Ditch the Bar Crawl – Denia is One of Spain’s Best Tapas Routes for Foodies
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When it comes to Spain’s best tapas routes, throw out any foreign notions of bar-hopping and wondering what will ruin your gut first – the drinks or the food. Spain means business when it comes to eating and drinking well, even down to their tapas and bar drinks. And is it any wonder? We’ve found the Spaniards to be classy and so is their food. So when we heard about Denia’s Ruta de Tapas, we jumped right on board, lined up some friends and headed out with an appetite. We were pleasantly surprised all along the way.
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What’s So Great About Spain’s Best Tapas Routes?
Image Above – The Fish Market in Denia, Spain.
Simply put, it’s a foodie’s idea of a bar crawl, but for days on end and way more delicious! Tapas in Spain are already inexpensive, but oh-so delicious, and when it’s a route, it’s a simple done deal – you pay one jaw-dropping cheap price and get your tapa and a drink too! In many cases, like the Denia’s Ruta de Tapas, you also get to vote on your favorite tapas and enter the sweepstakes to win a big prize.
Here in Denia, this is how it goes – at each location it’s only €3 for the featured tapa and choice of a caña (small beer) or copa de vino, tinto o blanco (glass of wine, red or white). What a deal, huh! And these tapas aren’t just tiny one-biters either; they’re a good size. Certain places even allowed you to choose their vermut casero (house made vermouth) in place of the typical beer or wine. We’ll make sure to point those places out below.
This most recent one was February 10th – March 12th and was the 10th Ruta de Tapas here in Denia. In the past couple of years, they started having them twice per year, the other one being sometime after August – fantastic idea!
To get started, you just look online at denia.net or pick up one of the little printed booklets (referred to as your ‘tapas passport’) at the Denia Tourist Office or the participating restaurants / bars. It has a map of who is taking part, their location, and also shows a picture and description of each tapa.
Voting Time for Spain's Best Tapas Routes - It’s Pretty Savvy!
Thanks to our friend Neil, we learned that there’s actually an app you can download for free, which is one of the ways you can vote for your favorite tapas along the route. This gives everyone the chance to win the public’s choice for best tapa. The app is cooler than we expected – you can only vote for a particular place if you’re actually there physically because of the GPS location settings the app uses. This way, it ensures that if you’re voting, you’ve actually tried the tapa. There’s also a numerical code to finalize your vote on the app, which you ask your server for once you’ve tasted the tapa. Enter that code in the app and boom – vote away!
Of course, if you’re not in the mood to be on a smartphone (maybe your fingers are sticky from eating tapas or something), you can also ask your server to stamp the booklet if you have that with you. Just keep in mind that to participate in the sweepstakes for winning a gift card of €500, you do have to fill out the passport booklet and have it stamped for tasting a minimum of 15 tapas. Then at the end of the competition you can mail that in or drop it off at the AEHTMA’s office (the coordinating organization).
Here They Are - The Tapas of One of Spain’s Best Tapas Routes - Our Top Favorites
Image Above – The tapas and cañas at Tasca Eulalia.
Txoko Bar – They already have great tapas as it is, but they really blew our taste buds and pleased our eyes with their Txokobuco. It was a small round base of puff pastry (or in Spanish, ‘hojaldre’), topped with what they call ‘guisado de osobuco’, which we’re pretty sure is beef or veal that has been cooked in a stew that has simmered with the meat’s bone or hock. On top of that is layered caramelized onions and crispy ham shavings. Eh, yeah…we’re serious here – it was so delicious! At first glance it may have looked a bit small, but it took at least a few bites to finish and was hands down, so so delicious, while also creative.
The presentation here was also great, with all the little touches like the shavings and drizzled sauce on the plate it was served on, just like in the picture shown. Writing about it has us really hoping they keep serving it there cause we want it again. Actually, we did go twice to have this tapa during the Ruta, the first time with our friend Neil and the second time with friends Abel and Gabriel.
This bar is also adored here in Denia because their people are so great. Even with the craze of the Ruta, they were still their usual friendly, smiling selves and so helpful and even cracking jokes with us. Their service is great and they have the true Spanish tapas atmosphere, inside and outside, on the charming Calle de Loreto in Denia’s historic old-town.
Tasca Les Monges – ah man…this place is a regular for us now. We hadn’t been before the Ruta and now we love it for anytime! They served up a bowl of their ‘Cremoso de Ciervo’, pretty much a venison goulash. It was wonderful and another one that we enjoyed twice during the Ruta. Presentation was nice, with large chunks of venison on top, drenched in a savory sauce, and a large, crispy yuca chip anchored in the bowl.
We loved the touch of the yuca chip, a nice Caribbean touch that was delicious. In the tapa description it said the sauce was spicy (or picante), but it wasn’t hot spicy to us. We’ve found that Spaniards don’t really do ‘spicy’ compared to what we’re used to coming from Colorado. All in all, it was so tasty and reminded us of a good old dish of comfort food, with a touch of high-end style.
Bonanotte Restaurante – Have to admit, that this is one of those places we first assumed to be too ‘Western’ for taste. Fortunately, we gave it a chance as part of the Ruta and were so delighted that we’ve now been back a few times since then.
Their tapa was called the ‘PizzaBurger 4 Cheese’ and was delicious. Described as a fusion of the pizza and hamburger, it takes the best of both worlds and combines it into mouth-watering tastiness. It came out hot and fresh for us and looked even better than the picture in the tapas passport.
The location of this restaurant is also one of our favorite things about it – located right in the charming Plaza del Convento (or Plaça del Convent in Valenciana). It’s a beautiful, small square right in the heart of Denia, with the Church of Sant Antoni de Pádua at its end and an ancient cross statue in the middle. There’s plenty of space at the few restaurants there to soak up sun at an outdoor table.
La Cova Tallá – This restaurant is small and quaint, with stone walls and located on the bustling, popular Calle de Loreto (the gastronomy row of Denia). Their tapa was the Sabor de Amor and made it to our top favorites because it was so fresh, creative and beautifully displayed.
To really understand it, think of it in layers; we’ll start from the bottom up. First was a shallow layer of tropical orange fruit juice, then a light puree of passion fruit. Next came a chunky mixture of fresh avocado and strawberries topped with a small portion of pickled seaweed. The star of the show was next, the fresh, ceviche-style Salmon chunks sprinkled with black sesame seeds. Lightly topping it all off, were some bean sprouts and a sprig of mint.
This tapa was so colorful and refreshingly tasty. The unique combination of fruit juices along with the strawberry chunks and then the quality of the Salmon, really brought it together for a spectacular experience. We’re just sorry we didn’t get any pictures – we enjoyed it so much, we didn’t remember to get its photo! And after the first taste, we just couldn’t stop.
Our Runners Up
Image Above – The tapa and caña at Tasca Eulalia.
Tasca Eulalia – This Tasca has a great, local vibe and authentic local food, especially when it comes to their tapas. For the Ruta, they concocted their ‘Medallón a las Finas Hierbas’ (Medallion of the Fine Herbs). It was a medallion of meat alongside a small portion of scrambled eggs and drizzled with a reduction of Pedro Ximénez chocolate. To finish it off with some flair, were some sliced grape tomatoes, a leaf or two of iceberg lettuce and a crispy light wafer of what seemed a cornmeal type of cracker.
It was very tasty, came out fresh and hot, and had nice presentation. The scrambled eggs were especially superb, with that perfect fluffiness to them and no slimy, watery uncooked portions. This tapa was one of the largest ones we had throughout our Ruta experience and for a drink, they let us select their delicious homemade Vermut on tap as well.
Image Above – A caña at Tasca Eulalia.
This restaurant is known for their ‘revueltos’, scrambled egg dishes, which we’ve experienced now and really love. When visiting, we recommend sitting at the old-world style dark-wood bar, especially on the side that along the floor-to-ceiling glass doors. In the summer they open these to the popular ‘main street’ of Denia, Marques del Campo. Overall, this Tasca is a great spot for tapas and/or a meal, and their people and service are great!
Bodega Casa Benjamin – This place also let Amalia select their vermut casera for her drink. She also is not a huge fan of little fried fishes, yet this this one she really liked. It was a ‘boquerone frito’ (small friend fish), that was stuffed with ‘txangurro’ (baked spider crab, most popular in the Basque Country), and drizzled with a dry vermut cream and local raisins from the nearby village of Jesus Pobre (known here as ‘pasas’).
It was served fresh and pipping hot in a larger oval-shaped sardine tin. While there wasn’t much else to the presentation, not even the dark red strands shown in the passport booklet, it didn’t taste fishy and was pleasantly delicious. The outer, thing crispiness had a nice crunch to it, a bit like an egg roll.
Bavaria Brau – Also located on Denia’s Marques del Campo street, the Bavaria Brau whipped up their spin on the traditional, local dish of the ‘coca’. Their ‘Coca Fregida’ was based on a fried Valencian coca that was then topped with an assortment of anchovies and mackerels (caballas in Spanish). This was on a bed of fresh arugula and drizzled with a mollusk sauce.
Image Above – The tapa at Bavaria Brau.
This was another one that even Amalia enjoyed, although she’s not crazy about little fishes, or mollusks for that matter. Perhaps having one of their fantastic beers to wash it down helped her as well. As is evident in the name, this bar is styled after the Bavarian culture, with the addition of Spanish foods as well of course. They have a great, large selection of international beers, with several on tap and tons in bottles. We have even found and enjoyed one of our favorites here, Delirium Tremens.
This is also a great spot for wonderful people and service and great atmosphere. The interior has that European, classy feel with its brightly colored glass adornments on the walls and ceiling and a beautiful, half-circle bar at one side. They also have great seating next to windows that are open out onto the Marques del Campo.
Image Above – The tapa at Es Tapa Ti.
Es Tapa Ti – This is one of our favorite places to eat in Denia. Yet we were not crazy about the taste of their tapa for this particular Ruta de Tapas. While we loved the presentation (which you can tell from the pictures we took), everything tasted a bit too fishy for our liking. Even the bright, purple medallion of mashed potatoes had the smell and taste of fish. It’s creativity and colorfulness was impressive though, especially the encrusted prawn head on each tapa. And the tapa was a generous size.
On a regular basis, this restaurant is consistent with their great quality of tapas, drinks and main dishes. We’ve taken numerous family members, visiting friends and local friends there and they all love it. Not to mention that their people are fantastic and the service is great. We have no doubt that perhaps at the next Ruta de Tapas, they’ll have a tapa that is more to our liking. Either way, we feel this tapa displayed great presentation and enjoyed capturing it on camera. What colors, huh!?!
Till Next Rutas de Tapas
We had a couple others that we made it to, but hopefully from these top picks you now have an idea of how delicious and inspiring Denia’s Ruta de Tapas is. Now that we’ve experienced one, we feel like we’re getting the hang of it and can’t wait for the next one in early fall.
And of course, we want to give a big thanks to our ‘foodie partners in crime’ – Karen and Gordon MacKenzie, Neil Weatherall, Abel Mendoza and Gabriel Marian. We love how food brings people together and we always have such a great time with each of you!
Written by Amalia & Eric
Founders & Producers of Move to Traveling
We’re Amalia and Eric – a traveling couple who are living a traveling lifestyle. Do you love to travel? Perfect! Come along…