Eating out in Santiago

There is no shortage of fine restaurants for you to enjoy in the maze of flag-stoned streets forming the old part of Santiago. The most famous parade of restaurants is on Rúa do Franco where charming waitresses will tempt you into their lairs. But look beyond the traditional and the obvious and you will find an eclectic mix of cuisines and culinary styles throughout the city. Here we suggest a shortlist of our favourite places to go for a nibble or for a full on dining experience.

Tapas "style"

Traditional tapas dishes - a perfect way to share a variety of courses and local wines in an informal atmosphere.

Casa Felisa: Porta da Pena, 5. Ph: (+34) 981 582 602. Definitely one of our favourite hidden treats - Once upon a time a nun’s convent, this hidden-away courtyard has now been converted into a beautiful, walled, outdoor dining location with an excellent menu. It’s a little hidden treasure in a great part of town, away from the hustle and bustle of the masses. 

Casa Rosalía: Franco, 10. Ph: (+34) 981 565 441. A typical Franco Street tapas bar and restaurant, but with a relaxed atmosphere and a handy entrance area where you can simply nibble at tapas and drink local wines and beers rather than commit to the full restaurant treatment, which takes place in the farther part of the establishment. 

O Dezaséis: Rúa de San Pedro, 16. Ph: (+34) 981 577 633. ‘Number 16’ is one of the most famous traditional Galician restaurants in Santiago and it is always busy. At weekends, advanced booking is usually required. International menus walk you through the best in meat and fish (especially cod) that Galicia has to offer. The descent down the steep steps into vintage Galicia is well worth the effort. 

O Gato Negro: Raíña. Ph: (+34) 981 583 105. For an authentic, culinary trip back in time you must visit O Gato Negro where the cave-like interior, flag-stoned floors, white-washed walls, vibrant greens and busy chatter provides an ambience that has barely changed in 50 years. The throwback feel includes the décor and its renowned dishes of simple seafood, mouth-watering meats and classic empanadas. 

Bodega Abrigadoiro: Carreira do Conde, 5. Ph: (+34) 981 563 163. To sample some of the finest wines, cheeses and chorizos in the city take a trip to Abrigadoiro. A parade of enormous wine-barrelled tables welcomes you into this cavernous abode where, amid a bustling atmosphere, there’s always a warm welcome and prompt service from the staff. If you venture in far enough you could be enjoying your glass of wine beside a fully functional water wheel, which keeps the Albariños nicely chilled!

Mesón o 42: Rúa do Franco, 42. Ph: (+34) 981 581 009. Possibly the most famous restaurant on Rúa do Franco, Number 42 is a Santiago institution. Popular with locals and the tourists alike it serves up everything you would expect from traditional Galician fare in healthy portions and a vibrant local atmosphere. 

New Cuisine

A new wave of culinary thinking is sweeping through the kitchens of Galicia and of Santiago in particular. Creativity is the watchword for chefs who follow it, and a whole different cuisine has emerged, mixing traditional dishes and cooking methods with new ideas, ingredients and techniques. The results are often sumptuous, delighting diners’ taste buds in new and unexpected ways. 

Casa Ana: Sar, 1. Ph: (+34) 981 570 792. If you feel like getting away from the teeming hub the centre of town can become, take a short walk beyond the old city walls to this charming, beautifully restored old tanning factory and enjoy some wonderful new Galician cuisine in an intimate and relaxing environment. Classic Galician staples are fused delightfully with outrageous sauces and accompaniments in a hidden romantic corner of the building or in the splendid outdoor courtyard, though it must be added that Ana does come with a health warning: they have desserts to die for! 

Tafona: Virxe da Cerca, 7. Ph: (+34) 981 568 923. Taking the best, Galician produce and elevating time-honoured recipes through innovative kitchen techniques and artistry, La Tafona showcases the ‘nueva cuisine’ in an elegant and mouth-watering manner. Expect to find the very finest ingredients teasing your taste buds in unexpected ways as traditional fish and meat dishes take new and delightful guises. The attention to detail of the kitchen is mirrored by the tasteful and painstaking décor. La Tafona more than fulfil their promise to make your meal an unforgettable experience.

Casa Marcelo: Hortas, 1. Ph: (+34) 981 558 580. Experienced and influenced by the famed Spanish chef Juan Mari Arzak, Marcelo Tejedor´s restaurant is raising the bar for new cuisine in Galicia. He juggles the influences of French cuisine with the simplicity of the Galician products and then adds a delicate touch of seasoning, managing to conjure up dishes that ooze personality and yet remain true to their origins. Less is certainly more in his kitchen.

Cafe de Altamira: Rua das AmeasHortas, 1. Ph: (+34) 981 558 592. We love the openness and simplicity of Cafe de Altamira - wonderfully perched near the market - this spacious, high-ceilingened old building does the basics brilliantly and with a twist - traditional Galician ingredients served up boldly with quirky interpretations that keep the flavours coming through. A buzzy, communal atmosphere, especially at lunchtime, with the well-priced menu of the day, embraces a fine slice of modern day Galician life.

Alternative

Here's an eclectic mix of some alternative dining options that we enjoy and have found...

La Cavita: S. Pedro de Mezonzo, 9. Ph: (+34) 981 935 098. One of the trendiest new eateries in town, La Cavita is a perfect place for casual dining, where international cuisine is mixed elegantly with local expertise. The joy of their dishes is in the detail and long lunches, early evening gin and tonics, and a vibrant evening atmosphere are orders of the day here.

La Casa de la Marquesa:Costa de Santo Domingo, 2. Ph: (+34) 981 573 958. An unusual and innovative little restaurant that sits warmly within the shadow of the Museo do Pobo Galego. Its surprisingly international menu of fine cuisine and light meals places emphasis on croquets and fish dishes and, on Saturdays and Thursdays, sushi is served. The intimate and cosy setting is proving hugely popular with the Santiago ‘in-crowd’.

Crêperie Cre-Cotté: Praza da Quintana, 1, 1º. Ph: (+34) 981 577 643. For something completely different try this Creperie. Most ot their dishes revolve around their delicately created crepes and succulent fillings. The deserts are also crepe-based with delicious sweet fillings; chocolate, banana, fruits and ice creams all gorgeously wrapped in a mouth-watering package. 

La Industrial Rosalia de Castro, 24, Ph: (+34) 981 577 643. We really enjoy the atmosphere at La Industrial, the excellent kitchen farms out ecclectic dishes amidst a funky bar atmosphere in a beautifully upgraded old Galican building. It feels like it has the pulse of modern Santiago coming and going through it doors - a very enjoyable location and food to match.

Drinks

Few cities across Europe can boast as many drinking holes per square kilometre as Santiago does - tucked away little taverns and funky bars are spread throughout the city - here are just some of the favourites that we frequent...

Paraíso Perdido: Antealtares, 3. We love the quirky atmosphere of this underground bar and coffee house. A small labyrinth of intimate corners mixed with eclectic furniture and eccentric decoration make it a unique drinking hole. It’s a fun and relaxing place to be and delivers some of the best hot chocolates and coffee variations in town.

Casa das Crechas: Via Sacra, 3. A Santiago classic with a fun vibe that continues to showcase the very best in Galician Celtic music, mid-week is the time, here, for live music and jamming sessions while the weekends see local DJ’s spin a tune or two in the basement.

Casino: (OT) Rúa do Vilar, 35. Opulent in décor and lavish with its furnishings, this popular café resides in the heart of town and has been there since 1873. Live pianists will waltz you through their menu of coffees, drinks and tapas meals.

Pub Atlántico: Fonte de San Miguel, 9. From 5pm to 4.30 am. Musicians have long been congregating at Bar Atlantico along with local artists from the worlds of theatre, art and film. They host a variety of regular cultural evenings: poetry, story-telling and projecting old movies, to name a few. The owners have been a part of the artistic heartbeat in Santiago for over twenty years and the stylish interior and artistic ambience is a reflection of this. Oh and they do good beers and coffees too.

Carrilana: San Paio de Antealtares, 16. A nicely designed two-floor bar at the back of the Monastery de Antealtares. Its large crystal facade ensures you feel like you’re outside even when you’re sitting in though, of course, on a warm balmy night you can take your drinks outside and join the throng of hip and happy youths.

Metate: San Paio de Antealtares. The Oompa-Loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory would not have been out of place in this charming little cafe that resides behind Obradoiro Square. Old chocolate-making machinery is part of the décor and the owners still make their very own chocolate, mixing it with some very potent liqueurs for your delight.

Modus Vivendi:  Plaza de Feijóo, 1. Housed in the old stables of a country house this claims to be the first pub in Galicia. They host live music and a versatile program of shows, exhibitions, photography and theatre. A vibrant and fun bar with its foot firmly keeping the door of Galician culture open to the general public. 

Momo...a rúa: Virxe da Cerca, 23. The Abbey Road pedestrian crossing, paved into the interior street that becomes the Momo bar gives you a clue as to its intentions. Nights, here, are danced away to rock music and the young crowd enjoys barroom games. The bar extends out to a glorious outdoor cafe garden with great views of Belvis Park. A great place for a fun night out and cocktails or for early evening drinks. 

1.  Casa Felisa
2.  Casa Rosalìa
3.  O Dezaséis
4.  O Gato Negro
5.  Bodega Abrigadoiro
6.  Mesón o 42
7.  Casa Ana
8.  La Tafona
9.  Casa Marcelo
10. Cafe de Altamira
11. La Cavita
12. La Casa Marquesa
13. Creperie Cre-Cotté
14. La Industrial
15. Paraíso Perdido
16. Casa de Crechas
17. Casino
18. Pub Atlántico
19. Carrilana
20. Metate
21. Modus Vivendi
22. Momo a rúa
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