A tour of Cuenca’s most appetizing dishes (and restaurants)

A magical city with a unique gastronomy that has its origins in the pastoral world and strong recipes such as atascaburras, morteruelo, migas de almorta … A cuisine in which game, cod, vegetables, mushrooms, cheeses, desserts, wines abound … and of course the garlic from Las Pedroñeras and its processed and valuable black garlic (nutritionally and economically speaking).

After a long apprenticeship, Jesús settles in Cuenca with the idea of ​​recovering and preserving the cultural and historical heritage of the people of the countryside. The restaurant has two well-defined spaces, the gastronomic room and an informal area at the bar. Over time Trivio’s menu has become more demanding and selective, plays with the season and the proximity of the ingredients (90% is zero kilometer) to prepare a healthy and waste-free cuisine. It is a balanced and well-structured menu in terms of taste and calories with a staggered sequence where the order must not be altered or canceled any passage, the story is broken.

In all dishes there is a different fermentation process, both in the preparation and in some ingredient, it’s like a roller coaster where powerful and soft dishes alternate, vinegars always appear after the powerful ones and we also find them in the dessert; the presence of fish is practically testimony, such as the bocabites of black garlic purée with cod crust. Their monothematic recipes with just one ingredient in seven, eight or nine different preparations are delicious. It is not recommended.

José Ignacio has a cuisine with roots in La Mancha that he learned with his mother in the family restaurant, a traditional cooking on a slow fire, revised and updated. When he was very young he took off traveling the world and from all the countries he crossed he brought back tasty gastronomic memories. He returns to Cuenca and opens the first Raff, a small restaurant with an oriental bar and recipes from La Mancha.

Raff San Pedro Restaurant: Rich honeycomb

In 2016 he moved to the historic center and to the old stables of the Hotel Leonor de Aquitania, setting up a charming restaurant where José Ignacio prepares his most personal cuisine with seasonal, local and open to the world products. From that taste comes the memory surprising dishes, such as the prawn presented in two sequences (on one side the tail cooked in a Vietnamese Pho broth accompanied by bread and butter made with the head, plus the broth and Udon noodles); delicious is his tiznao cod, wild pigeons with 10 days of maturation, his personal garlic soup, game, cauliflower in consistency and temperatures. It is a beautiful experience not to be missed.

Trivio Restaurant, Cuenca

Romera Bistró is a small and cozy restaurant, recently refurbished, where Juan Pedro cooks what he would like to eat. It is not a one-way cuisine, there are very traditional dishes and others more daring, it plays with everything that the market offers, it has a short menu (14/15 dishes) with which it tries to please everyone in the world. Bet on spoon dishes, such as sea bass with garlic soup, stewed cod with its own tripe, local vegetables, mountain mushrooms … and always with seasonal products. His idea is that people feel at home, that they are comfortable, that they are well served and that they want to return. It has a five-course menu (two appetizers, fish, meat and dessert) and the customer chooses the dishes that interest him most, or you can also choose three appetizers and leave the meat or fish. Give your customers maximum freedom. A restaurant that will ask you for more than one visit.

Romera Bistrot Restaurant: Lamb

Eduardo is another chef who likes to cook what he would like to eat, rich and tasty dishes to make his guests happy. most Olea’s customers are from Cuenca, people who eat well and know their traditional cuisine very well and what they want is to try new and different things; his menu features an ajoarriero who reinterprets it “in his own way” and completes it with coconut milk and romescu curry sauce; suit Lima with chicken and pork rinds; delicious aubergines with smoked Ebro delta eel, beef meatballs with black garlic and ginger … recipes here and there that are very good.

Olea Dining Restaurant: Artichokes and Truffles

They are dishes meant to be shared, the idea is that if two people go, they can try three different dishes, but they are open to all possibilities. He recommends local wines and also serves wines by the glass. He is one of the few who can say: “We do what we like, as long as we pay all the payroll.” It won’t let you down. Recreo Peral is a special and different place, surrounded by nature in the gorge of the Júcar river. With different gastronomic spaces: a terrace for aperitifs or coffees, a bar, several dining rooms, rooms for events and a garden with games for children.

A place very popular with locals and tourists with a rich menu based on traditional dishes from Cuenca (frayed zarajos, ajoarriero, migas with egg) and from all over Spain (roast suckling pig, suckling lamb) and it is recommended to finish with their smooth cheesecake. Also, organizes conferences and special menus: Andalusian cuisine, the days of the three seas, the days of the Bay of Biscay … Nacho dares, to the delight of customers, even with a ronqueo and quartering of a bluefin tuna directly from the almadraba. His bet is very simple: good product, little manipulation and maximum expressiveness, always respecting the seasons.

The art tavern is a piece of Andalusia in the heart of Cuenca. But not everything comes from the south, the recipes of La Mancha occupy a privileged place, here you cannot miss the morteruelo and the lamb zarajos. It is a fresh and market cuisine with quality and variety, Jordi goes to the market every day and asks his he suppliers: “What’s good for you today?”, And based on what he finds, he cooks. It has a menu with salads, sausages, anchovies, white garlic from Cordoba, salmorejo and the stews of the day (stewed stew, stewed beans with clams …).

And then you have a glass bulletin board with market suggestions. He likes to work with meat and fish, but perhaps fish is his favorite and most appreciated. We must conclude with the homemade pionono from Granada. Before there were concerts and flamenco shows that the pandemic has wiped out, but sometimes we can see that someone spontaneously picks up a guitar and plays a deep melody; a nice conclusion for this enchanted itinerary.