Jerez de la Frontera is a short train ride away from Seville and is, of course, most famous for its local wine – sherry. While you are there you should not only visit one of the city’s many bodegas, but also do at least part of the “Ruta de Tabancos“. Tabancos are a type of bar or tavern that is typical of Jerez de la Frontera, combining the social function of a bar and the commercial function of a “despacho de vinos”, or wine shop, selling wine from the cask to take away or for consumption on the premises. The earliest known use of the word is in Cervantes (1547-1616), of Don Quixote fame, and may be a combination of the words “estanco” (a shop selling government controlled products) and “tabaco”. We don’t really know what these early tabancos may have been like, but the word doesn’t seem to have caught on until the early 20th century, when it began to be used in its modern sense.
Ruta de Tabancos map by Tabancora
After a period of decline in the late 20th century tabancos have had a resurgence, and now include some more modern influences to complement the traditional. The Ruta was developed by Tabancora (promoted by the City Council and the Sherry Academy) to help maintain the traditions of the tabanco, and several times a year there are special Ruta events. Recently – in the spirit of Serious Research – the We Love Tapas Team undertook the gruelling 😉 task of visiting each bar on the Ruta. These are our findings…
Tabanco El Pasaje
Santa Maria, 8
Tel: +34 956 333 359
El Pasaje was officially founded in 1925 by Don José González Navarro, which makes it the oldest tabanco still operating in Jerez, but even before this the premises had functioned as a small grocer’s, and later as a flamenco club for the waiters of Jerez. Flamenco is still an important part of the ambiance, with live flamenco shows on Friday and Saturday evenings, and sometimes impromptu performances at other times. The name derives from the fact that it has two entrances, so the bar itself is a “passage”. Sherries are by Bodega Sierra Maestro, and some others are available too. A very traditional and fun atmosphere, and light tapas snacks are also available.
Tabanco San Pablo
San Pablo, 12
Tel: +34 956 338 436
Another very traditional tabanco founded in 1934 by Manuel Muñoz Peña, and still run by his descendants. It still has the original wooden counter and sherry casks (sherries by Gonzalez Byass), and you can try some typical Andaluz tapas, such as jamón and pringá, with your drink. There is also a pleasant terrace outside, though it’s all self-service here.
Tabanco La Pandilla
Los Valientes, 14
Tel +34 956 343 248
La Pandilla first opened its doors in 1936. Closed in 1979 during the decline of tabancos, it reopened again in 2013, and still preserves a lot of the original decor and ambiance, including the beautiful wood beam ceiling and old posters and pictures on the walls. The original Sanchez Romate sherries are still served, along with filled rolls, cured meats, cheeses and marinades.
Tel: +34 665 213 415
Plateros has a terrific location on the corner of the square of the same name with a pleasant terrace outside, though the bar itself is tiny. It specialises in sherries from some of the smaller bodegas and cooperatives, and local cured meats and cheeses. Super friendly staff and great “local” atmosphere.
Tabanco El Guitarrón de San Pedro
Tel +34 649 656 918
Opened in 2012 by Jose Antonio Reguera and Mireia Rodríguez, this is a relatively modern and “upmarket” tabanco, but has all the essentials of the genre. There’s a full range of sherries, as well as cured meats, cheeses and preserves (and one of the best tortilla de patatas I’ve ever had). They also do tastings, and events to educate people about sherry, and there are regular flamenco performances.
Tabanco Las Bandarillas
Tel: +34 619 006 988
Also opened in 2012, by Fernando Lobato and Lucas Soto, Las Bandarillas replaced an existing bar-restaurant of the same name. As well as sherry and vermouth from the barrel there are preserves and delicatessen products to eat on the premises or take away, and a good selection of hot tapas. In fact, it has more of a tapas bar than tabanco feel to it, but still a fun and lively place to stop.
Tabanco La Bodeguita
Tel: +34 607 892 221
Opened in 1947 by Rafael Ramirez Pérez, and now run by Fernando Lobato, La Bodeguita has been described as more Jerezano than Jerez itself. A small counter at the back serves for the consumption of an ample selection of sherries drawn straight from the barrel. An even bigger selection is available in bottles ranged along the shelves to one side. Nothing can really prepare you for La Bodeguita, just go and see for yourself. We loved the welcoming and convivial atmosphere.