Valencia, like many other places in Spain, is famous for tapas. Surely then, it should be easy to find a decent tapas bar in Valencia’s old town?
Not so. Even the people we spoke to in the shops couldn’t recommend a good place within walking distance, despite the fact that every restaurant and bar in the old town seemingly had tapas on the menu – even the non-Spanish establishments.
We’d already snacked on a couple of tapas dishes in a small restaurant called Taska Hogan soon after we arrived on Monday. So we decided to head back there for more of the same.
That plan changed as we found ourselves in the doorway to a small, modern-looking tapas bar called Taberna Antonio Manuel on the Carrer de Sant Vicent Martir road. The tables outside were busy enough for a Wednesday night and we could only hear Spanish voices from the customers inside the air-conditioned restaurant. So we decided to give it a go.
It was past nine o’clock, yet it was still hot and humid outside. We took a seat at one of the small tables in front of the bar by a window so we could watch the world go by on the busy street outside. I had a San Miguel (their only beer, unfortunately) and Tiff had a sangria while we chose what to have.
All the dishes were listed in the traditional way on a chalkboard above the bar. They also had a paper menu in English for us tourists. We went for the ensaladilla rusa (russian salad), bravas (deep friend potatoes), gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) and the casa de pan (house bread – with tomato sauce, herbs and cream cheese).Tiff ordered a gazpacho (cold tomato soup) for herself.
On reflection we weren’t very adventurous – the restaurant also offered food such as rabbit, seabass, charcoal-grilled meats, pork chops and platters of fried fish. All the dishes were delicious, although I preferred the bravas that we’d had on Monday at Taska Hogan.
Once we’d wolfed those down we still had some room so we ordered our favourite tapas dish – the calamari roman (alomg with another sangria for Tiff). This was one of the best battered squid I’d ever tasted – the meat was chunky and cooked to perfection with very fluffy batter. Perfect with a good squeeze of lemon. I like to think that the squid was from the Mercat Central (Central Market), which was just up the road. I would have asked one of the staff, but no one spoke English.
Now we were well and truly stuffed. So we asked for “la cuenta” from our genial waitress, paid a reasonable €32.85 (about £23) for our meal and exited back into the warm evening in search of some ice cream.
Info: Taberna Antonio Manuel is at 42 Carrer de Sant Vicent Màrtir, 46002, Valencia – about half way between the Placa d’Espanya Metro station and the Placa de la Reina (the big square at the back of the cathedral). Closed Sundays.