Happy 2018, foodies! I hope all of you have been eating well with Jess’s awesome recommendations so far 🙂 It’s been a good while since I’ve posted; my sweet cat passed away suddenly in November and that threw me off track for a while. As you can see, Jess gracefully took over the blog in the meantime. Thanks, partner!👭
Before I knew it, I was shooting off to Asia and Australia for some quality family time. All we did was eat and enjoy each other’s company! Good food and family heals the soul <3
Back and feeling recharged, let me introduce you to the jovial, gastronomical playground that is Gastroteka Danontzat.
In late October of last year, my boyfriend suggested that we dine in Hondarribia, Spain. It’s a scenic little Basque town by the Bidasoa River, just overlooking Hendaye, France. Old town vibes with a killer view!
Without wasting any time, I got down to business in search of a Pinchables-approved restaurant. Cha-ching! I found: Gastroteka Danontzat. Several reviews claimed that they planned their travel dates solely to re-visit Gastroteka Danontzat, and that really caught my attention…
Reservations were made via Tripadvisor and we were good to go. We arrived a little before 7:30pm and if you guys know Spain, that is f*cking early for the Spaniards! And so, we were one of the first to arrive apart from a group that were enjoying their aperitivos by the bar. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the owner, Gorka. Sheepishly, I tried to converse with my limited Spanish which then lead to speaking in French and then finally settling on English. 😂 I wanted to try one of their craft beers and was recommended the Higer Session IPA, a beer locally brewed in Irun (literally 5 minutes away from Hondarribia) by the Bidassoa Basque Brewery. A light, fruity beer that ended with a nice dry, bitter note, it was perfect for the fried dishes we ordered.
Being one of the first to arrive at a restaurant is always fun: it gives me some quality time to chat with the Chef and staff without being hurried. Gorka (George in Basque) is the brains behind Gastroteka Danontzat and he came to our table beaming with the warmest smile, English menus in tow. Spanish, French, English, Japanese, etc., it seems like they’re ahead of the menu game!
Gorka explained to us that ‘Danontzat’ means ‘for everyone’ in Basque. Gastroteka Danontzat, a place for everyone to gather, enjoy each other’s company and eat well, of course! To get an idea of what kind of place Gastroteka Danontzat really is, here is their ‘About Us’ excerpt from their website that has been roughly translated by Google Translate:
Being a gourmet is knowing how to live, it means knowing how to enjoy the small things, a glass of wine, a glance, a smile, a piece of cheese, good company, old friends and new friends in the making…
In the old town of Hondarribia, surrounded by its historical landmarks, we invite you to sit around our table and be part of the Danontzat family. Tell us your story; one that puts a smile on our face, we’ll recommend you some wine and you’ll taste some cheese to go with it.
Let the night flow freely and have an unforgettable dining experience. Without you, our gastroteka does not make sense.
We offer you our cheese menu, our know-how, wines that we want you to taste. And in return, we ask for your company. Even if you do not know it yet, you are the soul of the Danontzat! Welcome, you are part of the family!
This perfectly encapsulates the energy and lifestyle that Gorka embodies; he is full of life, playful, and a showman at heart. All of these qualities are channeled into the food and ambiance at Gastroteka Danontzat. Why do I keep rambling on about everything but the food?!?! Patience, young grasshopper. Gastroteka Danontzat is not just any restaurant, it’s an exceptional experience, one that is fully enhanced by the showmanship of Gorka!
Specializing in hot plate pintxos (the Basque version of tapas), you can order each pintxo dish in 3 different sizes: Tapa (small), 1/2 portion (medium) and Portion (large). Apart from the hot plate pintxos, there are also main dishes that only came in the full portion size. Every dish sounded so tantalizing, we wanted to eat the whole damn menuuuuu! Each section of the menu has catchy titles such as Queen of the Seas, Everything About My Mother, Let’s Talk About The Sea, And Abouttha Mountains, just to name a few.
At this point we went a little crazy and ordered more than a dozen dishes; Gorka, the lovely host that he is, advised us to forgo a few. So we narrowed it down to 12. There. Were. Only. TWO. Of. Us. Yes, no shame whatsoever. 😁
Our first dish was the ‘Happy Marriage’, which was a mix of their Cantabrian Anchovy “00” and “The Luxe” Cantabrian Anchovy from Casa Santona. One is salt cured and the other is marinated in a delightful, citrusy marinade. The anchovies were SO fresh that we had to get another plate right away.
Next up, the ‘Smoked Sardine with Flying Fish Eggs.’ I meaaaan, look at that. Wow. Smoked sardine topped off with caviar eggs and drizzled with quality extra virgin olive oil. Again, another smashingly fresh dish that left us wanting more!
‘Fine slices of Red Tuna Fish with Ling Eggs and Citrus.’ This vibrant dish of smoked red tuna, ling roe and lime zest shavings is unusual and complex in flavour. I’ve never had a dish quite like this before!
Crab Pudding with Cocktail Sauce. I can’t remember much about this dish, but I do remember that it wasn’t my favourite. It certainly wasn’t bad as we did finish the entire plate hah!
Oooooh… Now, this next dish I definitely remember how it tasted. ‘Mussels in Tempura with Vera Red Pepper and Salt flakes.’ Topped off with sweet paprika powder and sea salt flakes, these crispy babies were addictive! Give me a cold beer and I’ll be snackin’ on these all day long! 👍🏼
‘Leonardo Da Vinci’s Palette’. Perfectly fried potatoes served on an artist palette surrounded by its “paint”, an array of sauces. The “paintbrush” – with bristles on one side and a two-tine fork on the other – is meant to be used to paint the sauces on the potatoes. A simple dish displayed in such visually playful way!
‘Cured Tongue on Potato Confit, Smoked Salt Flakes and Black Truffle’. If you order this dish, Gorka definitely makes it a spectacle for you. Before your eyes, the ox tongue will be ablaze, just torchin’ away. Once that’s done, Gorka methodically places a piece of black truffle in the middle of the tongue (with a kitchen tweezer) and concludes the show by drizzling a dash of truffle oil. The ox tongue is not thick or chewy, it’s wonderfully tender and JUST GET IT OKAY? It’s gewwwwd.
One of my favourite dishes here was the ‘Squid with Potato confit, Wakame Algae and Secret Sauce’. Squid, potatoes and seaweed? Such an unlikely and bizarre trio, but it WORKS! Another “happy marriage” I’d devour any day 😉 The sauce is slightly tangy and spicy, I want to say it tasted a little “paprika-y”. By the end, our plate was literally a clean slate. The sauce was so delicious, we made sure to soak up every last bit with bread!
By the time our last savoury dish arrived, we were more than halfway checked in to the food coma ward. ‘Boned Veal Tail with Local Red Peppers, Green Asparagus, Potatoes and Baby Bean Confit’. My only qualm was we were way too full to enjoy this meaty dish. 😝
As always, dessert is a must. We like to reiterate how we have a separate tummy compartment for desserts… Cliché phrase but hey, it’s true! As I mentioned earlier, we were greedy and gluttonous… And thus we ordered three desserts to share, cos why not?
‘Mini Chocolate Crepes, Cream and Praline Fondant’. This dessert didn’t get me up and chanting, “Hallelujah” but it wasn’t bad by any means.
‘Black Toasted Sesame Ice Cream on Brown Sesame, dehydrated blueberries, Preserve and Chocolate Duo’. Not shabby looking at all, I have, however, tasted superior Asian black sesame ice creams.
I saved the best for last. Comfort food with a twist. The ‘Creamy Rice Pudding with Orujo Sip’. Oh my, how creamy and luscious the rice pudding was. And if you enjoy cinnamon, even better. The Crema de Orujo digestif was milky and light. It went fantastically well with the rice pudding, two thumbs up. 👍🏼👍🏼
Before I wrap this up, let me mention how Gorka brought around each dish and then explained every one of them with the utmost passion and enthusiasm. The second time I brought some friends there, it was just as fun and unforgettable as the first. It also doesn’t hurt that the prices are so affordable for this quality of food!
Gastroteka Danontzat. Memorize the name. Go there. Eat there. Have a gin and tonic or two. Be ready to be gastronomically blown away! 🤩
May The Pinchables Be With You,
Location: Denda Kalea, 6, 20280 Hondarribia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Hours: Tuesday: CLOSED / Wednesday to Monday: 12 pm – 12 am
Tips: Make reservations to avoid being turned away, it’s not a big space.