Benidorm may be better known for its package holiday crowds and perma-sunshine than its cuisine, with a panoply of ketchup-happy takeaway restaurants and English pubs best frequented by the colourful characters of TV’s Benidorm. However, determined foodies holidaying in Benidorm can still salvage some quality establishments if they search hard enough.
There’s a high concentration of Spanish, tapas and regional restaurants at the Plaza de la Constitución end of Calle Santo Domingo, although most of the good finds are around the more upmarket quarter of Playa de Poniente, also known as ‘Spanish Beach’, due to its enduring popularity with local lunching families. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best authentic eateries in Benidorm…
La Cava Aragonesa
The town’s oldest tapas bar is an atmospheric haunt in the midst of the Old Town’s maze – this is where many locals head to, so expect to dig your elbows in at the bar. A good variety of tapas is served here, many of the creations are so artfully arranged it almost seems a shame to eat them. Get adventurous and try some local delicacies such as stuffed lamb’s stomach or callos, a rich, meaty stew of tripe and tomatoes.
Perhaps the area’s premier fine dining spot lies just a few miles north of Benidorm in the lively village of La Nucia. This Michelin-approved place has been home to the Ti Pere el Tardá winery for nearly a century, so it’s no surprise to find a bodega with an exhaustive and authoritative list of over 1,000 wines here. There’s a tempting tasting menu and many historical dishes passed through the family are given imaginative modern twists, such as shingles of hake with pickled garlic and creamy blackened artichoke.
Tucked away in the English Quarter’s Hotel Belroy is this refined, airy place with huge windows which has carved out a niche for itself in the field of ‘molecular gastronomy’, the laboratory style of precision cuisine popularised by Catalonia’s Ferran Adria and our own Heston Blumenthal. You can watch the chefs at work conjuring up challenging specialities like baked hake stuffed with sea urchins, caramelized foie gras and a dessert menu packed with equally intriguing French surprises.
El Barranco Playa
One of a number of popular places around the seafront avenue of Calle Vicente Llorca Alos Barranco specialises mostly in seafood, deliciously grilled meats and hearty rice dishes, such as Arroz Ala Banda (rice cooked in fish stock, and originally cooked on fishing boats) which are thought to be the best in town. The elegant outdoor terrace and relaxed, friendly service may well encourage you to linger longer.
This cosy, traditional bodega, complete with the obligatory cured hams dangling from the rafters, is something of an oasis of calm amid the madness of the touristy English strip, serving out reliable steak and fish, alongside no shortage of authentic Andalucian and Valencian specialities.
Ready to take on the challenge and find some authentic Spanish cuisine in Benidorm for yourself? Or maybe you already have some tips for other holidaymakers heading to the Costa Blanca – let us know in the comments below!