Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Drooling over meal memories

Above: Interior of La Clandestina Cafe

Sending you a final few food snapshots from our spring trip to Zaragoza to offer you another batch of restaurants to tempt you into heading that direction.

A female chef, Susana Casanova, shapes the menu at La Clandestina, and her creativity earned the contemporary restaurant an award for Best Tapas in the City in 2019. Croquetas made with Rio Vero, a blue goat cheese, and nuts were a favorite; the fresh red tuna tataki melts in your mouth; and seasonal salads are refreshing.

Cafe de Nolasco was less than half a block from our rental apartment and was always bustling. Reservations are needed for grabbing a full meal, and we were slow to catch on to that planning concept required for most of the restaurants in the center of Zaragoza. The gazpacho topped with salmon tartare was perfect, and the distinctive award-winning croqueta Iberico Hanoi should not be skipped.

El Windsor offers a diverse menu successfully fusing Mediterranean and Asian cooking influences. Everything we had there was great, but what particularly attracted us for a repeat visit was encountering a generous platter of grilled vegetables for our shared starter.

One of the few popular tapas spots in the famed El Tubo district that is open for lunch, Meli del Tubo gets slammed. The fillings of a plateful of assorted mini croquetas range from boletus mushroom to rabbit, and fusion is not frowned upon as evidenced by rabbit-filled gyoza. A seafood merluza lunch special arrived artfully plated.

We tried La Dispensa de Montal early in our trip, intent on tasting regional specialties. Surrounded by glass display cases filled with meats and cheeses, shelves of prized Spanish canned goods and rows of wine, we sampled the traditional pan cristal (bread with tomatoes), paper-thin slices of cecina (dried, cured beef) and migas de la casa. Not eggs as in Mexico, migas in Spain are bread crumbs softened in water and then sauteed until brown in olive oil or meat drippings with paprika, garlic and, in this region, grapes.

La Republicana croquetas

Before we were trained to make reservations to snag seats in the small restaurants, we found ourselves at Restaurante Tajo Bajo twice because of the large seating capacity afforded by its location on Plaza del Pilar. Both the interior design and service were sleek in this heavily touristed area of town, not as relaxed as the neighborhood restaurants we tend to frequent. The winter squash-filled pesto pasta was quite nice, but the unexpected scene-stealer was a luscious heirloom tomato and pickled onion salad crowned by a scoop of basil ice cream.

And, of course, there are no shortage of places to drop by to grab tapas and a glass of wine – places like La Republicana, an old-school-looking tapas bar in El Tubo with a quirky decor that makes it merit a stop.

2 thoughts on “Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Drooling over meal memories”

  1. Gayle,

    I didn’t want to tell you in comments, but Craig and I spent most of December in Madrid, Granada, and Barcelona. We spent our time in museums and restaurants, of course. We’d never been to Spain, and I was quite impressed with how civilized and substantial and well-maintained things were. People were very kind to us, and the wine and food? I was in heaven. ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

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