Tasty treats of a tapas trail in Berja, Almería

Ever wondered what was involved on a tapas trail? Eating and drinking is the recipe for a tapas trail - with a bit of walking between venues as the healthy ingredient! We ventured down to Berja in Almería province to sample some of their gastronomic delights - and had some fun taking part in their VIII Ruta de la Tapa.

We have covered a route of a different sort in Berja before, a daytime trail of the fountains - La Ruta de Las Fuentes - the town is famous for them.


What's the idea?

A Ruta de la Tapa seems to be the latest addition to many fiestas and festivals.  Getting the local establishments to take an active part, generating a bit of extra revenue for the destination, and allowing everyone, locals and visitors alike to sample a signature dish from each bar or restaurant. All in the best possible taste!

Berja Plaza

A reason to go

Last weekend we wanted to meet up with some visiting friends that we don't get the chance to see that often - so we agreed that an evening walking the Tapas Trail would be an ideal opportunity - anything with food and drink involved usually makes for a great evening, when you're in Spain.We were a little bit early so went ahead to the tourist office to pick up our route maps and cards. The tourist office is located in an ancient tower just one street behind the main plaza, and has the friendliest staff in Spain, we often call in there to see what's on.

tapas route

The route

A tapas trail involves a list of participating establishments, each with a signature dish for the purpose of the game. You may choose a selection to visit - or all if you're made of strong stuff. Then you walk from place to place, where a beer or a wine plus that signature dish will cost a set amount of money, and you obtain a stamp after eating at each one. The cards then get counted, where the winning dish and establishment are chosen.

Tapas Barcelona

High road or low road

We had a choice of two groups of places to go. Berja is quite sprawled out, and the second group was a good distance away, so we went there first as we had the comfort of a designated driver. He drew the short straw and stuck valiantly to 'sin' (alcohol-free) beer all night. Our task was to choose 9 bars from the first group and three from the second. Even for seasoned participants this was little bit too much for one evening, but we managed about seven altogether - not a bad effort!

An Expo

The fiesta that was also running collided with Halloween - an Berja was full of little witches and ghouls running around, actually whether they were real or imaginary after more than half a dozen bar visits I'm not entirely sure! There was also an 'Expo' of local produce in a large warehouse, we went there first. There was  a free train running from the centre of town to the venue. From tasty local charcuterie, honey and jams to clothes, and even solar panel companies had their stalls set out. We tasted a few of the cured sausage and hams as an appetizer for what lay ahead.


La Cuenta

Price wise, we were four, drinking 2 standard beers, 1 small beer, 1 non-alcoholic beer and a tapas each. Standard bill in each place came to €7.50, so a long evening that won't break the bank. And so to the tapas ... it's a tough job, but someone has to do it! Here are 6 of the best - and occasionally slightly strange, plates of food that we encountered...

Bar 1: Café Plaza Porticada

Dish: Delicias de Codfish (!)

This was the first effort - an odd combination of  egg, porridge flakes and fish, bizarrely topped with a glacé cherry. Not unpleasant, but a type of Fishy Flapjack is the best way I can describe it. I don't think I'll ever make a food critic! Score: 5/10 for sheer creativity. I think the cook may have watched a little too much of Masterchef.


Bar 2: Café Terraza Bonilla

Dish: Choto al Marin

A roadside bar on the way out of town, the tapas here is always plentiful and cheap - that doesn't mean it's always great though...I tend to prefer quality over quantity. For the tapas trail, they served a delicious stewed goat which was marinated and cooked down into a sticky sauce. The chips on the side were like cardboard, but there was a nice little side salad and bread too. We'll give it 6/10 as a fair score.


Bar 3: Café Bar Las Mallorquines

Dish: El Enrollao

This bar is right at the top of town, we've been once before when we did the fountain tour - it's a bit like being in someone's living room, just a handful of tables. I guess this is a dish from Mallorca, but am happy to be corrected. We had a piece of chicken breast with a prawn stuffed inside, a little pastry with spinach and a sauce of tomato jam (we think!) 6/10 as it was well cooked but again an odd combination.


Bar 4: Restaurante Asador El Gusto es Nuestro

Dish: Bocadito de Champinon en Lluvia de Salsa Verde

Loved this - and a vegetarian option too - now that is rare. Again, we have eaten here before, and we liked it, it's a bit different to the usual Spanish fare with plenty of pasta dishes on the regular menu. A big steak mushroom, filled with chopped mushroom, herbs and garlic, with a little green sauce, possibly basil. 9/10 from Annie and I for this one.


Bar 5: Casa Bar Cahete

Dish: Bacalehete

The winner for all of us - well, all except our saintly sober friend who doesn't like Bacalao as a rule - salt cod to you and me. Deep fried meaty salt cod, light and succulent, topped with a chopped fresh vinaigrette salad - perfect! 10/10. Anything else had to be a disappointment....


Bar 6: Meson Las Esquinita

Dish: Pulgitas Rellenas

And it was! Didn't like this at all. A long dough roll, with greasy mince and melted cheese - not a good experience especially after the last one. 4/10 makes this one the clear loser...However I think that my kids would probably have loved it.


But overall there were no real losers and the night itself was a clear and outright winner - I know that we won't hesitate to embark on another Ruta de las Tapas as a way to spend a slightly different but fun evening, Spanish style!