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Mar 12, 2010 06:59 AM

Arzak vs Akelare

Going to be in San Sebastian for about 5 nights at the end of April. Planning on doing pintxos 3 nights. Dinner one night at L'Auberge Basque and trying to decide between Arzak and Akelare for the other night.
Any suggestions/help?

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  1. I actually liked Akelare better than Arzak. Tho' the latter was no lightweight with excellent food and wine list. Elena Arzak dropped by our table to say hello, which was a nice treat.

    When we were in SS a few years ago we waited too late to make reservations at Akelare. They told us there were no reservations, all booked for the next two weeks.


    We showed up at Akelare for lunch anyway and they gave us a table. Not a good one, right by stairs, near a couple of party rooms and missing their spectacular ocean view. We didn't care as we went for the food. It was one of the better food experiences we've had.

    BTW, many restaurants in Spain have that MO. They insist over the phone they have no reservations and when you show up they are able to comply & be accepting the table you're given.

    If you can try to go to both. Akelare is best during the day as it has a very nice view.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Quimbombo

      Thanks Q
      We have reservations at Akelare already the night we arrive.
      Was reading through Heston Blumenthal's "The Fat Duck" last night and he kept mentioning Arzak. Made we reconsider but I think we'll stay with Akelare.
      Will report back.

      1. re: thompkin

        I agree with Quimbombo. If at all possible, try both. You will really appreciate the contrast. But, if you can only do one, I guess I have to give Akelare the nod. Not that it's necessarily better, but it is more unusual and interesting. Have you done a search on this board for both of them? There is a lot of information already out there including the exact question you are asking, and this may be of help to you. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed.

        1. re: thompkin

          Stay with Akelare. Best meal of my life.
          Arzak didn't make the top 10.
          There seemed to be an 'arrogance' at Arzak (we KNOW we're the best!), but at Akelare they were anxious to please - and that view is amazing.
          Also preferred the wine prices at Akelare, which encouraged us to move up to a better (more expensive?) wine.

          1. re: estufarian

            Same as previous reply -- our Sunday lunch at Akelare was the best meal I've ever had. The combination of the food, the setting and the service was extraordinary. It made me realize what those Michelin stars really mean. This is the meal that I compare all others to.

            1. re: melachap1354


              I just noticed this post after replying to your post about Can Roca. I feel exactly as you do, that Akelare is so spectacular that I judge everything else by it. You may actually find it interesting to try Can Roca and compare the experiences, but don't expect too much.

          2. re: thompkin

            If it is not too late, try not to skip Arzak. The food, maybe less interesting and fancy, is nonetheless unbelievably good. I went there with my daughter who was less than three at the time. Although we order kid menu for her (yes! they have kids menu), she was more interested in our food and kept asking for sharing more of ours and there wasn't a single dish that she didn't like. I can see why some people may prefer Akelarre, but if you want unpretentious food at its very best, Arzak is your destination. Kids at two-year old do not have acquired taste and they do not lie.

            The service is professional yet personal and very comfortable. Elena came out at the end of the meal and talked with us for about 10 minutes, (while my daughter was still occupied by the food). Elena was talking with two food journalists from some Asia country in the downstair dining rome when we were leaving, but she broke the conversation to hug and kiss us good buy.

        2. Have eaten at Can Roca. We knew it would get that 3rd star. Our meal there and the service was spectacular that The French Laundry (where we ate after a year) was a letdown. I couldn't believe that Danko's and Can Roca were both 2 stars when Can Roca just blew Danko's out of the water.
          Now we're off to Spain's basque country and have reservations at Extebarri and Akelare. We can't wait!

          1. If you must chose one... Akelare. Best meal ever was a Sunday lunch there back in summer 2007. I still get goosebumps every time I think about it.

            1. There is an existing thread on this same dilemma, in which I gave links to my descriptions of our experience with both about a year ago ->


              My recommendation? Especially if you're in SS for 5 nights, and unless the budget prohibits it, I'd do a dinner at Arzak one evening and a lunch at Akelare another day.

              With a year to reflect on it, I think I enjoyed our Arzak meal possibly a tad more than our meal at Akelare. Indeed, we had at least one outright dud at Akelare (a seafood stew from the a la carte menu) though Akelare may have had a slight edge in "wow" factor.

              Without doubt, both are worth doing if you can afford it.

              1. When I looked up the Akelarre website, there's nothing there after the "choose language" option.
                Now, THAT'S exclusive!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Anonimo

                  Worked fine in English for me. The site and music came up.

                  1. re: Anonimo

                    You may have popups blocked (the website runs in an annoying popup window) ->