I mentioned in my first Benidorm post that I didn’t have the highest expectations about Benidorm. Mostly due to what I’ve seen in the show. Obviously, I was totally wrong and I had a blast. I likewise had negative expectations about the food. I expected a lot of cheap (and sometimes delicious) chips, chicken, kebabs; you know, the usual drunken night out food. And you can certainly find it.
But you can also find some really fine dining, some delicious tapas and some all-around great food in Benidorm.
Ulia is located at Av. Vicente Llorca Alós, 15, Benidorm 03502
Ulia is the first restaurant that we went to in Benidorm. We, of course, ordered a pitcher of sangria. It started the tone of the trip and we ordered sangria every meal for the entire time we were in Benidorm. We then moved on to bread that came served with a sort of garlic aioli dipping sauce. That description isn’t quite right, but it’s as close as I could get. The garlic aioli came with the bread at every single restaurant that we ate at so it must be quite the local speciality. We then shared a delicious salad and a starter of croquettes. Ham and cheese croquettes are also a typical local dish and we had them at multiple meals. I hadn’t really had croquettes before but I loved them. I am a totally convert.
We then moved on to our main; paella. Charlotte and I shared a vegetarian paella whilst the rest of the group shared the seafood-meat mixed paella in all of its beautiful meatiness. The paella was incredibly flavourful and filling. It was the best paella I’ve ever had (especially because I’m always a bit wary of paella after a terrible one that I had in Barcelona once). We finished with a light and flaky pastry for dessert and I felt utterly grateful that our food in Benidorm experience kicked off on such a high!
Llum del Mar in Villa Venecia Hotel
Llum del Mar is located at Plaza San Jaume, 1. 03500
Llum was, overall, the best restaurant that we went to. It was my favourite meal of the entire trip and also our most glamorous and elaborate one. It consisted of so many courses that I lost count and each one was more succulent and delicious than the previous, as well as beautifully plated. If you wanted a top-notch fine dining experience in Benidorm, this would be my number one recommendation.
We started with a little amuse bouche from the chef before moving on to a duck salad with raspberry sauce and green sprouts followed by a tenderloin carpaccio with parmesan, truffles and pear confit. I usually don’t go crazy for carpaccio, but on this occasion, I absolutely fell in love with it. And the parmesan – thick, aged- it was insanely moreish!
Everyone else then moved on to a fish course whilst Charlotte and I had an insanely delicious vegetarian option followed by a palate cleansing lemon sorbet. (Any dinner where you get to take a break from food in the middle with something tart yet sweet is a great meal.)
We moved on to the main which was a beef cheek with a vanilla glaze over a bed of quinoa. The sauce was insanely rich, so the smallish portion size ended up being absolutely perfect. The beef cheek itself literally melted in my mouth. I’ve never had a more perfectly cooked piece of beef. Last, but certainly not least, came the most InstaStory-ed dish of the night, the strawberry dessert topped with popping candy and candy floss. It was super sweet but since I have an insane sweet tooth, nothing is ever too sweet for me!
Son de Mar
Son de Mar is located at Plaza del Torrejo, 1, 03501
The food at Son de Mar was decent, but not the best. I think the biggest problem was that I kept comparing it to the expert dishes that we had the night before. Again, we sat through multiple courses, but this time I found the vegetarian options that I was served a bit too drowned in sauces.
However, there were still a few meal absolute highlights! The pulled pork buns were incredible and reminded me very much of bao buns and the duck on the bed of mashed carrots was also supremely tasty.
I will give Son de Mar this: it had the best sangria that I had in Benidorm. It was sweeter than the others but it was perfection! Avoid the vegetarian dishes and just come to Son de Mar for some light bites and definitely for multiple pitchers of their dangerously drinkable sangria.
La Taperia (in the Tapas Quarter)
La Taperia is located at Calle Santo Domingo, 6, 03501
If you come to Benidorm looking for some authentic Spanish tapas, you’re in luck! And even more conveniently, most of the great tapas restaurants are all located along the same street in the Old Town. I’m a HUGE fan of tapas, but my previous tapas experience was farther north in Spain (Barcelona) so it consisted of a lot of manchego, roasted peppers, iberico ham and tasty chorizo dishes. Not to mention patatas bravas.
Here we had the ubiquitous, but delicious croquettes, more bread with garlic aioli, fried courgettes with a honey-dipping sauce and patatas bravas. We were then each able to order some pinchos, which are like tapas but slightly larger. I had a delicious toasted bread covered in egg and roasted pepper that I somehow managed to not take a single photo of. We also had the best dessert of the trip; a platter of multiple options, cream, chocolate lava cake, cheesecake and ice-cream. Jordan, Charlotte, Brogan and I absolutely devoured ours, where as Dannielle and the guys barely touched theirs. They nicely donated their platter of dessert to us and it was gone in the blink of an eye as well.
Solotula is located at Calle del Esperanto, 16, 03503
Even though it probably had the worst sangria, Solotula came in as my second-favourite meal in Benidorm, just behind the Llum del Mar restaurant from the first evening. It readily became one of my favourites for a few reasons:
I finally got one of my favourite pan com tomate. Bread with tomato sounds so simple but it’s so flipping delicious that it was one of my favourites from my time in Barcelona and it didn’t disappoint me here. We also had the best patatas bravas from our time in Benidorm here. The sauce was just perfect. Then we had a great dish with the name “Russian salad”. I’m not sure how to describe it other than “tempura-like” but Charlotte and I had a great tempura-ed veggie dish whilst everyone else at seafood. We also had beef cheek with noodles and the cheek was once again tasty, just not melt-in-your-mouth succulent like we had on a previous occasion.
We finished with sliced pineapple topped with pomegranate and coconut ice-cream. It was a really nice way to finish off a meal lightly. Solotula didn’t look like much from the outside; in fact, at first glance I would have thought it was a bar! But the food quality was superb and it packed a big flavour punch!
Have you tasted the cuisine of Benidorm before? If not, what’s your favourite Spanish dish?