Recommendations for Dordogne, also for Basque country

We’ll be spending several weeks in the Dordogne, based in Domme. We’ll have a car, and are always on the lookout for great places to eat. We are looking forward to duck, to fois gras, and other local delicacies. We prefer “country cooking” to what I call “tweezer food.”–No michelin stars for us, although we have loved some of the “bib gourmand” places recommended in the Michelin Guide.

We will also be traveling through the Basque country, both in France in Spain., spending a few days near Bayonne, and a few near or in Bilbao. So any recommendations in that area are also appreciated ! Thanks in advance!

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Our favorite restaurant in the Dordogne in 2014 was Auberge Les Truffières in Bosredon, just outside of Tremolat. A couple of years ago Google Maps told us that it had been permanently closed, but now it appears to be open again. It was a little hard to find, but we got there. The food was great.

Our experience in the Dordogne was too long ago to be of use now. Regarding the Basque area and down to Bilbao, I’ll set out below (lifted in part from my Chowhound posts back then) our most memorable from the Fall of 2018. (I’ve checked, and all are still open/ looking good.)

French Basque:

Sare/Sara, “Hôtel Arraya,” The dining room is charming; the cooking is good, if not great. Dining with friends one night nearby at “Olhabidea,” owned by relatives of the Arraya, and just a few kilometers outside the village was very good (and they have nice rooms there, too). (Maybe Parigi will elaborate!)

Lunches nearby: Driving an hour inland via the Spanish route, we returned after a few years to have local trout under the 100+ years old plane trees next to the gurgling river at “Hotel Restaurant Arce,”, in St Etienne de Baigorry. We look forward to this again some day.

We returned after a few years to “Hotel-Restaurant Ithurria” in Ainhoa,, where we had dinner two nights, lunch outside at the bistro twice, and lovely breakfasts all three days. This family-run gem (two Ithurria brothers married two sisters) has been a hotel since 1962, when it was converted from a farmhouse. It’s had a Michelin star 50 years, since 1968. No “tweezer food,” tho! Standouts: Roasted Cepes; house cured (for 2+years) anchovies; local lamb and pork; pigeon and cheeses from Beñat. Oh, and 10,000 bottles in the cellar, including Sauternes at excellent prices. We will certainly return . . . .

Spanish Basque — and south to Bilbao:

Right across the border, in Hondarribia, we dined far from the touristy main street, up in the old town an outside in an alley at “Gastroteka Danontzat,” , and enjoyed it so much that we booked again for the next night it was open.

Lunch on the drive to Bilbao at “Kaia Kaipe,” Getria, in the corner window overlooking the working commercial fishing harbor. We had superb turbot for two, grilled in a metal cage over coals, along with a great Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Blanco, 2001. I just looked at the wine list again, and see it still has values — including for the impossible to find LdeH rosado (2011).

In Bilbao, “Porrue,” This is * Michelin, and there were some tweezers used here and there, but I’ll mention it anyway, because it was perhaps our favorite restaurant of the trip. The excellent nine dinner course tasting menu was a bargain 68 euros per person. And on top of that, Pourre offered — and we took — an astonishingly inexpensive 28 euros-per-person wine matching for each course. Nine different wines for nine different courses. Generous pours in good Austrian stemware. They were very good to excellent wines, and the staff left the bottles on the table, in case we wanted more of any. Our first dinner there, and lively discussions with the staff and chef Unai Campo, left us excited and eager to experience it again, and so we returned the next evening. When we had dinner again the next night, and created our own tasting menu, the experience was, if anything, even better. (We enjoyed this more than the vaunted and too exclusive “Asador Extebarri,” inland, in Axpe on the drive toward Haro.)

Further afield, south of Haro (after a superb 2+ hour private tour and visit at Lopez de Heredia), in the quiet town of Ezcaray, we had a super lunch with scores of locals and no English to be heard at “Echaurren” (at its “tradition” restaurant),


Just a big ditto to all of Jake’s recommendations in the Basque Country, both sides, We’ve dined at all of them except for Porrue in Bilbao, which our Bilbao-native food and wine guide friend likes very much—a temple of “producto, puro y duro”.

We also prefer Echaurren Tradición, the mothership, much more than the much more avant-guarde El Portal. If you do get down that far, Ezcaray is a charming mountain town, south of Haro. And do try Paniego’s late mother’s recipe of croquettes, which have won numerous awards.

If you find yourselves in Haro, the wine capital of the Rioja Alta, we’re very fond of the 14-seat Alboroque right on the square, the Plaza de la Paja, run by a husband and wife team. Well priced, but small, so one must reserve.

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The Dordogne is one of those places to which I shall always long to return, partly because of Le Pont de l’Ouysse, in Lacave, an enchanting hotel-restaurant set along a small river, beside a ruined bridge–15 minutes from Rocamadour. We’ve been back several times, most recently in 2019. I know the OP is not interested in Michelin stars (I, too, gave up chasing them long ago), so you can ignore the one rosette this place has had for decades. But that would be a pity, because Stephane Chambon is a talented chef who has worked hard to keep the star first earned by his father. The elder Chambon, now semi-retired, runs the excellent Bistrot Chambon in Brive-la-Gaillarde, one of the disappearing places that serves an excellent tête de veau.

I’m afraid I’ve got to run, but in Guethary, try Getaria. They reopen on 9 February.

In San Sebastian, Casa Urola (the restaurant upstairs, not just the pintxos bar), Rekondo.

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I agree with both the upstairs restaurant at Casa Urola and Rekondo. I did a solo trip recently through Northern Spain and had lovely dinners at both while in SS.

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