SEVILLE, Spain — It is customary for tourists abroad to get up early and trek to all the well-known landmarks and museums. But Spanish cities do not beat to an early riser’s drum — they come alive at night. Seville is no different. The Andalusian city offers many options after dusk.
Not used to a late dinner? Before your night out stop by Bodega Donaire in Plaza Alfalfa. The tapas here are larger than most and savory. The menu has four columns: Spanish, English, and prices for either a plate or platter. That helped but I still ordered the wrong items. When ordering dressed tomatoes, tomates vestidos, what I expect to be dressing was instead a can of tuna fish plopped on top. But don’t get discouraged, other offerings, such as the grilled goat cheese and pork with whiskey sauce, were the most flavorful, filling dishes I had in Seville, and can be shared at about $10 a platter.
Ready for entertainment? From 7 to 11 p.m., pick from a number of flamenco shows. If you are willing to pay for the experience, head around the corner from Bodega Donaire to Museo del Baile Flamenco, the only flamenco museum in the world. For about $27 the audience watches two “bailaors” (flamenco dancers), a “cantaor” (flamenco singer), and guitarist perform individually and collaborate to make up the four-part show. The professional setting and choreography are intoxicating and worth the money.
If you would rather catch a free show at a local bar, try La Carbonería on Calle Levíes. In exchange for a few drinks you can watch a flamenco performance in a more relaxed setting.
For the 9 p.m. dinner hour, do not miss El Rinconcillo, which claims to be the oldest bar in Spain, having opened its doors in 1670. A crowd gathers at the bar for tapas, and families and groups head for the small dining area and its friendly waitstaff. Beware of ordering sides that are usually free in other tapas bars, such as Iberian ham or bread. You will pay for those here.
El Rinconcillo has an English menu but with no descriptions provided, the arriving dishes can be a surprise. The grilled sea bass, corvina plancha, is the entire bass — head, skin, eyes, and all — for about $20. Once the skin is removed, dig into the white meat and the dish is a delight. The grilled hake, merluza plancha, is again the whole fish, but without the skin, for about $23. Despite the bones, the dish is simple and filling. Many recommend the bacalao cod, which is similar to fish and chips at a US restaurant, for $17. No matter what you choose, your meal here will be enjoyable.
After dinner, it is time to hit the night life, and the street of Pérez Galdós is bustling every night of the week. The area is referred to as “Alfalfa” by international students and locals for its location near Plaza Alfalfa. Choose from bars with entertainment and mixed drinks to those with cheap beers and conversation. Rucko ’n’ Roll is newer to the area, with $1.30 shots until 1 a.m. to attract patrons.
At the end of Pérez Galdós is Discoteca Santuario, which attracts US college students with its discounted covers and free beer on themed nights. The bartending staff is not the friendliest bunch but the free beer for adhering to costume themes and packed crowd might be just your thing.
Whatever you’re looking for in night life, Seville has, but you have to stay up to see it. Nothing happens until 12-3 a.m. And remember to dress appropriately for certain establishments. Sneakers are not appreciated.
You might miss a morning tour, but it’s a fine tradeoff for mixing with the local night owls.