In spite of its relatively small size, Tarifa’s café scene has cultivated a distinctly cosmopolitan feel in recent years. Home to a vast array of nationalities, they bring with them a unique blend of experience, ensuring even the most seasoned of café culture connoisseurs are catered for. Whatever flavours you savour, Tarifa undoubtedly has the perfect café to top your thirst and tantalise your taste buds at any time of the day from early in the morning right through to the small hours. So here’s a little taster…
First off is Café Central, one of the oldest in Tarifa, established way back in 1894. Currently under the capable management of local girl, Eva Maria Palmero, the atmosphere is friendly and the music lively with a hearty menu to match. This is a Spanish style café, bar and restaurant all in one, where you can eat, drink and be merry from 10.00 am in the morning right through till midnight and even later in peak season. The choice on the menu is endless including everything from traditional tapas and bocadillos (sandwiches) as well as international dishes such as steak, pastas and a variety of fish. Busy throughout the day, this spot is perfect if you fancy a tasty lunch in the sun, a filling evening meal or just a drink at the bar with the locals.
Tarifa’s paseo, the Alameda, offers a number of eateries to choose from but if you plan to catch the last of the day’s sunshine, then Entre dos Aguas (close to the tourist office) is the location to pick. Run by Italian couple, Enzo and Monica, who moved here six years ago “ to live our dream”. This café serves amongst the best coffees in town, all made with fresh ingredients and reasonably priced at only €1.25. In the open plan kitchen they also cook up a feast of fried fish from squid, swordfish, prawns, tuna, mussels and baby clams. Open until late into the night, and strategically located to be sheltered from the strongest levante, this café is one of the best people watching spots in the town.
One of the newer additions to the café scene is Bar & Co. Located in front of the port, it combines a stunning view with smooth city sophistication. Its modern décor belies the relaxed atmosphere making it popular with both locals and tourists alike. Busy until closing time, which in the summer is around 2.00 am, it is especially nice for breakfast, when you can enjoy your coffee and croissant with healthy sunshine and a soft sea breeze. Serving a full range of coffees, teas and alcoholic beverages along with a unique selection of fresh pastries, look out for the house speciality, a Tarifan favourite called Tramvia.
Tarifa’s newest café (only a week old in June), Koala Bar & Café is to be found in the heart of the old town. Run by veteran café owners, Martha and Bjorn, Koala is certainly a unique addition to Tarifa’s fare. Koalo mixes chic café style with retro furnishing and funky tunes, and is all about exploring your passions in flavours, furniture and fun. While the front of house is dedicated to serving up a variety of specially important wines, teas, coffees and delicacies, the rear doubles as a furniture store selling the trendiest of 60s and 70s style armchairs, lampshades and coffee tables. With internet service also available, you can chat online, chat to friends or shop till you drop. Truly a one-stop café spot.
Tucked away in Tarifa’s old town is Café La Paz, on the corner of the plaza bearing the same name. One of the first cafés to open in the morning at 8.00 am, La Paz concentrates on healthy breakfasts and succulent evening meals. Impossible to miss due to the big blue log tables outside, its rustic charm is complimented by a unique Mediterranean twist. The classy evening menu includes delights such as Chicken Brochetas with teriyaki sauce, Fillet Steak and Asparagus, Seaweed and Sea Urchin Risotto, all reasonably priced at between €9.00 and €19.00. Free WIFI connection is also available to customers and as La Paz doubles as an art gallery, while to satisfy your stomach, you can also feast your eyes on the featured work, which rotates every month.
If you are in the mood to relax in bohemian elegance, then Café Bamboo, located just opposite the port entrance is the spot to choose. Run by native Spaniard, Isabel, after many years of travelling all over the world, she decided to settle in Tarifa and create this funky chill out zone two years ago. Open from 9.30 am till 2.00 am, during the day they offer fresh fruit drinks, herbal teas and a nutritious fare. After 9.00 pm, the lights go down, the music goes up and the cocktail crowd slides in to soak up the ambience and kick back on the comfy sofas.
Café Zumo, situated on the outskirts of the old town near the port, is the only café of its kind to open all year roundand is a sure favourite with foreign locals. Run by Thalia, who originally hails from the heartlands of England, she has created a café space that truly cares and caters for all its customer’s needs. Using only the healthiest and freshest of ingredients, she offers a complete breakfast and lunchtime menu, but the Super Juices are a real treat and promise to aid all ailments from the heaviest of hangovers to the unhappiest of tummy’s. Especially nice during Siesta time when the sun lights up this cosy sanctuary, the café is open from 9.00 am to 10.00 pm, seven days a week.
Should you fancy Arabic surroundings without actually making the trip across the Straits then Café Azul is the place for you. Furtively located on Tarifa’s main street, owners Pepe and Jorge are true Tarifenos who have fulfilled a lifelong ambition by taking over this cool establishment. Only open during the day from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm, the daytime menu includes natural juices and milkshakes made with either milk or yogurt as well as a wide selection of crepes, bocadillos and UFO’s with all the traditional fillings. Especially funky is the private salon out back, which has been decorated to surpass even the most sumptuous of Moroccan lounges.
Located at the entrance of town in an end of terrace building, what Sirocco lacks in location, they most certainly compensate by choice of menu. The food served here is all about quality. From sumptuous salad bar to succulent meats, Sirocco is definitely the place to go if you are in search of a hearty lunch. Worthy of a special mention are the burgers; made with fresh meat and piled high with fillings, these little monsters will keep hunger at bay for days, never mind hours. And with most things on the menu below the 8 euro mark, a visit to Sirocco will keep your wallet looking good too.
Back in the heart of town is Metamorphosis at the Misiana hotel. Situated right on the main thoroughfare it is impossible to miss but it’s most like to be the cool atmosphere or cool customers to attract you in. The minimalist style of this café by day and bar by night attracts a jet set crew and is where the Tarifa’s trendsetters sip cappuccinos for lunch and cocktails for brunch. The menu here is international and changes with the seasons. Best to just pop by, sit down, relax and wait for your palate to be pampered.