Invented, so they say, in Villanueva de la Serena in the province of Badajoz in the 18th century, due to widespread famine at the time and more by chance than anything else, the potato tortilla has since become one of the most famous Spanish dishes of all time. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner and everyone who cooks it does so in their own very particular way. Everyone agrees that the key ingredients of this classic
and delicious dish are eggs, potatoes, oil and salt, but from there on in, everything else is up for debate: whether onions should be used or not is a highly controversial issue, for instance, and wars have broken out for less. Here are some recommendations – although none of them are half as good as mine, just to state the obvious…
Pizza Jardín Santander
Surprising though it may seem, this sports centre offers top-class tortillas in three formats – regular, with tuna, and with ham and cheese – attracting more and more visitors previously uninterested in sport. Over thirty tortillas a day leave their kitchen to feed a ravenous clientele which sometimes has to wait half an hour for the next fresh marvel to appear. Also available to take away. There’s a large east-facing terrace.
Regular for 2.10€
Other flavours for 2.30€
Address: Autonomía, 2
Tel: 942 391 881
More prize-winning tortillas than anywhere else in Cantabria: one glance through their window and you’re lost. Up to ten varieties every day, sold as raciones, whole, nestled in bread or to take away. Creamy, delicious tortillas, friendly and professional service.
Regular for 1,90 €
Other flavours for 2 €
Address: San Fernando, 58
Tel: 942 051 602
Their (onionless) tortillas are very creamy and crunchy, and disappear shortly after emerging from the kitchen. Six extra-large free-range eggs and well-fried potato slices are the basis for this very popular bite that Carlos creates nonstop from midday and on. Also available with blue cheese, hot chorizo or (dare I say it?) caramelised onion.
All for 2€
Address: Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, 4
Tel: 601 350 772
Bar del Puerto
Traditional tortillas, generously proportioned, made with 16 eggs, potatoes and onions poached in excellent olive oil. You have to be attentive: they only make one, at about 7pm, except for Fridays and Saturdays when they make two. If you want, it can be served with mayonnaise or freshly chopped tomato – but where’s the sense in that?
Regular pincho for 1.80€
Address: Hernán Cortés, 63
Tel: 942 213 001
Bodega San Fermín
From 1 pm onwards, with consummate skill and patience, Yoli cooks her prize-winning tortilla, golden-brown and very creamy. Her recipe calls for ten eggs, over two pounds of potatoes and one-and-a-half onions. The result? Best to try it yourself and then decide. You can order tortillas to take away.
Regular pincho for 1.70€
Address: Tetuán, 41
Tel: 942 314 719
About forty tortillas a day arrive and quickly disappear from the counter of this bar-restaurant which opens at 8am. Their regular tortilla, by far the most popular, is joined by other variants – vegetable, ersatz eel (gula) with alioli, and ham and cheese – that are excellently cooked by a kitchen that uses the best fresh produce available.
All pinchos for 2€
Address: Casimiro Sainz, 8
Tl. 942 031 295
Everyday, the cuisine of this classic inn, with more than half a century of history, elaborates carefully and neatly a singular omelet of the kind that leaves its mark. During afternoons it doubles its offer with two more omelets, one traditional and the other of tuna, each more nourishing.
Normal pincho with tuna: 1,60 euros
Eduardo Benot, 4
Phone. 942 221 021
When size does matter. This crowded local offers daily more than a dozen of omelets of different format – smaller in the morning than in the afternoon – to preserve the flavor of its four creations: traditional, tuna with mayonnaise – the most demanded –, gulas (baby eels) and prawns, and chorizo. Conveniently sized snacks.
Snack: 1.50 euros
Phone. 942 222 614
Always interesting cooking which produces one juicy tortilla that is available from 11am on workdays. Make sure that you take your time with it – it’s well worth the trouble.
Address: Hernán Cortés, 38
Tel: 942 212 333
Café-bar with plenty of tables outside, opposite the Jesuit church, and well-known for its hamburgers and pinchos. Seven eggs and potatoes fried in virgin olive oil are the foundation for their three choices of tortilla: regular, vegetable, and ham and cheese, that are all very tasty.
Address: San José, 13
Tel: 942 227 907
Tortillas to the manner born, to eat on the spot or to take away and enjoy on your own. Regular, with tuna and mayonnaise, with green pepper, with ham and cheese or with… Fast and efficient service.
Address: Colonia de Los Pinares
Tel: 942 333 888 (home delivery available)
A city-centre place with a good selection of tortillas to have for breakfast, cooked with love and dedication. Large terrace and good, attentive service.
Address: Calderón de la Barca, 11
Tel: 942 074 747
As a tapa:
At the bar of this well-known restaurant, they don’t sell tortillas, they give them away. Under the watchful eye of Fortu, every day at 1pm forty small slices of tortilla appear on the counter to accompany your drink. Lightly toasted and crunchy, with the onion well-poached, it is pure ambrosia. The bad news is: you only get one per person.
Address: Casimiro Sainz, 15
Tel: 942 213 028