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deensiebat

Best Basque restaurant for pescetarians

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I'm going to be in the Basque country for a few weeks, and have budgeted for one upscale meal. But while I eat seafood, I don't eat any other meat. We're considering Etxebarri, Azurmendi, Arzak, Zuberoa, etc. Should I assume that any of these restaurants would easily accommodate my diet (if given notice)? Or would any be better/worse? Advice welcomed, as sadly I don't have the funds to try them all..

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Can't speak for Azurmendi or Zuberoa offhand, but I'm guessing any of them would accommodate your diet with a little notice. Arzak is very good in the service department (and one of the most amazing restaurants in the world), so I'd say try calling or emailing them and asking. And Etxebarri, since their cooking style is so simple, is an easy place to navigate without having to eat meat. They have tons of seafood and vegetable options. I'd also inquire at Akelarre and Mugaritz among others. Lastly, make sure you consider a separate meal at Kaia. They specialize in simple seafood plucked fresh from the sea, and it's fantastic. Michel Bras once referred to their langoustines as the single best food ingredient in the world. You can have a great semi-casual lunch or dinner there composed solely of perfect grilled seafood.

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Arzak, the Zubie brothers, Akelarre, etc have fixed tasting menus....and they will accommodate you, but the quality of your experience will suffer. Pedro at Akelarre is still barely getting used to the whole no smoking thing, much less vegetarians, pescatarians, etc. I sent a buddy of mine there last May...forgetting that his lady friend is a vegan. Have not heard back from him. Pedro may have eaten her.

Victor in Axpe on the other hand, does not have a tasting menu. He sort of pretends to have one...but it is basically a la carte. He has the best simple green salad in Spain, you can have the egg from the waitress' chicken that can be seen running around the yard across the street, the oyster, persebbe at 200eu the kilo, baby eels at 200eu the kilo, killer merluza, etc, etc etc. Etxebarre, hands down.

I agree with the other poster...and would add El Kano in Guetaria. Also Ibai in San Sabby (San Martin area) is really hard to find...the basement of a grumpy old man bar near the cathedral....but all seafood, very traditional, very worthwhile. They barely speak Spanish, much less English.

Best wishes,

Txacoli

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Coincidentally....I just heard from my friend with the vegan wife, whom we sent to Akelarre with no notice. I feared the worst...but they had a great time and wound up smoking cigars and drinking Armagnac with Pedro himself until the wee hours. We may have started something ugly, though. My buddy, a US Army captain horribly wounded at Fallujah and just returned from Afghanistan, is hooked. He and Tucker are grabbing a flight to London this weekend for dinner at The Fat Duck. At Pedro's recommendation.....

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I realized I never responded to everyone's excellent feedback. Mostly because I freaked out at the last minute at the thought of spending $200+ for dinner, and instead ended up at a more mid-level place, Yandiola in Bilbao. Which still cost about $100, and was just sort of meh. The Sunday lunches at my friends' parents' farms were far better. Lesson learned: go big, or stay home. Ah well. I'll just have to man up on my next trip...

And though we didn't dine at Etxebarri, we did stop for a glass of txakoli at the bar after a hike, and they kindly let us peek in their kitchen. Flamey!

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