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Casa Perela Restaurant & Bar, Murcia

8 Aug

It seems a long time since I last posted something – and it is – but at this time of year there do not seem to be enough hours in the day!  The weather is sensational and it is an outdoor life from July until September!

 

Just before the start of the busy season, early in July, we went with some friends to Murcia for the weekend – we really love to visit, and now know it quite well having been around a dozen times – it amazes me the amount of people who either live here, or visit regularly, who never venture into the city- it is only an hour and a quarter away from us, and I must say we tend to go for the shopping, but even more so for the tapas bars and fantastic restaurants.

 

We did more research for our most recent trip, and in addition to going to our favourite restaurant upon arrival, sought out the best area for the best tapas bars too.  They are all pretty much centred around the old town, near the cathedral, which is great if you are not keen on driving in large Spanish cities as you can find a car park by the river, and just spend all your time walking everywhere with no need to collect the car until you leave!  All the little boutiques and shoe shops are here too (although if you want the bigger shops like Zara, you can still make a ten minute walk to the main shopping street from the Cathedral).

 

On one of our evenings, we decided to have a real tapas evening and go from place to place (having looked up the best ones!).  They really are all concentrated in one area off the Gran Via so it is made all the easier.  Some are really quite sophisticated and, therefore, a bit more pricey (but you do get sprayed with a fine mist of water overhead at regular intervals electronically!  We are a bit behind the times down in Almeria!

 

One of places we went to was one of the older bars in a tiny street with several other more traditional places called Casa Perela in Calle Ruiperez.  It was just fantastic.  There is usually a proper menu too, so you can pick and choose what you want.

 

This one was famous for its wild mushrooms and delicious they were – we had all kinds of little bites, prawns in batter, cheese, jamon and then ended up having two steaks between the four of us – our chef did a little routine of throwing sea salt into the air to season the dish – it was simply divine – great food and a great atmosphere and not expensive.  If you take 120 euros out with you for four – you will be well fed and er, well drunk, if you know what I mean.  Do take the time, or get up the courage to drive to this city – you won’t be disappointed.

Casa Perela Restaurant telephone no.968 935 198

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Los Angeles Restaurant and Bar, Villaricos

13 Jun

My family are here at the moment and so there is a lot more planning for meals to be done – normally we eat late in the evening either here or at one of our favourite restaurants nearby.  But in the heat, sometimes it is nice to lunch out properly and then know that I can throw a mezze together in the evening.

So, yesterday was such a day.  I gave everyone the choice of going and sitting at a beach side restaurant, or letting me take them to a place that all of us here like to go to from time to time for the menu del dia.  Los Angeles is situated on the road to Villaricos from Puerto Rey direction (go over the roundabout, passed the Repsol Garage on the right and carry on for a minute or two, you will see the little building on the right, with cars usually parked outside.

Los Angeles cool bar terrace

True, there is no view either from the cool terrace where you can happily have a drink, or the cool, immaculate restaurant inside.  However, anyone who goes there will know not to be put off by this fact; the food is exceptional value for money, tasty, good quality and always served with a smile.  The owners are charming and nothing is too much trouble.

There is always lots of choice on the menu del dia, always including a great fish dish, stew of the day, or pasta dish among other things,  and for 10  for three courses (pudding OR coffee) including half a bottle of wine, a beer or any other kind of drink included you simply can’t go wrong.  For an additional few euros you can choose rack of pork ribs falling off the bone, or tiny delicious lamb chops – still amazing value for money.  There is an extensive a la carte menu, also good value and a special priced set menu for evenings and Sundays – I think at a cost of 12 euros per head.  Our bill for four came to 48 euros, which included a beer, water and freshly squeezed orange juice (plus the two bottles of wine!) – my father left a hefty tip!

Los Angelesis a great place to go in winter, cosy inside, with robust stews of the day and other warming goodies offered, and beautifully cool inside in the summer.  They clearly have the bums on seats theory but with the quality element uncompromised.

With times being a bit on the tough side for everyone, gone are the days of thinking nothing about spending 30 or more euros a head for a meal without it being a special occasion.  If this describes you, I urge you to try this little gem of a place.  You will not be disappointed.

Los Angeles Bar and Restaurant telephone number: 699 010 705

Treasure Island beach walk

21 May

Last weekend we wanted to do a morning walk before the weather really gets too hot to even think about walking – so our friends Mike and Gill, who are very keen walkers – told us about one particular route they had done which gave you two options.  The first one is a much more challenging walk over quite big hills above the beaches beyond Mojacar; the second is a coastal walk, but along a decent, flat track for the less ambitious. Both start from the tower at Macenas beach as you head for Carboneras.

Meeting point at Macenas tower

We didn’t have to start too early, although the forecast was for the high eighties on the Saturday that we went.  But anyhow, we agreed to meet at an acceptable 10.30 and promised Gill that we would be on time as we always seem to be 10 or 15 minutes late when going to theirs for lunch!  So, we set off extra early, and they still beat us to it.

Signposted all of the way

We were hoping to be 6 or 8 but everyone else cried off for various reasons, so with it just being the four of us, Mike gave us the option to either do the more difficult, over the hills walk (I hasten to add there was a promise of a beautiful beach and tapas lunch in the chiringuito at the end of the two hours that it would take to get there!) or to do the easier coastal walk to the same point, but which would only take an hour or so.  I thought as it wasn’t too hot, that even I would brave the hills.

The sea view

Shelters on top of the hill

This is where someone having done the route already pays off, as Gill kind of kept me up to date with what to expect; it was tricky here, steep there, over the worst bit – that kind of thing!  Not being much of a walker myself, it all helps to keep you going.  There were several gorgeous natural stops on the way where the council have put up seating areas and little cabins to get a bit of shade while you catch your breath and have a glug of water (which obviously is essential to take with you).

Keep going!

The way down.

It was as challenging a walk as I would like –  a few quite hairy bits going down some steep slopes with nothing to hold on to,  but nothing that phased our 70 something companions!  They are quite amazing and remained undaunted, but seriously, if you are of a certain age and not used to walking, then take the coastal route which is just lovely too.

The beach before Treasure Island beach

2 hours later we arrived at Treasure Island beach (yes really they shot the Orson Wells version here in 1972).  It is just lovely, unspoilt and with just one chiringuito, Manaca,  to have drinks, tapas or lunch.  You could quite happily spend the whole afternoon here – and the good thing is that it can be reached by car too, so you could pack everything up and come for the whole day, away from the more popular beaches in Mojacar.  You need brollies and something to lie on though as it really is a natural beach with no other facilities apart from the beach bar.

Treasure Island beach

Chiringuito Manaca

He was a bit thinner then

We arrived for lunch and of course a much needed drink, tinto verano in my case (summer wine a bit like sangria) – just lovely.  Then the owner came out with the menus and a chameleon – (see the picture!) who live naturally here in the trees.  He was very friendly and unphased by being handled by us (the chameleon, not the owner).

Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma etc.

The walk back to Chiringuito Macenas is a about 40 minutes long and passes past the old lookout point. Very dramatic scenery here.

 

The walk back

The old lookout point

Walkers delight – Chiringuito Macenas

So maybe from now on, if you do want to try this walk, you would need to start by 9 in the morning at this time of year, a little earlier as we go through to July, or even go when the sun is setting and have a swim and a sun-downer atTreasure Island beach.

Life doesn’t get much better than that.

 

 

 

 

 

Triana Bar & Restaurant, Valle del Este, Vera

26 Aug

Last weekend we went up to the pool at Valle del Este, 10 minutes from here.  We used to go here a lot at weekends before we had our own swimming pool as they have a beautiful one and as long as it is not too busy, they let you use the pool, I guess because you will have drinks and lunch etc.

 

Next door to the pool area is a commercial centre albeit a small one.   There are a couple of restaurants and bars here and our favourite is one called Triana.

It has recently been refurbished and extended and has lovely views over the hills beyond the golf course.  It is a family run business, and the very charming son speaks English very well.  Mum cooks the most delicious food – there is an extensive tapas menu which we normally choose from, dishes ranging from 1.50 euros for a small tapa to 5/8 euros or so for a racion (a larger portion suitable for 3 or 4 to share).  Our favourite is the aubergine deep fried and drizzled with honey – it is divine and no matter how I plead, they won’t give me the recipe!  There is something for every taste (including children, who don’t normally go for tapas in a big way!), from prawns to chicken “tears” (a little like tiny chicken nuggets), and clams, chorizo – the list just goes on.

If you do want a more substantial meal and you like fish, order the cod – it is fantastic. They are also famous for their rice dishes on a Sunday, but you have to pre-order these. The meat dishes are delicious too and there really is something for everyone.

Do try it for a lovely relaxed early evening drink, or a linger over a selection of really fantastic dishes – as it is only 10 minutes from here, it is lovely to go there when I feel like a night off!

Triana Bar & Restuarant, Valle del Este, Vera telephone number: 950 461 182

 

 

 

 

 

 

El Canadas Bar & Restaurant, Cuevas del Almanzora

19 Aug

My cousin April is with us at the moment, with her partner James and part of their fantastic brood.  James has triplet boys and April has one of her daughters here too.  They arrived a few days ago in an absolutely brilliant motor home, taking their time and stopping nearLeonto stay with some friends.  We all decided we needed a night off from cooking and cleaning up and we also wanted to go somewhere low key and away from the crowds.

So, what better place than the “brasa” opposite the castle in Cuevas.  April and James have been here before, and like us, they love it.  Ok, you don’t get a sea breeze ( neither the cocktail, nor the literal one) but what you do get is the most fantastic array of grilled meat – racks of pork ribs, spicy pork kebabs, quail, chorizo and morcilla (black pudding) to name a few things on offer here every night of the week, every month of the year.  Add a huge salad and some fries and all the kids are happy as well as all of us too.  In August when everyone else is at the beach, they are delighted to serve us.

Not a word of English is spoken here but lots of great and friendly service.  It is a family affair, with mama doing all the cooking over a roasting open brasa – no mean feat in 90 degrees!  Whatever you order here, including drinks, always seems to come out at around 15 euros including a tip.  They also seem to have cottoned on that us “visitors” like reasonably decent wine with their food, and now serve very good white and red rioja, previously the wine, it has to be said, was undrinkable and only came in the house red variety!  There are some fabulous photographs of Cuevas del Almanzora in days gone by (when there was a proper river flowing through it!) so take a moment to look at these wonderful momentos.

This really is an experience not to be missed and we go there all year round – in the winter it is lovely and cosy and we sit inside, being toasted by the wood burning grill, and in the summer, we enjoy eating outside and staying late until it gets cool, and mingling with the locals.  Do give it a try the next time you just fancy some great barbeque and salad and a lovely glass of vino.

 

Mi Casa Bar and Restaurant, Antas

9 Aug

We are spoilt for places to eat and drink in and around Cuevas – we have everything from a funny Spanish “pub” in Cuevas (it is the nearest thing we have to a proper Irish pub, but it is very Spanish!) to beach bars and restaurants, which you know I feature regularly, but both in and out of season. Mi Casa is a gorgeous bar near us which is part of a small hotel on one side of the road, and a restaurant/bar on the other!  It has recently been refurbished and now the interior could actually be a bar in any big city so chicly has it been done.  In the summer there is a long terrace facing the road but still lovely as it is shady and is surrounded by plants and trees and you can watch the world go by.

We call the owner Tommy Lee (as he reminds us of the actor!) – he is lovely and usually can be found about the place.  It is about a 6 minute drive from the house (2 of those are on our track!) and is just a great place to have a well earned, end of work, end of the week drink.  They do a mean gin and tonic over loads of ice or a chilled glass of wine or beer.

The restaurant is great too, though I feel a little on the pricey side, but then as said, it is a bit more sophis than usual for around here.  The food is excellent though, they always have a great selection of fish, shellfish or meat, salads  or just have a tapa or two in the bar or on the terrace.

Next time we have a night off I think we will mosey on down there. We especially love this photo of Mi Casa from 1973.

Mi Casa Bar & Restaurant Telephone Number: 950 453 048

El Cid Beach Bar, Mojacar Playa

28 Jul

Now that summer’s here there’s nothing we like better than cooling off by the beach, taking in the breeze, having a couple of drinks and watching the world go by.  There is a fantastic beach bar section on Mojacar Playa and it is a great place to go and kick back when we get the chance – hardly at all at the moment!!

One of the oldest beach bars around is El Cid founded in 1978 and still run by Californian couple Lloyd Dean and Tish and we like to go there for a change – somewhere that has a bit of “history” always feels good.

This chiringuito may not be the trendiest beach bar on the strip but it’s certainly one of the friendliest and is very popular with locals and visitors alike.  They all do a great trade at this time of year and standards are pretty high in all of them.  During late July and August, there seems plenty of business to go around and they come into their own later in the evening when the heat has gone out of the day and that wonderful cool sea breeze takes over.

They serve the usual fare of fish, meat and pasta dishes with a good selection of freshly made veggie meals and great salads served every day from lunchtime onwards until late.  El Cid is yet another relaxing place for us to chill out by the beautifulMediterranean Sea.

El Cid Beach bar, Mojcar telephone number 950 472 063

Bbme Beach Bar, Mojacar Playa

19 Jul

Ok, it is now seriously hot and all we want to do is go to the beach.  Unfortunately we can’t as my job is to look after lots of people who can!  However, on Sunday after running around, serving and clearing breakfast, tidying up, making sure the hounds were walked and happy we eventually went off at 2 p.m.to catch a few hours reading and swimming – it was so warm really the only place to be was by the sea as there is nearly always a breeze.

Mojacar beach is not the quietest beach around but we like it as there are many, many great beach bars here as regular readers of my blog will know and also only 20 minutes away.  One of our favourite bars is a serious chill-out place, bbme.  Ok, they have actual BEDS in the restaurant – it is just fantastic – you can have your lunch and then go and lie down and go to sleep or sip a cocktail and read.  I have been quite tempted on occasion to actually move in here for week’s holiday as they pretty much stay open all night anyway.

The food in all of these beach bars generally is pretty good, and they cater for more or less everyone.  Even if you are vegetarian they can normally make up a great big salad for you and leave out the tuna if you are really really vegetarian.  Order a lovely glass of ice cold Tinto Verano (summer wine) while you are waiting – it is a little like Sangria but I think it is nicer, and not so heady as ordinary wine.  Be careful though as it does not taste very alcoholic, but is still probably 4 or 5% so drivers beware.  During July and August, I recommend finding your place on the beach and then immediately going to book a table for lunch at 1.30 – Spanish people all eat at 2 pm and so if you get there a little beforehand, you won’t need to wait for tables of 20 Spaniards to order and be served.  If you don’t book, don’t expect to eat until 3.30 or 4 pm!

If you only make one trip to Mojacar beach, make sure you visit this one.

 

Lola’s Restaurant and Bar, Mojacar Playa

28 Jun

On Saturday Mick and I had a real day off – unless we leave the Cortijo, we do all kinds of worky things which we just can’t resist!  “Oh I will just do this or that for half an hour” but it never is – it always ends up being half the day or more!  So, I reminded him that ‘we’ had decided to go to the beach for the day.  All we had to do was pick one.  So we chose Mojacar as it is lovely and lively at this time of year, without being unbearable.  We have lots of favourites down there, and the great thing is that you can hire beds and umbrellas for a few euros each (I think it is 7 for 2 beds and a shade right on the water).

Mojacar beach is a mere 20 minute drive from here and it is truly gorgeous.  Seldom in other parts of Spain are you able to drive right along the coast adjacent to the beach without there being at least one line of property all along the front – well you can here and as you drive around the corner from Garrucha, there it is – the beautiful, turquoise Mediterranean and an expanse of sand which stretches for miles and miles.

To reach all the beach bars is around another 5 minute drive, past the little shopping centre and the Parador – and there are the beach bars – lots of them and all good. Mauiis a favourite but on Saturdays it gets incredibly busy in the late afternoon with lots of good looking kids taking a look at each other!  So we park up on the beach (how fabulous is that!) and then walk along the shore to Lola’s, the third or fourth one along.  They have comfy beds both on the beach, and yes, chillout beds in the restaurant itself if you want to lie down with a cocktail in full shade!  It is just fantastic fun and puts you in mind of a Californian beach restaurant, with its bleached driftwood style.

You can have a great lunch at most of the bars it has to be said – Mick and I were good and had salads and mineral water as I am on a bit of a bikini diet!!!  But there are lots of delicious things to choose from if you want a long, lingering lunch.  Be warned, in Spain it is advisable to turn up for lunch at 1.30 or 3.30 – the Spaniards descend at 2 p.m.pretty much on the dot, and you can wait a long time to be served and forever if you don’t have a reservation.  What Mick and I normally do, is arrive at the beach, pick our restaurant and reserve a table anyway.  That way there are no disappointments and if you are new to the area it is fun to mooch along the beach looking at menu’s and maybe stopping for a coffee or a beer before a bit of sunbathing.

No wonder this is my favourite time of year!

Maui Beach bar, Mojacar

6 Jun

It’s that time of year when by now all the beach bars are opening up again – I love sitting by the sea having lunch and there are not that many places that open during the winter and many don’t open until Easter time. Maui on Mojacar beach is one of the few that open even earlier in March time and we went there on a blowy, but sunny day.  You can tell when it is early in the season as the bars on the beach that are open have protective covers, a bit like being in a marquee.  But we don’t mind as we are still in the fresh air, being waited on by friendly staff and being served lovely fresh food, watching the waves roll in.

Maui is always good whatever the weather and you can pretty much find something for everyone on their menu, from fresh fish to hamburgers and pizzas if your lot really won’t eat anything else, to fantastic meats and, of course, paella.  Like most of the beach bars here, their prices are very reasonable and you can linger as long as you like, whilst watching your children play on the sand or in the surf.  Another thing we like aboutMauiis that you can hire beds and umbrellas for not very much, if like me, you are no longer keen on lying in sand and burning to a crisp.

On Saturday afternoons in the summer, it is a great spot for older teenagers to party – there are hundreds of kids, really loud music and it will give you a bit of peace and quiet if you go and lay further up the beach!

They open early and stay open pretty much all day, late into the night up until early autumn.  I am looking forward to spending the odd afternoon down here or dropping in for a sundowner before dinner.  Bliss.