An update to Mugaritz-
Adoni's tasting menus now cost-
105 for the shorter Ertzak menu
Just so that you'll know, the new, longer tasting menu at Mugaritz, the Mugak, is priced at 135 euros plus 8% vat.
The tasting menus at Arzak, Akelare, Martín Berasategui., Mugaritz, Zuberoa and Etxebarri will be well, very well over your $250 for two budget when you include wine, tax, tip.
I've ordered the tasting menu at all of the above because it's no more expensive than dining a la carte and is the best way to experience the range of the chefs' skills.
As rrems has said, you don't need to limit yourself to the 2-3 Michelin starred restaurants to have a fantastic meal and truly memorable experience in the Basque Country.
At one star Kokotxa in San Sebastián, the tasting menu goes for 65 and a Tues.-Fri. lunch menú del día costs only 25 with wine included.
At brand new 1 star Mirador de Ulía in S.S., with panoramic views, the tasting menu costs 55.
Or Xarma, whose chefs won a Michelin star at their former restaurant at the Monasterio de Rocamador, and many say are destined for one in their new San Sebastián quarters.
The 3 aforementioned chefs are the "new up and coming stars-the second generation" and members of a newly formed group, Sukatalde, Young Chefs of Guipúzcoa.
Outside of San Sebastián,
At 1 star Alameda in Hondarribia you have menus for 35/50/90 euros.
At 1 star Boroa, a lovely Basque farmhouse, east of Bilbao, there are 2 menus, 30/58.
At Andra Maria, another charming Basque farmhouse outside Bilbao, they go for 38/59.
At Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, east of Bilbao, this newly anointed two star has a menu for 80.
In the Pamplona area you have three, one star Michelin starred restaurants, and they're superb-
Rodero-the two tasting menus now cost 55 and 75
There are also restaurants that have earned one Repsol sun (Repsol is a very reliable guide-some prefer it to Michelin) and which offer a great value-
San Sebastián's Urepel
or the truly lovely and charming Baserri Maitea, another charming Basque farmhouse-sophisticated restaurant, just north of Gernika,
In both you can dine memorably for 120 euros.
So you can have a wonderful dining experience within your budget if you don't limit yourselves to the "big six".
And I do totally agree with Parigi (and thanks for her very kind confidence in me!).
The L'Arce, in the Irouléguy appellation, is a little treasure, but it's suited more for enjoying the deep Pays Basque countryside and for total relaxation.
It just depends on whether you want a bucolic, countryside *retreat* for a complete getaway and silence or a vibrant, exciting capital of haute cuisine.
In San Sebastián, along with A Fuego Negro, in the same area, the Old Quarter, (Parte Vieja), for casual pintxos, don't miss La Cuchara de San Telmo and its "off shoot", Borda Berri. Innovative and fun.
The Auberge Basque, sits in the countryside but is hardly remote-it's a very easy drive from St.-Jean-de Luz and its wonderful Tuesday and Friday outdoor markets, a feast for the eyes and the senses.
It sounds like you have a wonderful honeymoon planned!
Correction to last post-
La Muralla (at Embeltrán, 3) and La Fábrica (at Puerto 17) are under the same ownerhsip and both in the old quarter.
I also love the peace, tranquility and fine food at l'Arcé-another hidden away treasure. I haven't dined or stayed at Hegia (beyond the budget).
I've also spent the night at the Mendi Goikoa in Axpe so that I didn't have to drive after an Etxeberri grill feast. Smart move.
I think that Iturregi and Elkano (one of the finest seafood grill restaurants on the Basque coast) would be perfect if you prefer the coast. When I stop for lunch at Elkano, I don't venture far to spend the night.
The cuisine at Kuko is very much French influenced from his training at Baumanière, with delicious sauces, but not at all complicated. Kuko the chef is from southern Navarra. His wife is the hostess and pastry chef and is Italian (speaks very good English). Food is straight forward but impeccably prepared.
It's a tiny hideaway for couples only and works only by reservation. It's at the top of a tiny village, and you really do need faith that the winding, narrow road up one kilometer off the N 121 A is going to lead you to somewhere serene and lovely.
(The road to the Iturregi is also winding but open with ocean views and surrounded by vineyards, which you can visit-the bodegas Urki is next door).
If you prefer mountain scenery-
The rooms are immaculate but much more modest in their décor than the Iturregi-more similar to those at l'Arce but more sophisticated than those at Mendi Goikoa in Axpe. No lavish fabrics or designer decorator touches, just four poster beds with nets and antique furniture, pretty baths with power showers but no hair dryer (although I didn't request one-they were probably available) and no a/c (but it's really not needed).
I've made the drive from Kuko to the Auberge Basque via the "smuggler's route", the D 406 that leads into Sare, France from Bera (Vera de Bidasoa), then the D3 up to St. Pée. It's quite an interesting back roads drive.
As for dining in San Sebastián, your choices are limitless, as you know-from the Michelin stars (but you'll have that in Paris),
to the "rising stars-new generation" (Kokotxa, Agorregi, Xarma, Mirador de Ulía)
to casual, lively, innovative pintxos places with small dining rooms attached-
simply but impeccably grilled fish down at the port-La Rampa or La Fábrica (same owner)
romantic but contemporary spots with amazing panoramic views-
My favorite hotels in San Sebastián are both run by the MHM group (who run Iturregi)-
Villa Soro-wonderfully romantic 19th century villa on manicured grounds just a pleasant walk from Zurriola beach (bikes provided)-ask for a room in the original villa-ample outdoor parking-just a pleasant walk from Arzak.
Astoria 7-a contemporary inn with a movie theme, housed in the shell of the former Astoria cinema-each room named for a star who has attended the International Film Festival. Very well run with all the 4-star amenities, and also extremely popular, especially during festivals.
The Señorío de Bértiz Nature Park is very pretty during all seasons but is spectacular in late October. It has plenty of nature walks, some short, and bike trails.
Hope this helps you to decide.
correction to my original post-the Iturregia in Getaria sits WEST of San Sebastián. Sorry.
Another thought, although Iturregi is my favorite inn on the coast west of Donostia,
It's a short drive from there to some great restaurants including the new 2 star Michelin Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, just east of Bilbao (which is attached to a txakolí bodega).
I'm assuming your reservation at Etxebarri will be for lunch since they only serve dinner on Saturdays.
On the French side, I enthusiastically second the recommendation of the 3 flower village of Sare and the Olhabidea (with reservations made far in advance).
Another wonderful spot in the same area for a honeymoon night or two (best before Etxebarri) would be the lovely, more contemporary style
in the countryside between Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle and St.-Jean-de-Luz.
Via Michelin estimates a driving time of around 1 hr. 30 minutes to Saint Pée.
The Auberge Basque does have a two-night minimum stay in high season.
If you prefer to stay on the Spanish side (after a meal at Etxebarri I wouldn't want to drive very far),
which sits above the ocean amidst txakolí vineyards in the attractive fishing village of Getaria (Gipuzkoa), just 24 km. east of San Sebastián.
The 4-star Iturregi is more similar in style to the Auberge Basque, and the 8 rooms feel even a bit more luxurious because of the plush fabrics, and it has a very pretty pool. It's a member of Rusticae.
No restaurant on the premises, but you have the terrific grilled fish restaurants,
The Iturregi would be my number one choice for a romantic night or two on the Spanish side.
Or if you want something even closer to Etxebarri in Aspe, there's the Hotel Zubieta in Lekeitio on the Vizcaya side.
The romantic little country inns of Navarra Pirineos like the
(chef trained at Ostau Baumanière in Les Baux de Provence) would constitute a half hour detour south down the N 121 A from Irún at the border.
Hope this helps.
A terrific new gastro-tasca/gastro-taberna that isn't well known to visitors but is on the radar of Spain gourmet critics, bloggers, chefs. It opened in late '09.
it's deep in the heart of Triana, at Calle Numancia, 5.
If you don't specifically go looking for it you won't find it because it lies northwest of Calle Betis and the ceramic shops along San Jorge and Alfarería.
It has a completely unprepossessing exterior, at first glance made me think (very incorrectly), "why did my chef friend send me here"?
Once inside, I found an open kitchen, well-trained chefs, really creative, gastronomic small plates (no printed menu, just written in chalk at the bar), a sophisticated wine list and hands on service from the friendly co- owners, who come out and explain each dish and its ingredients.
Stand out dishes-
arroz meloso con venado
All their creamy rice dishes are delicious- the menu of innovative dishes constantly changes.
For dessert they bring a tray of shot glasses from which to choose.
And this first class experience doesn't leave you with a big hole in your wallet.
Just announced, Michelin 2011, Barcelona
New one stars-
Dos Cielos (Hotel Me)
Lost its second star
Lost its one star
Hispania (Arenys de Mar)
For modern catalán on the more expensive side,
Colibrí opens on Sundays for lunch only.
Manairó opens on Mondays for lunch and dinner.
Windsor, which is one of my very favorites, is open on Mondays for both lunch and dinner.
For rice dishes in Barceloneta, Suquet de L'Almirall is a favorite Sunday lunch spot (but closes for dinner).
Two Bibi Gourmand selections in the Michelin, Senyor Parellada in Born, and La Provenza in the Left Eixample also open on Sundays.
My staple for Sunday night dining is Paco Meralgo in the Left Eixample. It never fails me.
We'll know on Nov. 25 from San Sebastián whether the following keep their stars or add a star, but for 2010, here are the Navarra one stars-
Europa--short menú Eugenia (2 courses), 45 eurosñ
Rodero--menú para gustar, 55 eurosñ
El Molino de Urdániz- degustation menu, 70 euros
Like erica, we also stock up on Tolosa black beans, Gernika red beans, judiones from Gredos, lentils and garbanzos from La Bañeza (León) and potxas (white beans) from Navarra.
Another item always in our pantry-pimientos del cristal or pimientos del piquillo (stuffed or whole) from Navarra.
1 Michelin star-
Kokotxa - 25 euros for 3 course lunch menu, Tuesday-Friday, includes wine (no coffee, no vat)
Zuberoa-120 euros (excludes drinks)
Alameda-menu gartzinea, 35 euros
Tasting menus must be ordered for the entire table.
In Seville for wines, tinned items, olive oils, you might want to look at
La Alacena Real at Pajaritos, 11 in the Alfalfa district
for wines in Granada
In Granada there's also Mariscal on Carrera del Genil, 12, downtown, but it's a delicatessen. I think of it more for hams, sausages.
Great food shops near the Ritz?
Well, I would cross the Paseo del Prado over to the Las Letras district and window shop at D.O.C.C. on Calle Prado, up to Artesanía Ibérica Jamón 10 on the corner of León and Cervantes, both mentioned above and..
definitely to González, a nifty cheese, charcuterie, wines, etc. shop with a handy back room with marble top tables serving cheese and charcuterie platters -Casa González at León 12, right next to the Jamón 10.
Or from the Ritz take a longer walk over to Mallorca, Madrid's answer to Milan's Peck or Paris' Gerard Mulot-the closest branch to the Ritz would be at Serrano, 6.
the terrific Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero on Mejía Lequerica 1, at the corner of Calle Hortaleza (metro: Alonso Martínez).
It has a truly great selection. Not only does it sell 80 varieties, it sells the wonderful oils from Navarra, such as Alfar La Maja, Abbae de Queiles, Artajona, that I really like and are hard to find outside Navarra and the Rioja. It also sells Los Carrizos from the Sierra Norte de Sevilla. Great place.
And while you're in the area, stop by the terrific cheese store, Poncelet, at Argensola 27
I just made some major purchases there. It offers dozens and dozens of artisan cheeses from all the cheese producing regions (Asturias, Cantabria, Galicia, Andalucía, Catalunya, etc). It also sells wines and oils in the back. The sales people are very helpful to me and let me taste, of course, before I purchase.
And if you want some of the city's best croissants (1.50 euros each) or pain au chocolat, head to the new Pomme Sucre on Calle Barquillo 49. They're really delicious. (www.pommesucre.com).
For wines I go to Lavinia on Ortega & Gasset, but if you want to check out some wines in the trendy Almirante area, you can see what they have at Reserva y Cata at Conde de Xiquena, 13 (www.reservaycata.com)
For Iberian ham, outside of the Salamanca or Retiro districts, you can make good purchases at the corner of Atocha and Santa Isabel streets at La Leonesa, Santa Isabel, 1. (La Latina), which is part of the Mercado San Martín, where real people with moderate budgets shop.
or closer to the Teatro Real, there's Gondíaz on Plaza de la Marina Española, 7 (metro: Santo Domingo). It also sells some wines and cavas.
near Callao, there's López Pascual at Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 13, for ham, wines and canned goods (conservas)
and near the Prado, in the Barrio de las Letras, there's D.O.C.C. on Calle Prado, 28
Also the new ham store, Alma de Ibérico, at Cava Baja, 41 in La Latina. Don't know about the prices because I've never purchased there. Because they've placed it on a rather "touristy" street, the prices may not be as good as the ones mentioned above.
I don't shop at the newly remodeled Mercado de San Miguel-for me, it's just for looking and maybe having a snack at one of the bars.
Hope this helps and have a great trip!
For churros y chocolate (that I try to stay away from most of the time for caloric reasons), I like...
Churrería Cafetería Alhambra on the Plaza Bib-rambla
We go here at night and share a small order and sit on the outdoor terrace. In Jan. the terrace may not be set up, but it was in late March.
About gourmet items,
La Oliva, at Rosario, 9 (beyond pedestrian Calle Navas).
But the last time I went in, he wasn't present, so shopping there was a different experience.
If you're looking for something new-ish, high end, gastronomic, with a fabulous wine list, and you don't mind traveling up to the northern business district (metro: Cuzco) try one that's getting great reviews from the local gourmet critics-
At Calle Rosario Pino, 12 (across from the Hotel Meliá Castilla)
The folks behind this one come from Zalacaín and Goizeko Wellington, so you can imagine the quality...
It's one of the few "top tables" open on Sunday nights.
If you want something more casual and have a desire to try one of the new gastro-tascas or gastro-bars (=top chefs open a tapas format restaurant with creative dishes, attentive but informal service in a more casual setting with affordable prices)
I can highly recommend...
At Doctor Castelo, 2 -just east of Retiro Park (metro: O'Donnell
It has a great buzz, especially at night, with sit-down dining, nice bread basket, really delicious tapas/ small plates, well-chosen wine list, reasonable prices for this upscale neighborhood, and therefore, it's become extremely popular.
Another neo-tasca that just opened this past week....
La Cesta de Recoletos
This is a creation of the chef, the maitre and the sommelier of two Michelin starred Santceloni with interior design by Pascua Ortega.
Are you referring to La Cuchara de Tepa, the restaurant that is to be launched (along with another Estado Puro by Paco Roncero) in the yet-to-be-opened 5-star NH Palacio de Tepa, across from the Hotel Me Reina Victoria?
I passed by a couple of weeks ago, and it wasn't finished yet, but perhaps it's open now (?)
The NH web site doesn't give an inauguration date.
After perusing both menus, if Azafrán appeals more to you and you like the more contemporary look, the trendier vibe, then book it for dinner.
I forgot to mention the additional advantage to a meal at Azafrán, that sits at river-the full frontal views of the Alhambra looming above.
Azafrán isn't an Arabic restaurant. Not all dishes have that Moroccan touch.
I mean, It isn't at all like the ones you'll find in the Little Morocco souk area of Caldería la Nueva, Caldería Vieja with its Moroccan teterías (tea places), etc. .
Azafrán's chef is actually an Argentine. He calls his cuisine the cuisine of the three cultures, and he's very creative-his dishes are unusual. Azafrán doesn't stick with the tried and true classics.
I dine at Azafán at lunch, usually after a visit to the Alhambra, because I walk down from the Alhambra hill via the steep, cobblestone Cuesta de los Chinos (to get my exercise), which at the end, leaves me right at the Paseo de los Tristes, with Azafrán immediately to my left. It also has an outdoor terrace.
Because Oliver is so popular, it's always very crowded, especially the high tables outside on the square and the bar, and their reservation book does fill up quickly, particularly on weekends. And in part, thanks to the reasonable prices. For leisurely dining, you really should have your hotel reserve.
My husband is not a big fish/shellfish eater, yet he finds plenty to keep him happy at Oliver, like veal tenderloin, ox tail stew, etc.
See the menu for Oliver here-
If not, and you're looking for some very good sit-down dining, for lunch or for dinner, yet more casual, I would go to Oliver on the Plaza Pescadería. It never fails us.
Had fine, extremely fresh quisquillas from Motril here recently. We actually prefer Oliver to Cunini next door, as we like the friendly service and nice indoor patio with its typical Andalusian decor. The owner or his son always make room for us when we forget to make reservations. We do go to Cunini for wines and those famous, quite generous free tapas served with every drink round (and different one for each round-the waiters keep track).
(On another note and thread, free tapas still come with drinks at the bar-restaurants in Madrid's Retiro district.)
We found Oliver thanks to a recommendation from our host, who explained that it was opened by folks formerly from Cunini, who try harder because they are less well known, as he put it.
I would *only take the bus out to FM to do a small plates lunch exclusively of crustaceans, fresh from Motril (the owner has his own personal fisherman) if you're willing to stand at the bar to eat your meal. It's become a cult place, a mecca for foodies and gourmet critics, but the name of the game is shellfish. And it will be *extremely* expensive if you put yourself in the owner's hands and just allow him to create a menu for you. Our Granada host had never heard of it either. It's a cult favorite on the food blogs. Prices of crustaceans are off the charts.
If you find yourself on the Paseo de los Tristes, in the Albayzín, I can personally recommend the really nice (and gourmet), contemporary style Azafrán, which serves updated dishes with an inventive, Moroccan touch. We took friends there in April, and they loved the restaurant's velvety smooth version of salmorejo with bits of Iberian ham, one of the best we've had. I also enjoy their lamb cous cous and their tataki of red tuna. It's also a good place to try the Granada dish, remojón, along with other nice salads. Azafrán, in my book, is underrated.
If you want that romantic dining experience with Alhambra views in the Albayzín around the famous viewpoint, Mirador de San Nicolás, among the many choices there I would choose the newish Estrellas de San Nicolás. Much better than the rest, with its French chef.
For evening tapas, we head to
Puerta del Carmen, near city hall, precisely because it has table seating. Their carpaccio and smoked fish platters we think are particularly good and very attractively presented.
Oliver and Cunini (the latter only for wines and tapas at bar, no table seating-you need to stand),
La Ermita Centro, near the cathedral, which also has tables.
the always crowded Diamantes I or II on Navas and Rosario for pescaíto frito. But they're usually packed, so you have to be patient and wait for the crowds to thin out (that constant ebb and flow that exists in popular tapas bars)
When we walk around the Albayzín during the day, especially Sunday mornings, I also like to stop at the snail bars around the Plaza Aliatar. But this is part of our paseo through the Albayzín, not a destination in and of itself.
There are so many bars to choose from.
According to the episode guides, while in Barcelona they stayed at the AC Miramar on MontjuÏc and dined at the now closed Inopia, at Bar Pinotxo in the Boquería and La Clara on Gran Vía les Corts Catalanes 445.
You can see where they dined outside of Barcelona by clicking on the Spain map here-
Can Jubany, Carme Ruscalleda, as mentioned, and Rafa's in Roses in Catalunya.
Hola Juan Doe,
Couzapín, the new and nifty extension of the Asturian cider house Carlos Tartiere at Calle Menorca 33? (metro-Ibiza)
We come here for a casual dinner of small plates such as
We find that the prices at restaurants in the Paseo de la Habana-Estadio Bernabeu area to be somewhat higher than in the Retiro district, which is why we dine in the Retiro neighborhood so often and don't hike up there.
Sorry ANDREVI !
I haven't been to La Barraca in years,
It also has an interesting wine list with offerings from Yecla and Jumilla.
And it's a tiny place, so you need to reserve. It's cute and cozy with exposed brick walls and tile floors and maybe a 6-8 tables. Not touristy. It's off the beaten path.
If you read Spanish, here's a review
I think of Casa Hortensia and El Ňeru as Asturian (for fabada, Asturian cider house fare) rather than arrocerías.
You can spend a small fortune on a seafood meal in Madrid at some of the "for-generous-expense-accounts-only" seafood temples like Combarro, O'Pazo, Sanxenxo, El Telégrafo, all which I steer away from for a sit-down, break the bank meal.
I would do Casa Rafa instead, but I'm thinking about value. You could also venture over to Arzábal or Taberna Laredo before for a drink at the bar while in the neighborhood.
Among the Casa Rafa specialties-
most any and all shellfish
What I especially enjoy about dining in the Retiro district is that these spots are filled with locals in the know, giving the experience, for me at least, more authenticity.
For Sunday night Retiro district dining, the highly regarded Casa Rafa at Narváez, 68 (metro-Ibiza) is indeed open. It closes on Monday nights.
As Juan Doe mentioned in another thread, it serves great ensaladilla rusa.