Benidorm: a taste of the old town
Benidorm has long had a reputation for Spain’s fast-paced holiday hotspot, with bustling beaches, neon-lit nightclubs and plenty of activities to keep everyone occupied. Many families head to the destination each year to make the most of its endless entertainment options alongside the promise of sea and sunshine.
You’d be forgiven then for not equating this holiday haunt with fine Spanish cuisine. So here’s our insider’s guide to Benidorm‘s food, its old town, and its famous Tapas Alley.
What food can I expect in Benidorm?
Food in Benidorm is often thought to be vaguely predictable, and in some parts of town, it is. With the main centre of Benidorm boasting a number of cheap eats and burger restaurants, it can be difficult to look past the offerings of the usual junk food outlets and all-you-can-eat buffets.
Head to Benidorm’s picturesque old town and you’ll get a different story, however. An evocative maze of cobbled streets and old-fashioned brickwork, it has managed to retain some of Spain’s traditional character, and this extends to its restaurants too.
Blue Sea Calas Marina is sat just 3km from the old town, and makes the perfect base for your gastronomic adventure!
Benidorm is known for its multiculturalism, and although you’ll find delicious cuisine from all over the world, some of the best food offerings are from its traditional eateries.
Bathed by the Mediterranean waters, it’s no surprise that this is a distinct influence in its cuisine. Benidorm’s food harks back to its days as a traditional fishing village, and offers the finest dishes from its surrounding areas.
You’ll find the most authentic offerings in Tapas alley in old town Benidorm, where plenty of visitors and locals flock to eat. Named as such because of its endless supply of tapas restaurants, it makes for a great spot to enjoy an appetiser alongside a refreshing glass of local wine.
What to eat:
While dishes vary across the region, there are a number of old favourites that feature on the menus of Benidorm’s restaurants. In the old town, you’ll find typical dishes like rice with red mullets and pumpkin, prepared with lightly fried garlic and some locally-cultivated spices. Rice dishes are common for those in search of food in Benidorm.
One dish native to the area is Arros amb fessols i naps, a rice dish made with beans and turnips. Particularly hearty on a winter’s day, this enticing combination of rice, meat, broth and vegetables can also be found in some of the old town’s more traditional haunts.
Cocas are another Benidorm favourite (pictured above), retaining their popularity from the Roman period. Comprised of salty dough, they are made by shaping the dough into a crescent and filling it with delicious meats and vegetables. Typical flavours include roasted pepper, tomatoes, tuna and eggs or spicy sausages and black pudding.
Of course, if you’re looking to choose some delicious dishes from the tapas menu, you’ll find an endless amount of choice in Tapas alley. The temptation is always to order too much, which is why they’re best shared. Take your pick from familiar dishes like jamon (Spanish ham), fresh prawns or meatballs in tomato sauce mixed with unfamiliar foods like fried squid or octopus.
Those with a sweet tooth won’t miss out on a trip to Benidorm either. While many of the restaurants’ tapas dishes are savoury and intended as a light lunch, the town’s favourite sweet treat is the Saint Blas bun. Traditionally of Arabic origin, the buns are sweetened with almonds and cinnamon and were named as such after the catholic Saint Blas, so-called Saint of the Wild Beast.
Where to go:
For authentic eats, Tapas alley in old town Benidorm is a must-visit. While the area has always been a firm favourite with locals, there have been a few celebs spotted there in recent years, increasing its popularity.
The street itself runs from Pl. de la Consistutio through to Santo Domingo and features an endless parade of Catalan-inspired restaurants and bars. Small tapas bars offering visitors cheap eats and a full-bodied glasses of Rioja sit alongside bijoux wine bars serving up Argentinian and Spanish-inspired meals.
As the bars and restaurants are open most of the day, Tapas alley also provides a great spot to enjoy the sunshine. Many of the eateries boast comfortable outdoor seating areas – perfect if you want to linger over a glass of wine or sip your morning coffee in peace.
Aside from its food, this area of Benidorm is also known for its infectious atmosphere. Each year, Benidorm hosts various events to showcase its cuisine, including the widely-anticipated annual tapas tours held each May and June.
All participating restaurants create a special dish – it can be something traditionally Spanish or something completely new, and visitors are invited to vote on their favourites. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Benidorm during these months, the event is a must-see and, best of all, you’ll get your fill of delicious eats. Fine food, abundant sunshine and some of the best beaches in Spain – who could ask for more?