I’m very glad that you recommended my very dear friend Mikel. I’ve known him for over 20 years now, and he’s my husband’s and my personal guide to wonderful dining and exploring in Vizcaya.
He has introduced us to many of his favorite watering holes both in the city and in the countryside and is a charming and highly knowledgeable host.
Ditto to ninkat’s recommendation of Casa Urola (now closed on Tuesdays/Wednesdays). We just returned to Madrid from 4 days of San Sebastián dining, and every night, even during the Tamborrada we ended up at Urola at the bar (as did other chef friends of Pablo Loureiro). There are only a couple of tables in the bar area, but we managed to snag one.
Pablo Loureiro, Iñigo Peña of Narru (also highly recommended), the couple at Xarma, the couple at Galerna are members of the new generation of Basque chefs, successors to Arzak, Subijana, the Arbelaiz brothers and Berasategui.
Michelin-starred Zuberoa in Oiartzun served its last meal at the end of December. The brothers have decided to retire. They were honored yesterday at Madrid Fusión for their long years of dedicated service.
Borda Berri and La Cuchara de San Telmo, with no pintxos exposed at the bar but instead every pintxo made to order in the kitchen are still going strong.
Ganbara is a much loved classic, but now they are imposing a strict capacity control, so if you want to squeeze into a spot at the small bar (rather than book a table in the dining room), it’s imperative to arrive at the door before they open at 12:30 for pre-lunch pintxos or at 7 for pre-dinner pintxos.
Because we were accompanied by our friend who is the owner of the original food and wine touring company in the Basque Country and is an intimate friend of Amaia and her staff, we were able to order dishes and wine but needed to enjoy them outside, since we arrived later on Jan. 20 and the bar was already at capacity----outside on the street at her version of Nestor’s table 15.
Amaia of Ganbara has taken over El Tamboril (Tambo) on the Plaza de la Constitución, and it serves some of Ganbara’s greatest hits, so highly recommended.
Another highly recommended bar with a new branch on Boulevard at the entrance to the Old Quarter is Antonio Bar, in a much larger space with large outdoor terrace. Don’t miss it.
This morning at Madrid Fusión we attended the presentation of Aitor Arregi of Elkano and his fishermen, who have been with the restaurant for over 21 years. Aitor and Ygor of Kai Kaipe are cousins, the same age, and best friends, so if you can’t snag a reservation at the former, the latter is a wonderful substitute.
Elkano is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
For dining on a lesser budget and less elegant trappings in Getaria, we can certainly recommend Txoko, whose kitchen is supervised by chef Enrique Fleishmann. It sits next to Kaia Kaipe.