1 The Michelin-starred restaurant María José San Román of Michelin starred Monastrell (7 Calle Rafael Altamira) is fanatical about the Mediterranean diet. Dishes such as her peas with lobster guacamole (pictured below) have the fantastic quality of seeming like an indulgence while actually being refreshingly light for a Michelin-starred restaurant.
2 Glamorous gastrobar Herring might seem like a surprise addition to the menu at El Portal (2 Calle Bilbao), but it pairs the cold-water fish with passionfruit and mango to vibrant effect.
3 World-class tapas It’s five years since La Taberna del Gourmet (10 Calle San Fernando) was named Spain’s best tapas bar by the prestigious Lo Mejor de la Gastronomia guide, but there’s no sign that it’s losing its edge. Its formula for serving world-class foods like jamón Ibérico de Bellota in a trendy bar environment remains a winning one.
4 Chef’s favourite When the likes of world-acclaimed chefs Ferran Adrià and Joël Robuchon visit Alicante, they head to Nou Manolin (3 Calle Villegas) for local specialities such as fat red prawns caught the same morning, or rice with rabbit and snails.
5 Authentic cooking The grilled octopus at Restobar Gema Penalva (9 Calle Canalejas) 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.
6 Best for paella If you’re walking up to the castle through the whitewashed houses of Santa Cruz, stop off at Rincón de Antonio (13 Calle San Rafael) for paella. It’s served sizzling from the pan with an authentic caramelised socarrat (crust) at the bottom.
7 Bargain 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 (12 Calle San Francisco). If you have room, a must-try are the crisp-but-sticky fried aubergines in honey.
8 Try the 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 (22 Plaza Gabriel Miró).
HOW TO DO IT
Flights from a range of UK airports to Alicante from easyJet.com. Lovely double rooms are available at Hospes Amérigo, a converted convent on the edge of the old town (7 Calle Rafael Altamira), or there are doubles at cheap but characterful Hotel Les Monges (4 Calle San Agustín).
Words TREVOR BAKER Photographs TREVOR BAKER, ALAMY
TRUST olive 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.
You might also like
Naples, Italy: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide
Manhattan, New York: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide
Toulouse, France: Marina O’Loughlin’s best restaurants, food markets and hotels
Marrakech, Morocco: Marina O’Loughlin’s best restaurants and hotels
Queens, New York City: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide
Portland, Oregon: Marina O’Loughlin’s food and drink guide
Cork, Ireland: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food, drink and hotel guide
London’s best food markets, chosen by Marina O’Loughlin
Limousin, France: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food, drink and hotel guide
Dublin, Ireland: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide