Every Thursday night in Vegueta, the scent of mojo and mariscos fills the air and hungry patrons – both locals and guiris alike – fill every bar, terrace and square inch of sidewalk. It’s the weekly Ruta del Pincho aka Tapas Thursday in the historic center, where friends gather together to share a bucket (or 10) of botellínes and sample the countless pinchos on offer.
The weekly event centers around Calle Mendizábal & Calle Pelota. Early birds start trickling in around 8:00pm, but the real ambiance starts after 9:00. Though the event technically only lasts from 8:00-10:00, bars keep serving pinchos until they run out, and the good vibes last for hours to come.
The crowd is mostly 20 – 30 somethings and is especially popular with the universitarios, which probably has a lot to do with the prices. On Calle Mendizábal, a bucket of botellínes (small beer bottles) will cost you about €5 for 5 (€1 each) and a tapa or pincho will set you back around €1.50. Bars on Calle Pelota tend to charge just a bit more. Basically 15 bucks later you’ll be well fed and maybe even a little tipsy.
Do as the Spanish Do
Tapas are about balancing out the booze, not stuffing your face. Rather than juggle 7 plates of pinchos, the idea is to pick a couple to taste and a glass of wine or beer, eat up, have some laughs and move on to the next bar for more.
Below are 5 of my usual stops on the Ruta, introduced to me by local friends and ones I’ve kept going back to. Read on and buen provecho!
1. La Barbería de Vegueta
Calle Mendizábal, 14
This one wins big points for selection and creativity alone. The entire bar top is double stacked with imaginative pinchos – from the standard goat cheese & caramelized onions to the more creative French omelet stuffed with creamy salmon salad. For the guy who’s tried everything, go nuts with a doughnut hamburger (which is exactly what it sounds like).
I love the atmosphere, the staff and the veggie options. For me, no tapas Thursday is complete without a stop at this bad boy.
Calle Mendizábal, 20
Marsala is my standard go-to restaurant when I have friends visiting from out of town, and might just be my favorite restaurant in Vegueta. In case you don’t have time to stop in for a sit-down meal here, at least pop in for a taste on Thursday.
Their creative and inspired pinchos are reflective of their usual menu and will definitely leave you wanting to come back for more.
3. La Champiñonería
Calle Mendizábal, 30
The forte here is – you guessed it – champiñones (mushrooms). You can tell by the massive crowds from outside looking in how popular this one is with the locals. They have tons of champi pinchos, and a few meaty options for those that don’t eat fun-guys.
La Champiñonería is probably the most vegetarian friendly option for those looking to skip the jamón.
4. Trés Jolie Las Palmas
Calle Mendizábal 24
If you arrive late and hangry, head straight to Trés Jolie. As other bars are starting to run low on options, Trés Jolie are still popping piping hot pizzas fresh from the oven.
Rather than trying to squeeze in between the throngs at the bar and shouting your order louder than the guy next to you, Trés Jolie sets up their goods at a table just in front of the entrance. You line up Subway style, point at what you want, order your botellín or copa de vino and pay at the end of the line.
The main offer here are pizzas and puffed pastry style tapas. I usually save this spot for later on in the evening – or as I like to call it – second dinner.
5. Tasca La Picadita
Calle Herrería, 12
If squeezing in a packed bar or competing for the servers’ attention isn’t your cup of
tea vino tinto, head over to Tasca La Picadita for a more relaxing atmosphere. Rather than pinchos, La Picadita does discounted tapas on Thursdays.
All the typical tapas options are available – ensaladilla, tomates aliñados, etc. You’ll pay a bit more, but there’s usually plenty of seating on the terrace and you won’t have to balance a plate and a bucket of beers while chowing down.
- Early birds catch the tapas. If you’re new to Spain and not familiar with the whole tapas culture, beat the crowds and get there at 8:00. The staff will be much more patient and inclined to explain the what/how if you’re not in a sea of hungry patrons.
- Slow and steady. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Rather than stuff your face in the first bar, sample one or two pinchos and move on to the next one.
- The night doesn’t end when the tapas do. Thursday nights are a blast in the center. Stick around Calle Mendezábal, or head to local favorites like the Azotea de Benito for a digestive gintonic or Paper Club to dance off your dinner.
La Ruta del Pincho happens every Thursday night and shouldn’t be missed! Next time your in Las Palmas, skip lunch and go nuts.
If you’re a Las Palmas local, let me know if I’ve missed any of your faves and which stops are your top picks to picar on Thursdays!
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