
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)
Corte Inglés – for 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.
Central Market – for salted fish in the market
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
Where to stay in Alicante
More places to eat and drink in Alicante
Restobar Gema Penalva – for authentic Alicante cuisine
The grilled octopus at Restobar Gema Penalva sums up everything that’s great about Alicante’s cooking. The peppery fish is served with salty ham and baby lima beans, bringing seaand land together in an explosion of umami.
Rincón de Antonio – for paella
If you’re walking up to the castle through the whitewashed houses of Santa Cruz, stop off at Rincón de Antonio for paella. It’s served sizzling from the pan with an authentic caramelised socarrat (crust) at the bottom.
El Rebujito – for tapas
The secret of tapas bar Calle San Francisco's success is its fantastic deals, like beer and a tapa for just €1.50, as introduced by Andalucian style bar-restaurant El Rebujito. If you have room, a must-try are the crisp-but-sticky fried aubergines in honey.
Vinart – for local wine
Everyone from Shakespeare to American wine critic Robert Parker has raved about Alicante’s powerful, semi-sweet wine fondillón. Buy from the experts at new wine shop Vinart.
Where to stay in Alicante
Lovely double rooms are available at Hospes Amérigo, a converted convent on the edge of the old town. From £136 per night, check availability at booking.com
Doubles at cheap but characterful Hotel Les Monges start from £50 per night, check availability at booking.com
Words by Trevor Baker
Photographs by Trevor Baker and Alamy
Food writer Trevor Baker lives in Alicante and writes about everything from the world's best paella to the history of gazpacho for The Guardian.