Ambientazo in León’s Barrio Húmedo
In summer, when the Madrid bars spill out onto the sidewalk, I can’t help but miss my old tapa haunts in León–the tapas culture in Madrid is not the same! In León, each bar is known for one or two specific items, so you visit several bars in one night. It also means that each bar is very proud of the tapa they offer; in other words, you won’t be presented with a million so-so options but rather the house specialty. Tapas come free with drinks (alcoholic or non, da igual).
Although there are some clever tapas outside of the center, a treasure trove of classic tapas bars surround the Plaza de San Martín, a stone’s throw from the cathedral. Below you have my picks for the top 5 tapas bars in the Barrio Húmedo, the section of the city so slick it gets its own nickname.
1) Patatas con queso at El Llar
Plaza de San Martín, 8
These potatoes come piping-hot with an avalanche of piquant cabrales (blue cheese) sauce. (If you’re not into blue cheese there are other sauces available.) Don’t forget–used napkins and toothpicks go on the floor, not on the counter.
2) Croquetas at El Rebote
Plaza de San Martin 9
Inside El Rebote–lots of napkins means lots of satisfied customers
I have tried and tried to take a good photo of these puppies but they are just too illusive. They are a bit lumpy and irregular, which a croqueta coniseur will know translates to homemade and delicious. And these are, oh they are. The cheese and bacon-filled pizza is rightly popular, but don’t leave without trying the jalisco, a croqueta made with jalapeño peppers.
3) Pizza at La Competencia
This thin-crust pizza is always the quickest tapa to disappear, and you’ll find yourself ordering another round of drinks to relive the crunchy-bacony-cheesy bite. I don’t even have a photo for you, that’s how fast they disappear!
4) El Rincon del Gaucho
This bar specializes in garlic soup, a deliciously warm and filling dish. This thick stew was originally devised to put day-old bread to good use, and you’ll notice hearty bread chucks floating like croutons in a garlicy sea. This tapa is extra-recommended if you come during a cool time of year.
5) Whatever your heart desires at In-Situ
Calle de Matasiete, 5
This is the place to go whenever your party can’t agree on the next tapa. There are a total of six options including bread with cream cheese and bacon, morcilla (blood sausage), and bollo preñao (roll stuffed with chorizo). Balance your dish on one of the old wine barrels and observe the other locals on their own tapa routes.
Planning a trip to León? Read more about the city here:
Which tapas would you most like to try? Been to León and have a tapas place to recommend?