The north has become the refuge of many Spaniards in this summer of social distancing and facemasks. According to the regional authorities in Pontevedra, this Galician province was among the five favourite tourist spots in the country, chosen by as many as half of the total number of people who came to Galicia on their holiday.
In addition to the many natural charms of Pontevedra (miles of beaches, picturesque rural settings and mild summers free from the drizzle of other coastal areas further north or east), there is a rich cuisine and in places such as Rías Baixas, a wide and diverse choice of wine bars and restaurants which have little or nothing to envy to those of larger cities like Madrid or Barcelona or even Manhattan, and generally at a fraction of the price.
Below is a quick guide to some of the most interesting bars and restaurants for people who choose where to eat largely based on the range of wines on offer. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list —Pontevedra is undoubtedly one of the most attractive Spanish regions for wine lovers— but we can attest that enjoyment is guaranteed in all the listed businesses. We hope this information is useful for anyone planning to spend a few days in Rías Baixas.
We encourage you to tell us about other wine-friendly bars and restaurants in Rías Baixas -and the rest of Pontevedra province- in the comments below.
Miguel Anxo Besada is, without a doubt, one of the greatest bar owners of this country and a man who loves his job. From his modest wine bar and restaurant in Portonovo, opened over 15 years ago, and more recently in Casa Aurora, the new and spacious restaurant on the Sanxenxo marina run by his sister and Fran Vidal, his number two in A Curva for many years, Besada offers good produce straight from the fish market and an excellent range of wines served in top-quality glasses, a rare treat in taverns such as this.
A great connoisseur and champion of Galician wines —for which he received a Magnum Award from the Instituto Galego do Viño in 2015— Miguel stocks around 400 different wines, including virtually all of those from small Galician producers, but also from other Spanish wine regions and from places he likes such as Burgundy, Champagne or German Rieslings. In a natural way and avoiding unnecessary jargon, Miguel opens bottles and talks at ease with his clients, among whom there are tourists, wine lovers who return whenever they can and local winemakers.
For anyone who cannot find a seat at the pleasant terrace of A Curva or who wants to try another option during their holidays in the area, A Fonte da Vella, right next door, is a good option. A Curva closes from October to February but you can find Besada pouring wines at Casa Aurora during these months.
A Curva (Rafael Pico, 56, Portonovo) y Casa Aurora (Praia dos Barcos, 10, Sanxenxo)
Tel. 886 207629
Just a few metres from Casa Aurora is this informal and recently renovated restaurant with a seaside décor that offers "Atlantic and fusion cuisine" with well presented and appetising dishes such as tuna with kimchi marinade, traditional empanadas (pies) with various fillings, cockles (berberecho in Spanish) or the Galician cow carpaccio.
Founded in 1982, Berberecho once had three restaurants, of which only this one is still in operation today. Besides the dining room and the high tables next to the bar, the terrace is a very pleasant place to eat and drink one or more of the well over 150 cuvées served in Schott and Gabriel Glas glasses. Service is efficient and friendly. Reservations are recommended.
Praia Dos Barcos, 4, Sanxenxo
Tel. 691 051207
Located on a street off the Silgar beach and the seafront promenade in Sanxenxo, the traditional cuisine of Galicia prevails here over fashions or trends. A large terrace, uniformed waiters, fine glasses even for beer -Zalto for the Leirana María Luisa Lázaro that we drank on the day of our visit- and quality produce is what you'll find at this family restaurant where the two Sabinos -father and son- act as hosts. In fact, Sabino jr is one of the few chefs we know who likes wine so much that he prefers to be waiting the tables in the dining room rather than being in the kitchen.
If you feel like splashing out, Sabino is a good place to treat yourself to top quality seafood, starting with some black zamburiñas (a prized shellfish), "the genuine ones, not other substitutes which don't taste of anything", as Sabino jr. says. The rice with lobster and the hake cocochas (cheeks) in green sauce are two of the house's specialities. For tighter budgets, there is a set menu for 28 euros.
The wine list can be downloaded on Sabino's website and features a wide range of Galician wines, both white and red, but there is also an interesting selection from other regions, especially champagne.
A few meters away from Sabino, on the beach promenade, there is another restaurant where wine is taken care of and is open all year round. Called Tritón, it is not unusual to find local producers on wine tasting sessions —in fact, it has been recommended by Manuel Moldes, of Bodegas Fulcro, whose brother, also a wine lover, runs Tinta Negra, a restaurant in Combarro, a pretty coastal village that is only 15 minutes away from Sanxenxo.
Rúa Ourense, 3, Sanxenxo
Tel. 986 723400
Opened on 12 June 2020, Lagüiña Lieux-Dit is arguably one the best informal drinking spots in Spain. It is located in Simes, a mountain village ten minutes from Meaño in Rías Baixas, where the mother of Eduardo Camiña Ucha, a former sommelier at Mugaritz, one of the world’s top restaurants, once ran a shebeen (locally known as furancho) where locals used to drink the Camiña’s homemade albariño.
Nobody thought that the furancho would be back in business this year. Neither did Eduardo and his girlfriend Iraia, who in March was about to start working at Arzak in San Sebastián, but the coronavirus meant the couple had to change the starred restaurants for the family business. The furancho, now converted into an informal tavern, is a great spot to enjoy, glass of Zalto in hand, old vintages, champagne and an endless number of international wines plus a few sherries.
Eduardo's mother is still in the kitchen, preparing traditional home-made dishes such as Spanish omelette, croquettes, lamb or peppers.
It’s worth following Lagüiña’s Instagram account to keep up to date with the opening hours (it opens from Thursdays to Sundays), news and tastings that they plan to host from October onwards.
Iglesia, 16, Simes
Tel. 659 298468
Located right on the Arousa estuary, Ribeira de Fefiñans is a good address in Cambados for anyone who likes wine. The owners are José Luis Aragunde, a regular participant in the Vila Viniteca wine tasting in pairs with his friend, the producer Eulogio Pomares, and his wife Olga, who have combined under one roof a bar-restaurant with a terrace overlooking the sea and a guesthouse with nine rooms. The restaurant, which was recently renovated, features ten tables and stools at the bar. This is a good vantage point to check all the bottles lining the shelves, clearly exhibiting their price tags and meant to be drank on the spot or to take away. Don’t miss the octopus salad, the smoked San Simón cheese or any of the shellfish dishes such as the freshly picked cockles tossed in a frying pan with garlic and olive oil.
Just around the corner, at their wine shop A Despensa, there’s an even larger wine selection, both local and imported, which can be despatched all over Spain and abroad.
Rua Ribeira de Fefiñans 24, Cambados
Tel. 670 720904
Considered to be one of the top restaurants in the country to enjoy the finest fish and seafood caught on the Galician coast, D'Berto is recognizable from the street by the large aquarium with XXL-sized lobsters that occupies a corner of the restaurant's facade. This top class produce is selected by siblings Berto (front of house) and Marisa Dominguez (chef) for their customers.
It’s worth saving up for a treat here. Once at the table, let yourself be recommended and enjoy the catch of the day or some of D'Berto's specialities such as the fantastic fried lobster (€80/kg), the longueirones —huge razor-shells from La Lanzada beach nearby— or the homemade seafood empanada. If you have trouble choosing what to eat, Berto usually has no problem serving smaller portions so that diners can try a wider range of dishes.
The cellar, with some 600 wines, is also fit for a treat. At the restaurant’s entrance, there is a refrigerated wine cellar for red wines, including old Rioja vintages, while at the back there are some 120 different sparkling wines, mainly Champagne. As befits a restaurant that values quality local produce, the range of Galician wines is considerable and includes some old albariño vintages such as Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas or Dorado by Marcial Dorado.
Also in O Grove, Culler de Pau with one Michelin star is an interesting option for wine lovers (Eduardo Camiña was a sommelier here).
Av Teniente Domínguez 84, O Grove
Tel. 986 73 34 47
Heir to the family restaurant where he practically grew up, Pepe Solla has gradually adapted this fine dining place in San Salvador de Poio, on the road between Sanxenxo and Pontevedra, to his way of understanding cuisine, based on simplicity and quality products from his native Galicia.
The two tasting menus, impeccably served in the spacious dining room by an attentive and friendly staff, are named after fishing gear. Trasmallo (17 snacks, €96) and Piobardeira (22 snacks, €136) can be enjoyed with some of the 1,400 cuvées stored in the Casa Solla cellar, or paired with the wines served by sommelier Ismael López, a talented 30-year-old man who is also a teacher at Ingavi, the leading wine training centre in Galicia.
Avenida Sineiro 7, San Salvador de Poio
Tel. 986 87 28 84
A meeting place for restless winemakers who enjoy drinking wines other than their own, Bagos is one of the obligatory stops for wine lovers on their way to Rías Baixas. Located in the centre of Pontevedra, Adrián Guerra is one of the founding partners and the person to turn to in order to enjoy the extensive cellar they have, with many cuvées from terroir-driven producers from Galicia but also from the rest of Spain and the world.
The food menu features seasonal products with Asian influences clearly noticeable in dishes such as the tuna marinated in wakame and sesame or the beef shank with red curry.
Another interesting address is Viñoteca Envero, which occupies the old premises where Bagos was local up until a few years ago. Wines by the glass and bottle and simple, well-treated dishes is what you’ll find.
Michelena 20, Pontevedra
Tel. 986 85 24 60
Opened in 2017 in Vigo old town, Malauva is the sort of urban wine bar that most wine lovers dream of having close to home.
The empty bottles decorating the windows give an idea of the awesome cuvées José Martínez "Josiño" uncorks daily by the glass and bottle. He knows what he talks about — Josiño has worked in places like Bagos, Casa Solla or Mugaritz and even as a tea sommelier in England.
Champagne, international still wines as well as a complete selection of Galician wines with a neat number of older vintages are the stars of the Malauva list, featuring artisan producers who are committed to terroir and sustainability. The care taken in the selection of wines and the polished urban decor reflect good taste, as do the glasses, which are changed with each wine and include top brands such as Riedel, Zalto or MT.
In the kitchen, Marina Pérez (also formerly at Casa Solla) lovingly prepares a small but gorgeous set of dishes such as the cacheira meat sandwich or the sardine focaccia.
Bajada Fonte 12, Vigo
Tel. 886 31 77 21
Also in the centre of Vigo is this bar-restaurant with two floors —on the ground is an informal tapas place whereas the upper floor is a more formal restaurant, with tablecloths and a quieter atmosphere. The chefs prepare a wide variety of platters and dishes at moderate prices with which you can pair well over 400 different wines, many of them by the glass. There is a good selection of Galician and Portuguese wines but also many interesting bottles from France, Germany, Eastern Europe and the New World.
Managing De Tapa in Cepa is Óscar Cidanes, who was named Nariz de Oro in 2004. Cidanes was one of the first sommeliers in Spain to champion Caíño wines when this red variety from Galicia was unknown and of little interest to most people. Cidanes is a good friend of Marcial Dorado, with whom he has a joint project called Destinos Cruzados to make two wines in Condado de Tea, the Rías Baixas subzone closest to Ribeiro. They are the white Pousada, a blend of Treixadura and Albariño, and As Regadas, a blend of Mencía, Brancellao and Espadeiro, and are available at the restaurant.
Ecuador, 18, Vigo
Tel. 986 47 37 57
In Baiona, a little over half an hour's drive from Portugal, you will find this traditional restaurant which displays an impressive selection of large, top quality fish and seafood on its window. During our visit we had some delicious spider crab meatballs and a generous piece of wild sea bass, which was skillfully served by Antonio Posada, the owner of Casa Rita.
The bar displays an extensive collection of bottles that serve as a presentation card for Casa Rita’s cellar, which is dominated by red classic brands from Ribera and Rioja, Antonio's favourite wine areas, but also includes a handful of traditional whites from Galicia.
Carabela La Pinta 17, Baiona
Tel. 677 06 83 65