The Catalan city of Reus is actually where you arrive on a cheap Ryanair ‘Barcelona’ flight. It is the gateway to the Costa Dorada resorts of Salou and Cambrils, but Reus and neighbouring coastal city of Tarragona are often over looked in the rush to the beach, the bright lights of Barcelona or Europe’s largest theme park PortAventura.
Having bagged a couple of really cheap flights we decided on a foodie sunshine break, aiming to get off the tourist routes and explore the backstreets and local specialties. I’ve selected the restaurants or foodie experiences on this list based purely on our personal taste, value for money, quality of the food and overall experience.
Starting with Reus:
1. Antiga Casa Coder (Mercadal 16, Reus) – Set on a large square opposite the Gaudi Museum with a large outside seating area, great for people watching. Set menu del dia (14 Euro pp.) available at night for an additional 5 Euro included a bottle of good quality local wine, water, bread and a wide choice of 3 courses including this amazing starter of ‘huevos y foie’ – the ultimate egg and chips!
2. Peixateries 8 (Peixateries Velles 8, Reus) – good quality seafood restaurant in the shadow of the Priory of Reus. Amazing open fridge displaying all the seafood and shellfish. Helpful staff guide you through the options. Not cheap, but good value for really fresh seafood including clams in meat sauce (a Catalan surf ‘n’ turf), spider crabs, local red prawns, and octopus with potatoes and paprika.
3. Patates Laurie (Mecadal, Reus) – we loved this retro homemade crisps shop! Constantly busy with locals queuing for big bags of fresh potato crisps.
Moving on after a couple of nights to Tarragona we discovered:
4. El Tiberi (Martí d’Ardenya 5, Tarragona) – in the lower part of the town just a 5 mins walk off the tourist trail, this is an eat-as-much-as-you-want buffet restaurant – serving good quality, local Catalan dishes. There are salads, gazpacho, hams and cheeses, and a multitude of oven cooked dishes from pasta and paella to slightly scary unidentified offal. The highlights were fresh grilled meat including rabbit and quail, and the delightful raciones made to order including baked fish, calamari and mussels. It was between 12-14 Euro depending on the time of day.
5. Sol-Ric (Avenida Via Augusta 225-227), Tarragona) – recommended by our hotel this is an out of town restaurant near Arrabassada beach, popular with locals. Old school Spanish, quality seafood and classic dishes especially the paella and marisco arroces.
6. Raco de l’Abat (Carrer de l’abat 2, Part Alta, Tarragona) – We were looking at the menu of this restaurant after wandering around the Old Town getting increasingly hot and grumpy at lunch time. Husband and wife team, serving a menu del dia for 15 Euro. All the ingredients were local and seasonal, including Tarragona wine and the best vermut that we have ever tasted, local sardines, and amazing homemade cannelloni stuffed with hake.
7. Bar Toful (Arc de Sant Bernat 4, Tarragona) – Bistro vibe with a large outdoor eating area. Busy with locals for reasonably priced tapas and enormous steaks easily big enough for 2 to share.
8. Cal Marti (de Sant Pere 12, El Serrallo, Tarragona) – having walked backwards and forwards past all the seafront restaurants in this fishing port area of the city we were hot, bothered and confused. We stumbled into this cool back street oasis after looking at their menu del dia. It was full almost exclusively by locals. We had fish soup, fideua and paella portions, followed by fresh fish and squid then desserts. Simple regional dishes in a friendly atmosphere and great value for money.
9. Meson Andaluz (Pons d’l Cart 3, Tarragona) – we tried this backstreet bar out of desperation as we found most of Tarragona closed on Monday. They were offering a 4 course menu del dia for 7.90 Euro including wine. It was full of older locals tucking in seated in a cool, tile-lined dinning room. On taking a closer look at the menu we found for a supplement of 8 Euro person we could upgrade to a lobster rice – so our super cheap lunch just doubled in price! we should have probably upgraded on the house wine too. Anyway – fruit juice, a paella pan full of rice and a whole lobster and other seafood, roast rabbit main, and dessert for only 16 Euro each! During the week the menu price drops to only 6 Euro.
10. Quattros (Placa de la Font, Part Alta, Tarragona) – immensely popular tapas pinchos bar with a good wine list. Patates Bravas was a particular favourite of ours whilst watching the parade of weddings at the town hall on the square.