It's a pension or guesthouse right above the bars in Parte Vieja or Old Town in Donostia-San Sebastián. If you want to do a serious pintxos bar crawl, locate yourselves in this area. You can eat and drink to death and never mind that the crowd can be noisy especially on weekends.
The rooms are clean, though spartan. But the real attraction here is Amparo. She is a widow, lives alone, tidies up the place squeaky clean, and if she likes you, may even cook white asparagus and artichokes for you. As she did for mi sobrina y nieto. Our friends and family have stayed with Amparo a total of 3 times. And Amparo remembers. 💕
This is Amparo. True Basque, through and through. She hardly speaks English but her hand gestures and facial expressions will suffice to make her understood. If you read the reviews, those who've stayed here were obviously charmed by Amparo. She welcomes you, and easily makes you a friend. Not a guest, but a dear friend. She has a good memory and remembers her guests very well. Tells you how interested she is in people. If you're not looking for luxury but just a modest, tidy, safe and excellently located guesthouse, this is it.
Read about it. Good reviews. So that when we passed it, we went in to check out the place. Oh, there were many choices. And everything looked good!
We settled on a lamb stew pie and some kind of frittata with kale. Both served with green salad. Plus a flat white and a latté. Very filling. Tempting to enjoy some desserts but no space in our jolly bellies!
Honestly? I wouldn't mind eating here again. There's so much to try, each looking so delectable. Each piece served with fresh salad. And I just can't complain about the coffee and the service too. Yeah, check it out. From the Waterfront, just walk up Murray Street. It should be on your right walking up. Buen Provecho!
They change the menu twice a year. Picnic lunch is available but a romantic dinner maybe a better deal if you like the idea of an illuminated Eiffel Tower to enjoy the city lights as dusk falls.
A flute of champagne to welcome the entree of either smoked salmon or Foie Gras. There are other choices too. Linger over the menu at your own risk. Agonize. Suffer. But it's hard to go wrong with any from this well-curated menu. It maybe the touristy thing to do but hey, who'd pass up the chance to dine here around a table by the window overlooking the city?
For your mains, how about a lamb stew? Or to curb the guilt, a fillet of cod? Once more, the menu options can confuse you but suck in the ambience and order what comes top of mind. The portions are very French, but that's alright. It leaves room for desserts! Profiteroles ? Almond fingers?
In the end, your "Eiffel Night" is satisfied, you've had your French food fix, you're still swooning over your desserts and it's one off your bucket list. Touristy or not, you've enjoyed the meal and the view. Not bad!
The last time I was out here with friends, we booked an apartment via Airbnb. One txikiteo night, we also got a room in a Pension in Parte Vieja. Perfect after a pub crawl, but quite noisy too as the Pension is right above the Pintxo bars where a crowd drink txakoli to death till the wee hours of the morning.
I like A Room In The City. The young men behind the Reception Desk may not be the friendliest but they're cool and efficient. I borrowed some photos from the Net here just so I can show you how strategic the location is in a more quiet part of the city. (Calle Easo, 20) It is located right next to a chapel too. In fact, you can spot some of the church pews in the Sun Deck while viewing the pleasant neighborhood which includes the Buen Pastor Cathedral just around the bend.
Apart from the Sun Deck, the dining hall and sitting lounge are pleasant additions. Much better than sitting in hotel lobbies. In the dining hall, one can partake of free coffee, tea, biscuits, nuts. There is also a vending machine where you can buy chips, chocolate bars and drinks. Then there's the kettle and microwave to heat up water and food. All in a very spacious hall where everyone washes the dishes they use and wipe the tables clean. Neat!
Next time I get here with family and friends, I'd likely book a dormitory good for 4 or 6 pax on bunk beds. Sounds like fun especially with young ones. Then we'd spend more time in the lounge or the Sun Deck and laugh at each other's jokes. Some croissants bought from the nearby boulangerie cum patisserie, warmed briefly in the microwave, along with my favorite morning brew. Swell. And before we hit the Pintxo bars at night, we'd have some cerveza on the deck with some aceituna and chistorra bought from the nearby deli. Oh, life is good. 💕
Imagine how my heart broke, going to La Viña in San Sebastián and finding it closed for 4 consecutive days. 😭😭😭Imagine how I grew desperate checking on other bars and restos in San Sebastián, hoping their version of tarta de quezo comes close to La Viña's. Imagine how I felt upon learning La Viña has reopened as soon as I've left San Seb and arrived back in Madrid! 😡
Thank God for friends who visited San Sebastián soon after we've left and brought back --- drumroll, please --- an entire cake for us to devour in Madrid. 🤗😋😀 All that creamy, yummy, burned on top 🍰🍽🎂goodness packed in a red box! You don't know happiness until that first bite.
When in San Sebastián, you'd do your txikiteo to complete your Basque experience. In Parte Vieja along Calle 31 Agosto, just a stroll away from Yglesia de Santa Maria, Atari Gastroteka, La Cepa and La Cuchara de San Telmo, is this culinary gem. Your Basque guide won't be lying if he says it's the world's best cheesecake! Seriously.
The first time I was here, I was too full from a La Cepa dinner to do a serious Pintxo bar crawl. I knew better this time. I started with Bar Zeruko. And almost got stuck here. The '2 pintxos and a drink' rule can't, won't apply. Not content with what's on display at the bar, we ordered from the kitchen. Must be the txakoli. So white and clear and young and Basque!
The fruits from the sea were great starters. La Hoguera literally translates to "bonfire" and La Hoguera de Bacalao is a special Pintxo here where your smoked cod is served "smoking" until it's ready to rest on a toast smothered with some herbal cream and a vial of warm, liquid salad dressing. Such effort in presentation! And how about this bowl of baby eels and creamed uni with a dash of perejil sauce? Yum.
I chose another bacalao dish -- this cod being one of my personal favorites. It looked interesting on display at the bar, bottled with a green pepper and some cheese at the top. Plated, it looked kinda ordinary, methinks. But it was full of flavor and I had to stop myself from having seconds.
The chistorra came wrapped and was served with a mildly spicy tomato sauce. The mushroom pintxos were good but not what I'd order next time. I was likewise intrigued with the soft boiled egg encased in a gelatinous meat stock and served on a bed of Migas or bread crumbs flavored with chorizo. Every dish is so creatively done. How delightful!
My niece and I shared these pintxos and decided we should start moving. Txakoli on hand, we cheered we had a good start. Bar Zeruko rocks!
There are many dining options in Pamplona's Plaza Del Castillo and the streets and alleys around it. We found this one.
The pig's cheeks and white asparagus salad were superb. I'm a sucker for white asparagus and will have them whenever they're in season. The pig's cheeks dish was cooked a la estofado but not quite. Served with steaming rice!
If you're here, you have the choice of a sit-down meal or a bar set-up where you can enjoy your Rioja and some pintxos. Both are very good. I was intrigued by many tapa or Pintxo varieties but only tried one. No room for more. 😭
But what I had, I liked! The Iberico con quezo with honeyed walnuts was sooo good. Somehow, I regretted not sitting at the bar. I could have tried some others I haven't had the chance to figure out.
We only stayed 2 nights here. Both nights we dined in this place. No regrets. The variety may be limited but with only 2 people running the restaurant, I'm amazed how they manage to keep customers happy with prompt service and food quality.
My sister is a meat person while I prefer vegetables and fish. The Entrecôte, served with salad and potatoes made my sister happy. Another time she had chicken roasted in its juice which was equally good. I liked the chicken too, savory and very tender.
But we both agree the soup is the best. I was happy with their generous portion in a big bowl, filled to the brim with potatoes, carrots and leafy veggies. The beef and vegetable broth was served piping hot, perfect with the bread.
Btw, Hurrup Eta Klik translates to SUCK ON. How about that, eh? 🤣🤐😳
Can't resist putting in a few words on our charming hotel in Saint Jean Pied de Port. It wasn't my first choice, but have absolutely no regrets booking 2 nights here where pilgrims start their Camino Frances.
Hotel Itzalpea is right outside the walled area, just a few steps from the gate leading to Rue de France. You can view it from the slits if you're walking on the ramparts of the muralla.
The interiors are very simple. After all, it only has 3 floors. We were lucky to have the room with a view of the street and the walls. Not noisy like other hotel rooms on the street side. Breakfasts can be had for €9 a set , which was quite enormous! No hot meals but ham, marmalade, jams, yogurt, bread basket, pie, pots of coffee, tea or chocolate.
The rooms go for about €70 a night, twin. Good-sized, clean and well-appointed. It wasn't pilgrim season yet when we arrived, so expect a crowd by the front where they set up tables under the sun.
I'd book this hotel again when I head back. Very charming.
I know. It's NOT the best. It's a tourist trap. But it will do for first timers. (We set the bar higher as we go along, ei?) Many tourists are in the littered ground floor where the tapas bar is. Then there's the line for those who want a sit-down meal on the 2nd floor.
The callos madrileño must be a top must-eat along with the Jamon y quezos. Most certainly you don't get the best callos served here. Nor the pulpo de gallego, which really disappointed. After Galicia & Pais Vasco, one gets a bit more discerning with his octopus dish. I regretted having ordered pulpo here.
Usually, the pecaditos here are crunchier and the fried boquerones are crispier. Not today though. Not sure if the kitchen's too busy with so many diners or quality has suffered. Both would have been perfect with our order of Sangria.
Well, there would be many other dining places to try. No rush. As they say, build up the excitement!