Often when travelling I’ll go to a destination with very little idea of what to see or do there, and with the sole intention of eating my way around town. Food was pretty much the entire reason I visited Hakodate and Sapporo earlier this year, and while I didn’t visit Pamplona purely for the pintxos, it’s fair to say that no visit to a town in this area is complete without indulging in a few!
I arrived in town hungover (new country, same Jack) after a short two hour bus ride from Bilbao and after checking into my hostel I quickly set about getting some food. Five minutes later I found myself in Pamplona’s old town, and so began my very own pintxo crawl which would continue for two days!
Using the ever reliable logic of following the locals, I found myself in the lively Bodegon Sarria just off Plaza Del Castillo. After a fairly lengthy wait (suppose that’s what you get for following the crowd!) I eventually got my hands on what was called a ‘sombrero’ – a fairly sizeable stack of grilled bread, serrano ham, cheese and three massive mushrooms.
A fairly filling start and just what the doctor ordered having not eaten a single thing that day. The mushrooms were incredibly juicy, the ham was crisp and the coffee washed it down nicely, with the chit-chat and clinking of glasses providing a nice soundtrack to a lively bar. Highly recommended!
After a brief walk to burn off a few of the calories (who am I kidding?) I wound up in Katuzarra, a bright, slightly more modern establishment than my last port of call.
The pintxos here all looked fairly tasty but in the end my intrigue got the better of me. Taking the adventurous route doesn’t always work out for me as I discovered to my dismay in Beijing, but sometimes it pays off and this time it’s safe to say it did. After asking the woman in broken Spanish whether it contained black pudding (it didn’t, sadly) I ended up with this:
She did explain to me what it was, but despite being able to ask a fair few questions in Spanish my ability to actually process the answer is somewhat lacking! In the end I plumped for it anyway, how bad could it possibly be?
As it happened it turned out to be some kind of slightly sweet batter stuffed with a kind of spicy meat ragu. I couldn’t actually put my finger on what it actually was, but either way I’d have no hesitation about eating it again!
So far, so good!
This bar was recommended to me by the hostel staff, as they apparently serve the best pintxos in the whole of Pamplona. I originally tried to come here first but the queue for the bar was almost out of the door at 3pm, I guess a combination of its reputation and a national holiday will explain that one!
I returned at around 5.30pm to try my luck again and it was much quieter, so I propped myself up at the bar and swiftly ordered a beer and a pintxo. The selection of food here was much more varied, with lasagna and octopus on the menu amongst others!
In the end though I couldn’t resist the temptation of the ‘cojonudo’, which was a piece of bread topped with red pepper, a chorizo sausage and a fried quails egg. A hipster fry-up, I guess you could say.
With a perfect runny egg this was always going to impress, and if the rest of the offerings match up to this one then it’s safe to say their reputation is well deserved!
Despite a free breakfast at the hostel I managed to limit myself to a bowl of corn flakes in order to leave more room for pintxos. The things I do for this blog.
My next port of call was La Olla, a cafe/restaurant which came highly recommended on the internet. For my second breakfast I opted for a small sandwich consisting of something I couldn’t quite work out. Answers on a postcard please…
On further inspection it appeared to be a mushroom and egg combo. Not bad, but not great. In the interests of fairness (and greed), I ordered a second pintxo consisting of toasted bread, aubergine, goats cheese, caramelised onions and ham.
One word for this one: outstanding! Faith in La Olla restored!
One of the most famous cafes/bars in town; Cafe Iruña is on many tourists’ itinerary thanks to the fact that Pamplona-loving writer Ernest Hemingway was known to frequent the place during his visits to the city.
Naturally I couldn’t miss out and after a day of walking and sightseeing I treated myself to a beer and a pintxo in this legendary haunt. I opted for a piece of white fish with a tomato and onion puree type spread.
Rather surprisingly despite the popularity the entire bill came to €4 which suggests they haven’t milked their fame here – I honestly wasn’t expecting any change from a note!
The decor and grand feel of the place offer a contrast to the more traditional setup of most eateries and watering holes in the city, so it’s worth a visit for that alone!
A visit made more thanks to a hankering for a cider than hunger, I thought it would be rude not to sample the food at this sidreria too.
After high hopes for black pudding the previous day and not getting it, I was all too pleased to put away this pintxo of crumbled black pudding, green pepper and a fried quails egg.
It wasn’t mind-blowing , but it did the job. The cider was delicious too although a serving amounted to about four mouthfuls, so not one for a long session.
Suppose you can’t grumble for €1.10 a glass!