Eslava tapas bar in Sevilla.
Phone (+34) 954 906 568
You can’t please all of the people all of the time, as the old saying goes. But there’s a tapas bar in Seville that seems to do just that. Whenever the perennial subject of tapas is raised in this city, the name Eslava is sure to be mentioned. The reason being that this small, but perfectly formed and brilliantly run ‘gastro-bar’ has rarely put a foot wrong in all its 23 years of existence.
The good points start with the setting, in a quiet street in the barrio of San Lorenzo, one of the few old-town Seville neighbourhoods that haven’t been adversely affected by the tourist onslaught. Eslava is both restaurant and bar, but it’s the tapas side of the operation that is most often singled out for praise. Affable owner Sixto Tovar and his chef Isabel Capote have steadily built up a reputation for superb tapas cuisine that possesses a creative edge without losing touch of its traditional Andalusian roots. Worth singling out among Eslava’s repertoire are its pork ribs with honey, tenderloin with dill, excellent croquetas, melt-in-the-mouth carrillera ibérica, and a fascinating dish known as atascaburras (picturesquely translated as ‘donkey blocker’!) combining potato and salt cod puree with walnuts and pinenuts.
Tovar has been known to describe Eslava’s culinary philosophy as ‘chickpeas to foie gras’, implying a democratic attitude to ingredients both humble and luxurious. Keenly priced at around 3 or 4 euros a dish, the tapas here can be made to go further by ordering ‘half raciones’, especially recommendable if you go with a group.
Decor in the small bar-dining room is refreshingly restrained, with a cool colour scheme of sky-blue and white. Eslava fans love the slick yet amiable service, the fresh flowers on the tables, the waiters in their white shirts and black ties. There is only one drawback, and it’s a consequence of Eslava’s great success: the place is never less than heavingly full. At midday especially the narrow bar area verges on the uncomfortable. Reservations aren’t accepted even for the tables at the back, so that only one course of action remains. Turn up early - which in Spain means 1pm for lunch or 8pm for dinner – and you may just have the rare luxury of a spare table.