Tasting the high life in the Sierra Nevada

From Flamenco stars to celebrity bullfighters, few places beat La Bodeguita and La Tinaja for apres-ski and fine dining, writes Iona Napier

LAST UPDATED: 3 Jan, 2016 @ 11:38
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EVEN the most hardened adrenaline junkies like to ‘come down’ from a day on the slopes with convivial drinks and tapas shared around a glowing brazier.

FAMOUS FANS: Cayetano and Fran Rivera
FAMOUS FANS: Cayetano and Fran Rivera

Just ask dashing bullfighting brothers Fran and Cayetano Rivera, who like to unwind after a day on the slopes at La Bodeguita and La Tinaja.

Overlooking the hustle and bustle of Pradollano’s main square, it is little surprise that many of the resort’s most famous après skiers make a beeline for this bar/restaurant double act.

Like yin and yang, both offer a fabulous range of dishes and wines, with the fun part thrown in for free.

La Bodeguita alpine bar, with its beer barrel tables and magnificent pizza oven, is usually buzzing late into the night, while upmarket La Tinaja has one of the most sophisticated menu and wine lists in the resort.

CASUAL DINING: In La Bodeguita
CASUAL DINING: In La Bodeguita

The terrace at La Bodeguita is the perfect spot to luxuriate with a beer or glass of wine at lunchtime or at sunset.

Its outdoor braziers and attentive staff do a great job at making you comfortable and the excellent dishes include baked goat’s cheese with caramelized apples and the amazing acorn-fed jamon and scrambled eggs with eels, prawns and potatoes.

La Tinaja has a more chic, formal vibe and a stunning mezzanine level with breathtaking views across the resort through floor-to-ceiling windows.

HOSPITABLE: Rafa (second right) and his employees
HOSPITABLE: Rafa (second right) and his employees

Charming host, Rafael Vigo, 37, took over and revamped both establishments two years ago, and since then popularity has soared to keep 17 members of staff run off their feet.

“We are probably the biggest restaurant in the Sierra Nevada,” Rafa explains.

“At 400m2, we have a lot of space and we can serve over 200 people at once between the two restaurants in high season.”

An entrepreneur in the resort for seven years – and a weekend visitor for many decades – Rafa has owned and revived several restaurants in Pradollano.

Having been ‘brought up on the beach’ in Almunecar, he applied the relaxed mentality to all his successful establishments, combining style with top quality food.

TEAMWORK: At La Tinaja
TEAMWORK: At La Tinaja

The most-ordered dish is charcoal grilled steak, served with green peppers and chunky chips.

The pizzas are also a hit, with Rafa’s favourite a tomato, mozzarella, ham and egg concoction.

For the sweet toothed, the mango and custard apple mousse is a refreshing alternative to the decadent turron cheesecake on a brownie base.

“We keep an incredibly high standard, with uninterrupted service from 1pm until 1am, at least 120 wines, so we can cater for everyone.” Rafa continues.

He’s right… even on a quiet day, this is the place to be seen and attracts people from all walks of life.

As well as welcoming celebs like the Rivera brothers, Rafa has even played host to Franco’s millionaire descendents, the Bordiu family, not to mention the bosses of the Melia hotel chain.

“We’re like a family here, and there’s always a great atmosphere,” he says.

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