El Puerto de Santa Maria

Ahhh El Puerto de Santa Maria, my home. There are so many great places in what seems to be a sleepy little sherry producing, gin making, port town. El Puerto is spread out so I am going to focus on the downtown area in this post because if I didn’t this post would be too long. Although most of downtown appears to be dilapidated you will find doors open to beautiful patio gardens and people who are passionate about what they make and where they live. Besides the bull ring, the castle and fantastic beaches, this town packs a big punch in terms of places to eat and drink, you just have to be willing to find it (don’t worry, shopping will come later). In fact, Puerto is home to a restaurant that holds two Michelin Stars (2010 & 2014): Aponiente, with it’s famous chef, Ángel Léon. Aponiente,  I am assuming is worth the money  but hey, let’s start with breakfast.

Best Breakfast

Cafe La Ponderosa- La Ponderosa has been serving up tasty morsels since 1972 and is closed on Thursdays. You can’t miss it because it has a cream and brown veranda. Besides the visual molestation of stripes,  you will find great coffee and the best churros with chocolate in El Puerto, do I need to say more? If you are ever in a bind to find a dessert for a party, go here and buy one of theirs or just walk in one afternoon and pull an Emmy and shove some cake in your face. Avenida de la Constitución 6

Martin’s Coffee- A cafe right off of avenida de descubrimiento on avenida poeta Rafael Alberti is a crazy good pastry and coffee shop, definitely off the path of the normal downtown area but worth a venture to discover their delicious delicacies. You can also get an American sized coffee, WHAT?! Avenids Poeta Rafale Alberti 2

Le Croissant Frances– You can’t get coffee here, but Saturday, March 7, Jean is having a tasting of four new types of bread from 9am to 8:30pm, so stop by! Le Croissant Frances is right infront of the Cathedral on your way to the market and by the plaza de flores. You have to buy a Trenza, it is a raspberry pastry, I also bought the Pan Aux Raisin, confessions of a fat kid. He speaks English, French and Spanish. He also creates some damn delicious bread. Did I mention his french cakes? No? Well you can buy them to go, including chocolate, truffle and almond atll for around 15 euro for the entire cake!

Lunch or Dinner

Antojitos- What can I say, Antojitos was the first restaurant I actually liked in El Puerto and my husband’s friend Karl suggested we go. Javier, the owner, speaks French, English and Spanish and spent his life traveling and cooking around the world and was once in Southern California cooking away. His hard work has definitely paid off, Antojitos is my number one spot to grab a bite to eat and I have literally tried everything on the menu. Make sure you listen to the specials, they rotate but some of the best sellers are usually a staple special. My personal favorites: rucola salad, huevos antojitos, bacalao tempura, eggplant Spanish tortillas, vaporized strawberries with cheese that looks like ice cream and the list could shamelessly go on. Don’t miss the gin and tonic that Javier makes, it goes down a little too easily, he also offers excellent wine pairings. It is also a vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurant. Closed on Tuesdays, opens at 8pm for dinner. Avenida de Baja Mar 6

 

La Micaela- The first time I walked in this restaurant, I walked in because I loved the bright blue sign and decor. Like a couple other restaurants, La Micaela also features local artists on their walls so the decor is always changing. Confession, I have only shared this restaurant with two friends because I have been selfish and enjoy going to a restaurant where there are not a lot of Americans. Let’s start off with appetizers, you have to go with patatas el mojon picon, (potatoes with spicy mojo sauce) and then order croquetas de guacamole. Any salad here is legit. Some of my favorites for dinner are cous cous con pavo (duck), huevos Micaela, which is a beautifully designed dish and their quesadilla de carne is also exquisite. They filet a damn good steak too. Jose and Nuria are both great people and you should definitely pay their place a visit. Closed on Wednesdays. Hours 12:30-4pm, 8:30-Midnight, Calle Micaela Aranburu 26.

 

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Dinner Only

La Cata Ciega- La Cata Ciega literally translates to the blind wine tasting but trust, this blind tasting will leave you nothing but closing your eyes form the delicious food and having the sound mmmm coming out of your mouth. This boutique gourmet wine and tapa bar is tucked away and if you aren’t careful you will walk right past it. The staff is personable and recommends pairings for either the wine you want to drink or the food you want to eat, choose what is more important to you but they wont’ disappoint you. I tried tuna was carmelized onions and sherry, which I typically don’t drink but WOW. La Cata Ciega, clearly doesn’t have a blind man’s taste because it is impeccably decorated. The atmosphere is cozy and the table you eat on is made out of wine boxes with glass on top. This place is great for a date or better yet ladies or couples night out where you do a wine and food pairing as a group. English and Spanish is spoken here and they take reservations. You can find La Cata Ciega on calle Ribera del Rio nº 32 or call 622 84 33 74.

 

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 Restaurante El Arriate- Just a warning:there are two Arriates, you want the Arriate on calle de los moros 4 and is marked with a wooden door. Once you enter, you know you found a hidden gem right in the midst of El Puerto. This restaurant is splendid and away from the main restaurant scene. You can choose to sit outside in the breathtaking patio or opt to go inside, which is more eclectic. El Arriate also showcases local art. The restaurant boasts an innovative menu with an attentive staff. Try the ricotta with honey, octopus or the sirloin. This place is great for dates. The Hours 1-4pm 8pm-12am, calle de los moros 4 but I recommend making a reservation, 630 746 946.
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Aponiente-If you want to throw down 110-140 euro a meal, this is the place to do it. With two Michelin Stars, chef Angel Leon is the definition of badassery in terms of creative cooking genius. The man literally scours the earth (both land and sea) and constructs unique culinary dishes from things like plankton. Visit his web site for more details but the menu for 2015 isn’t out yet and his restaurant won’t be open till March. Opens Tuesday through Saturday, 13:45 to 16:15 and C/ Puerto Escondido nº6 and 20:30 to 23:15 in calle Puerto Escondido nº6.
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