Arzak or Mugaritz?
It seems everyone prefers Akelare over Arzak, but Akelare is closed when I'm in town.
Could anyone tell me which I should choose -- Arzak or Mugaritz? The mediocre reviews of Arzak on this board push me toward Mugaritz...but does anyone know if Mugartiz is actually great/better than Arzak?
I was at both 3 months ago. Mugaritz ended up in my top 10 all-time meals (actually top 5). Arzak didn't!!!!! (and sorry to have to say it, but Akelare was #1).
The dish that still stands out for me at Mugaritz (but other visitors hated it) was Lamb Trotter in Salted Caramel Sauce.
And a 2-hour drive away (south of Bilbao) is Etxeberri which also made my top 10. They only grill things there (wood grill) and it's probably the apex of grilling technique (meats, fish, vegetables - even caviar!).
Although it's now been almost a year since I ate at Mugaritz, I still compare Michelin-starred meals I eat today to what my husband and I enjoyed at Mugaritz. We weren't able to visit Arzak because it was closed for the season during our visit, so I can't compare the two, but I'd highly recommend Mugaritz.
I took photos of our Mugaritz meal and wrote up my notes here:
I was about to post a similar comment. We ate at "Mugaritz" in September and it was very, very good.
We also ended the holiday at "La Alqueria" (the El Bulli Hotel restaurant that does El Bulli greatest hits) in Seville. It was interesting to compare and contrast both restaurants. We liked them both and I think the innovation and cooking at Mugaritz was comparable to La Alqueria.
We have eaten at Arzak before. It is quite different but we also had a great meal here. On balance I think my preference would be to return to Mugaritz first but equally I would not feel disappointed by going back to Arzak.
I'd go to Mugaritz... or both if you have the time. Not sure how much time your spending in the region but if possible consider Martin Berasategui. Had great meals at his restaurant and he's opened some additonal spots (more casual I think).
In any case, have been to Arzak. Can be erratic. Have had some great meals and some that were just ok. The room is small and tables are close. A bit uncomfortable for me. Surprisingly, this is a place that I feel does better with larger parties. They have a large dining table is great... but seats around 10 people. Also, ate in the private dining room/kitchen once with a party of 8... was great.
I met the chef from Mugaritz when he was doing a charity event and he prepared a few dishes for the event... really great. On the basis of that I have been hot to go to his place. Ive heard nothing but great things about it. His food is really impressive. That would be my choice if I was only able to have one meal in the region... and thanks for reminding me that I have to plan a trip to San Sebastian. Enjoy!