Deep in the heart of the Barrio del Carmen, Valencia’s historic centre, you will find ‘Al Cantonet’. It’s the Valencian name for ‘little corner’ and claims to be one of the narrowest bars in the world. Luckily, it has a great terrace outside so you can enjoy the bar inside or at an outside table as a couple or in small groups. This is a tasca and tapas bar that is authentically Spanish and a world away from the tourist traps of the centre. It’s quite well hidden away but not impossible to find!
Owner Carlos, a highly popular local of Andalusian descent, is a lover of good food, good wine and good music. He is well-known in the barrio and has already established himself with the nearby El Olivo tapas bar. The music soundtrack at Al Cantonet is quality jazz and blues and you will find cool posters & photos of musicians like Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and Billie Holiday lining the walls. The inside bar is intimate, with a good view of the leg of ham ready to cut, fresh hanging garlic & peppers and a big bowl of tomatoes, oranges, and lemons, too.
On tap, to start off the evening we enjoyed a refreshing Estrella Galicia 1906 toasted beer, which lasted us through a fair portion of the four tapas dishes that we shared over a relaxing couple of hours on this mellow Saturday night. Noelia, our friendly and helpful waitress, took us to our retro wooden table & chairs on the long terraza, an intimate space with a candle-lit lantern above our mesa and flowers adding to this atmospheric night out.
Served on tabla dishes (small wooden platters), we started off the night with a Mexican-style Patatas Cantonera, which were slightly crunchy potatoes (with skin) that were cooked al horno (in the oven). We dipped the chip-style potatoes with ease into a pleasant and mild chimichurri style sauce with onion, tomato and vinegar. In our olive bowl, the jalapeño chili peppers had a nice little kick to accompany our cervezas.
Our next choice was the cheese dish of Queso romero with slices of apple. The tabla was lovingly presented with scattered brown pine nuts. Decorated with rosemary herbs at the edges, the cheese was soft and full with a very even feel and with a subtle tang that contrasted nicely with the fresh manzana pieces.
For our salad, we chose a refreshing ‘Tomate Valenciano’, which consisted of Valencia’s famously huge country tomatoes with distinctive white onion rinds, a rocket salad, salted avocado slices and a subtle vinaigrette. As we savoured this healthy dish, we enjoyed a couple of glasses of superb red wine that had been recommended by the boss. It was a Tridente Mencía Crianza (Castilla y León). It was quite full-bodied and left a very satisfying taste on the palate.
With a bluesy number by the late, great B.B. King in the background, we opted to pay homage to the recently deceased musician with a dish of Jamón reserva de Extramadura. This was a very thick ham from the south of Spain that was tasty, consistent and surprisingly smooth, too. It sure was fun to share it with our increasingly heady vino tinto! This was a very pleasant way to finish off our memorable dinner. Do check out this secret corner of Spain when you can…
24/7 Valencia team
C/ Sant Tomas, 21 (between C/ Alta and C/ Baja)
Tel: 677 345 510
Open Monday – Sunday
10.00h – 01.30h
Tapas (Octopus, hams, cheeses, artichokes and more): 6.50€ – 12€
Drinks: Wines, beer, gin & tonics, sangria, ‘Agua de Valencia’, mojito, margarita, Bloody Mary, martini, and piña colada.