So you all know me pretty well by now, and as soon as I decided to take a day trip to Segovia on my last visit to Madrid, the first thing I did was look up where to eat! I knew Segovia was known for great Castilian food and most of all a good cut of pork, so I brought my palate and appetite ready to explore!
Mesón de Jose María, as it’s formally called is one of the go to places to try Segovia’s cochinillo asado, or suckling pig. Now there are other options to choose from on the menu here, but if you don’t eat pork or are turned off by large portions of meat then skip this recommendation all together; but if you’re a true foodie like me and open to most food experiences or just love a good cut of pork, then this is a must visit for your trip!
On initial approach this place seems like a small pub, but once you enter you’ll see that if you follow the bar towards the back, it opens into a larger yet still cozy dining room. I heard it could get pretty busy during the lunch hour there so I was taking a gamble, but I walked in with no reservation and used my best Spanish to kindly request a table for one. Luckily it wasn’t too crowded and I was seated right away.
I scanned the room and took in the crowd. I saw a mixture of families, solo diners like myself, and even a few tables of suited businessmen that seemed to be on work lunches. The staff was pretty attentive, as I never had to wait long to get their attention. It was a communal staff so no one had a dedicated waiter as they all kind of worked all the tables, which was nice when I needed help. However I will say that some of the staff was extremely nice and patient and a few were slightly cold and seemingly annoyed. I chalked this up to a culture shock since I was the only person of color in the restaurant (and all of Segovia that day from what I saw) No one was outright rude though and they still gave me full service so that was easy to overlook.
They started me with a breadbasket and plenty of marinated olives, which is pretty much a staple in Spain. I asked to pair my pending meal with a glass of red wine and was pleasantly surprised to fall in love with their personalized house bottle, which was delicious. I found the way they served the wine to be interesting as well. He asked me if I would like a glass or a bottle. Obviously not looking to tackle a whole bottle at lunch solo, I told him I would probably have two to three glasses. He said “no problem, a half bottle!” I expected him to show up with a small carafe but instead they put a bottle on your table and leave it on you to pour and abide by the honor system, which I found interesting.
On to the first course! For a starter I ordered the “Ensalada de cordero lechal en escabeche con manzana confitada” or more simply put, marinated lean lamb confit paired with an apple confit. It was a cold, tart dish, which I didn’t expect but the flavor was good and the portion was a good size for a starter.
For the main course and primary reason for my visit, I ordered the “cochinillo asado de nuestra corte y hornada.” This is basically a milk-fed suckling pig, slow roasted in a traditional oven. (about 26€) I don’t know which part was better, watching them serve it or actually eating it! Almost everyone comes for this dish so they bring them out as whole pigs at a time and crush through them with heavy plates as opposed to a boring knife and fork carving, which is amazing to watch. Don’t worry though; the quality of the meat matches the hype! Crispy on the outside, soft and flavorful on the inside, not a lot of excess seasoning; just a nicely cooked great cut of meat! Just beware; this dish comes with no sides so if you can’t chow down on this alone, you’ll need to order some a la carte. I ate it with my bread, as I knew ordering anything else with those portion sizes would be a waste by myself. Also it comes with a delicious broth that is great for bread dipping so that was a win to me and everyone else apparently as I repeatedly saw people requesting more of the broth to do just that!
At this point I was stuffed to the max so I skipped desert and cut off my wine intake (pretty sure I was at half a bottle anyway lol) Overall I thought the food was pretty good here. Not the ideal place to dine alone though. I think it would be really great to go there with a group, share the meat along with some other dishes and take your time to eat, converse and enjoy the experience. It’s definitely worth the stop and the story though!