Madrid: Restaurante Sobrino de Botin (left)
Let’s begin our tour in Botín, the oldest restaurant in Madrid and according to the Guinness World Records Book the oldest in the world. It is located in the “Madrid of the Austrias”, a neighborhood developed under the rule of Carlos I and mostly Felipe II, from the royal house of the Austrias and close to the Plaza Mayor, considered one of the most beautiful squares in Madrid. It dates back to 1725, although it had been a guest house since 1590.
Rumor has it that Goya himself worked, for a short time, as a dishwasher before becoming a famous painter. The restaurant is mentioned in Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’, as the American novelist was a regular here in his days in Madrid and even declared it to be his favorite. Today it is also the favorite of Spanish and American celebrities alike, and at it is proud to welcome at its table honorable guest such as His Majesty King Juan Carlos I or President Bill Clinton. The specialty: suckling pig.
Ciudad Real (Castilla La Mancha): Las Nieves
Continue our tour in Ciudad Real, a beautiful small medieval city only less than an hour away from Madrid by high speed train. Only 25 minutes driving from the city and close to the beautiful town of Almagro is the restaurant “Las Nieves”, which dates back to the 17th Century. Its surroundings are magnificent, as it is close to Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves chapel and its ancient bullring, a typical medieval architectural ensemble from the lower regions of La Mancha.
The place reveals itself nowadays as an oasis in the plains of Castille La Mancha, having a big grove, public playgrounds and infrastructures dedicated to leisure activities. The tavern has taken advantage of this magnificent legacy to create an incomparable establishment set in a building of classical beauty. This atmosphere includes objects from the 17th century and pleasant surprises like the Almagro lace style decorated tables and the exclusive design dinnerware. There are also theatrical dinners organized. Eating here is a delight for your senses and your palate. Among the most popular dishes, the fried cheeses with raspberry jam.
Zaragoza (Aragon): Casa Lac
In Zaragoza, 3 hours west of Barcelona by car or 1 hour and 30 minutes by the high speed train from Madrid, is Casa Lac, also one of the oldest restaurant in Spain – its trading license dates back to 1825-. In Casa Lac you can enjoy a delicious food and much more: they celebrate recitals, theater representations and exhibits. If you have the chance, visit Zaragoza in October 12th, when its biggest celebration, “Fiestas del Pilar”, gathers lots of people from all over Spain around its magnificent Basilica del Pilar, dedicated to the patron saint of the city.
Barcelona: Can Culleretes
According to the Guinness World Records book, “Can Culleretes” is the oldest restaurant in Barcelona, and the second oldest in Spain. Founded in 1786, it is located in “la casa de las cucharillas” (the House of Teaspoons) at 5 Quintana street, in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. The Gothic Quarter is a lively and colorful neighborhood where one can find some of the main attractions of the city such as the Cathedral and the Boqueria farmers market.
Valencia: Venta de L’Home
Among the oldest restaurants in Spain, we have discovered “Venta de L´Home”. This peculiar establishment, built in the late 17th Century, it is the oldest restaurant in the Valencia Region. The restaurant is located on the “Antiguo Camino Real” (the Old Royal Way), the original route from Valencia to Madrid, 40 minutes driving from Valencia; the Antiguo Camino Real used to have sixteen staging posts, stations where a change of mounts and also food and rest were offered to the travelers. La Venta de L´home is the only staging post that remains. In the area you can visit Buñol, the village where the world famous “Tomatina” (a battle with tomatoes in which a whole village takes part) takes place. The city of Valencia is only about 1h and 30 minutes from Madrid by High Speed Train.
Sevilla – Bar El Rinconcillo
Last but not least, we have to mention “El Rinconcillo”, in the city of Sevilla, 2 hours and a half by high speed train from Madrid. The restaurant was founded in 1670 and after having some different owners in 1858 was acquired by the De Rueda family, who still owns it nowadays. Situated on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, Seville has a rich Moorish heritage, and used to be a prosperous port that carried out trade with the Americas. The streets and squares in the historic quarter of the capital of Andalusia are lively and busy. Many of the city treasures have been awarded the World Heritage designation, and many districts are full of traditional culture, like Triana and La Macarena.
Photo courtesy of Restaurante Botin. The list was compiled by New York’s Tourist Office of Spain.