La Tana

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One of the best 'calderos' in the Murcia region

Translated by Daniela Baker — 4 years ago

Original text by Maika Cano Martínez

Introduction to 'La Tana'

Continuing with the theme of restaurants, I couldn't not include one of my favorites of the Region of Murcia; 'La Tana'. This seafood restaurant is located in Cabo de Palos, in the municipality of Cartagena, and within walking distance of La Manga and the Mar Menor.

'La Tana' has many years of experience in this area, but it's most famous for the quality of their menu, especially their 'calderos' - a dish made up of rice and seafood - the typical gastronomy of the area.

The restaurant consists of an inside part, and an outside terrace with sea views. As of several years ago until now, the colour pistachio has been the restaurant's main colour scheme, from their logo, tablecloths, parasols and other decorative elements. They have several large windows, allowing you to see outside, and a large, wooden bar dominating the space, as well as class tank containing fresh fish. The outside terrace, on the other hand, has a fresh, clean atmosphere; there's little decoration, but the emphasis here is on the breathtaking views.

One of the best 'calderas' in the Murcia region


One of the best 'calderas' in the Murcia region


The Menu

As I said before, the stand-out item on their menu is the 'caldero', a dish from the Mar Menor made from rice, spicy pepper and fish (for more information read my post about Cabo de Palos) of which the main accompaniment is Alioli. But they also have a number of other dishes, all of which are high quality too.

One of the best 'calderas' in the Murcia region

One of the best 'calderas' in the Murcia region

The menu offers so many other delicacies, both typical dishes of the area, as well as more widely available foods. It can be divided into the following sections (I stated the prices without including VAT, so you can get a rough idea):

  • Appetisers and salads: as I'm not really into salads, I recommend the plate of Serrano ham (9 euros), or Serrano ham with cheese (13 euros), bread and butter (1. 50 euro) or a mixed plate (6 euros). Although, if you go there to eat their 'caldero', I'd advise not filling your belly too much beforehand, I speak from experience.
  • Finger Food: this category includes Murcian 'mojete' (4 euros), Iberian ham (22 euros for 100g) and croquettes (6 pieces of 7. 50 euros).
  • Soups: among the soups they offer, the standouts are the seafood soup, noodle soup and Andalusian gazpacho (which is really popular with foreigners). Their soups cost around 4 euros, give or take depending on the type you order.
  • Rice and Eggs: although the two have nothing to do with each other, they are put together in the menu. Apart from the 'caldera', they have mixed paella, seafood paella and "La Tana rice", the latter is a version of Cabo de Palos' dish. The rice dishes are around 13 euros per person. And on the egg side, we have eggs and fries for 4 euros (I appreciate the good price of this dish, as there are some restaurants that try to overcharge for it), and several types of tortillas.
  • Fried and Grilled fish: out of these I recommend the calamari, which at 12 euros is expensive, but it's extremely well-made, the baby squid (10 euros) which are very small calamaris, the freshly-grilled salmon (9 euros), or, for those who really love seafood, the seafood grill (22 euros).
  • Cabo de Palos Fish: this can be prepared in the oven if pre-ordered. Here it the famous Gallo Pedro appears, which costs 42 euros per kilo, or the Mar Menor sea bass, which is 48 euros a kilo, among other delicacies.
  • Shellfish: they have a large variety of shellfish, not just fish. I have only tried the garlic clams, which are 14 euros. They also have grilled mixed shellfish for 26 euros.
  • Meat: these are also food, but this place is more known for it's seafood and rice dishes, however, I can't image a menu without some varieties of meat. You have sirloin, lamb chops and veal fillet, and prices range from 10 euros to 20 euros.
  • Kid's Meals: includes hamburgers, chicken nuggets, etc.
  • Puddings: the desserts the have on offer are varied and really good too, as you see this restaurant is lacking nothing. Bread pudding, rice pudding, chocolate cake, lemon sorbet, custard, heavenly flan dessert... My favorites are the rice pudding and chocolate cake, and prices range from 2 euros to 5 euros.
  • Beer, wine, soft drinks and water.

Aside from the permanent many they also have a lunch many (38 euros), daily specials (16 euros) and a dinner menu (36 euros). These all consist of a starter, main course and bread plus a drink.

Opinions and experience

My experience with this restaurant is curious, since I remember when I was young I would go there with my parents, and I refrained from eating the 'caldero', preferring to eat a hamburger. At that time, I did not like alioli either, but one day I thought to try the 'caldero' dish with alioli and I liked it. After that day, I didn't go back to the restaurant for several years, and as I sat there, I remembered what I just told you, as I had had trouble locating the exact restaurant, because the decoration and the terrace of the place had changed. From that day on, I have been to this restaurant many times, and because of its special dish, "La Tana" is in my top ten favourite restaurants to go to if you tell me to eat "wherever you want" and it's a place I miss lots when during the times that I'm not living in Spain.

One of the best 'calderas' in the Murcia region

In general, the service is good, the waiters seem quite professional, they're friendly and helpful, except some. Although, sometimes, the service is quite long, mainly if you go in the middle of summer and at weekends.

If you ask me where to sit, inside or outside, I would tell you without a doubt outside, but not if it's windy. A bit of cold is tolerable, as the views from the terrace over the Mediterranean sea and magnificent, but when it's windy you can't enjoy the food, it's uncomfortable and the parasols make a lot of noise.

After eating you'll need a good walk, as it's not easy to digest the 'caldero', especially if you are like me and overdo it and eat too much alioli. And dessert on top of that... I recommend going to the Cabo de Palos lighthouse, it is about ten minutes walk, and the views of the lighthouse and all of La Manga are so spectacular that you will forget about how full you are feeling.

One of the best 'calderas' in the Murcia region

The only negative point I have about 'La Tana' was the experience that I had there the day I went to eat with my friend from Taiwan. We had been told by the restaurant that on a week day and in May you could get the 'caldero' dishes without having to book it beforehand or without needing the minimum of three people. We were greeted by a waiter who told us that no, this is not the case, that we had to order it for a minimum of three people, and then it would be made straight away... not only this, but throughout the service he was trying to suggest us meals and drinks that we did not want, I think he saw us for fools or something, in truth it was very unpleasant, there are times when it is good that the waiter recommends something and you do decide to choose it, and other times it seems they just want to make fun of you, which ruins a good meal. But I emphasize that this only happened to me once, I hope there is not a second time.

I don't advise going to this restaurant in August, particularly at the weekend, as there are loads of people, the service is worse and the food of lesser quality. I love that in summer people get treat out of going to "La Tana" to eat, but when there are many diners going for the 'caldero', it eventually loses its point, because they end up using almost the same amount of fish stock for double the quantity of rice (even though they say they don't) and it's not so good.

Opening hours and reservations

The restaurant's opening hours are from Monday to Sunday, from 10:30am until 11pm at night, although I believe this changes depending on the time of year. And although it's on the beach, it's open all year round.

And, I recommend reserving a table before going, especially in high season and if you would like a 'caldero' for several people. You should go for an outside table. In order to reserve, as they don't have the option to do so on their website, you have to call them on the phone (their number can be found in the restaurant's info section on their site).

How to get there

To get to La Tana, you have to go to Cabo de Palos port, go along the edge, and follow the path directly towards the left, from there you will see a nice path which has tables in a row to one side of the path, in various colors, so, go to the pistachio green tables, there is La Tana.

If you're coming from Murcia city, you can go by bus or car, but this seems a bit excessive to me, just to get to a restaurant, the bus too, haha. By car the best way is to go on the A-30 towards Ronda Norte in the direction of Cartagena. Continue along this way until you see exit 180 which merges the E-15/AP-7 in the E-15 direction of La Manga. Later on, take the exit in the direction of MU-312 towards El Algar/Cabo Palos/La Manga and afterwards go onto the La Manga/RM-12 motorway. When you get to a roundabout which has a big eye or fish in the centre, and a Burger King and Mercadona on the right, turn right, and after left in the direction of Ronda de Levante street, just after you'll see the port of Cabo de Palos and this is where it's best to park.

Bon appétit!

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