In the heart of El Tubo de Zaragoza is a small place with a big reputation. Its name is Bodegas Almau.
Old and atmospheric (it’s been here since 1870), bottles and barrels adorn its yellow walls. Groups of friends crowd the floor, and the few tables are crammed.
Squeeze in at the bar to order a drink – there’s sherry from the cask, or any kind of beer, or choose from the huge range of wines. Take time to decide, and delight in the tapas in front of you.
Spanish bites of bread heavy with cheese and chorizo, croquetas and tortillas are enticing. But the highlight is a winner of the Mejor Tapa (best tapa) in Zaragoza award in 2012 – el dulce de anchoa – anchovies sweetened with goats cheese, tomato jam and dark chocolate shavings. Weirdly wonderful.
The staff are attentive and engaging. Moving briskly behind the bar, they laugh with each other and their customers as they work. How they keep track of the sea of people, I’m not sure, as payment need only be made when you’ve finally had your fill, which can take as long or as little as you like.
A few barrel tables line the lane outside, and there’s a terrace garden too (where a shoemaker’s workshop once stood), busy even on a Monday night in mid-September.
With its easy ambience and authentic feel, this family-run winery is a repeat visit must (especially when a glass of good wine and a plate of its celebrated anchovies come to just 3,50 euros). And on your next visit you might even meet some pilgrims.
Bodegas Almau: Calle Estabanes 10, 50003 Zaragoza.
Open: 10am – 4pm, 7pm – 12am (Monday to Saturday), 12pm – 4pm, 7pm – 12am (Sunday).