You will appreciate from these articles that I consider Vigo in Galicia something of an undiscovered culinary gem. The fresh produce and seafood are outstanding but you will likely be staying in a hotel where cooking facilities are strictly for the professionals, so you will want to find the best and the most interesting of restaurants to try all those aforementioned delicacies.
Vigo and the surrounding towns offer both locals and visitors an array of gastronomic opportunities. One can eat well here for a fraction of the price of similar in the UK. The cost is lower but the quality isn’t.
The El Mosquito Restaurant
The El Mosquito Restaurant in Vigo is iconic and considered by many to be the best traditional restaurant in the town. With those considerations in mind one might expect a huge flashy chandelier-hung carbon copy of every other “iconic” restaurant in Europe. No, thank goodness, dear reader, El Mosquito is the “real thing” and it truly is celebrated for good reason.
El Mosquito first opened in the 1930s. The founder of the restaurant was Ms. Carmen Roel Rilo, who passed away in 1986. It wasn’t trying to attract swep-up diners in those days, but was said initially to be a ‘Tavern for sailors’, serving Spanish Ribeiro wine and small plates of fried fish (Ribeiro is a surname common in Galicia, Portugal and Brazil; it is also a wine-making region of Southeast central Galicia). There would have been plenty of sailors in those days and I guess they would have been satisfied with that rather short menu. I am sure those few items offered were fresh and tasty, but the discerning diners of the 21st century have higher expectations and the 21st century El Mosquito gives them just what they expect, and probably more. Ms. Rilo transformed, with the help of her family, this humble establishment into a worthy recipient of accolades.
The restaurant is found near the harbour in the old quarter of Vigo, a picturesque neighbourhood which reminds the visitor that Vigo was around a long time before holiday cruise ships or international airports were even thought of. El Mosquito looks small from the outside but walk down a short corridor past a seafood counter and you are into a charming restaurant of 60 or so covers – low ceilings and walls hung with photos of international celebrities who evidently discovered this culinary treasure before you did.
It’s no surprise that fish and seafood in all their guises are the staple at El Mosquito, although the menu offers something for every taste. Start with a slice or two of Empanada (a flat pie with a variety of fillings) along with a glass of white Albariño. Octopus is cooked to delicate perfection and a crusty bread roll warm from the oven might complete the epicurean prelude to your main event.
The restaurant has a considerable menu of fishy delights but don’t dismiss some of the lesser known dishes like “cod throats”. OK, let’s be honest, the description isn’t a winner but the reality is – tender and sweet nuggets with a choice of preparation styles. Sole and hake and other substantial fish are here, and those cooked in Galician fashion are simple and flavourful: a steak of white and moist fish with simply boiled potatoes and a garnish of peas, and the paprika oil adds vivid colour.
It’s unlikely you will make it through to dessert here …but try. Lots of traditional local favourites to linger over. Sample the cakes with a cup of coffee or a liqueur to finish your evening. You won’t be in a hurry to leave this restaurant and you will promise yourself a return …as have done many others before you.
El Mosquito Restaurant
Plaza da Pedra, 4 – 36202 Vigo, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain
Phone/Fax: (+34) 986 433 570
Visit El Mosquito here
Travel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018