[Barcelona] Asador de Aranda

This got off to a great start. I don’t think I’ve ever been greeted by my first name in a restaurant before. Not even in places where I’m a regular. But here, as walked through the door and before I’d opened my mouth, the guy asks, in English, “Are you John?”. Yes, I am. “Welcome Snr Harters”.

Now we love a good asador and really wanted this to be able to rave about this one. But it wasn’t and we can’t. The problem was how long it took for the food to arrive. We’d only ordered main courses and it took about an hour. It really does suck the enjoyment out of an evening when it’s that long. We’d scoffed the freebie olives. The freebie cava had been swigged. The delicious bread had been eaten – even the crumbs. Fingers had been tapped. Eventually food arrived. It’s not as though they were busy. And the problem, as usually the case, was the kitchen not the serving staff.

Chicken, roasted in a wood fired oven, was crispy on the outside and still moist inside. It was everything you want from a roast chicken. Came with roast potatoes. Entrecote steak was a disappointment. Requested at “medium well” – suggested by the server – this was very much on the well side of well done. Good flavour but dry as anything. Under other circumstances, it may well have been sent back – but that’s something we only ever consider in extreme circumstances and, having waited an hour, you just get on with it. A simple salad, of lettuce, tomato and onion worked well with both dishes.

Nope, we weren’t going to bother them by ordering desserts but we did have good café solo to finish.


Ugh. Totally agree. Even with a great companion, conversation, drinks, bread… an HOUR? Yikes.

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Have you ever tried roasting a chicken in a wood oven? If so how long did it take you? That’s why people order a starter…

Dunno about Saregama but I certainly havent. Not too many wood burning ovens in British homes. Presumably you have some expertise with them so how long would you expect it to take in such an oven? The bird was jointed when it was served but I’m guessing it was roasted whole.

Maybe I am being unreasonable in my disappointment. Perhaps I should have realised that, as we weren’t having starters, I should have ordered a steak, chop or something similar that was quicker to cook.

I suppose it depends on the restaurant, but where I live (to be fair, Boston area in the US) if something is going to take a while to prepare, they note it on the menu so the customer has reasonable expectations. For example, a diner interested in a dessert souffle may be told to place the order with the dinner order, rather than after the mains conclude. Likewise, a chicken or beef dish that is going to take, say, 30-45 minutes to cook properly generally notes that on the menu. Everywhere is different though!


Similar in the UK - either advised to place the souffle order with the savoury order or, more usually, the menu notes it will take x minutes. That said, in some 40+ years visiting Spain, usually at least once a year, I cannot recall ever seeing that on a menu. As you say, everywhere is different.


It could have been that their oven was not at temperature, if you were early. From lighting the wood to have the oven ready to cook takes at least one hour. Then roasting the chicken takes 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size, you can’t rush it or it just burns. Most restaurants prepare a batch at the beginning of the service and reheat them at the last minute to reduce waiting time (same happens in Portugal for chicken piri-piri, done on the BBQ). Maybe they were not prepared, or had a problem, it can happen… but it’s not an excuse in any case, they should have warned you!

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Which is what I assumed was going to happen. That is what restaurants do with dishes that, at home, would take a long while in the oven - pork belly and lamb on the bone.

I’ll stick with my original comments and disappointment.


I’ve been enjoying your erudite posts for years, and happy to spot this one, even though the experience was disappointing.

I. too, an an asador africionada, and have made visits to Spain focused on the Aranda del Duero, Sepulveda, Campospero and Roa areas. Over several visits, each meal in those locales was as good or better than the last.

When I visit the larger cities, where many “name” asadores have branches, I’ve been tempted to have a meal at one of those. but with all the local restaurants in, for example, Madrid and Barcelona, I never did find my way to one of those, or any of the independent asadores. I think your post here confirms my decision.

It’s’ pretty simple (if one has a car) to drive from Madrid to Aranda or the other towns with renowned asadores. I try to work this in on many of my trips to Spain but and one day will return. Not to mention the great Basque meat houses which I suppose are also called “asadores,” or are they?

The variety and complexity of cuisines in Spain is just mind boggling…and the temptations seems too grow by the day!

My next visit to Spain will be to Andalucia but I am not opposed to spending a week or so before that stay in a northern town rich in food…any and all idea welcome for a place where I can visit several asadores, perhaps in the Basque regions(?) and then fly to Jerez? Countryside close to San Sebastian, where I could also work in a cidreria?

Thanks again for your recap!

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I think our “best ever” asador was one in Palma de Mallorca years ago. We often visit the island for “fly & flop” holidays and family visits when Mrs H’s sister lived there. But we rarely went to Palma and just decided to do a “long weekend” - of course it’s only a couple of hours flight for us so very doable.

Locating yourself in Pamplona or west of there, or even Rioja would give you relatively quick access to a number of great options for Asadores (all within 1 to 1.5 hours by car): Alameda in La Rioja, several east of Bilbao (Maribel always has great options), the chuleton temples in Tolosa (Casa Nicholas, Casa Julian), Bodega Katxina near San Sebastián (also does excellent grilled fish) and Arrea! (not an asador but a must for their approach to wild game).

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I would highly encourage you to locate yourself in Rioja, since you’ve already explored the Basque Country (San Sebastián, Getaria). But if you want to return there, you might look at this new hotel in Zarautz and dine in Zumaia at the wonderful Asador Bedua.

For anyone heading to the coast outside of San Sebastián, I highly second Tigerjohn’s rec of Bodegas Katiña in Orio, serving the best grilled besugo around and with truly spectacular views. We had a truly memorable anniversary dinner there last year.

For the Rioja area…
If you were to base in a beautiful, small, boutique country house hotel such as the Hotel Santa Maria in charming (but small) Briones, in the Rioja Alta or at the Palacio de Samaniego (now owned by Rothschild) in equally tiny but cute Samaniego/Rioja Alavesa…

You can dine wonderfully at Asador Alameda in Fuenmayor, as tigerjohn suggests,
or… the newly Michelin starred Nublo in Haro or next door at the more traditional Los Caños
or… at the lovely La Vieja Bodega or more contemporary Lumbre (wonderful grilled meats), both in Casalarreina
or… the truly delightful, Michelin starred Echaurren Tradición in the pretty mountain town of Ezcaray
or… at the rustic, family-run Ariño in Labastida (terrific txuleta or solomillo)
or… the traditional Héctor Oribe or the new and noteworthy El Puntido in Páganos
(where Gemma of Mannix went for a while to help with the launch)
or… the new Allegar inside the Hotel Santa María in Briones, where we’re heading soon!

The driving in La Rioja is really quite easy and the drives through the vineyards always scenic, in every season.

Logroño has of late become quite the gastro Mecca with Repsol sunned/Michelin starred or recommended places like Ajo Negro, Ikaro, Juan Carlos Fernando and great wine bars such as Wine Fandango, Umm No Solo Tapas, Tastevin…


While we’re on the topic of Spanish “asadores”, here are my Northern Spain favorites for txuleta (parrillas de carne) or grilled whole fish, not for “lechazo” (roast baby lamb) or cochinillo (roast suckling pig), which are technically called “hornos de asar” and found in Castilla de León (Nazareno, Mannix, etc)

These are my tried-and-true:
Elkano in Getaria
Etxebarri, Axpe
Bedua, Zumaia
Casa Julián & Casa Nicolas, Tolosa
Epeleta, Lekunberri
Arotxa, Legasa, Navarra
Bidea 2, Pamplona
Baserri Maitea, Forúa, Gernika
Laia, Hondarribia
La Castillería, Vejer
El Capricho, Jiménez de Jamuz
Txakolí Simón, Bilbao
Ana Maria, Irún
Alameda, Fuenmayor
Güeyu Mar, Ribadesella (for virrey)
Askua, Valencia and sibling, Askuabarra, Madrid

The one I have pending:
Ca Joan, Altea

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Perhaps a television on which you could watch a show would have helped the wait time pass more pleasantly? I’m not at all a fan of tv’s in restaurants. But we still laugh at the memory of watching a rerun of the old “Bonanza” TV show, dubbed in German while waiting 40 minutes for a meal in a bar/restaurant in Austria.

Maribel, TigerJohn, Harters,

I am so grateful for your responses. One day I will return to Mallorca, but for this March (2024) I already have my request in for a stay of about 12 days outside Vejer.

Before arrival In Vejer, as I mentioned, I thought I would choose one town/city/area to spend up to one week. First I thought Logrono and LaGuardia, which I could visit without a car. (True??)

But now so many other options have come to mind…which does mean renting a car, which I can do, albeit with timidity.

So I now need to think of place(s) from which I can then get to Jerez airport (or, less convenient) Sevilla.

Maribel, where would you recommend that I have dinner/lunch in Logrono/LaGuardia or other overnights in La Rioja?

Other options is return to Getaria and now venture to Zumaia…and then to Bilbao for flight south…

I need time with the map so will dig in and do the research…so many thanks to all of you…I am SO excited about a return to Spain in March!!

Yes, you could visit Logroño without a car and hire a driver to take you to Laguardia. We use Jaime and his son of Gran Turismo Rioja based in Laguardia

Alternatively, you could land in Bilbao, pick up a car there and drive down and stay amidst the vineyards in one of the atmospheric (but tiny) wine towns like Briones or Samaniego or Páganos for an easy “in and out” with a car.

Laguardia is difficult with a car due to scarcity of parking and no cars allowed within the walled town. If staying within the medieval walls, you have to drag your suitcases from the car park down below the town.


For creativity (chef driven “cocina de autor”), I would lunch at IKARO.
For txuleta, cochinillo, cabrito, tortilla, the classic CACHETERO
For wines/tapas away from the Old Quarter in a fashionable setting, WINE FANDANGO
To sample Francis Paniego’s croquetas without venturing down to Echaurren in Ezcaray, TONDELUNA (run by his wife)

Not my favorite Rioja dining town, as very atmospheric as the town is, but the best bet, I think there is AMELIBIA (chef driven).
if you just want a txuleta or any other carne a la brasa there´s SUGAR inside the walls. The owner of Bodegas Artadi sent us there.
Both have “soletes” (casual spots) rather than “soles”.

Outside of town in tiny Páganos, the new EL PUNTIDO by Sierra de Cantabria, but it offers 2 tasting menus only, priced at 75/95. I’m going there for my birthday lunch.

Or…fly into Bilbao, pick up a car and drive east to the Getaria-Zumaya-Zarautz coast, take a boat trip to see the Flysch, dine on rodaballo in Getaria, pintxos at TX (family of Txomín Etxaniz txakolí), txuleta at Bedua and have a wonderful time just soaking up the scenery from your perch at Iturregi surrounded by txakolí vineyards.
We spent a lovely 5 nights in Getaria, pre-San Fermín, last year.

You might want to start a separate thread for this, since it´s evolved a great deal.

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Maribel, what can I say to you that I’ve not already said? I will just leave it as “mil gracias.”

Will begin another thread soon; probably rule out Logrono and choose either of the 2 ideas you laid out so well, and so temptingly!

But I do need to ask now: Which IS your favorite Rioja town for dining? Haro?

My favorite town, actually city, for dining would probably be the capital, Logroño, only because of the variety of dining options available…
from numerous tapas/pintxos bars (much better than those of Haro’s La Herradura), some traditional and others more creative, to restaurants serving classic Riojan cuisine (Taberna Herrerías) to innovative new places like IKARO.

The dining scene in Logroño has improved considerably with newcomers like Ikaro, Ajonegro, Aitor Esnai, Kiro Sushi, Juan Carlos, La Quisquillosa, Sabores, etc.

This article might be of interest about the new dining scene in Logroño (plus new hotel the Aurea Palacio Correos)-


And, Maribel, I know you perhaps have mentioned this, and surely know about it, but there is a new hotel in Logrono which sounds very appealing…forgive me if I missed it up above…AUREA PALACIO DE CORREOS.

I will soon begin a new thread about a stay in the north prior to return to Jerez/Vejer.

I do like the idea of a city with multiple eating spots that I can access by foot or by taxi, rather than having to drive at night in March…Logrono seems to fit the bill in that respect. Do not mind having a car, but driving would be better for lunches, I think…

So perhaps combine about 5 days there with one more stay of a few nights…be it in Rioja…or other. I will need to end up near an airport from where I can fly (via MAD) to Jerez, or even Sevilla…more to come…in a new thread!!