Sierra Nevada has so much more than raclette and gluvine, writes Jon Clarke
IF you were thinking that all the Sierra Nevada had to offer was raclette and gluvine, think again.
The depth of quality and variety of restaurants in Pradollano is almost as good as nearby Granada and as good as many popular towns around the region.
Every year new restaurants open on the slopes, making the existing band of eateries up their game.
Few places show this improvement as well as Ci Vediamo, which is nearly a decade old.
Run by a hip young team under Stevie Silva, a professional snowboarder, and his girlfriend Luna Coronado, every year a raft of new exciting dishes are added to the menu.
The most exciting this season is his trio of cerviches, each with its own unique flavour, and including my favourite of razor-sliced scallops in a Bloody Mary sauce.
On a Michelin-starred trip, you will also enjoy a tartare of prawns and a sashimi of tuna, not to mention fabulous duck rolls with ginger, guacamole, tuna and soy sauce.
And let’s not forget the ‘gambas pil pil’ hamburgers, the Nero spaghetti with champagne sauce and king prawns, and some of the best pizzas around, including the original Iberian ham and baby broad beans number.
The wine list is also original, hand picked by Stevie and with some exclusive rarities, such as the Fonte dei oro, which only produces 700 bottles a year, and at 18 euros a snip.
Further plaudits go to Luis and Javier at Tito Luigi, who keep improving their two Italian joints, in line with their hip opening of Tito Tapas, two years ago.
It’s a cool spot with great food and wine and perfectly complements their other places, which are always packed at night, serving up fantastic food, including pizzas, salads and pasta dishes, with my current top pick: the amazing squid-ink spaghetti with prawns.
In particular punters love the historic ‘cave’ at the back, which counts dozens of famous guests including the former king. The photos are there to prove it.
Another long term fixture is Bodega Casablanca run by Jose Carlos Villanueva, who grew up on the slopes, with his father opening one of the first hostals in the 1960s.
The historic photos add to the atmosphere (as does a framed Olive Press article!) and the heart-warming soul food is always excellent, and includes stews, lentils as well as prawns wrapped in potato with a soya mayonnaise and lovely lamb chops with whisker-thin wild asparagus.
As stalwarts go, few top busy Antorcha, which sits by the Kenia Nevada hotel.
Run by Antonio and Maite for a decade, each table gets its own ‘sausage tree’, while its speciality of the house is the ‘hot and spicy platter’ on which you can cook your own rump steaks, up to 400gr.
Newer and really leading the charge food-wise is La Mar Sala, where Carlos has created an ambient spot, perfect for tapas and wines by the glass.
This prime spot by the Melia hotel is normally filled to the rafters and counts on some excellent wines by the glass and the very best seafood from Motril, including boquerones, cigalas and conchas finas. A genuine find.
Meanwhile, meat-lovers will seriously rate La Muralla, run by brothers Luciano and Gonzalo, which has some of the resort’s best tapas and wines by the glass.
Apart from the amazing steaks, a real highlight are the ‘tostas’, which come in various guises and a milhoja of foie gras.
And don’t forget the brothers’ other bustling spot Las Gondalas, right in the heart of the town and perfect for some apres ski light bites, a hot drink or a beer.
The cool sounds playing to the terrace attract a cool crowd and you will struggle to find a seat on many days.
Another excellent place overlooking the slopes is Tia Maria, which has a good mix of dishes and is a great place for breakfast.
Run by Carlos, the brother of Tito Luigi’s Javier, this is an institution and place to while away the day.
For coffee, breakfast, and in fact just about everything, Vertical is hard to be beaten and also has a great range of snacks and light bites, including hot dogs for the British clientele.
For seafood look no further than La Lonja, which is a great place to eat seafood and the selection of marisco is impressive and there are always fresh lobsters waiting to be cooked. Three decades serving skiers, boss Antonio began life as a waiter in Granada, and counts another restaurant in Sanlucar de Barrameda and unsurprisingly stocks its famous langoustines.
Bodegas Mazon is also a real gem, tucked away at the back of Edificio Mont Blanc and with an amazing wood oven and the most authentic ski resort ambience.
Next door, Bar Ski will not disappoint if you want to have the real mccoy, local Granadino food and banter.
This is THE place to hang out and have fun and the owner, Michi, is, as they say in Spanish ‘a crack’.
For fast food and hamburgers – and football on a big screen, including Premiership games – look no further than Telesilla Burger, which is a popular place for locals and expats alike.
Cleverly designed using ski lifts as tables, you can get everything here at excellent prices, thanks to clever boss Maria Rosales Donaire, who does not miss a trick.
IT is hard to describe Pradollano as an authentic mountain village.
But, with a metre of snow on the ground and the sun finally out, it certainly has its charms.
There are lots of places to stay but easily one of the most charming has got to be the authentic Hotel Kenia Nevada (www.kenianevada.com), which is well located near the centre of town and open most of the year.
Run by the friendly Don Pedro – who used to ski for the country as a youngster – it is clean, well run and serves up one of the best breakfasts in Spain.
It also has a gym and spa, with an in-house masseur, and plenty of communal areas, filled with charming old furniture.
If you are looking for somewhere to rent then Sierra Nevada Alquileres (www.alquileressierranevada.es) is a good bet, with the company having over 100 places on its books. Boss Antonio is knowledgeable and friendly.