try something new

Summer in Alicante

Alicante has been a favourite British holiday destination for decades now, with people branching out from the nearby Benidorm. Opinions of the latter have been less than high in the last few years, with Benidorm seen as more of a home for Brits abroad. But 40 miles down the coast, Alicante retains its Spanish soul and culture. The standard of the food and drink on offer is outstanding, and the seaside city is diverse and friendly.

The beautiful white beach stretches down the coast with a stunning backdrop of the Santa Barbara castle. And at one end of the beach, the marina is a hub of activity with boats coming and going throughout the day and night, as well as bars and restaurants open until the early hours.

Spain evokes thought of sun, sangria and tapas. Not forgetting the country’s favourite – jamon (ham). And while Alicante offers all of the above, it also has a huge amount of worldly cuisines that aren’t usually expected to be found in a seaside resort.

We love veggie food at Love Hospitality, so we were very pleasantly surprised to find a big choice of vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

Bodhigreen on Calle San Fernando has a vast menu of delicious and different veggie food.  From salads to pizza, each dish is made with fresh produce and is presented beautifully. And we can say without doubt that the Bondi Beach “vurgeur” was one of the best veggie burgers we have ever had. It’s a patty of mushrooms, brown rice and chick peas covered in cheese, caramelized onion and ranch sauce in an organic spelt bun and served with baked potato wedges. And it isn’t often than nachos are a bad idea, but these tortilla chips are smothered in sour cream, guac, salsa, molten cheese and crisp jalapenos. Far from being flung in the microwave, these are delectable, and we could have eaten so many plates that we would have to be rolled home. The salads are big and bright and there are seven to choose from. The “energy” was our favourite, with spinach, tender shoots, carrots, beetroot, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, toasted nuts, alfalfa sprouts and salsa. Bodhigreen has a big range of juices and smoothies too, for the perfect breakfast wake up before heading to the beach.

Further into the city on Calle Poeta Quintana is the quaint and cosy Lluvia. The tiny restaurant can seat 25 people at a push, so be sure to book because the wait is worth it. In place of a menu, an incredibly friendly waiter came over and told us what they had that night. We had options of tapas, starters and mains. Not only did he take the time to explain each dish, he was happy to tell us a few times after we inevitably forgot things. The tapas wasn’t the traditional kind but it was amazing. There was a veggie burger slider with salad, a pumpkin croquette with vinaigrette, bruschetta with tomatoes, basil and drizzled with olive oil and a crispy taco. The wine menu was small but exquisite and the pricing was very reasonable. The  staff were incredible too. The open kitchen lets customers see how the food is made and the chefs are not afraid to talk to everyone and make sure everything is going well with the meal.

While there is fast food available, as there is anywhere, it is very easy to find healthy dishes that won’t give you an unwanted bloat on the beach. Fast and Bio is an organic café/restaurant with a variety of salads and pizza breads, as well as a great selection of organic wines. This place is great for a quick lunch or dinner and is on the lively Carrer Castaños, which is home to a host of bars and restaurants. Another great on the go option is Falafel Gourmet on Calle San Francisco. Wraps, buns or pittas are made up in front of you with flavourful falafels or patties with a big choice of veggies and humous. Yolo Pizza on the same street is an amazing concept – one we hope comes to the UK soon. Think Subway but for pizza. You choose your base, sauce and cheese, then pick from the amazing selection of vegetables and meat to top your pizza with. A quick 12 minutes later you have a tasty pizza that has been custom made right in front of you!

A trip to Spain wouldn’t be complete without some tapas, and Chico Calla once again on Calle San Francisco (an adorable yellow brick street adorned with giant mushrooms) is intimate and welcoming with a great menu and enticing food. It has a selection of “mini burgers” with such options as wasabi, blue cheese and chicken, artichoke and tuna, and guacamole and tomato. The patatas de la tata with mince, béchamel, molten cheese and ham are melt in in the mouth, and the smoked sardine or hake salads are a seafood lover’s dream.

One of the most inviting things about Alicante is the late-night atmosphere. The afternoon siesta lasts from 4-8pm but bars (especially on the beach) are open until the small hours of the morning. Soho del Mar overlooks the marina and is the perfect place to drink the night away, with a great selection of cocktails, spirits and wine.

And the wine in Alicante is not to be sniffed at. For an average of €20, you will get a mouth-watering bottle of wine.

Xiringuito Postiguet at the other end of the beach to the marina under the castle is a haven of shade from the summer heat. It serves fresh sandwiches and quesadillas, as well as cocktails and fruit smoothies. It’s also open until around 5am, so you can stay on the beach for the whole day and night.

While holiday resort towns like Alicante can sometimes be overlooked in terms of good food and drink, this city really does have so much to offer. It is a hub of colourful activity and has a tempting restaurant around every corner. Give it ago for some late summer sun – you definitely won’t be disappointed.