tapas and a breath of fresh air

locals on their lunch break at El Atún

Had seen everything I was going to see on this trip to Seville and it was time for a break. Having been advised that this place was particularly good, I made a beeline for El Atún. Just to be sure I got it right, I’d written down my order:

espinaces con garbonthes‘ (spinach with chickpeas) and just to make sure I didn’t miss out, I politely asked for ‘aceitunas‘ (the plate of olives that I’d been assured would come with or without me saying anything).

The waiters seemed to delight in the ridiculousness of my having written such a simple order down, but were very friendly and generous with their good-natured, knowing smiles. It didn’t hurt that I was carrying a Real Betis Balompié shopping bag. Soon enough, they were telling me that this was the only football club worth paying attention to in Seville.

gazing longingly into the kitchen

The food was exquisite…I’d had proper tapas with loads of meat dishes the night before (and it wouldn’t have bothered me if there was meat in the spinach), but it was somehow perfect to have this plate of superbly prepared vegetable after so much meat and cheese and bread…I was both sated and satisfied. Very much so.

statue in the Plaza Nueva

Right around the corner from the Plaza Nueva is this unassuming tapas bar. I’d never have given it a second glance had it not been recommended. And despite the unbelievably memorable and beautiful things I’d seen in the capital of Andalusia, these few moments alone with my small plate of olives were the nicest I could imagine.

So many photos I could show you. So many stories I heard from an old friend I visited here who reminded me what it’d been like to be fifteen. Yet the nicest thing I can tell you about is a quiet spot outside of a bustling kitchen where I could simply catch my breath.

It was that good.


  1. annnnd awesome again. . . (this time UN-clicking the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” box.)

  2. Garbanzo beans. *sighs happily* One of my favorite things in the whole world. I could eat my weight in them. And, over my lifetime, probably have.

    This is lovely. I have really enjoyed your trip to Spain. Again, as always: thank you for taking us with you.

    1. So glad you’ve enjoyed it.

      You like chickpeas? Have we really found something food-related upon which we agree?

      Oh, wait. Do you know about ‘Socca’ in Nice, France? They’re like pancakes made of chickpeas…you’d *love* them. I’m sure of it.

      1. We could send @lucysfootball some chickpea pancakes from Europe, couldn’t we? However I suspect that by the time they reach her they will have gone all squishy. Posthummus.

      2. I know, I was surprised about the chickpea revelation as well. You probably like them all garlicked up, though. I just like them plain in all their chickpea goodness.

        Chickpea pancakes? I have never heard of such a thing! I want that!

  3. Espinacas con garbanzos is one of my fave tapas! Can’t get enough of them! Have you ever tried acietunas con anchoa (olives filled with little anchovies)? If not, you should. You can buy tins of them in all the supermarkets if you don’t see them on the menu at bars. Great post.

    1. I normally prefer olives with the pits, but I’ve been eating the ones you mentioned while I’ve been here & I like them a lot. Thanks for all of your tips.

  4. I actually felt myself exhale as I got to the end of this — I know the feeling you’re describing, and it must have been lovely. I may be the only Greek person on Earth who doesn’t like olives, but I’m with all of you on the chickpeas. And I got a chuckle out of miaoia’s “posthummus.” Nice word play, sir.

    Your photographs are wonderful, Ken. I’m really enjoying them.

      1. I know, I know. But, I do love lamb, and I make chicken and orzos that will make you weep tears of joy, so I was forgiven and exceptions were made. I also married a half-German, half-Mexican who likes neither sauerkraut nor avocados, so that seems to balance things out. Please have some Marcona almonds for me. 🙂

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