Gijón: Seaside Grit and Culture
Stuated on the coast, Gijón is the largest city in the Asturias. It’s a major loading port for iron and steel, and as such, the city itself exudes a certain indomitable spirit.
Despite the deep-rooted industrial history, today, Gijón is a popular beach getaway with new seafront shops and green parks.
However, the heart of the city revolves around Cimadevilla, the old fishermen’s quarter.
Homes are stacked on a hill overlooking the coast. We visited in early September and the narrow streets were decorated for an upcoming festival.
It’s also where to find the oldest sidrerías, or cider bars.
Despite it’s vast appeal, we found that the city had a bit of a peculiar feel.
Although it’s the capitol of the Asturias, we couldn’t help but feel it was a city looking for an identity.
There’s some typical Spanish elements, such as the Plaza Mayor.
And the Puerto Deportivo, or the marina that surrounds the old quarter.
But the refurbished city center felt, confusing, for lack of a better term. Gijón underwent a tremendous amount of urban development in the 19th century, and to a certain degree, it still felt that it was undergoing a transition.
It was still a fisherman port with old cider houses but with flashy beaches with trendy restaurants. And thus, we tried to gain a better understanding through both traditional and innovative food culture.
We tried the peculiar ice cream flavors (including fabada, a rich bean stew or quesu cabrales, blue cheese) at Heladería Islandia. We chose with the safer cider variety.
Due to it’s proximity to expansive pastures, Gijón is also known for rich stews and hearty meat dishes. We had a nicer dinner at the trendy steakhouse, Tierra Astur Poniente.
And tried an extremely traditional Menu del Dia, or menu of the day fir lunch. It’s super common for restaurants in Spain to offer a Menu del Dia midday. Given that lunch is often the largest meal in Spain, the Menu del Dia typically includes a beverages, a starter, a main course, and a dessert for a fixed price. It depends on the restaurant, but an average cost may be around 15 euros. This started with a choice of two sausage-based stews; a main course of besugo (a white fish) or cachopo (a fried sandwich layered with steak, cheese, and ham); and some creamy puddings for dessert. It was all very….hearty.
On our last day with Amy, we drove to the small fishing village of Tazones for the very best seafood meal of my life.
With a population of under 300, the village is indeed small.
But the colorful homes embodied the coastal Spanish culture.
With quirky seashore charm.
Seafood restaurants lined the quiet main road.
And led to a beautiful harbor. The temperature had dropped, so it was a too chilly to go in the water. But certainly starting to feel more like autumn.
For lunch we went to El Portal de Tazones, arguably the best restaurant in Gijón.
We started with fried calamari rings. They were only barely battered, dredged in flour. So good.
Then for the main course, we shared an epic seafood platter with both fish and shell fish.
It was unbelievably fresh, and drenched in a light butter garlic sauce.
Our time in Gijón was a nice way to cap our tour of the Asturias. It was the first place we stayed for more than one night, and we appreciated getting to know the city. And our lunch in Tazones was a wonderful send-off to Amy. An incredibly memorable. road trip.