Ditch The Doners: A Real Guide To Benidorm Cuisine
Think of food in Benidorm and you could be forgiven for thinking of dodgy doner kebabs on Calle Gerona or everything coming with chips. There is that element there after all. But you’d perhaps also be forgiven for forgetting Benidorm is in Spain, a nation which has some of the most beautiful dishes on the planet. And Benidorm is no different.
The high-rise hotels and Red Lion bars may mask its deep-rooted Spanish traditions, but they are there. Even the people of Benidorm have siestas.
It enjoys a fiesta, and sangria flows through its veins. So naturally, when it comes to food, you’ll find there’s more to life in Benidorm than burger and chips – or papas fritas as you will see them on the menu. Across Spain, regional variations on dishes have made it one of the most exciting places to eat in the world. It’s laid back culture is perfect for dining out on holiday, and a glass of sangria or cerveza (beer) is often complimented with a few tapas dishes to enjoy.
The north of Spain is drastically different in terms of food to the south, and the west is a complete contrast to the east where the popular tourist destination lies. Benidorm’s cuisine is very much influenced by Valencian culture, the third largest city which lies just 80-or-so miles up the coast, and as you’d expect with a coastal town, most dishes are centred on seafood, plucked straight from the Med.
The town itself started life as just a small fishing village, and at one point the fishermen were as famous as the well-known Spanish chefs cooking up traditional dishes. They had perfected the ancient almadraba technique of catching fish, and tuna was often the dish of the day.
By the 60s that had died down, with tourism becoming the town’s main source of income, but of course that meant it could showcase to the world its incredible cuisine. Of course that has been diluted over the years, but there are still plenty of restaurants you can get an excellent dining experience before heading out and enjoying the great Benidorm nightlife.
Tapas Alley in the Old Town gives you a real taste of Spain with paella aplenty and hundreds of amazing tapas dishes, including Benidorm and Costa Blanca staples.
One of the more interesting dishes you’ll find on the menu is arros negre, a Valencian and Catalan dish made with cuttlefish or squid and rice, similar to seafood paella. Its dark colour comes from the squid ink which dyes the rice and creates a black dish.
Colour is often added with lemon and peppers, and whilst it may look like a dish that is rather dark, but one mouthful and it will come alive, touching and teasing every taste bud.
One restaurant that serves up some of the finest tapas in the town is La Cofradia Vinos Y Tapas, offering classic Spanish food in a traditional Spanish environment. Visit any tapas bar in the country and it will be alive and buzzing, and here is no different. It continually gets rave reviews for its mini-dishes and delights in Spain’s other food love, paella.
Said to have the best paella in Benidorm, it’s the number one place to get your fix of Spanish food, and try the country’s number one staple.
In fact, it has a rich history with the dish. Paella’s ancient roots lie just north of the town and quickly became the country’s national dish. The Valencian variant, said to be the original, consists of white rice, green beans, meat, white beans, snails, and rosemary and saffron. This can be found throughout the holiday destination, alongside its seafood sister.
Of course, you’ll find all Spain’s tapas regulars too, with albondigas and bravas popular dishes, not to mention a range of vegetable dishes that use peppers, aubergines, and plenty more Mediterranean produce.
Despite being diluted by the host of British bars which have cropped up in the town, Spanish cuisine is still a big part of Benidorm life. Tapas Alley is regularly bustling and producing amazing, homely foods which will transport you back to the small fishing village Benidorm once was.
Any trip to the town has to be spent tasting some of these traditional dishes. It’s the perfect start to an evening before heading out and enjoying the pubs and bars. It’ll take you away from the normal, and don’t worry, if you have a few too many in the Red Lion, you can always have a taste of home with a full English in the morning.