Villajoyosa is a great place to eat these days. I reckon you could eat good food here every day for a fortnight and never visit the same restaurant twice!
It does help if you like fish or seafood though! Many of the restaurants around the marina and seafront specialise in fish, seafood or rice dishes of one kind or another. Not really surprising as Villajoyosa (aka La Vila Joiosa) has its own fishing fleet, with the catch coming in every weekday afternoon.
If you are not a fish fan, don’t despair….there are meat dishes on most menus. Vegetarians find life a little harder, but most restaurants have a few veggie dishes, or will rustle up something on request.
There are some great places to eat here, so take a look at these recommendations. It’s not an exhaustive list, as we’re still happily working our way through local restaurants. But these suggestions should keep you well fed for a good few days!
I’ve grouped recommendations in four categories:
- Near the marina and port
- On the main beachfront, near the old town.
- Up in the centre of town
- A little further out
AROUND THE MARINA
El Pòsit: a couple of hundred metres from the marina on Avinguda del Port. An excellent modern restaurant that does tapas with a twist. Try the “surtido de tapas”; a selection of eight small tapas made with real imagination. They also do delicious small desserts (be bold and order a couple).
A great beach view; eat inside or outside. Closed Monday evenings and Tuesdays. Not the cheapest restaurant in town, but great value. Vegetarian dishes available.
El Hogar del Pescador: probably the best known fish and seafood restaurant in La Vila, next to the Club Nàutic (yacht club).
High quality fish, seafood and rice dishes, beautifully served with a great view over the marina.
A fair bit pricier than the seafront restaurants in the old town, but worth it. Great rice and a good wine list. Link here.
Club Nàutic (yacht club), almost next door to El Hogar. You don’t have to be a member to eat here. Just turn up, though it’s a good idea to book at weekends.
The menu del dia is great value at €20 a head and you get to eat it on the terrace with a beautiful view of the harbour. Link to menu here.
Specialises in locally-supplied fish and seafood; very good range of well-cooked rice dishes, great selection of seafood tapas. Friendly service, good wine list. Good value for money. It has a simpler menu in the bar and outside terrace. There’s a wider choice of rice dishes in the restaurant inside.
Not as pricey as El Hogar del Pescador though the restaurant is slightly more expensive than places on the seafront in the old town. Have a look at their online menu here
Often rated top restaurant in La Vila on Trip Advisor, on Avinguda del Port opposite the marina. Not the biggest menu you’ll find in town, but there’s good cooking here. The meat dishes, especially the presa ibérica, are full of flavour and well-presented. Decent wine list. Service and atmosphere a little too formal for me. Prices mid-range. Menu here
ON THE BEACHFRONT
On the seafront in the old town (Avenida Jose Maria Esquerdo). A traditional fish, seafood and rice restaurant.
No frills here, and the service is pretty basic on busy days, but the menu del dia is good value (starter, main dish, dessert, a drink and coffee for around €17).
Try the arroz abanda (rice cooked in fish stock, garnished with tuna and seafood). Advisable to book at weekends. No vegetarian dishes.
Also on the seafront in the old town, a little further along the beach from La Marina on the corner of Placa Sant Pere.
Good for rice dishes, seafood and fish. More variety and higher quality than La Marina.
Right on the seafront near the Hotel Allon. Good food here – some typical Spanish dishes but there’s also an Asian/Moroccan twist going on. They also offer a range of tuna dishes, including sashimi and a good tataki. Menu here
OTHER OPTIONS AND COOKING STYLES: there are other styles of cooking within easy walking distance.
Has a big menu, and most dishes will be familiar to British curry diners. Decent quality, Indian beers.
On Avinguda del Port, halfway along the beach. Menu here. If you’re prepared to travel a little in search of a really good curry, try the Crown of India just up the coast in Altea. Book the rooftop terrace for amazing views over the old town, the sea and Sierra de Bernia. The best Indian food we’ve had in Spain. Menu here.
The best pizzas in La Vila and great value for money. You can also order home delivery by phone. They offer a wide selection of other Italian food, burgers etc, but my advice is – stick to the pizzas.
Near the Hotel Allon on the seafront. Friendly service. We also like them because they sponsor La Vila’s rugby team!
IN THE CENTRE OF TOWN
Tres14: on Calle Colón, virtually opposite the tourist office. Excellent fish and rice dishes and the menu del día is great value for money. Calle Colón was closed to traffic in summer 2020, so there’s plenty of socially-distanced dining outside. Booking advisable. Link here
They know their fish here and offer what they call “cuina de barca“; literally ‘shipboard cooking’ in the local Valenciano language. “Cuina de barca” takes its inspiration from the days when the boat crews ate what they caught while out at sea – mostly the fish that they couldn’t sell when they got back to port.
The paelleras they use here are not the traditional shallow paella dishes; they’re quite a lot deeper. Back in the day, this would have prevented the hot caldo (fish stock) sloshing over the sides when cooking rice dishes on a moving boat – especially the more liquid arroces melosos and caldosos.
They also serve pebrereta here, the typical poor man’s dish of Villajoyosa. It’s a stew made from salted sangacho (a cheap and rather bloody cut of tuna which the fishermen couldn’t usually sell in the market), pumpkin and peppers. La Vila holds a pebrereta festival every June, in Poble Nou.
A high quality family-run restaurant next to the Mercado Central, Casa Elordi has an elegant upstairs dining room serving gourmet standard food with a good wine list.
Push the boat out and try the excellent 8-course Menú Elordi … a menú de degustaciòn (tasting menu) which has some real highlights. It may not be cheap, but there are some great flavours going on here.
There’s a less expensive ‘menu mercado‘ and, of course. a range of rice dishes, served as secos (dry, traditional rice), caldosos (served in fish stock) and melosos (creamy rice)
This beautifully restored old cafe-restaurant at No 1 Carrer Colón was at the heart of La Vila society ever since it opened in the 1870s, and there are plenty of old black and white photos on the walls inside to prove it. The upper crust of town society used to meet upstairs at the Casino, and nardo vilero – the drink of Villajoyosa – was invented here (it’s iced coffee and absinthe if you fancy trying it).
These days, El Mercantil offers a mixture of traditional tapas, plus some with a modern twist. Eat inside in the nicely restored bar or outside on the street – there are plenty of socially-distanced tables since Carrer Colón was closed to traffic.
El Mercantil is part of the Zerca group based here in La Vila – they also have a great restaurant/tapas place a couple of minutes walk along Carrer Colón.
Here they offer upmarket tapas – gastrotapas – so you won’t find too many of the traditional Spanish favourites here. Try instead bacalao in tempura or sardina ahumada (smoked) with wasabi and soya beads. There’s a cool decor and a pleasant internal patio. Menu here
Zerca also has a bar/Italian trattoria place in the Plaza de Iglesia in the old town, but it’s closed for now due to Covid-19. It’s tiny inside, but there are tables outside in the square. A cool place to relax with a beer in the shade when happier times return.
Valor chocolate is famous all over Spain, and it’s made here in La Vila. If you can’t make the factory tour, sample the produce at the Valor chocolateria on the main road through town (Avda del Pais Valenciana).
If you haven’t tried chocolate con churros — dough sticks fried in batter, coated with sugar and dunked in liquid chocolate — this is the place to put that right. They also sell boxes of Valor chocolate inside, or you can make your own selection.
Gambrinus is a chain serving the usual tapas dishes and good beer up on the main street in La Vila (Avinguda del País Valencia). Plenty of tables outside to watch the world go by.
The main daily market on Carrer Canalejas has a lively bar/cafeteria near the entrance.
Choose your fish or seafood in the market and they will cook it on the grill (check first at the counter – there are a few things they won’t cook). Food doesn’t get much fresher than this!
The best ice cream place in La Vila, they make their own produce and they’re a local company. They have three heladerías – one in Poble Nou on Carrer Nou d’Octubre, just round the corner from Mercadona, one on Calle Colón near the tourist office, and another on Calle Colón at the top of Calle Palasiet.
There’s a wide range of ice creams and frozen yoghurts, but also great granizados – in English, a slush puppy. An ice-cold granizado de limón on hot day is about as refreshing as it gets.
They also do horchatas, a Valencian speciality made from tiger nuts (chufas), served cold with a straw. Alboraya also offers agua de cebada, a Villajoyosa speciality based on barley, also served cold.
This pasteleria in Poble Nou, just across the Villajoyosa river bridge on Carrer Jaume 1 is quite something. Go there at least once!
The cakes and pastries – all made on the premises – are the best we’ve had anywhere, bar none. The ensaimadas, a sugar-coated breakfast pastry originally from Mallorca, are a marvel. Maja’s coca valenciana, the local version of empanadas, is well worth a try too.
Try going there for breakfast – ensaimadas, freshly squeezed orange juice and cafe con leche are simply the best way to start the day in La Vila.
A LITTLE FURTHER OUT
La Teula Negra
A family run place in Malladeta, on the outskirts of Villajoyosa, as you drive in from Alicante. The family moved down from Barcelona back in the 80s and converted the handsome building – then pretty much derelict – into a restaurant. Really nice meat dishes served on the attractive terrace, plus a range of fish and seafood. Link to menu here
A 5-star clifftop hotel about 4km out of Villajoyosa – bear left as you drive past Playa Paraiso on the Alicante road. The spectacular location is the best thing about the Montíboli – the Alhambra terrace looks out over the sparkling Mediterranean and down onto Playa La Caleta far below.
Full disclosure: we haven’t tried the Emperador Restaurant here, but we have had tapas on the terrace. Come here for the views, which are seriously impressive. And you don’t need to be a hotel guest to eat here.
© Guy Pelham 2020
For help in finding your way around a Spanish menu, try these blogposts: