10 Memorable Dining Experiences in Leon that You Can't Live Without
Not knowing how to eat like a local might be the biggest fear of a foodie in a new world. Especially in a place like Leon, where the province is enriched with its unique cuisines and flavors, making your way through the bars, restaurants and markets is undoubtedly the best way to gain memorable dining experiences in Leon.
1. Tapas y Tintos del Barrio Húmedo
What's Better than Free Tapas?
Barrio Húmedo is the old area in the city of Leon. The name literally translates into “wet area”. You wonder why? Because of all the drinks and tapas that taste absolutely out of the world! Here you will discover the hospitality of Leoneses, whenever you order a drink, free tapas come along. You have various choices-bread with ham, Russian salad, or even a hot stew with octopus and potatoes! One piece of advice, don't wait for your free tapas when you are outside of Leon, you will be disappointed most likely.
2. Cecina de León
Beyond Ham and Chorizo
“Cecina de Leon” is a traditional cured beef ham that is originally and exclusively produced in the Province of Leon. Compared to other variations of Spanish ham, it has gotten a darker look and a harder beef-jerky texture. Besides its amazing taste, since it is made from legs of cattle, it is also a perfect source of protein.
3. Botillo del Bierzo
Intestines? Don't Walk Away
“El Botillo” is a typical dish in the region of Bierzo located in the Northwest of the Province of Leon. It is made from different cuts of pork including rib, cheek and shoulder. After being carefully spiced, the meats are stuffed into pork guts to cure. The entire process takes days to complete. Keep your eyes open-you will spot it among many Leonese parties and celebrations.
Catch What's in Season
Summer in Leon is fruit lover's carnival. Take a stroll through any market you can find here, it is packed with the freshest fruit in season such as cherries and nectarines. While high quality cherries are sometimes considered as a luxury in the States, they are all over the place here with an affordable price for you to snack on every single day.
5. Chocolate de Astorga
City of Chocolate Making
Astorga has the longest history of handmade chocolate in Spain. In the old days, chocolate making was a huge family business. There has been numerous of traditional chocolate makers in the city that is still in business until today, Santocildes is one of them. Don't know which brand to choose from? Start with touring the Museum of Chocolate (Museo de Chocolate) and trying some free samples.
6. Limonada Leonesa
The Drink of Semana Santa
Meet the Leonese Lemonade (Limonada Leonesa)! Don't get confused by the name, it is much more than a lemonade. Made of wine, lemons, and cinnamon, it is the favored drink during the Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Leon. Often very well garnished, nothing can add to the festive atmosphere more than a glass of “Limonada Leonesa”.
7. Cocido Maragato
Meat Lover's Heaven
Maragato Stew (Cocido Maragato) is a traditional dish in Maragateria, a historical region to the Northwest of Astorga in the Province of Leon. Depending on variations of recipes, it is usually composed of seven different kinds of meat-such as pork shoulder, pork ear, cured beef ham (Cecina), beef shank, and chorizos. This rich collection of meat comes first. It is then accompanied by slow cooked chickpeas and cabbages. Soup is served at the very end for a smooth finish.
8. Nicanores de Boñar
Having a Sweet Tooth?
This beautifully daisy shaped dessert dates back to the late nineteenth century. It is named after its creator Nicanor Rodríguez González, a baker from the municipality of Boñar, located in the Province of Leon. Ingredients are super easy to find, it is simply made from wheat flour, salted butter and eggs. Didn't get enough when you are traveling in Leon? Try it out in your own kitchen.
9. Morcilla de León
Warning-the only ingredients of Leonese Blood Sausage (Morcilla de León) are pork blood and onions. It is usually served as a spread for bread, and is very easy to find in Barrio Húmedo as one of the choices for tapas. Next time you see them, be adventurous and give it a shot!
10. Queso de Valdeón
As Rich as You Can Imagine
Valdeon Cheese is a gourmet cheese home to Valdeon Vally, located in the Northeast of the Province of Leon. Very often made from a mixture of cow's milk and goat's milk, it has a bold and sharp flavor of blue cheese. It is traditionally wrapped up in Maple or Chestnut leaves with a natural look. When you decide to taste it, make sure to find a spot with a view of The Picos de Europa (Los Picos de Europa).