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Feb 3, 2012 04:52 PM

Hondarribia and St Jean de Luz, also Madrid

Had wonderful food in San Sebastian a few years ago and am returning in June for 9 days.
Will stay in Hondorrabia and St Jean de Luz, which is reputed to have a great market. Any suggestions for restaurants, pintxo bars, affordable place to stay in those three places or the environs? Has anyone taken a taxi up to Asador Etxebarri? I hear it's great.
Also will have 2 nights in Madrid near the Prado. Recommendations for great restaurants or bars in that area, one for typical Madrid cuisine, one for exceptional food but not pretentious super elegant style/decor, one for Madrid style tapas?

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  1. Hi Woodlandchef,

    We visited San Se and Hondarribia last summer and had a great time in both places. Hondarribia is much smaller and very quaint (no young surfer crowds here). Our hotel of choice is the Jauregui.

    Asador Etxebarri is amazing but it's a trek, even from Bilbao. If you search the forum, you'll find lots of discussions about it. I rented a car to go but another poster DID take a taxi from Bilbao.. I tried searching for that thread but couldn't find it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Aleta

      Hi Linda,
      Thanks for your suggestions for Hondarribia.
      When I read some of your other posts I noticed El Cisne Azul. I'll be in Madrid for only 2 nights but am wondering if El Cisne Azul should be a choice for one. I am a retired chef and all time forager for mushrooms.Does the restaurant specialize in mushrooms? Where can I read your blog about it? if you had only two nights in M where would you go for exceptionally good food in
      the month of June?

      1. re: woodlandchef

        El Cisne Azul is a tiny very, very informal little spot with five or six tables crammed in and a small bar where you can eat standing up. It can get pretty crowded, so go early if you want to snag a table, or prepare to wait a bit. Everything gets cooked on the grill. It's in Chueca, easily walkable from the Prado area.

        Another good mushroom place is El Imperio. It's across town on calle Galileo 51, near Metro Quevedo or Arguelles. It specializes in Leonés food (from the region of León) and has a bit more varied menu. There's a bigger bar in the front and a small room of tables behind.

        Both places regularly have five or six varieties from the Sierra near Madrid like boletus, rebozuelos (chanterelles), black trumpets, pie azul (lepista nuda), níscalos (in winter, Lactarius deliciosus), perretxikos (St. George's mushroom), angulas de monte (yellow foot), etc. In June you might catch the tail end of morel (colmenilla) season.

        1. re: butterfly

          Thank you Butterfly. You know your mushrooms! Do you know of any micological societies or mushroom forays in Spain? I'll be in the Basque area and Andalucia,around Cordova, Villanueva de Tapia, Ubeda, Seville areas in June.

          1. re: woodlandchef

            Yep, I'm a mushroom nut, but unfortunately don't get out to hunt for them as much as I'd like. (The last ones I found in the wild were the hallucinogenic variety growing on cow patties just outside of Madrid...) There is a micological society in Madrid:


            They organize a few outings a year to the Sierra outside of Madrid and tastings and dinners--they may be able to hook you up with similar organizations in other parts of Spain. In the spring and fall a lot of restaurants have mushroom-oriented menus and specials. A quick search found this list of societies all over Spain:


            This guy seems to do excursions in the Basque Country.

            * Micológica Excursionista Manuel Iradier
            Tel 946 70 69 01

    2. The St Jean de Luz market is one of the best in France, esp for seafood, but also for Pyrenees cheeses and other specialties.
      I ate very well in 3 restaurants in St Jean de Luz-Ciboure; (Ciboure is a charming village just 5 minutes on foot from SJdL.)
      - Kaiku in SJdL
      - L'éphémère in Ciboure: 1 star, but with a very reasonable lunch menu, considering. Dishes can be on the complicated side, because the chef is ambitious. Not a bad thing, is it?
      - Chez Margot, by the beautiful Socoa beach in Ciboure. Casual good food, the hangout of some celebs who live nearby…

      If you split your question between the France forum and Spain forum and ask your questions on St Jean de Luz on the France forum, you will get a lot more pertinent recs.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Parigi

        Thanks, Parigi, for your SJdL recommendations. I will post the question on the France forum.Would your recommend staying in Ciboure rather than SJdL for proximity to restaurants?