El Jardin de la Paella is a small beach bar (chiringuito to those of you who know the word) perched on the border between Vera beach and Garrucha. It´s easy to get to – park in the car park and step onto the paseo.
We like to pop along sometimes on a lazy afternoon, and if we´re lucky they squeeze people together and fit us in. It´s popular – very popular on a Sunday afternoon.
They call it the ´Jardin de la Paella´, but unless you preorder (difficult, as they don´t seem to have a telephone) you can have difficulties getting one. If they´re quiet, they will knock one up for you, but otherwise… However, if you do succeed in getting one they are damned good.
The entire menu is fresh, which means that on busy days if you arrive late your first choice might not be available. However, it´s worth asking if they have anything special in, as often they have a few decent fish under the counter. Tip: Arrange the price before ordering, in order to save yourself a surprise once you´ve eaten it.
If there are a number of you, they might offer you a parrillada de pescado, or assorted fish dish. (The following tip applies to most fish restaurants in Garrucha!) Opinions vary on this, if you know your Spanish fish you´re normally better off (both in selection and price) choosing a number of dishes and mixing them up between people. If you don´t, or there aren´t enough people to warrant this, then make sure you know what´s coming and it´s price. It can be a good way to get a nice selection of fish and shellfish, it can be an easy way to give you some old fish and rip you off on the price.
The trouble with fish and shellfish in the area is that most of the decent stuff is flown straight up to Madrid, leaving us with the pickings – same with the veg, actually. Which means that if you´re in a decent family run local restaurant, you can have some of the best seafood on the Med at an amazing price – or, you can have some pretty second rate stuff at astronomical prices. Believe me, I´ve had amazing Gambas Rojas de Garrucha in Madrid at a third of the price of what they sell for here!
Back to the Jardin de la Paella – yes, it´s family run, and yes, it´s local. Yes, it can be chaotic in there, but there is an order to the madness, so if everybody is running around, be patient and they´ll get to you.
Last time there, I had the ´Calamar en la cueva´ (The cuttlefish in the cave – see photo) and it was delicious. If you like cuttlefish / squid, try it.
Oh, and if you´re there in the afternoon, try a nice Rosado wine instead of white or tinto – I think you´ll finally realise why the Spanish like the stuff in the afternoon! Nice and light, it´s perfect with fish under the sun.
P.S: The carnivores among us need not worry, they do a pretty decent meat range too.
Where is it?
El Jardin de La Paella
Las Marinas de Vera
Vera Beach – drive along Garrucha Paseo past the port, and instead of turning left under the bridge at the end of Garrucha, park in the car park and walk the Chiringuito along at the end of the car park.
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