Review of El Faro in El Puerto de Santa Maria

Pulpo TerrineHowever far I travel, however wide I roam, of all the delicious dishes I try there is nowhere quite like home!

The home I refer to is Costa de la Luz, with its exceptional abundance of natural ingredients.

My good friend Carmen Gutierrez of Bodegas Gutierrez Colosia ( has always enthused about El Faro restaurant in El Puerto de Santa Maria – how fabulous it is, how it has the best food in Cadiz region. Come on Annie we have a table booked, want to come? Will you come and meet us there with our friends? So many missed opportunities – until yesterday…

Sitting in the bright, modern and airy tapas bar of El Faro yesterday, I ate the best tuna tartar and pulpo (octopus) terrine of my life.

I love how some of the best food around here is found in some unlikely places. El Faro in El Puerto is on the edge of one of the main roundabouts on the El Puerto bypass. You’ve got to know exactly where and how to leave that roundabout otherwise it will be a European Vacation moment. We newbies drove around a few times (of course) and then whoosh – straight into the car park, hand break on and straight to the table.

In the tapas bar, the tables are high, and there’s a great ambience of polished dark wood and bright white walls. It shouts – EAT ME. I knew it was going to be great.

As in the tapas bar at El Faro in Cadiz, the waiters here are hand-picked for their charm and friendliness. So within minutes, a large copa of Gutierrez Colosia Fino made its way to me, alongside a cute jug of crunchy home-made salty seaweed grissini.  Seaweed is appearing more often around here, which is no surprise as it is such a perfect match for Fino and Manzanilla.

And then it arrived.  As soon as I saw it I know it was going to be incredible. Thin slices of pulpo terrine atop a puree of potatoes and a light mustard emulsion alongside a careful waft of smoked paprika. This pulpo really did taste of the sea – not of anything else, just the mildly salty, gently fishy sea. It was probably the best I have ever eaten. Pulpo terrine is basically boiled octopus compressed in a terrine mold using heavy weights. The natural gelatine of the pulpo holds it together. Then sliced thinly using a slicing machine. It is a dish I have always wanted to re-create in the kitchen but it does need a slicing machine, a sharp knife won’t do the same job.

Following fast on the heals of Snr. Pulpo came a tartar of atun de Almadraba with trout eggs and the finest homemade melba toast imaginable.  The Almadraba caught tuna is frozen to -60 within a few hours of capture. This means it is available “fresh” all Tuna tartare at El Faroyear round. They are caught when they have put on tons of fat, which is why they are so succulent.

We are now spoilt with the availabity of tuna tartar on Costa de la Luz but not all are quite so successful. Sometimes there’s an overwhelming flavour of sesame oil, or onion that’s too strong, or a bit too much mustard, but Fernando Cordoba at El Faro has achieved perfection. No other flavour distracted from the exquisite deliciousness of the atun.

Both dishes were exquisite examples of how the best ingredients of Costa de la Luz can speak for themselves, when in the hands of an exceptional chef.


El Faro de El Puerto

Ctra. de Fuentebravía, km 0,5

El Puerto de Santa María

Cádiz, Spain

+34 956 87 09 52

Tempted by my El Faro review and looking for more great places to eat in the area? See my pick of the best restaurants in Vejer de la Frontera.