Cafe Sevilla

At Cafe Sevilla’s Saturday night Flamenco Gypsy Fusion show, members of the band Gipsy King Family jam as a flamenco dancer moves to the music. (Jaclyn Snow/Guardian)

Anyone who has ever visited southern Spain knows the
food is hit or miss. When the Spaniards hit, though, they hit. San Diego
restaurant Cafe Sevilla serves up the region’s best of the best while
delighting diners with authentic flamenco shows, allowing them to skip the Lays
jamón jamón potato chips, a ham-flavored snack that turns most American
stomachs.

The cafe’s claim to fame is flamenco, a musical genre that
was born in Sevilla, Spain at the end of the 15th
century. Once an obscure dance unknown outside its birthplace, flamenco is
undergoing a renaissance that Cafe Sevilla capitalizes on by bringing a bit of
Spanish flair to San Diego.

Cafe Sevilla transports its guests to Spain the
moment they walk through the door. The interior is reminiscent of the many
sparse, cave-like bars that define the pub scene in Andalusia, the southern
part of Spain.
The building’s brick walls and ceiling pipes are exposed, and packed-in tables
that put diners within inches of each other. The main decorations are
Picasso-inspired paintings that cover the walls.

The Friday and Sunday flamenco shows, which place spectators
right in the action at this crowded venue, are about $10 cheaper than the
$47.50 Saturday Flamenco Gypsy Fusion dinner shows. But the hefty price is
worth it: Josef, a musician from the Gipsy King Family, often plays guitar and
sings his version of gypsy fusion, including many familiar songs from the Gipsy
King’s collection. With sharp and emotionally charged gestures, dancers
complement the serious but colorful flamenco-guitar music, experimenting with
movement and channeling Middle Eastern elements (like using a sword as a dance
prop) — showing that many cultural influences define flamenco.

The show comes with a three-course meal, which includes flan
and paella, a traditional Spanish dish of meat or seafood and rice. The
authentic tapas and appetizers could be from any restaurant in Spain, with
stuffed olives and tortilla Espanola as staples. No Spanish meal would be
complete without a glass of sangria, and Cafe Sevilla offers Sangratini and
Sangarita variations for adventurous diners. After the show, Cafe Sevilla
transforms into a nightclub and dinner guests are invited to stick around,
skipping the lines and cover charges.

Because of the cafe’s location in downtown San Diego’s
bustling Gaslamp District, shows sell out regularly, so call early for
reservations and tickets. Parking can be a hassle, especially on weekends, but
Horton Plaza has free three hour parking with validation. Although Cafe Sevilla
is more expensive than most restaurants in Spain, the price is worth a night on
the town and a truely authentic Spanish meal.

— Jaclyn Snow

Senior Staff Writer

Cafe Sevilla

555 4th Ave., San Diego CA 92101

(619) 233-5979

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