Dining During Fiesta
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Maribel's Guide to Dining in Pamplona
Pamplona is a city blessed with more than 300 cafés, bars and restaurants from which to choose. It offers some of the finest cuisine in the north of Spain on a par with the best the Basque country and Catalunya have to offer. More than 80 cafés, bars and restaurants, including a few from a far away as Tudela and Tafalla, participated in the annual pintxos competition, which celebrates the best of miniature haute cuisine in Navarra.
While most cafés, bars and restaurants outside of the Old City, in the 1st and 2nd Ensanche (Iturrama, San Juan and Ermitagaña neighborhoods), continue to offer their regular menus during fiesta, in addition to a special "Sanfermines Menu", pintxos bars and cafés within the Old City like Bar Gaucho, Baserri and Iru, simply cannot offer their normal award winning pintxos menu during fiesta because of the demand.
The last night you will be able to sample this truly outstanding fare will be the on July 5, which is also the last night the famous Café Iruña in the Plaza del Castillo, a favorite of Papa Hemingway, serves pintxos at the bar.
As most restaurants in are smaller, family style restaurants. Reservations for lunch and/or dinner during fiesta are essential and should be made well in advance, and although the fiesta doesn’t officially begin until the 6th, in 2015 you will need reservations for the weekend of the 3rd, 4th and 5th as festival goers from throughout Spain and around the world begin arriving. Restaurants in the old quarter will also be busy from the 10th to the 14th when the city fills with revelers from the Pays Basque, the French Basque Country, celebrating their Bastille Day holiday.
Restaurants typically have only one seating at lunch, but some offer a second seating at dinner during fiesta and will not give your table away if you are late, as it is not unusual for Pamplonicas to arrive a little late during the festival, and they are never in a hurry to finish a meal except when they are going to the bullfights.
It is extremely important that you do not break a reservation during fiesta without first contacting the restaurant, otherwise the table will sit empty the entire time.
Group reservations are difficult during fiesta and must be made will in advance.
Note: Missed reservations have gotten to a point that some of Spain's top restaurants now require a deposit before they will accept your reservation.
Desayuno Breakfast is typically the lightest meal of the day and in Pamplona, it’s always "bulls before breakfast”, but you will be able to find packaged pastries and espresso at some of the bars or cafés still open in the early morning hours. Those located along the route of the encierro must close their doors at 6:00 am so that the route can be cleaned. Be sure to try the churros (fried crullers) from Pamplona’s famous Txurreria, La Mañueta, a fiesta tradition for more than 140 years.
There is a traditional mid-morning break, the Almuerzo, generally taken between 10:30 and noon, when you have your first pintxo (tapa) of the day.
Comida Lunch is normally considered the main meal of the day and begins after 1:00, but closer to 2:00 for most people, and later in the afternoon on Sundays and holidays.
Cena Dinner usually begins around 9:30 pm, but it is not unusual to find people just sitting down to eat after midnight during fiesta, similar to dinner in Madrid and Sevilla.
Pamplona's Top Restaurants
Gastronomic Dining in the city
- Alhambra, Calle Bergamín, 7
- Restaurante Baluarte, Plaza del Baluarte
- El Embrujo, Calle Padre Calatayud, 16
- Enekorri, Calle Tudela, 14
- Europa, Calle Espoz y Mina, 11
- Palacio Guendulain, Calle Zapateria, 56
- Melbourne, Calle Olite, 36
- El Mercao, Calle Tafalla, 7-9
- La cocina de Álex Múgica, Calle Estafeta, 24
- Baserriberri, Calle San Nicolás, 31
- La Nuez, Calle Taconera, 4
- Rodero, Calle Emilo Arrieta, 3
Gastronomic Dining outside the city
- Beti Jai, Calle Santa Agueda, 2, Aoiz
- Palacio Castillo de Gorráiz, Gorráiz
- El Molino de Urdániz, Urdániz
- Hotel Restaurante Kuko, Zozaia
- Túbal, Calle Plaza Navarra, 6, Tafalla
- Treintaitrés, Calle Capuchinos, 7, Tudela
Traditional Navarran Cuisine in the city
- Casa Otano, Calle San Nicolás, 5
- Casa Manolo, Garcia Castañón, 12
- Casa Amparo, Calle Esquiroz, 22
- Asador Olaverri, Calle Santa Marta, 4
- La Olla, Avenida Roncesvalles, 2
- San Fermín, Calle San Nicolás, 44-46
- Restaurante Anttonenea, Calle San Antón, 48
- Chez Belagua, Calle Estafeta, 49-51
- El Burladero, Calle de Emilio Arrieta, 9
- Casa Luis, Calle Padre Calatayud, 11
In addition to its outstanding restaurants, there are several excellent cafés and bars where you can find a quick meal. Most are located in the 1st and 2nd Ensanche; Iturrama, San Juan Donibane and the Emitagaña neighborhoods, as well as in the old quarter along Calles Estafeta, San Nicolas and Mercaderes, as well as in the Plaza del Castillo, center of the fiesta.
Come for the adventure… enjoy the cuisine!