Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Spain/Portugal >
Feb 23, 2009 02:50 PM

Arzak - how bad is smoking section?

Excuse me if this is an already discussed topic - but I have just received confirmation for lunch @ Arzak and their non-smoking section is booked - so, alas, we must sit in smoking section.

Does anyone have experience doing this, and just how bad is the experience??

Thanks in advance for any information.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Obviously, your level of enjoyment/misery will depend partly on how many people in the room actually decide to light up, but when we dined there it was the same story, and we found it to be only a minor annoyance. The ventilation system is effective, and we were seated in a corner with just one other table in the immediate vicinity. The people at that table did smoke. We are pretty sensitive to smoke, but in Europe we accept the fact that it's just the way things are and manage to just not let it bother us. Unless you absolutely cannot tolerate any smoke, I would advise not missing out on a great meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems

      Thanks - just the reassurance I was after.

    2. We were just there a couple weeks ago and likewise could only get a table in the smoking section. Curiously of about a dozen or so tables, it seemed there was only one that had smokers. It was a momentary distraction when they lit up but not enough to ruin the meal. More on our meal here ->

      1. We ate here last week and could also only get a reservation in the smoking section. There was actually no one smoking in our area at all. There is a good amount of spacing between the tables so I do not think it would have been a problem anyway. It was well worth the risk!

        1. haha same story with me too and im trying to decide to cancel arzak and go with martin berasatagui instead??? any advice? i mean as long as im not smelling cigarettes the whole meal i can put up with a little here and there...

          2 Replies
          1. re: sdiddy

            I would not cancel over being seated in the smoking section. We're heading back in a few months again (you can see more on earlier visit linked to above), once again could only be seated in the smoking section, and are not having any second thoughts about it - though I do find it frustrating.

            1. re: Frodnesor

              Arzak's non-smoking section must be the size of a pea.

          2. Missed the original post, but saw the recent responses.
            My experience was that Arzak didn't seem to have a non-smoking section at all - it's just their way of 'preventing complaints'.
            What they DID seem to have was a separate section for Spanish speakers and a section for those who don't reserve in Spanish. They then assign the mutilingual servers to the 'foreign' section.
            Given that they usually sell out most nights, that's a 'polite' way of handling the language issues (and probably lowers costs too).

            9 Replies
            1. re: estufarian

              I have read elsewhere that Arzak does indeed have 2 dining rooms, an upstairs and downstairs (the downstairs being more modern and updated), though which is the "non-smoking" room appears to vary. See this thread ->


              So I don't think the "non-smoking dining room" is entirely fabricated.

              When we were there last year, there were both Spanish-speakers and non- in the downstairs (smoking) dining room where we ate, and I didn't have any sense that the staffing had been divided up accordingly. All of our servers spoke at least some English.

              1. re: Frodnesor

                And I was in the 'upstairs' smoking room!

                1. re: estufarian

                  OK, so maybe it is fabricated. I'm going back in a few months, maybe I should ask if I can see the "non-smoking dining room" even if we can't eat there.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    i just ate at Arzak today. originally, when i was emailed a confirmation, they told me the non-smoking was full. then, i wrote back and asked if there was another opening this week in non-smoking to which they responded, basically saying there was no other option. i showed up anyway and they ended up seating me downstairs--totally smoke free and not an ashtray in sight. there were three tables of spanish speakers (1 of which had some actress seated) two other tables of english speakers, a chinese couple and me (the only foreigner who could speak spanish--zing!)

                  2. re: estufarian

                    We sat upstairs near a French couple who lit up at the end of their meal, and a 4 top of Spaniards who smoked cigars the entire time. There were also a few other parties in the upstairs room who were not smoking. We were unlucky enough to be right between the two parties smoking heavily. When I tried to book, they did also tell me the non-smoking section was "full."

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Has this thread established that while one may or may not luck out, the Arzak non-smoking section is a myth?

                      1. re: Parigi

                        I promise - I will ask to see the "non-smoking section" when I go in a few months.

                        1. re: Frodnesor

                          Based on this thread I requested non-smoking in my recent reservation at Arzak. They replied that the whole restaurant is non-smoking.
                          I guess this is a new policy over the last year?