Damasqueros can simply be described as a culinary delight, hidden in Granada’s Jewish quarter. When I say ‘hidden’ I don’t mean the reviews, the 5-star stories shared by many a happy customer are all over the internet.
I’m actually referring to the restaurant’s location itself, which is down a quiet little street in the Realejo, the best neighbourhood in Granada. It’s got great bars, great food, great atmosphere…and all it asks for in return is a little time, so you can uncover all its wonderful little secrets. At this point, I should probably mention I’m also a Realejo resident; but don’t let that change things for you! I remain unbiased. Totally. Maybe.
Damasqueros opened its doors in 2009. Owner and head chef Lola Marin (a Granada local who has trained with some of Spain’s top chefs) serves up local seasonal produce through beautifully presented and innovative dishes that incorporate Andalucían and Moorish influence. There is only one option at this restaurant, a five-course tasting menu (€30pp) with a wine pairing option if it takes your fancy (€59pp). Simple and straightforward. Yet there’s no room for repetition, as Lola changes the tasting menu every single week. That is something I find very impressive! You go-la, Lola.
Our evening (my sister and I) started with an element of surprise. There’s a beautiful corner bar in Realejo at the foot of the walkway up to La Alhambra called Damasqueros. Arriving here for our reservation, I had a quick look inside and was puzzled. It’s a handsome looking bar, but there’s no way there’s a restaurant tucked in the back. Where would it fit?! It was only then I realised both the bar and restaurant were called after the street sharing the same name (something I didn’t think I’d need to look up, passing it all the time, but there you go). When we arrived at Restaurante Damasqueros, we were brought to a chic dining room with wood panelled walls; pigeon-hole shelving proudly displaying all the goodies – bottles of wine, olive oils and pretty crockery that just added to the elegance of this rather small but well-orchestrated room.
Our server, the friendly Cristina (who was a joy to be around) warmly welcomed us and told us a little bit about the menu. Not long after, we were served bread with a generous glug of local olive oil. Always a good start. The Spanish produce some incredible olive oil. Sometimes the above picture resembles what a late evening meal looks like for me; some sort of bread (whichever is the freshest by evening time…you can nearly always get another freshly baked baguette warm from the oven at around 5pm) with a chartreuse-hued olive oil and a few flakes of sea salt. So simple but incredibly satisfying.
We were then given a little aperitivo to start; baby potato served with couscous and mojo picón (a very typical sauce around here, made from red pepper, garlic, paprika, cumin, olive oil) infused with Pedro Ximénez sherry. My sister remarked that the texture of everything was crazy perfect. That’s high praise from someone who’s well used to a potato or two. A very lovely and nicely presented opening.
The beautiful presentation didn’t stop at our aperitivo. Just look at this little garden of joy! Our first course was foie served with quinoa and hummus. A dish full of interesting flavours. I really enjoyed the glass salt crystals with the foie, the edible flowers and little dots of various sauces. The quinoa and hummus were light, the foie silky and rich, as were the sauces (I tasted some gherkin, which in my opinion is always a good thing). This dish was paired with a glass of crisp white Cristina Calvache wine from Jaén. Shoutout to my beautiful amazing friend Blanca who’s from Jaén, and always reads here. I really enjoyed your local wine amiga!
The next course was cecina and tuna ravioli with courgette and cheese sauce. Very creamy, but the cold and crisp courgette kept things light. I would have never put cecina (air-dried beef) with tuna, but it worked. Comfort food at its best, paired with a glass of Casatero; a full-bodied wine with notes of red fruits, bay leaves and balsamic. Probably my second favourite wine of the evening.
Our next course was cazón with risotto in fish soup. Caźon is typical in Andalucía (very popular in Cádiz) and it turns out it’s from the shark family (school shark, in fact) which I just looked up. I thought we were eating a regular ol’ lil fish. How about that. You really do learn something new every day. The shark was very light in flavour but the soup was almost like a bisque and brought the dish to life, as did the accompanying glass of Ocnos chardonnay. Probably my least favourite dish of the evening but interesting all the same. I just informed my sister (who fears sharks) that she literally ate her fear. What a badass. Here’s hoping watching Jaws doesn’t trouble her anymore.
Our final savoury dish was a beautiful and classic Andalucian dish; carrillera (or beef cheek) served with potato cake and fresh figs. I adored this dish! It was too good. The gravy was perfect (and piping hot, just how I like it!) and the beef cheek was melt in the mouth. The potato cake had a little firmness about it; tasting like a roast potato-parsnip hybrid. The figs added just a hint of sweetness. We were served a generous pour of GRX wine, which Cristina pointed out shares its name with the local airport code. Turns out GRX is produced by Señorío de Nevada too; that explains why it was so good. My favourite wine of the night for sure, another full-bodied wine with a blend of Caberet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.
The carrillera was another rich dish, but nothing was overwhelming, portion sizes were just right. I really noticed Lola’s emphasis on an autumnal menu – focusing on comfort food and the changing of the season. For someone who comes up with a new menu each week, it shows they are well thought through.
Our final dish on the tasting menu was simply called ‘hazelnut’. A wonderfully light dessert made with almonds served with coconut ice cream (a match made in heaven, right?!) Dessert was accompanied by an orange sherry but unfortunately, the name escapes me. D’oh. I’m almost certain it was Pedro Ximenez with peel from Seville oranges.
To finish our long leisurely evening, Cristina brought us a lovely little touch – piononos! A little sweet treat that for me, represents Granada (I mentioned these at the very end of my previous post.) The little guys arrived with two chilled shot glasses of rice and milk liqueur. I love when a restaurant provides a digestif. It’s the little things.
The evening was excellent; food, wines and service ticked all the boxes, and it was great to see so many females running the show. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back, next time asking for a window seat. My only suggestion would be to dim the lights just a touch, it would add that little bit more to the restaurant’s ambience.
Damasqueros is located on Calle Damasqueros, 3, 18009.
Open every Tuesday – Sunday afternoon.
+34 958 21 05 50
Since the dining room is small, I would book in advance. They take groups, but I’d suggest going in a smaller party, it would be a more enjoyable experience that way. The team cater to allergies, just let them know at the time of booking.
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