El Campero : Cádiz, Spain
One of those happy vacation moments, where you haven’t done your research, either due to laziness or lack of time. So you ask for a recommendation and, sight unseen, you follow it. And it ends up being one of the best meals, ever.
Let’s set the scene a little bit:
Sunset along the southwest coast of Spain. Warm breeze blowing through palm trees. We have no idea where we have been recommended to eat dinner, so we throw on medium dressy clothes and head to a beachside bar for an aperitif. The beachside bar happens to be more similar to a discoteca than a chill out zone, and everyone smells of sunscreen and sweat, but we roll with it and dance a few flamenco songs. Then we hop in the car and head to our destination: El Campero.
Little do we know that it is located in Barbate, one of the centers of the ancient tuna fishing tradition, the almadraba. A net is hung between two boats and experienced divers jump in to inspect any fish that are caught in it, finally slaughtering those who come in over 200 pounds.
And little did we know that El Campero is the world’s best place to eat tuna.
On their incredible menu, the almadraba tuna is featured in dozens of different preparations. It makes me very, very happy that on this expansive menu, there are literally, like, two non-tuna preparations. They went all in.
The tosta de atún y trufa (pictured above) is one of those perfect bites you remember forever. Sorry if that sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. Toasted bread, the reddest tuna, and the earthiness of mushrooms and truffle. Worth the trip alone.
We ate our way across the menu, though, trying a variety of dishes, from the solomillo con salsa dulce-picante y chicharrones (second picture above) to the crunch won-ton with tuna (above), which was another dish we almost ordered twice.
All accompanied, of course, by sherry. Andalucía is sherry country, and it just happens to be one of my favorite ever wines. One day I’ll do a post about it explaining why it is the most underrated beverage ever.
This off-the-menu tuna bao was delicious, saucy, and sprinkled with crunchy onions.
One of the best parts of El Campero is trying cuts of fish you almost never see. Cue the carpaccio de paladar, a paper-thin sliced dish of palate. As in, the part of the top of the mouth of the tuna. Served with a lime and basil sorbet.
Chef-owner Jose Melero is the genius behind all of this. Every year he gets between 7 and 8,000 kilograms of tuna from the almadraba to serve in El Campero. He ultra-freezes it at 60 degrees below zero with a nearby company, and treats it with the utmost care whether it’s destined for a raw dish, like the carpaccio, or a homey, comforting dish, like these meatballs.
El Campero is one special restaurant. Make the trip. Trust me.
Avd. Constitucion, Local 5 C
Barbate, Cádiz 11160
+34 650 42 07 92