In foodie terms, Vejer de la Frontera has more than a little in common with the town of Ludlow in Shropshire. Both are out of the way sorts of places that aren’t on what you’d call the conventional gastro circuit – and yet both are seriously foodie towns.

It’s all too tempting for a night out here to turn into a long, drawn-out tapas crawl from one bar to the next. And while there are too many great places in town to suggest a route, here I take you through just a few of my favourite Vejer de la Frontera restaurants… If you have any comments or experiences you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

  • Garimba Sur; Plaza de España, 32

    Garimba Sur on Plaza de España is where any tapas tour of Vejer should start. The menu features beautifully presented dishes of Bresse pigeon and Wagyu beef. The decor is striking – decked out wooden interiors with decorative azulejos (typical Andaluz tiles). This is a fabulous stop for Arroz Negro, washed down with a cheeky Vermouth or two (a drink that’s more commonly associated with Madrid) and a spot of people-watching.

    Open every day and evening during summer months from 12.30.

    Closed November-mid February.; +34 956 455 302.

  • Trafalgar; Plaza de España, 31

    You don’t have to go far to get to the next of my recommended restaurants in Vejer. Restaurante Trafalgar is just next door, in fact. Here you can sample some great local delicacies including the best Rabo de Toro (oxtail) I have ever tasted. Check out their spectacular Revuelto de Morcilla (scrambled eggs with black pudding).

    Their baby, Trafalgar Tapas, is just next door. Here you can feast on excellent Escabeche de Atún Rojo alongside a copa of ice cold Fino.

    Both open every day and evening from 13.00 for majority of the year.

    Closed from mid December-February.; +34 956 447 638.

  • Bar Peneque; Plaza De España, 27

    As you continue around the Plaza you will find Bar Peneque. I love this place for simple tapas of Atún Encebollada (braised onions with tuna) and Chocos Fritos (fried cuttlefish). This is a great place to sit under the orange trees while you sip on a coffee or copa and people watch. It opens from 6am and so is a great stop off for delicious Pan con Tomate (tomato on toast).

    Closed Sundays all year round except August.

    Open every other day and evening from 06.00 for a great local breakfast.

    +34 956 450 209.

  • El Jardín del Califa; Plaza de España, 12


    Just across the other side of the plaza, the foodie fun doesn’t let up. El Jardín del Califa remains one of the most popular restaurants in Vejer and has been wowing all comers for years now. Reservations are essential. From June onwards, if you haven’t booked a table you’ll struggle to get in. Their Moroccan-inspired kitchen consistently produces wonderful delights like the traditional Meze platter which is delicious and hasn’t changed for years. During the evenings and weekends their BBQ list offers more local dishes such as Secreto Ibérico which, although not Moroccan, is a must. A superb wine list features noteworthy local drops like the house wine Cortijo de Jara – a fab local red from Jerez. Next door to the main entrance is Califa Express which is my stop for takeaways of hummus, babaganoush and falafel.

    El Jardín open every day and evening all summer / Closed for 4 weeks in Jan & Feb.

    Califa Express open everyday from Easter till Nov from 12.30-20.00.; +34 956 451 706.

  • La Piccolina; Plaza De España, 20

    In this Italian-run spot you will be warmly greeted while being served a genuine Italian cappuccino. It’s open for breakfast, offering their own take on local classics, along with great salads and delicious dishes of the day such as seafood risotto made with brown rice and grilled squid with salsa verde.

    Closed Tuesdays during the summer months / Open every other day and evening from 10.00.

    Only open at the weekend during the winter months.; +34 671 765 339.

  • Las Delicias; Corredera, 31

    This extraordinary restaurant is a spectacular renovation of an old theatre. I love the avocado and pulpo (octopus) and ajo blanco (chilled garlic and almond soup) with smoked cod, while all their croquetas are light and divine. Mini burgers (made from local Retinto beef) are amongst the other great dishes on offer. At the weekends there’s live music with a mix of traditional and contemporary fusions which can be appreciated while sampling the great wines from Cádiz province.

    Open every day and evening most of the year from 12.00.; +34 956 451 807.

  • Califa Tapas; Corredera, 33

    As an offshoot of El Jardín del Califa, this is a great place for a casual lunch in the sunshine where you get to try their Meze range and excellent wine list, only in a slightly more informal setting.

    Open every day during summer months ONLY from 12.00-20.00.; +34 637 423 506.

  • Corredera 55; Corredera, 55

    Some of the most delicious food in Vejer is under the watchful eye of  Ellie at 55. A superbly creative menu using mostly locally sourced produce. I love their roasted aubergine and sweet potato salad, fabulous fish dishes, pork cheeks with cauliflower puree and what has to be the best selection of desserts in Vejer.

    Open every day and evening; +34 956 451 848.

  • Palomita Deli; Calle Los Remedios, 1

    Some of the most delicious food in Spain is tinned, especially fish such as tuna and anchovies. Here you will find the best selection of top quality local producers such as Herpac, Gadira and La Chanca. Try slices of local Payoyo goat’s cheese and a tin of top quality Cantabrian anchovies. Drain the tin and place an anchovy on top of a slice of cheese. Along with a glass of chilled Fino from their fridge, you will experience an unforgettable food and wine match sensation. Also on offer you’ll find Jamón, cones of cheese, tins of partridge pate and a huge selection of wines by the bottle.

    Open every day 11.00-15.00 / 17.00-21.30; +34 956 455 497.

  • Viña y Mar; Nuestra Señora De La Oliva, 8

    Ramon’s Viña y Mar was the first Sherry bar in Vejer. This is the place to work your way through more than 40 Sherries by the glass. It’s not all about Sherry here, though: Chef Kiko’s open kitchen serves some of the best dishes in Vejer. His knowledge of Tuna cookery is incredible. Always ask what he recommends. Several other worthy Spanish and local wines are available here too.

    Closed Sundays during summer months / Open every other evening.

    Closed several weeks the rest of the year.; +34 956 455 167.

  • Casa Varo; Calle Nuestra Señora De La Oliva, 9

    Just up the hill, in the shadow of the church is Casa Varo. Juan and his family run this popular dining spot with the support of Roberto in the kitchen. His Carpaccio de Atún de Almadraba (local tuna available all year round from a specialist supplier in Barbate) might just be one of the finest things you will eat in Vejer. From the Albóndigas de Chocos (cuttlefish balls), to fine cuts of Iberian pork and local Retinto Beef via a slice or two of local Payoyo goat’s cheese, there’s almost nothing in here that I don’t love. With Pintia and Mauro featuring, the wine selection’s also great. A final word of warning: his zingy after-dinner shots can slip down just a little too easily.  

    Closed Tuesdays all year round / Open every other day and evening from 12.30.; +34 956 447 734.

  • Bar Central; Calle Teniente Castrillón, 5

    El Central is another family affair. Not even being greeted by the far-from-dulcet tones of Rod Stewart can take away from what has to be some of my favourite things to eat in any Vejer restaurant: Tostas con Anchoas y Boquerones (anchovies on toast). It may not sound like much, but it’s a winning combination of salty, vinegary and tomato-y, which if push came to shove, would be my last dish on earth (served with a glass of Manzanilla of course). The Retinto (local breed of beef cattle) is the BEST and Salvador cooks it to perfection (in my case a flawless al punto), then serves sliced with a dash of sea salt, homemade chips and a bottle of Barbazul (a wonderful, velvety, well made red wine from Taberner in Arcos).

    Closed Mondays all year round / Open from 12.00 every other day.; +34 956 450 457.

  • Peña El Caballo; Calle Juan Bueno, 6

    You might walk past this restaurant and not notice very much but here you will find something that I haven’t, as yet, found anywhere elsewhere in Vejer. Lagarto is the meat between the ribs of the Iberian Pig. Cooked a la plancha, sprinkled with salt and served with chips, it’s unforgettable. Excellent Carrillada (pork cheeks) and Rabo de Toro (oxtail) are worth seeking out too. Perfectly paired with copas of Oloroso.

    Open most days and evenings.

    +34 650219652.

  • Bar Navarro; Calle Juan Bueno, 8

    Bar Navarro is an unpretentious little place that specialises in Pescados Fritos (fried fish). For a casual evening, find a table on the tiny street, order a platter of fried fish to share and a bottle of white wine, watch the kids play and the people come and go. Beyond the fried stuff you can opt for great Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus and potatoes) or a selection of Iberian pork or Retinto beef off their brasa (indoor BBQ). In addition to the classic Barbadillo white wine, they also serve an Enate Chardonnay from Somontano that’s well worth trying.

    Open every day and evening majority of the year.

    Closed January and February.

    +34 956 450 274.

  • La Oficina; Paseo de las Cobijadas, 1

    La Oficina can be found at the tail-end of Calle Juan Bueno. Standouts amongst the range of freshly cooked tapas are the Retinto burgers and ‘Champi Chocos’ (mushrooms and cuttlefish). It used to provide a showcase for the ever-improving local wine, with the likes of Barbazul, Garum, Etu Sonrisa and Entrechuelos but sadly they have reverted to the standard Rioja, Ribera offerings with no wines form Cadiz in sight! 

    Open ONLY in July and August.; +34 655 099 911.

  • Mesón Pepe Julián; Calle Juan Relinque, 7

    Opposite Plaza San Francisco is Mesón Pepe Julián. His menu reads like a roll call of classic tapas. Fine Jamón? Check. Boquerones en Vinagre? Check. Puntillitas (deep fried tiny squid)? Check. They are all here. Cast your eye to the right and you’ll see the owner’s cellar of special reds that don’t appear on the wine list. If you ask him very nicely you might even get to try one.

    Closed Mondays.; +34 956 451 098.

  • El Aljibe; Plaza San Francisco

    Directly opposite Pepe Julián’s is El Aljibe for a great selection of homemade Croquetas such as Queso de Cabra y Verduras (goat’s cheese and roasted peppers) and Erizos (sea urchins) – perfection with a glass of icy beer.

    Open all year round.

    +34 956 451 704.

  • Mercado San Francisco; Plaza San Francisco

    This great little gourmet market has been a huge local success since opening its doors in December 2013. A food market during the day and tapas hall at night with a selection of stalls such as Sushi Time offering fabulous sushi, tataki and sashimi using the local Almadraba caught tuna as well as homemade dumplings and miso soup. Carniceria Guillermo offers one of the best carpaccios of local Retinto beef. Sliced from frozen and garnished with grated parmesan, olive oil, salt and lemon – this locally reared beef will melt in your mouth like butter. Pizzas and tacos are on offer too. A well stocked wine bar offers you plenty of local vinos to accompany. Buzzing all year round, this is a local hangout.

    Open all year around 11.00-14.30. And then again 19.00 – 01.00.

  • Mesón El Palenque; Plaza San Francisco

    One of the best paellas in town is next door at Mesón el Palenque. If you give Juan an order ahead of time, he will buy in the best seafood on offer. Best had with a lovely salad of tomato, lettuce and onion – simple clean flavours. I love to accompany this with an Amontillado Sherry or a rosé. Always look out for the most recent vintage when it comes to rosé wine. In 2016, drink the 2015 vintage. Insist on this!

    Open all year round.

    +34 956 451 704.

  • El Conejito; Calle Bellido, 1

    Hidden away on Juan Relinque, on the way up to the new town and opposite The English Bookshop, is El Conejito or Pedro’s Bar. The Jamón Pedro carves up for you is amongst the very best you’ll find in Vejer. At its best washed down with ultra-chilled Manzanilla and his yummy olives followed by some superb Albondigas (meat balls).

    Closed Sundays / Open every other day including breakfast.; +34 956 451 704.

  • Marengo; Callejón Del Santísimo, 1

    ‘Marengo’ is the term for someone who worked in the fishing industry in Málaga. And sure enough a) the owners of this great eatery are from there and b) seafood features heavily on the menu. The prawns are sensational, wrapped in basil leaves and brik pastry before being deep fried and served with a peanut dipping sauce. The tuna tartare is similarly inspired – but make sure you leave space for the ‘Pasion Blanca’ for dessert. In keeping with the Malagueño theme of the place, Botani, an unusual dry Moscatel which hails from there, is a superb choice of wine.

    Open every day in July and August from 19.30.

    Rest of the year: Closed all day Monday.

    Open Tuesday-Thursday from 19.30.

    Open Friday-Saturday from 13.00.

    Open Sunday 13.00-16.00.; +34 956 450 883

  • Mesón Las Perdices; Avenida Buenavista, 12

    One particular delicacy that is devoured by the Vejeriegos is Perdiz (partridge), and no one serves it better than here. It really is divine when served braised with onions, mushrooms, Jamón and Sherry – and so worth seeking out. I’ve had packaged Jamón served to me here but I suspect that was just because they had run out.

    Closed Mondays / Open every other day and evening from 12.00.; +34 956 450 361.

Like my pick of the best Vejer de la Frontera restaurants? Sign up to one of my cooking courses and I’ll take you to several of them and introduce you to my favourite dishes – with a perfect wine pairing.

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Why Vejer de la Frontera

It’s breathtakingly beautiful. Your first glimpse of the town is as a blinding flash of white on a hilltop against the bluest of blue skies. Up close it’s just as easy on the eye, too – a labyrinth of narrow, cobbled streets winding its way between quiet squares, churches and handsome historical buildings, it’s a photographer’s dream.

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