Grilled asparagus and steak | CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay
Spain’s Rioja region is known throughout the world for its excellent wines, but its cuisine is not so well known outside of the country, unlike that of the Basque Country and Catalonia. Because of its climate and ideal soil conditions however, La Rioja produces some of the best vegetables in the whole of Spain. Pair these with meats from the mountains and seafood from the nearby Basque Country and it’s a winning combination. Here’s our pick of the best restaurants in the Riojan capital of Logroño.
Situated on the lively Calle Laurel, packed with tapas and pintxos bars, Cachetero is a traditional, cosy and stylish place. Founded in 1910, it’s also one of the most historic restaurants on the Riojan food scene and has served everyone from author Ernest Hemingway to Spanish royalty. The menu is very typical of Basque and Riojan gastronomy and includes dishes such as cod pil pil (fried in olive oil and garlic), grilled hake with vegetables and roe deer wrapped in bacon and served with thyme sauce.
A fairly new addition to the Logroño food scene, La Quisquillosa has only been open for one year, but is already a popular dining spot. Focusing on quality home cooking and seasonal produce, you can’t come away from here without feeling satisfied. Try the roasted monkfish fillet with short noodles and prawns, or the pork meatballs with pecorino cheese and truffle mayonnaise. The restaurant also has its own wine cellar, stocked full of traditional wines from around the Rioja region.
Tondeluna markets itself as a ‘creative kitchen’, and is a contemporary and modern restaurant filled with bright rainbow colours and natural wood. Think tapas of fried artichokes with garlic mayonnaise and bacon or Riojan peppers filled with caramelised egg and potatoes. Mains include mussels with garlic, parsley and marine plankton and barbecued pork ribs with honey and romesco sauce (made from red peppers, almonds, olive oil and garlic). They also serve a good value three-course menu of the day from Monday to Thursday for €19.
Housed in an atmospheric 16th-century mansion in the Old Town of Logroño, Restaurante Taberna Herrerías is a contemporary restaurant based on traditional cuisine and seasonal produce. In the winter and early spring they specialise in artichokes, while in the late spring and early summer they specialise in asparagus. Grilled meats, fresh seafood, soups, broths and tapas also feature on the menu. The restaurant serves over 200 varieties of wines and cavas and has a delicious dessert menu.
Part art gallery and part restaurant, Restaurante la Galería, as the name suggests, showcases works by local artists and also has a number of changing exhibitions. The menu is modern and creative, featuring seasonal produce from the valleys and the mountains, as well as fish and seafood from the nearby Basque Country. Dishes come presented like works of art themselves, with each ingredient perfectly placed on the plate. Guests can enjoy watching their meals being prepared in the large open kitchen with viewing window. Restaurante la Galería also has its own wine cellar with over 340 types of wines from the famous local Rioja region, as well as other parts of the world.
A classic grill and barbecue restaurant, Asador El Portalón is located in the historic centre of Logroño. Eat in its small and cosy dining room surrounded by exposed stone walls, wooden rafters and warm terracotta colours. The menu is classic Riojan, featuring lots of seasonal vegetables. Of course they are more famous for their grilled steaks and lamb, cooked over hot oak charcoals.
This small family-run restaurant is located in the centre of Logroño, just 100 metres from the city’s market in Plaza Abastos, where it sources all its ingredients. Because the Rioja region is so well known for its fresh vegetables, the menu at La Cocina de Ramón features an entire section dedicated to vegetables, as well as the usual grilled meats and seafood dishes. Think sweet grilled shallots with nuts and raisins, leeks cooked in meat broth with almonds, fresh grilled asparagus with homemade mayonnaise, and artichokes cooked with ham and garlic.