BASQUE COUNTRY - A DAY IN VITORIA-GASTEIZ
Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of the Basque Autonomous Community in northern Spain. In the medieval quarter, the Gothic-style Santa María Inmaculada Cathedral features a sculpted facade and towering columns.
The 17th-century Plaza de la Virgen Blanca has a monument to the 1813 Battle of Vitoria. The Church of San Miguel has a large, baroque altarpiece and houses a statue of the White Virgin, the city’s patron saint.
Beethoven dedicated his Opus 91, often called the "Battle of Vitoria" or "Wellington's Victory", to one of the most famous events of the Napoleonic Wars: the Battle of Vitoria, in which a Spanish, Portuguese and British army under the command of the Duke of Wellington broke the French army and nearly captured the puppet king Joseph Bonaparte. It was a pivotal point in the Peninsular War and a precursor to the expulsion of the French army from Spain. A memorial statue can be seen today in Virgen Blanca Square.
We arrived in October 2021, when Covid-19 restrictions were still in place, so this made it quite difficult to find somewhere we could have lunch. There was still no standing at the bar and terrace seating only.
Walking around the old town, we saw plenty of on-street entertainment.
Including, traditional Basque singing.
At 3.30 pm we finally found
Eduardo Dato Kalea 32, 01005 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Araba
+34 945 14 70 16
In the lively and busy street of Dato you will find this Bar. Their pintxos are miniature bites that seek the traditional flavours fused with an original staging. Among the excellent pintxos we tried were, candied cod with potato, green peppers from San Sebastián and seaweed, and the “Anchoilla” of tuna with mayonnaise, tomato jelly, and green olive tapenade.
Atún con boquerones y rábanos (tuna with anchovies and radishes).
From here we walked back to a bar, where there had been a big queue before. The queue was now quite small, so we waited for our turn to enter.
Calle el Prado 18, 01005 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Araba
+34 945 28 86 76
Walking through the long bar you could see excellent produce on display.
We then walked down a long corridor and, much to our surprise, into a vast, very busy, boisterous, restaurant, where there was a resident DJ playing above the room!
Twice named the best pintxo bar in Spain, Sagartoki is the place to go to splash out, where innovation and flavours combine. Not just a restaurant and not just a bar, Sagartoki is the place to be and be seen and where fancy cocktails are created by the bartenders. It’s a space to experience the five senses, where chef Senén González has created a fine menu.
To start, we tried to order the Tondonia 1989, which we could see in the glass wine cabinet behind us but were told it was for display only. Bizarrely, the waitress said we could pay €200 to take it home. Maybe something was lost in translation somewhere!
Instead, we ordered a bottle of white and a bottle of red Bodega Contador Predicador DOC Rioja 2018
The food then started to arrive.
Jamón Iberico de Bellota.
Pimientos de Padrón.
Una selección de croquetas.
Tortilla con aceite de trufa y mayonesa (tortilla with truffle oil and mayonnaise).
Chuleton de Vaca.
This was a very trendy restaurant with a great atmosphere and good service.
After having a couple of hours back at the hotel, we were back out, strolling through the old town,
which was very busy on this Saturday night with young and old alike.
At around 9 pm we arrived at,
LA ESCOTILA VITORIA
San Prudencio Kalea, 5, 01005 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Araba
+34 945 00 26 27
We had spotted this place earlier in the day and the food, including the black rice, looked good, so we came back in the evening. It is a place for seafood and “Vinos y Tapas” with good outside seating. We started with a bottle of Txakoli Ameztoi 2020.
Gambas rojo (red prawns).
Navajas (razor clams).
Unfortunately, both the clams were not very good, so we finished here, and moved on. Our friend, who was not out that evening had tapas here for lunch the next day and said it was decent.
From here we went to
Mateo Benigno de Moraza Kalea, 13, 01001 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Araba
+34 945 230 080
This is a beautiful building from the late 19C, with lovely stone walls. It has rustic warmth, a quaint atmosphere and two dining rooms, the one on the ground floor has a lovely arcade. As it was now late, we had a few pintxos in the bar area.
Boquerones en vinagre.
We downed, quite a few, of their very good vermut (vermouth) at €3 each.
Making the vermut.
Very good pulpo parrilla (grilled octopus).
Extremely good torreznos or chicharrones (deep-fried marinated pork belly strips).
This is a very good bar and worth a longer stay next time.
When the bar closed, the younger elements of the group headed into the nightclub next door, which was full to the rafters, with no Covid restrictions in place, which all makes no sense when you cannot stand at a bar.
There seems to be a few other decent bars in the area to try next time. Vitoria is quite an impressive City.
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