Don’t be fooled by their dark, old-fashioned interiors – you, amigo mío, are in for an authentic taste sensation.
Brunch. The hip “new” meal that you can find emblazoned across menu boards of happening bars in Ruzafa. But, come on, we don’t want any of that pretentious bull mocking us with pompous use of the English language (what are we, #brunchers?) – we want to experience pensioner chic while propping up the bar with Anacleto and Vicente and knocking back a late morning cassalla.
According to the food-centric Spanish timetable, almuerzo is one of the standard 5 meals a day. It can take place anytime between 10:00 and 13:00 and normally consists of enthusiastic men gathered around tables full of bocadillos and beer. Don’t be alarmed, though, if your Saturday morning almuerzo runs on into the afternoon, especially if someone puts an order in for post-almuerzo cubatas. Although prominent nationwide, the esmorzar holds somewhat of a special place in the Valencian’s heart.
The following often overlooked Valencian ‘old-man bars’, as I lovingly call them, are brimming to the rafters with charm and character. And what better way to start your weekend than with a good old esmorzar among friends, old-school interiors and a bloody good bocadillo?
Calle Eugenia Viñes 177 [Malvarrosa/Cabanyal]
This legendary bodega brings punters not only from the barrio, but from all over Valencia. Typical almuerzos here consist of huge bocadillos, raciones and litre jugs of red wine or beer – a super-sized meal that’ll give you change back from a tenner. And you’d better turn up with an appetite because even the “half-sized” freshly-made bocadillos are something to write home about. Check out the menu below and try not to start salivating like a Pavlov dog. A recommendation? The Super -horsemeat, bacon, cheese, onion and tomato- is one of the most popular choices.
Consistently high reviews, amazing value for money and traditional family background means that La Pascuala makes the top of our bares míticos valencianos list. Despite having a large capacity the sheer popularity of La Pascuala means that it’s always full, so be prepared to queue or arrive early to avoid disappointment. Remember that they close on Sundays – their bocadillos are so good, they don’t even have to get out of bed on the sabbath.
Calle San Esperit 3 [Benimaclet]
The local hang out for Benimaclet pensioners, local characters, blokey blokes and football fans. Think cacahuetes, tapas, big beers and “super bocatas”, also heavy on the horsemeat. Don’t be alarmed if the names of the bocadillos mean you end up ordering a medio niño – as tiny (and creepy) as it sounds, it’ll still exceed your expectations. The big screen comes out for Valencia CF matches allowing you to emotionally shout AMUNT! at the screen while basking in the glory of the Peña Valencianista paraphernalia-clad walls. If you plan on going to El Chaval to watch a match, remember to reserve your table and bocadillos! En fin, ¿Puedes con él?
Edit 19/2/15: Last night we were sorely disappointed to find that El Chaval has undergone a full refurbishment and change in owners. With the removal of the peña treasures has also come a downgrading in bocadillo quality. Scarse meat and chewy bread. The new Chaval is a shadow of its former self. An albeit brighter and cleaner shadow, but who goes for almuerzo thinking in the décor?
Calle Calixto III 8 [Juan Llorens]
Already mentioned in our Spotlight on: Juan Llorens article, Bar Alhambra is famous for being the home of the biggest, moistest and, ultimately, tastiest tortillas in Valencia. Tried and tested: these babies are amazing. Team your pincho de tortilla with a bocadillo or one of the many delicious tapas available on the bar and an ice cold caña. Again, economical prices -with tapas starting at just €2- mean that a mean almuerzo won’t eat a big hole into your savings. Like La Pascuala, it’s evident that this place makes a killing – they’re closed in the evenings and at weekends.
Calle Doctor Manuel Candela 58 [Cedro]
Opening in the morning and then again in the evening, Fila presents a slightly different concept. Sure, come for almuerzo, but the action really starts from 6pm. One full wall of the bar is clad with shelf upon shelf of wines and spirits, while huge barrels of wine and jamón legs command the opposite wall. Come here to swig vino tinto and nibble on embutido; jamón, chorizo, cheese and any other variety of sliced sausage that they have in that day. Its location close to the university area is probably why, on any given evening, you can see a melange of students from all corners of the world huddled on small stools next to local oldtimers. This curious mix of clientelle makes for an interesting ambience and also means that the small bar is pretty much always full. Head there before 8pm to secure a table or else you’ll be standing up at the bar, fighting for elbow space with all the other pringaos.
That brings me to the end of my top bares míticos valencianos. Have you encountered any others that deserve a mention?
I hope I’ve convinced you to step away from the Ruzafa hipster joint and inject a bit of old-school barring into your life because, in the words of Bernard in Black Books, “the older it is, the gooder it is”.
Find all bars mentioned here on our Valencia highlights map.
Latest posts by Lucy (see all)
- Depressing thoughts on Brexit - 24 junio, 2016
- Things in Spain and Valencia that foreigners find weird - 8 junio, 2016
- Cosas de España y Valencia que les parecen raras a los guiris - 8 junio, 2016