A bit later than planned (hello new job), but I recently came back from a family holiday – we stayed in L’Alfas del Pi, in the province of Alicante. Here are a few of my favourite places we ate at – all are well worth checking out if you’re holidaying!
Perfect for typically Spanish cuisine:
Restaurant Tacasa – La Ferreira, 36, 03580, L’Alfas del Pi
Don’t let the location of this place put you off: situated on the main road, there may be traffic and noise but it didn’t interrupt us too much. The outside seating area is just beautiful, with plenty of lighting for the evening, awning to shade and a gorgeous water feature in the middle. The service and food more than make up for the location.
We ate here three times and every meal was very good. Plenty of choice including meat and fish options, as well as paella and arròs a banda (typical of the Valencian region). Even better is the barbecue, which is lit some evenings, depending on how busy the restaurant is – meaning you can have your steak (or fish) properly flame-grilled and to perfection.
I had the steak twice – once on the grill and once on the barbecue – and I have to say, I definitely preferred it a la barbacoa. I like my steak cooked al punto (translated: at once) and it was excellent. The baked potato in foil was also a lovely accompaniment (served with chips when grilled).
My dad and brother shared a lobster arròs a banda, sampling a really local food. The rice is saucier than a paella and almost like a stew, with potatoes accompanying the rice. If you’re after fresh, local cuisine, then look no further! These dishes serve a minimum of two, so you have to find someone willing to share – but you won’t be disappointed. They’re certainly substantial as well.
Pick of the starters has to be the garlic prawns (gambas al ajillo) – possibly the best I’ve ever had. The garlic wasn’t at all overwhelming and where it had sweated down, was sweet-tasting and could even be ate from the bowl. It infused the oil perfectly, which was great for mopping up with bread! Such a simple dish, but well executed – I think I’d have been happy with that and a salad! I couldn’t imagine it tasting this good at home.
The desserts are all homemade as well and contain so many Spanish favourites including flan, arroz con leche (rice pudding) and tarta de almendras (almond tart). As my Twitter followers know (and possibly some of my readers too!), I absolutely love flan and when I’m in Spain, I have to have it as much as possible. I had the flan all three times we ate at Tacasa and it was just divine – I don’t think this picture does it justice: sweet and syrupy, eggy with a hint of nutmeg. Brilliant.
Everything was really reasonably priced and the restaurant and ambience are perfect for family meals, no matter what size group. The staff speak a number of languages between them, although we always tried to converse in Spanish (they secretly knew we were English). The chupitos at the end of the meal were also a welcomed touch (limoncello for me)!
Ranked #42 of 105 in L’Alfas del Pi on Trip Advisor
Perfect for something different
Restaurante Indonesia – Carrer de Pau Casals, 7, 13581, Albir
We came across this little gem via Trip Advisor and although we’d read reviews, being an Indonesian cuisine virgin, I didn’t know what to expect. I love Thai food and envisaged it’d be fairly similar but I still wasn’t sure where it’d rank. Now I just want to return to Restaurante Indonesia!
Host and owner Lona is a character, but very passionate about her cooking (which she does from scratch almost singlehandedly) and her business (which is almost out of place amongst the other restaurants in Albir).
Like I say, we’d never eaten Indonesian before (although my auntie had, years ago) and the menu to the untrained eye was somewhat daunting. We opted for the rice bowl option and at a set price, you get to sample a bit of everything – so perfect for newbies! At just under €22 a head, unfortunately we couldn’t do justice to the amount of food received, which was a shame.
The first course consisted of two types of satay skewers, a variety of rice (white, brown and yellow), noodles and tray of accompaniments (unfortunately, I don’t remember what any of them were). It was a lovely mix of flavours and textures, but I’d say to save the rice for the main course – we ate most of ours. A deep-fried banana was also served, which may seem a bit random, but it almost cleansed the palette ready for the main course.
The main course consisted of a selection of curries – each ranging in heat, with a number of herbs and spices used. Again, this was perfect for us and there was something to please everyone. Most of the curries were chicken or pork, but we also sampled beef, green bean and some kind of egg dish (which I didn’t touch).My favourite was the soy chicken: mild and sweet, it was almost like a teriyaki with a sticky sauce. I also have to mention the ‘Christmas’ curry which was presented to us last and was magnificent! Lona explained well what each dish was and some even came with a little anecdote – it was refreshing to see someone so pleased with the cooking and willing to talk to diners as well.
Surrounded by so many other eateries offering European food, pizza or catering for the less-cultured traveller, Indonesia was a real delight and if I’m ever in Albir again, I’ll be heading straight there. Wow.
Ranked #2 of 47 in Albir on Trip Advisor
Perfect for a drink and tapas
Cerveceria La Solana – Calle Constitucion, 45, 03100, Jijona
One afternoon we planned an excursion to the Museo de turron (a museum and factory dedicated to the popular sweet that is turron). Situated in the small and old fashioned town of Jijona, amongst the mountains and Moorish architecture, we made a slight detour to grab some lunch. The only bar open in the whole of town, La Solana was well hidden, away from the main square and boasting a market next door. Looking for a light bite, we were well fed and at an excellent cost.
The chalkboard boasted a number of hot options, while the cold offerings were on display so you could see what you’re eating. No trip to Spain is complete without a round (or two) of tapas, with a beer (or in my case, tinto de verano).
We opted for Ensalada Rusa (Russian salad), which is basically a glorified potato salad with added extras including: tuna, egg and vegetables (carrots, peas and green beans). It’s incredibly popular in tapas bars and can even be found in supermarkets. We also went for something hot and had pinchos morunos (cubed meat on a skewer, like a kebab), in this case pork. Another one of my favourites, these two were just enough between the five of us, although I wouldn’t have said no to some calamari!
Everything in Spain seems so much cheaper than rip-off Britain: we ordered five pinchos, a large ration of Russian salad and a round of drinks for under £20! La Solana can best be described as a typical Spanish bar, full of locals. Places like that, I think, are great for getting a flavour of Spain and Spanish life.