Feeling proud of your roots is easy when you come from Burgos. This northern Spanish city, well known because of its extreme climate and tasty gastronomy, it’s my hometown.
Both the heart and the historical capital of Castile, Burgos is a land of legends. A cradle for kings and famous warriors such as the acclaimed Cid Campeador.
Once the home for royals and noblemen, Burgos was a monumental grey-masonry shop-window to impress the many distinguished visitors coming from far beyond the kingdom. Still today, the back streets around the Gothic cathedral maintain the same imposing feel of those old glorious days.
Stroll around this old quarter during the weekends and you’ll immerse yourself into a swarm of locals gathering to eat some of the best tapas in town. There are dozens of alternatives to choose from. Literally one in every corner. Just follow the streams of people walking down the streets from bar to bar whilst tasting the different specialities, usually paired with some of the regional Ribera del Duero wines.
Friends & tapas night out
Here every group of friends follow their very own tapas route. My friends and I would always start the night out at the Mesón Burgos (Calle Sombrerería, 10). For the last 20 years, I don’t think we’ve ever failed once visiting this traditionally decorated tavern, with its beautiful old wooden beams and ceramic tiles.
I absolutely adore their patatas bravas. This recipe consisting of twice deep-fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce, is extremely popular in Burgos. Despite being served all around the city, the Mesón Burgos holds the reputation for serving the tastiest ones.
From here, we’d normally continue to La Favorita (Calle Avellanos, 8). Everything here is delicious but my choice will normally shift between the award-winning ‘Anchovy and roasted peppers jam sandwich’ (Anchoa a La Favorita) and the ‘Tenderloin with foie sandwich’. If doubt is killing you, you can always have them both, but keep in mind that we still have one more stop to go: La Quinta del Monje (Calle San Lorenzo 19-21).
This is one of the most recent additions to Burgos’ tapas scene and a new personal favourite of mine. Edu and I stopped here during our last visit and personally, I can’t wait to come back soon. If you want to go for something unusual, order the very tender and delicious ‘Smoked grilled octopus’, served in spectacular fashion under a cloche filled with smoke.
Sunday tapas with the family
Anytime is a good time to have tapas. However, Sundays are my favourite. They still bring me back plenty of good family memories, from those days when we used to get out of home to buy bread and the newspaper, before stopping by Casa Pancho (Calle de San Lorenzo, 13-15) to have a ‘cojonudo’.
This small piece of bread, topped with a quail’s egg, a strip of Piquillo pepper and spicy chorizo was my biggest Sunday pleasure for a long time. And yes, if you are a traditionalist, then you should probably go for the ‘cojonuda’, a different version of the same recipe that uses local morcilla (black pudding) instead of chorizo.
From Casa Pancho, we’d normally head to the lovely Bar Gaona Jardín (Calle Sombrerería, 29). Hidden at the end of Sombrerería street, it’s well worth the more than likely effort required to find it. The interior design features traditional tiles, climbing plants and a very long bar offering a vast selection of delicious tapas.
Since it seems too hard to just go for one only, I’ll recommend at least a couple of choices: the ‘Deep-fried pig ear and pimenton on toast’ and the ‘Urchin cream and cava gratin’.
Only two more stops left before coming back home to enjoy our Sunday lunch (yes, the tapas are just the appetizer!). The first one that will see us visiting is the now closed El Polvorilla (Plaza de la Libertad, 2), opened since the 30s and once the meeting point for local politicians, actors, poets and bullfighters. Frequented by a more popular crowd, this used to be a bustling place offering outstanding tapas such as the ‘Caribe’ (flambéed mango and foie on toast).
Our last stopover will be the compulsory visit to the delicatessen shop from the local institution Casa Ojeda (Calle Vitoria, 5) where they offer a great variety of local products, including the world-famous morcilla de Burgos. The annexed restaurant was originally opened over a century ago, and it still serves a traditional menu based on the best local specialities from Castilian cuisine, including their deliciously exquisite milk-fed lamb roast.
We could perfectly make of this place our final destination for today. However we’ve only stopped here to buy some bread and a very special dessert for our family lunch later on: ‘Yemas de Burgos’ (candy egg yolks), another must-try local specialty that will serve as the perfect finale for our family Sunday lunch.