I returned last month to an area of Andalucia that has become a personal favorite. I posted some notes last year about my previous visit, first to Jerez and then on to the area near Barbate and Vejer de la Frontera. Here are those threads, back when I had trouble posting photos.

Three restaurants in Jerez de la Frontera with, beginning at Post #20, RESTAURANTE ANTONIO in Zahara de los Atunes:


RESTAURANTE EL CAMPERO (considered among Spain’s premier fish restaurants)

This year I returned to the Costa de la Luz, after a stay in Cordoba at the HOSPES PALACIO DEL BAILIO. My eating there is in a separate thread.

Following five nights in Cordoba, I was driven to the small airport serving Jerez and Cadiz, where I collected a rental car and drove to my next base, below the “white town,” of Vejer de la Frontera. I spent about twelve nights there during which I returned to three restaurants which have become among my favorites in all of Spain: EL CAMPERO, RESTAURANTE ANTONIO, and LA CASTILLERIA. Each of these is within a 30-minute drive of the town of Vejer. And I added a few restaurants new to me, including a branch of my beloved AZOTEA in Sevilla which has just opened in the beach town of El Palmar de Vejer.


It would be extremely difficult for me to choose my “favorite” restaurant within this fairly small section of the province of Cadiz, but if forced to choose one place where I had to eat every meal for a month, my selection would be ANTONIO, beachfront just outside the coastal town of Zahara de los Atunes. (Zahara (“of the tunas”) is one of the four towns that participate in the almadraba, the spring catching of blue fin tuna (“atun rojo”) using methods dating back to the Phoenician era).

I had several lunches here during my twelve days; this was the first:

Entrante: Very large mussel atop a carrot slice; delicious.

Media raciĂłn of sashimi of the tuna belly, ventresca:

Over the top fabulous flattened artichoke draped with gossamer slice of jamon Iberico, so fat drips down onto artichoke heart; personal favorite:

Tiny clams from Huelva (coquinas), with turmeric bread:

Giant carabinero prawn from Galicia, split and impeccably grilled, with all juicy innards inside:

Total with complimentary glass of vino generous: 90 euro.
You need to phone ahead to book (no online booking); car necessary.


I had a few more lunches at ANTONIO last month; here are photos of other dishes (I usually repeat the artichokes and the carabinero(s) )

Complimentary papas alinadas=fantastic!!

Tortillita de camarones, as good as those at EL FARO DE CADIZ:

Something was a little off with the puntillitas when I had them; I thought they usually removed the little transparent spines but they had not done so that day.
This is usually a lock at ANTONIO.

Half a lobster:

Came with many utensils!!

Complimentary salmorejo:

Sheet of jamon over artichoke:

Pair of carabineros:

Lenguado (sole):



EL CAMPERO in Barbate

I’ve written about this restaurant with accolades in the past. EL CAMPERO might be the most famous tuna restaurant outside Japan and even then, many Japanese make the pilgrimage to this unassuming coastal town about an hour east of Cadiz to sample every part of the fish in various iterations.

Here are some photos from several lunches this past March; I prefer to eat in the bar area but there are more formal dining rooms as well. Reservations are essential here; my usual waiter, Manuel, is a gem. Since I enjoy semi-dry wines, I drink a white Rioja with my lunches: Ladron de Guevara.

Smashingly great lasagna of tuna, one of the stellar complimentary starters:

Sashimi of ventresca, half order:

Closeup illustrating the veins of fat in the toro:

Facera, part of the tuna “face,” the membrane below the eyes; this year’s sauce made with Porto:

The only dish I tried this year at EL CAMPERO that I did not like; the new “bretzel de atun,” or tuna pretzel. Offered as a tapa but too complicated for my taste…too much bread and not enough tuna. Probably a crowd pleaser, nevertheless:


Those artichokes look insane! (Also much of the fish/seafood, of course.) Thanks for writing.

You are so welcome. Honestly, this area is a food paradise with very few foreign tourists and in early spring, not many tourists at all…I will return next year, inshallah!

VENTA PINTO in La Barca de Vejer.

This is a classic roadside “venta,” think of USA interstate food courts and sigh that you do not live in Spain. Ok, its not on the interstate, but ventas are casual dining place often on important roads.

Never mind all that, this is an essential stop for anyone visiting Vejer de la Frontera. It is soon the flatlands below the hill-top “white” town of Vejer.
A classic venta, with a small bodega selling an array of local products including the classic red lard, manteca colora, of Vejer. The red lard is used for smearing onto bread for breakfast or a snack, and also to preserve tuna or, here in Vejer, slices of pork. Think of a confit, more or less. The color comes from smoked paprika, pimenton, from Extremadura.

I’d been to the Venta Pinto’s on earlier visits, to buy sherry or snacks made in Medina Sidonia, but this time, searching for the red lard, I stopped into the actual restaurant: A lively and very casual bar area filled with locals, and a slightly more formal (not really formal at all) main restaurant.

I sat at the bar and for the first time, sampled the bocadilla de manteca. WOWSA, as my SouthAfrican friends would exclaim!! Hey, it’s lard smeared on pork, on crispy hot bread. What could be bad? Nothing!!!

VENTA PINTO has a full menu and seems to be always bustling. I tried only the larded pork sandwich, after which I was on a quest to buy the actual manteca colora, the red lard. (Venta Pinto sells it only with pork slices, which I was scared about bringing home to the US). There is also white lard popular in the region.

After visiting a well-regarded butcher shop near the area of La Patria (El Alcazar) where I passed two packed ventas that might be worth trying; they did not sell the lard) I eventually purchased two containers of the red lard at the nice market in Barbate; which have safely made it back to my refrigerator in NYC. I am still investigating the bread onto which I will smear it.

Here are some pics of VENTA PINTO, a classic of the La Janda area, outside Vejer
de la Frontera, Andalucia:

The bar area, where I sat:

Bar menu:


Tables in bar area:

Daily special:

Sandwich of pork in red lard (4.50euro) huge sandwich…die and go to heaven!!


Please notice blue fin tuna burger on the menu posted on the wall!! I only just saw it for the first time just now…

Anyone here cook with lard for things other than pastry?



PRODUCTS INSIDE THE COLMADO; Pastries, many made with lard and many from nearby Medina Sidonia plus small selection of vinos generosos:

The legendary slices of white pork preserved in the red lard of La Janda:


I usually think that the question: “What is your favorite restaurant in tal city?” is an impossible one to answer. But if pressed about Sevilla, I would have no choice but to respond “AZOTEA.” (I am speaking here only about the location near Gran Poder; I have not dined at AZOTEA in the Santa Cruz area but when I stopped in once to take peek, the staff were very kind.

But to me, AZOTEA is in the Jesus de Gran Poder neighborhood.
Every time I visit Sevilla I take several meals here. On this trip Sevilla was not on my itinerary so you might imagine how thrilled I was when Maribel alerted me that they would be opening anew branch in EL PALMAR DE VEJER, a fifteen-minute easy drive from my lodgings outside Vejer.

The date had been set, due to some iffy online scraps, and every other day the week proper, I drove past the purported location of the new restaurant and saw only a bar construction site…and there was no phone to call…I was given several numbers and each one proved to be incorrect. I finally got through to the charming Elena, mainstay of AZOTEA, and she put my name on the list for opening day lunch.

Interesting, creative, delicious…all the hackneyed descriptors apply here and despite being the first day, service was excellent, if a bit slow. To inject some drama Into the scene, I got up from my chair on the deck (try to choose a table that will be somewhat shielded from the afternoon sun; mine became uncomfortably hot), took one step, and fell flat on my face because I had not noticed the step separating the outer tables from the core of the restaurant.

Note that I had not yet had one single drink of alcohol before I smashed my face on the wood-slatted floor above the sand. Everyone took it in stride and I was attended to immediately be a kind camarero toting a fist aid kit…

To the food:

In a word: smashing. More seafood here than in the mother ship, all I sampled was terrific… One of the negatives about solo dining is that you cannot try as many dishes as you might had you been accompanied by a partner. But I did my best and sampled some memorable dishes:


Photos from my lunch at first day after opening, at AZOTEA EL PALMAR:

Unassuming, and unsigned, exterior, under the palapa:

Plates on the wall, just like those gorgeous ones in Sevilla:

Items not listed on regular menu; I ordered the first two, plus one additional dish…each one was perfect.


A perfect lunch, even with my injury; the first two show the deliciously crispy Brik (Tunisian pastry) filled with sheep cheese and bites of langosta, slathered with puree of red pepper. FANTASTIC!!!

Coquinas with artichoke hearts!!!

Grilled navajas (razor clams):

Take note that there is minimum shade at the restaurant at the hour of comida. The sun shines directly onto most of the tables; the sea is across the small road in front of the restaurant. Next time I will wear a hat, as it got pretty hot, even in March. But it’s a work in progress and surely Elena and Juan will attend to the seating situation before long. In any case, AZOTEA is firmly on my list for my return to the area next March!!!

AZOTEA EL PALMAR…essential!!!


Lard can often adds something to stews


I had time only for one lunch here, but next year I think I will be dining here more often. It is just a smashingly great restaurant. Although know for the grill, their salads are impeccable and the menu offers dishes other than meat. The welcome is warm and the premises, open-air with trees sprouting overhead…just lovely. Its a bit hidden in Santa Lucia but once you’ve been you will find it easily the next time…just outside the hill town off Vejer de la Frontera:

I posted photos from my last year’s trip, so these will serve as a supplement:

Starter (comp) of a pate of pork…wow!


Looking back at my notes I read, “One of the best meals of the trip so far. An astounding restaurant!”

A half ration of a salad with duck prosciutto was marvelous and contained what might be the finest roasted tomato I’ve ver had the fortune to devour. I took a photo of the tomato; for 10euro…oh my! Salad also contained slightly undercooked eggplant, roasted onions, blackberries, and unidentified local blossoms. Not only was it the most beautiful salad I’ve ever eaten, but I am dead straight about taking many more meals here next spring; here’s the salad with a few closeups of the roasted, skinless tomato…

Next, half portion of roasted artichoke stuffed with minced lamb in a sweet port sauce. Absolutely incredible (7 euro)

Finally, tiny chuletas de Cordero (lamb chops).
I thought I had passed to another world…23 euro for the lamb; total bill with glass of Rueda, 47 euro:

LA CASTILLERIA…worth a long detour. Personal favorite.
booking in advance is essential; closed during winter months.


Glad you loved La CastilerĂ­a as much as I did.

Something important to mention is that Juan Valdés opens his booking engine on the first of February and in minutes, the tables for the busy summer season are reserved.

The restaurant opens on the first Friday of March after winter hibernation, during which the chef goes “on tour” to find the finest cuts of meat in the country.

It closes in mid-October, usually after the Oct. 12 holiday.

Earlier I mentioned that if I had to choose one restaurant in which to eat every day for a month or more, I would choose ANTONIO in Zahara de los Atunes. Reflecting now, I would like to add LA CASTILLERIA to the mix…between the both of them,
we can sample the pinnacle of food in Cadiz province…

And besides the food, the owners truly bring to life that old saw, “mi casa es tu casa!” I’ve probably dined there only about 4 times in total and they make me feel like a long-lost friend, so welcome in their home. (Last year Ani took me on a walk around their property, where they live and garden…as soon as I met her last year I felt as if I had made a friend…and she is so happy to share her experiences about dining in the regions that they visit when the restaurant is closed; last year she enthused about Salamanca)

Maribel so you think it means anything to owners of these restaurants if I sent them links to HO reports??? I did forward the AZOTEA piece to Elena since I had her e-mail and she was so helpful in my attempt to secure a booking before they had even opened…but do not want to seem as if I am asking for anything…these places are so well-known it’s hard to decide if they would even be interested at all in a report in English by a lone American visitor!!

About AZOTEA: The El Palmar branch now has a website which it did not when I ate there. But be sure to make the distinction between this restaurant and another by the same name, also in El Palmar. I was confused…so take note if a visit is in your travel plans…

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I know very well the distinction, since I explained it to you in great detail on the other travel forum (Fodor’s), if you recall. But it´s very good to point it out to others who may be reading this, as it IS confusing!

So, here goes:

There is the Azotea group from Madrid, that manages the new fashion chiringuito in Zahara de los Atunes, the Valhalla, and also the very high end chiriniguito, “THE place to be and be seen” in Nuevo Sancti Petri, El Cuartel Del Mar.
They specialize in chiringuitos and in Madrid in managing several very popular roof top azoteas, including the new roof top of the Club Financiero GĂ©nova at Plaza ColĂłn, where our good friend is the maitre. They also are new managers of the rooftop of the Palacio de Cibeles, the roof top of the CĂ­rculo de Bellas Artes and the roof top Picolagartos on the Gran VĂ­a.

Azotea in Spanish=rooftop terrace

And there are the 3 Azotea restaurants in Sevilla on Conde de Barajas (two) and the other on Mateos Gago, which have opened their new Azotea in El Palmar, and they having nothing to do with the Madrid-based Grupo Azotea above.

Yes, I remember how much help you gave me when I was trying to find, and book AZOTEA EL PALMAR!!! You are miraculous in your time spent in helping all of us novices in Spain. I’m not sure I would ever have become a faithful on this site, or on Fodor’s Travel Talk forums without your participation.

So, this will be the last restaurant I will discuss on this thread:

EL ALFAREZ along the beach road in EL PALMAR DE VEJER, a long-time local favorite with one Repsol “sun.”

The restaurant has a lovely terrace facing the beac h, which I discovered when I first stopped in for a take-out order of sashimi de ventresca. I sat at the bar inside and was impressed by the very warm welcome offered by staff, while I drank a glass of Verdejo and waited for my order to be
prepared. The sashimi was good if not up to the quality of ANTONIO and EL CAMPERO. I wish I knew how to distinguish the look of a top tier raw tuna belly from one of slightly lower quality but right now, I can tell only by taste and visuals…the slices looked a bit more grainy, if that is the right word…you would think that the white bits were extra fat which would be a plus, but they were not, or at least not on this day.

Obviously the setting, the sink in my hotel room, left something lacking but I was very happy: Is there a better (and healthier) lunch than a row of raw bluefin ventresca rectangles served with the usual pickled ginger and wasabi along with daikon slices and a tangle of greens that may or may have not been hijiki?

I returned a few days later for a proper lunch, and will post photos soon, before beginning the report on my five nights in Madrid…the city that must vy for honors as the best eating city in Europe right now.

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