On a small side street not too far from the center of Seville, but just far enough, El Rinconcillo sits on the corner unassumingly. The antique look of its exterior calls some attention to the self-described tavern-restaurant, but the surrounding buildings, which are also quite old, make El Rinconcillo easy to overlook. It’s not a place that most people simply bump into. If you’re there, chances are it’s because you were looking for the place.
Living on the outskirts of Seville’s city center, I’m one of the lucky people to have actually stumbled upon El Rinconcillo. I pass by right in front of it every time I go into the center. For months, I noticed that it was packed almost every time I walked by, but other than that, I never paid much attention to the place. Not until someone told me that it was the oldest bar in Seville.
Founded in 1670 and owned by the same family since 1858, El Rinconcillo has been around for centuries of Seville’s history, and has become some sort of landmark amongst the people of the city. The atmosphere may be overwhelmingly local, but in typical Spanish manner, anyone and everyone is welcome.
My friends and I walked into El Rinconcillo and grabbed a spot at one of the wine barrels they converted into a high top table. Towards the back of the room were separate dining areas with regular tables and chairs, but we wanted the full experience of El Rinconcillo. That meant hanging out close to the bar where it was standing room only.
Once we chose our spot, our waiter came by to take our drink order and tell us about some of the typical tapas that they served there. He was wearing a white button up shirt with a black tie and vest along with black dress pants. His classy look was befitting of a place with so much history.
With our orders out of the way, I could really take the time to admire the décor and architecture of the centuries old building. From the high ceilings lined with wooden beams to the brightly colored and patterned tiles all along the walls, almost everything was original from either the 1600s when they first opened, or from the 1800s when they expanded the size of El Rincocillo.
Close to the bar were shelves upon shelves of liquor and wine, some of them for actual use and others just for display. The yellowing and peeling of some of the labels on these bottles hinted at their old age. Many of the bottles are decades old with the oldest one of them all having spent close to 100 years on the shelves of El Rinconcillo. Some of the companies that produced these rare bottles of wine and liquor that collect dust on the shelves have tried to convince the owners to sell the bottles back to them, but as my waiter put it, “They’re probably never going to sell those things.”
When our food was finally brought to the table, it was difficult to choose a dish to begin with because everything looked incredibly appetizing. We ordered a few classic tapas, including a spinach and chickpea dish that El Rinconcillo is known for making especially well, along with a nontraditional tapa of thinly cut pork rolled with foie gras, roasted red bell peppers and a raspberry sauce. As you would expect from a place that has had hundreds of years to perfect its recipes, the food was an absolutely delicious and perfect way to end our visit to Seville’s oldest bar.
El Rinconcillo may not be the easiest bar/restaurant to find in Seville, but it is certainly worth the search to get a true taste not only of traditional food, but also of the vibe and atmosphere that makes this city so special.