Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful little city in the heart of Galicia, and visiting it is a great way to get to know this wonderful and unique region of Spain. As well as its stunning cathedral, many parks and winding cobbled streets, it also has a huge number of restaurants and bars - it is said that there is only one street in the city that doesn’t have a bar! So rather than spending your time wandering around and perusing menus, here is my list of suggestions of the best places to eat and drink, all of them varied and affordable.
Breakfast: Tarta de Santiago, perhaps?
There are lots of cafes in Santiago offering breakfast: places offering a standard breakfast of coffee, orange juice and a pastry are normally easy to find through Spain. However, I would recommend Confitería San Roque as it goes above and beyond a standard cafe. Away from the most touristy areas and run by friendly staff, Confitería San Roque has a wide range of pastries to choose from. In true Galician style, this café will accompany your order with a variety of food for you, absolutely free of charge. If you’re feeling like eating something more adventurous than a croissant, you can get mini versions of their Tarta de Santiago for breakfast, a delicious almond-flavoured cake topped with icing sugar that is one of Santiago’s specialities. This is a great spot to quietly enjoy a morning coffee while eating authentic Galician food.
Lunch: Fresh food from the market
When you’re feeling that it’s time for lunch, make your way down to Santiago’s Abastos Market. Open Monday – Saturday from 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, it is a great place to browse and choose some items to snack on or to eat as a light lunch. It also boasts a lovely little café, Abastos 2.0, whose ever-changing menu contains only fresh ingredients from the market. It even has a unique feature: if any seafood from the market has caught your eye, you can take it to Abastos 2.0 and they will cook it for you while you wait! The market is definitely worth a visit in itself, but is also the perfect place to choose something you fancy for lunch.
Snack time: Cake and coffee
If you need a little pick-me-up after a long day’s sightseeing and fancy some coffee and cake, head to Lusco & Fusco. Named after a Galician phrase for twilight, this is a lovely cosy coffee shop, the perfect place to sink into an armchair and relax. Unlike many Spanish cafes, which can be a bit bleak as many also function as bars, Lusco & Fusco is wonderfully decorated, creating a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. The café is run by a lovely girl from the USA who also speaks Spanish, so this is one place where you are guaranteed not to face a language barrier. It serves a wide range of hot and cold drinks, and also an amazing menu of cakes and treats made fresh on the premises and oh so tempting! You can even get traditional English scones with jam and cream, a rarity in Spain!
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Dinner: Traditional tapas
While you are in Spain, you should definitely take the chance to try some authentic Spanish tapas, and O Boteco is a great choice. ‘Boteco’ is the Galician word for a wine cellar, and the reason the restaurant is named this becomes clear when you enter: many of the tables sit on glass panels giving views down into the cellar’s cavernous remains! O Boteco is situated on the Rúa do Franco in the heart of Santiago’s old town, a street that is always bustling and full of life. The tapas menu has a huge range of options, many of which are authentically Galician, with something to suit everyone’s tastes. Try the pulpo a feira, the traditional recipe for octopus that Galicians are very proud of.
Drinks: A glass of wine in a firelit bar
To round off your night, have a drink in O Filandón. This tiny bar is tucked away on a street corner and often overlooked, but should definitely be visited as it offers a truly authentic experience. It is an extremely cosy little place, kept warm by a burning log fire and decorated in a unique way: the walls are covered in napkins with messages from years’ worth of visitors. This is an easy way to make your stamp on Santiago! It is another place guaranteed to offer you free food with your drink, assuming you have any room left! Galicia has a large number of its own wines and liqueurs: I would recommend a glass of Albariño wine, a delicious white, followed by crema de orujo, a regional speciality akin to a Galician version of Baileys. A drink in this lovely and homely little bar is the perfect way to end your day.
Try everything and be adventurous!
There are so many options of places to eat and drink in Santiago de Compostela, and whether you are spending a weekend away or have finally reached the end of your pilgrimage, you’re guaranteed a lovely time. If you have trouble finding a table in O Filandón, there is another bar only a few paces away called Casa das Crechas, which is also highly recommendable. Wherever you choose to eat and drink in Santiago you’ll have a lovely time, but hopefully this list will get you started.
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