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Los Alcazares, Spain
July 3, 2022, 10:21 am
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“Ventas” – The Spanish Roadside Restaurant!

The Spanish roadside restaurant (venta) offers traditional cuisine at affordable prices

Living in the region of Murcia, you may have driven past a number of roadside restaurants (ventas) next to petrol stations without giving them a second glance. I did the same, but that is until recently when I discovered my first one – the Venta el Puerto 2.

Although I didn’t discover it so much, I arranged to meet someone by the petrol station next to it (off the A-30 exit 155 to Corvera). Arriving early, I ventured in, initially somewhat reluctantly as its exterior appearance is …. well for want of a better word let’s say it is not exactly quaint looking. 

But inside was a revelation! First, it was nicely busy with a lively vibe and a wonderful mix of clientele. There was a smallish area hosting a delicatessen shop with local products, an impressive selection of Jamóns (ham), and a great range of wines. There was a dining area to the front and a tapas bar to the side. Two huge barrels of local wine hung over the bar counter. This time I only ordered coffee and tostadas, but I have since been back for an amazing range of tapas.

Possibly now it’s time to explain exactly what a “venta” is! If you are new to Spain you may be thinking it has something to do with buying property, but there is another meaning of “venta” altogether.

A “venta” is a roadside restaurant. They usually consist of a cafeteria, bar, restaurant, and often a small shop. They are to be found on many of the roads around the region and the food is always authentically Spanish and regional. They don’t usually look like much from the outside but once across the threshold, you will find a friendly, family atmosphere. 

Spanish Roadside Restaurants
Visit a Spanish roadside restaurants and shops for traditional meals and regional produce

After my first experience, I was keen for more of the same so I tried Venta el Puerto 1 in Baños y Mendigo. This is a little more of a restaurant and is also open in the evenings. I tried to go in one Sunday to find it bursting to the rafters with families. I think its popularity with the local Spanish people emphasizes its authenticity. A lovely, if very busy, waiter told me that without a reservation I’d be lucky to get a table – tomorrow! Their shop was amazing, however, and I grabbed a fantastic bottle of red and a steak to cook at home as I left. When I did get to go, I found the service was amazing and the food was spectacular! 

My next venture into the world of Venta eating was at Restaurante Airemar. It is opposite Altaona Golf and Country Village / Mosa Trajectum. It had a similar format with a shop, restaurant, and tapas bar. For me, the range of tapas and the quality were stunning. The shop is also well known for its selection of cold meats and cheeses.

Indeed, Ventas remain popular because they offer diners an authentic taste of traditional Spanish cuisine at affordable prices. 

So the next time you find yourself driving around this part of southern Spain, perhaps looking for your place in the sun with Dream Casas!, be sure to stop by one of these humble yet utterly irresistible roadside restaurants. For a true culinary adventure unlike anything else. Don’t worry about the outside appearance. Go on in and find a piece of the real Spain!

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