Sometimes you have a dining experience that’s so perfect, from the location, to the food, down to the service, that it doesn’t really matter what the bill says at the end.
El Tesoro, located in the mountainside of Tarifa near Bolonia gives you that type of experience.
The restaurant is located off of the highway, past a sign prohibiting you from entering this “Military Road” and up a steep and curvy path that gets progressively worse the closer you get. In fact, the road is so bad (paved only about half-way and pock-marked with potholes and gravel the rest of the way) that you consider turning around.
Finally, you see signs for it, “El Tesoro”, which is truly a treasure, and a hidden one at that. Park next to a delightfully rustic farmhouse, which backs into several jagged mountain peaks.
You enter onto a gorgeous terrace, with sprawling views of the restaurant’s vineyards, and in the distance, ribbons of Tarifeña beaches and perhaps most impressively, Moroccan coastline.
Though the terrace is seriously tempting, it’s nighttime and those chilly Levante winds are no joke, so take a seat at a table inside the dining room.
Of course, no proper Spanish meal shall be started without olives and bread, and just because El Tesoro realizes the magic is all in the details, the waiter will bring out complimentary gazpacho shooters. They are like drinking the Spanish summertime in a glass.
Now, turn your tastebuds to a refreshing bacalao and smoked salmon salad, tossed with crunchy red and green peppers, onions and a cool vinegrette.
Splurge a little and ask for a plate of nutty jamón ibérico de bellota to prep your palate for the main course.
Go for the local specialties of retinto beef or Atlantic tuna cooked to perfection and with simple spices and/or sauces as accompaniment.
Indulge in a tarta de manzana that’s good enough to trick you into thinking your own Spanish abuela made it for you, and sip on a digestivo on the terrace under the stars.
El Tesoro is located at the turn-off of Km 73 (direction to Bolonia) at Betijuelo 6 in Tarifa. Main courses range from 15-45 euros.