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2.5 weeks in Seville, Granada, Madrid and Morocco

2.5 weeks in Seville, Granada, Madrid and Morocco

Old Nov 11th, 2021, 11:39 AM
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mdn
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2.5 weeks in Seville, Granada, Madrid and Morocco

Hola!
I'be been savoring trip reports from many of you including veterans like Ekscrunchy and Maribel. My wife and I (in our 40s) will be in Spain and Morocco the last two weeks of December and the first few days of the new year. While we have visited Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Rioja and Asturias) three times in the past 4 years, it's been 15 years since we were in Andalucia and we've never been to Granada! While my wife suffers from celiac disease, we love Spanish food and I've made a long list of restaurants from Maribel's guides as well as these forums.

SEVILLE: 5 nights at Mercer hotel.
-- We visited Jerez, Cadiz and Cordoba 15 years ago, but are looking for day-trip recommendations. Vejer sounds exciting if for no other reason than Bar Antonio and La Castillera, but we'd be happy going back to Cadiz or one of the other towns. Will we be better off renting a car for a day or okay depending on buses.
-- Restaurants list: La Azotea, La Brunilda, Bar Eslava, Bodeguita De A. Romero Origin, Pura Tasca, Casa Balbino, Petit Comité, La Abaceria San Lorenzo, La Cata Ciega.

GRANADA: 2 nights at Shine Albayzin?
-- Welcome hotel recommendations that give us the charm of the Alhambra, but still close enough to the action in town. Alhambra palace tickets already secured for the afternoon. Happy to spend for a luxury property if it will make a big difference to our experience, but don't "need" it.
-- Restaurants Bar FM, Cunini, Saint Germaine, Los Manueles, Mirador de Morayma.

FEZ: 3 nights at Riad Laaroussa (we'll be flying in on Dec 23rd and departing on 26th. I
-- I'll post this part to the Morocco forum, but hoping things in Fez will remain open on Christmas eve and Christmas Day). I heard as recently as October, Morocco still had 9 pm curfews and bars weren't permitted to serve alcohol due to Covid rules.

MARRAKESH: 3 nights at Riad Da Les Cigones. Sorting through restaurants, but believe this Riad is known for its own kitchen/cooking class.

MADRID: 5 nights at Catalonia Las Cortes hotel, selected for its location.
-- Welcome other hotel suggestions, especially if another hotel will be more fun when the city closes for NYE and tourists have limited options.
-- We'll fly into Madrid on Dec 29th and will be there on NYE and Jan 1. Would love thoughts on restaurants that are open on NYE and perhaps hotels that may have some celebrations planned prior midnight/1 am when the Madrileños start their party... I'm not certain we can keep going at that hour!
-- We love Madrid and are planning to visit museums, meander through various neighborhoods and simply get to know the city better.
-- Restaurants: La Manduca de Azagra (we love it, but is a Navarra produce driven menu just as good in December?), Tasquite de Enfrente, Lúa, La Taberna Pedraza, Lakasa, La Bienaparecida, Casa Rafa, Arima Basque Gastronomy.

Finally, are there any not to miss delicacies in December; e.g. will angulas be in season, huevas fritas (fried fish roe)? Thank you!

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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 12:25 PM
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We went to Sevilla and Granada a few years ago and I’m copying and pasting our mainly restaurant info. I got it off the Chowhound boards but looks like I also posted on Fodors. Loved both places. I’m living vicariously through fodors.com because we’re probably not traveling for awhile longer.

“Maribel, we are enjoying Sevilla. A beautiful place and it reminds us a little bit of where we live, Santa Barbara. The Casa del Poeta hotel is lovely and a beautiful spot to sip some cava in the early evening in their stunning courtyard. Our first night here, we walked up to La Azotea (Calle Condé de Barajas) and I basically handed my notes from this thread to the waiter and said we want this meal (thank you Eks!). So we had the delicious large shrimp with sherry, small clams with artichoke, a larger artichoke dish with sweetbreads in a cheese sauce and then sliced angus beef with tomatoes, peppers and French fries. Needless to say we were stuffed but very happy. We ended up chatting with the owner Juan for awhile, his wife is from California, he lived in San Diego for awhile and my husband and he discovered a mutual love of surfing. Really delicious meal and I think we may go back to the more casual bar across the street tonight for our last dinner. Next day, after a big breakfast at the hotel we visited Salvador church and also got tickets for the Cathedral. For a very light lunch we went to Torch coffee, a third wave coffee place (very hipster) on the street that runs next to the river. For dinner we walked back up to the same neighborhood and put on our name in at Bar Eslava. We ended up outside on a high table and had a great succession of tapas. The cigar with cuttlefish, razor clams, the egg on mushroom pate, croquettes with delicious side potatoes, artichoke with almonds and salt cod and spare ribs with honey. Sadly they were out of fried sea anemone. Everything was wonderful and I had some very nice Albariño at $3 a glass. We always marvel at how inexpensive wine and beer is in Europe. In the US our wine costs would have been at least triple.

We also had two lovely days in Granada. There we really enjoyed Saint Germain for our first dinner. Pate on bread was the free tapas and then we ordered octopus, squid and a very comforting tomato with melted cheese dish. Our second night we walked over from our small but lovely hotel, Santa Isabel la Real, and had dinner with views of the Alhambra at Mirador de Morayma. Maribel, I saw your recommendation on a chow hound thread and it was perfect after a long day of walking and down hills and around the Alhambra. Really lovely week and now off to Paris on Saturday. Thanks so much for this thread!

Just to wrap up, we had a delicious last dinner at Petit Corner after a lovely afternoon at the Alcazar, perhaps my favorite over the Alhambra. We got there at 8 and got a table that had to be vacated by 9:45. Started with a tuna tartare because I realized we hadn’t had tuna yet and I knew the region is well known for its tuna. It was very flavorable and a nice change of pace. We continued with crougettes, artichoke with Ibérico ham, a duck and foie served on toast and one of my favorite dishes anywhere ever, octopus with “silky” potatoes, truffle oil and an egg. Just a delicious flavor bomb. Highly recommend. We had 3 wonderful dinners in Sevilla. Paris has a lot to live up to!”

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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 12:52 PM
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We visited Andalucia, Madrid, and Toledo in 2017. One of our favorite restaurants in Granada is El Trillo Restaurante at Calleon Aljibe de Trillo.

For lodging in Granada, we stayed at El Ladron D'Agua, Carrera del Darro, 13. It's in a perfect location, at the bottom of the Albayzin. The beautiful reception area and center room/courtyard does have a contemporary design, so I'm not sure if that is what you are looking for, but we really enjoyed our stay here.
El Ladron de Agua Arts Hotel Granada | Boutique hotel in Granada

Our favorite restaurant in Seville is La Azotea, and I see you have that on your list. For a different kind of dining experience, we also enjoyed eating at the Mercado Barranca. We had dinner there one night, and then on our last day in Seville, we had lunch at the Mercado while dining outside at a nearby bar that is not part of the Mercado, but they let us bring food from the market to the bar, as long as we bought drinks. They served excellent gin tonics!
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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 01:18 PM
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I see KarenWoo got there first! I also recommend the Granada hotel, El Ladron D’Agua. It’s got a lovely ambience and is in a perfect location.

I’ll post the link to my trip report and, while we’re not foodies, we definitely ate very well, and Seville was a standout for eating. We loved both La Azotea and Eslava!

I wrote a long report but just scroll down to Seville and Granada, if interested.

Espagne, Olé! Ancient to modern, through Andalucia, Toledo and Madrid
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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 01:23 PM
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We stayed at El Ladron D'Agua because of Progol's recommendation! And we were very happy with our stay there!
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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 04:27 PM
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mdn,

SEVILLA:

Wow, 5 nights at the Seville Mercer is my idea of heaven! Vejer is a bit too far from Sevilla for an easy day trip (and La Castillería in Vejer and Antonio in Zahara unfortunately are both closed from October to March).

With a car you could drive down to lovely Sanlúcar de Barrameda for a stroll around the town and a plate or tortillitas de camarones at the legendary Casa Balbino on the square and then lunch at Casa Bigote on the waterfront Bajo de Guía, looking over to Doñana National Park.

I like your Sevilla restaurant list (my choices too) but look my friend Azahar’s new reviews, the ones to which she gives 5 oranges. You’ll find them here:https://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilletapas/barrios/There have been many bar/restaurant openings that she likes as well. I follow her on Instagram. The Mercer’s barrio is Arenal.

GRANADA:

The Shine Albayzín would be fine, as it doesn’t sit in the upper bohemian and scruffy parts of the Upper Albayzín bur rather on the riverside Carrera del Darro as does El Ladrón de Agua.I assume you considered the Autograph Collection Palacio de Santa Paula in the center (Ekscrunchy has stayed there as well).And I’m also assuming because it will be winter, you haven’t considered the Eurostars Washington Irving or the venerable Alhambra Palace (newly renovated) on the Alhambra Hill. You can reach downtown by taxi in minutes.

I like your Granada dining list (they would be my choices as well—don’t miss FM as it has a new look and table seating).

MADRID:
The Catalonia las Cortes is fine and the Barrio de las Letras is more tourist friendly with more restaurants open on Dec. 24, 25 and NYE. We’ll be there as well during the Christmas holidays, I have all my restaurants already pre-booked. The Barrio de las Letras, aka Las Huertas, aka Cortes, is a handier location so that one can easily walk to sightseeing, especially if it’s cold, and not have to rely on taxis which are, ime, very, very difficult to find on NYE before 2 am. When we stay on NYE our family comes to pick us up at our hotel because taxis will not serve the hotels until well after midnight.

For dining on NYE you’ll have gala, very expensive fixed price menus with luxury ingredients (caviar, foie gras, lobster, fine wines champagne) at the half dozen top restaurants that remain open. The 5-star hotel gala dinners (Palace, Ritz, 4 Seasons, Rosewood, etc.) will have a cotillón (music and even dancing) as well and will be stratospherically expensive!

Albora will have a gala menu for around €200. Lúa, the Michelin 1-star will serve a dinner for €320/p. But…. at the new Cadaqués of the Sagardi group, specializing in rice dishes, on elegant Jorge Juan in the Barrio de Salamanca (walkable if you don’t mind a walk if it’s not too cold) according to The Fork one can dine a la carte.  The restaurants of the Sagardi and Oter groups will be open on NYE and Jan. 1, according to The Fork.

For those on your list that won’t be open Dec. 31-Jan. 1: Yes, La Manduca de Azagra is lovely in winter as well. The rest of your list is terrific.

Special delicacies: Casa Rafa will have goose barnacles (percebes) and angulas (elvers) at Christmas time as well as its fantastic lobster salad, monkfish, and shellfish. Rafa no longer opens on Sunday nights. Wild mushrooms, truffles, game dishes (venison, wood pigeon etc.) should be available and I wouldn’t miss Taberna La Catapa, now with 1 Repsol sun in the Retiro District but have the hotel book a table FAR in advance. We’ll be there on Dec. 23.

Sorry I can’t help you with the Morocco portion.
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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 04:56 PM
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Maribel, I’ve been having a Twitter discussion about different times that the world eats dinner. Are people still eating at 9pm or later in Spain? Covid seems to have changed some habits and the Twitter thread was about people eating earlier in the US.
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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 05:10 PM
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Yes, macdogmom, Â in Madrid we eat dinner between 9-10, although more and more restaurants in Madrid are opening at 8 or 8:30 to cater to visitors and we find that in winter during the work week folks are dining a tad bit earlier.. Â Some now open non-stop, but non-stop doesn't necessarily mean that the chef will be there all day to whip up a gourmet meal for you. Â Non-stop could mean certain hours for breakfast, then the mid-morning almuerzo (desayuno de media mañana), then tea or after work cocktails and then for dinner starting at 8:30 and later. Â The terrific gastro tabernas in the Retiro District (that we consider Madrid's best dining district) now open at 8 and we arrive at Taberna La Catapa at 8:30 because if not, we won't find an empty table or seat at the bar.
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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 06:56 PM
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I've just been through the 32 pages of The Fork listings, so far, the restaurants that will be open in Madrid on NYE.  The majority of "affordable" under 100/person menus,  sans pre-fixe, and no outrageously priced gala menus, are in ethnic restaurants.  If you want to avoid the ubiquitous gala menu.... within a very easy walking distance of the Catalonia las Cortes and with (as far as The Fork knows) an a la carte menu, I would look at El Rincón de Esteban on Santa Catalina (traditional Castilian/Madrid cuisine), a short hop away, or a longer hop away but very, very walkable, the Basque Sagardi en Euskal Etxea, its upstairs dining room, featuring grilled Basque steaks (their meat of very high quality comes directly from the Basque Country).  It sits across from the Teatro de la Zarzuela on Calle Jovellanos.
Â
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Old Nov 12th, 2021, 02:57 AM
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<<MADRID: 5 nights at Catalonia Las Cortes hotel, selected for its location.>>

I'm unable to compete with Maribel for the depth of her knowledge but I can endorse this as a fine hotel to stay at - I had the most basic room but it was very comfortable, a great bathroom, and the staff were very accommodating. I found the position very convenient - walkable to all the places I wanted to walk to, which included one day when I felt as if I'd covered the whole of central Madrid! Lots of restaurants nearby and I used the Fork a lot.
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Old Nov 12th, 2021, 12:45 PM
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Hi annhig,
Yes, the Catalonia Las Cortes does have a great location for easy walk-ability to sightseeing.

For those following this thread-- if the Las Cortes isn't available, there are 3 newer, small boutique hotels in the immediate vicinity that I like and are comparable in comfort--for those who love staying in the Barrio de las Letras.

1) the Doubletree Hilton Prado, which does not remind me of an American Doubletree at all except for the warm cookies provided upon arrival. It sits around the corner from the Westin Palace on a quiet street. We've stayed here in both a standard queen (interior) room and the king deluxe room, which came with all the deluxe bells and whistles. The breakfast buffet is particularly ample, and the service very professional. We're Hilton Honors members.

2) the Room Mate Alba, on Calle Huertas, a far more deluxe version of the other Room Mates, considered the Room Mate chain's Madrid flagship, similar to San Sebastián's deluxe Room Mate Gorka. I saw all of the room categories here, and even their smallest rooms are extremely comfortable and beautifully decorated by a noted interior designer. Breakfast is served until noon and handy Nespresso machine available downstairs. 9.3 rating on booking.com

3) the newest offering of the Hilton group, opened in the summer, the Atocha Hotel Tapestry Collection by Hilton sits on busy Calle Atocha but just a short, easy walk from the Plaza Santa Ana and all the pleasantries of the Barrio de las Letras. Like the Doubletree it offers excellent service, a restaurant manned by a noted chef (Joaquín Felipe), the Atocha 107, a pretty interior courtyard and very comfortable rooms even in the entry category (with Nespresso machines, robes/slippers rain showers, great beds, a small sitting room with desk). We stayed here recently because we had planned an early departure, picking up our rental car just a 7-minute walk away. We were a bit intimidated with all our luggage in hand by the staircase at the entrance (it is a remake of a former mansion), but there is a doorman to take one's luggage. If he doesn't appear right away, a call to the front desk will alert him. It could make a very good option for those with an early train departure from Atocha station. it gets high ratings on booking.com.

Just a few more options for Barrio de las Letras accommodations.



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Old Nov 12th, 2021, 01:13 PM
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Oh my! After the past two harrowing pandemic years, I am so glad to have responses from the venerated Maribel, MacDogMom, KarenWoo, Progol and Annhig! I'm so glad you are all doing well.
Alas, the El Ladron D'agua seems to be fully booked. So it's going to be Palacia De Santa Paula in Granada, but no complaints there! We'll stick to Catalonia Las Cortes in Madrid for the hotel and I've reserved NYE dinner at Cadaques in Madrid. How I wish we could have overlapped with Maribel in Madrid. I've wondered over the years: what are these people like in person, are they like Anthony Bourdain sans a TV show? How do they know so much?

I'll report back as I fill in the gaps in our itinerary. Any recommended guides for the Alhambra tour? I know Ekscrunchy recommends one, but that's from a 10 year old post. Sounds like Sanlucar de Barrameda will be our day excursion from Seville. THANK YOU ALL!
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Old Nov 12th, 2021, 01:33 PM
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For an Alhambra guide: in the past I've used Margarita Ortiz de Landazuri, as has Rick Steves. Just make sure that she personally will be escorting you.
Alhambra tours - Guided visits to Alhambra.

Here are some reviews-
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUser...Andalucia.html.

I'm nothing like Anthony Bourdain sans TV show! I just read, read, read, research, research research and take lots and lots of notes.
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Old Nov 15th, 2021, 10:10 PM
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Ay Maribel, do you think Bar Antonio will be open early March?????

ps. If you come to NYC, I recommend Cervo's, where we ate tonite for my pre birthday dinner...no reservations..43 Canal Street..I will take you when you visit!!

Tonight will be Basque: Haizea....Kaixo!

Haizea is very excited to welcome you to join us for Indoor & Terrace Dining to experience the Basque Cuisine by Chef Mikel de Luis of Bilbao, Spain.

Can no longer figure out how to copy and paste some links...what changed? Who knows!

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Nov 15th, 2021 at 10:19 PM.
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Old Nov 16th, 2021, 09:18 AM
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Hi eks,
I emailed Antonio about this very topic, and the response (finally!) was that the restaurant closes starting on the Dec. bank holiday but they told me to email them again about the March reopening. It varies from year to year. So, I'll email again. We ate lunch there on March 12, before the state of alarm and confinement.

I'll take you up on that invitation!




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Old Nov 16th, 2021, 10:27 AM
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Eks and Maribel,
Cervo's made me happy, but I don't see the fried shrimp heads app on their menu any more. : ( The other NYC tapas place which is great and with reasonable prices is Tomiño located at 192 Grand Street, right by Dipalos and Ferrara bakery. They have the tortilla de Batanzos as well as carabineros a la plancha.
If Cervo's was pre-birthday, can't wait to hear what's on the agenda for the birthday! Happy birthday, Eks!! Enjoy!
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Old Nov 16th, 2021, 11:02 AM
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mdn,
I've taken notes, thanks! I love tortilla Betanzos style, and who doesn't love carabineros. I sometime see them in my supermarket around Christmas time. We're heading for Marisquería Rafa soon for some carabineros.

eks,
!Feliz cumpleaños! I wish you many, many more and many exciting adventures yet to come! We'll toast to you at Rafa!
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Old Nov 16th, 2021, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by mdn View Post
Eks and Maribel,
Cervo's made me happy, but I don't see the fried shrimp heads app on their menu any more. : ( The other NYC tapas place which is great and with reasonable prices is Tomiño located at 192 Grand Street, right by Dipalos and Ferrara bakery. They have the tortilla de Batanzos as well as carabineros a la plancha.
If Cervo's was pre-birthday, can't wait to hear what's on the agenda for the birthday! Happy birthday, Eks!! Enjoy!
Cervo’s was our son’s favorite restaurant in NYC. We had a fabulous meal there on our last trip to NYC before covid hit and he and fiancée moved to the big island of Hawaii.

it’s so nice to see familiar names on Fodors and people traveling again. We are still waiting to get on a plane and keep busy with trips to Bay Area (from Santa Barbara) eating all the great food around us in California and enjoying our new life as grandparents. Maribel and Ekscrunchy have both helped me so much on our European travels. I will never forget reading a trip report of eks about Madera in Italy and thinking we must go there. And we did the next year! Same with Sevilla-I basically ordered everything she had recommended on our first night out at la Azotea. Maribel is a gem and all her informative and generous information about traveling and eating in Spain has helped us so much on our travels. Now I just need to get on an airplane…
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Old Dec 2nd, 2021, 03:17 PM
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mdn,
Rather than post this on your Venice-Bologna thread, I'll just add a few food notes here about your now revised holiday trip.

Leading up to Christmas, New Year's and Epiphany is a great time to enjoy the pastry shop windows filled with traditional holiday treats—Roscón de Reyes (the King Cake traditionally enjoyed the morning of Jan. 6), polvornes, mantecados, mazapán and turrón. (Note to self: We need to order our Roscón when we arrive so as to snag one before they stop taking orders.)

You’ll enjoy some of these dulces navideños at your New Year’s Eve dinner at Lúa.

You may see some of these Christmas sweets in Jerez in the window of the pastry shop La Rosa de Oro at Calle Consistorio 7, in Málaga at Pastelerías Pathelín next to the Mercado de Atarazanas (a great market for browsing), in Sevilla at the venerable Confitería La Campana or Confitería Ochoa both on pedestrian Calle Sierpes and in Granada at Pastelería Confitería El Sol at Puerta Real.
And in Madrid in dozens of pastry shops, especially Antigua Pastelería del Pozo at Pozo 8 near the Puerta del Sol.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2021, 08:47 AM
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Thank you, Maribel! I LOVE mazapán and turrón! The Roscón de Reyes sounds similar to the Mardi Gras King Cake in New Orleans.
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