As I say I was only in town for two days, a Sunday and a Monday, which is when many places are closed, so please don’t consider this to be a guide to the dining scene in Guernica. There are other places, like Zallo Barri www.zallobarri.com, that I didn’t get to try that are probably better, but these two are definitely good spots. The first is trad, the second is modern.
Restaurante Boliña El Viejo (Intermediate B+), 1 Calle de Adolfo Urioste, www.restaurantebolinaelviejo.com
I love this kind of old school comedor as it’s like being transported back in time. Don’t expect haute cuisine, just good, honest home-cooked food. It’s a local institution, hence the nickname ‘El Viejo’, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding it.
I came once for Sunday lunch and again on Monday evening when most other places are closed.
To eat a proper sit-down meal, pass by the terrace and go through the boisterous bar to the separate dining room at the back. There you will be cared for by a slightly frail but very lovely old lady. Your best food Spanish will be required as she may go off menu when suggesting things to eat.
On one occasion I had the Menu del Dia (€20) and got Sopa de Pescado; a fish, maybe tuna?, stew (B+).
Then, fluffy and sweet Bacalao Bizkaiaya (B); saltcod baked in tomato sauce in the Biscay style.
The Itsas Mendi Blanco Txakoli was cheap at €9 but okay (B).
Some Leche Frita to finish (B).
Another time I tried the local Gernikako Piperrak, fried green peppers (A), which have their own DOP.
Followed by the Solomillo de Ternera (B).
And finishing with Manchego cheese with Membrillo quince paste (B).
The coffee is surprisingly good too (B+).
On Sunday the comedor gets very busy but on Monday evening after dessert it was so quiet I had to gently wake up my server who was sitting upright having a nap.
For a livelier atmosphere you only have to step back into the busy bar, swapping one character for another. When I was there the funny bartender was communicating with his co-workers through whistles and coarse expressions in English that kept everyone amused.
I had a Pacharan from neighbouring Navarre (B+)…
… and gazed at the pictures on the wall showing Pelota stars and farmers with huge bulls.
My interest was piqued when I saw the bartender making a similar aperitif to a Negroni. As my regular readers will know I love a good cocktail so I had to try it.
The ingredients were ‘Yzaguirre’ Catalan vermouth (an old friend from Oviedo), Campari, Angostura bitters and something unknown from an unlabelled bottle. It wasn’t bad at all (B) but I prefer a gin in there.
On a Monday night when most places were closed the hotel receptionist suggested that I try Restaurant 1000 Azul (same company as below?) or Hiru Saku, both on Calle Pablo Picasso, but the former looked too pricey, albeit very good, and the latter a bit boring, so I went back to Bolina El Viejo instead.
1000 Coloraos (Intermediate A), 9 Plaza San Juan Ibarra
This modern pintxos bar was TripAdvisor #3 when I was in town, and #1 at the time of writing in 2017.
I dined here three times in all, twice in the evening, and again for lunch. I ate very well each time but admittedly I also came so that I could watch Euro 2016 in the bar area. The small restaurant area is more secluded should you not be a fan.
All the pintxos and raciones I ate here were ‘muy rico’ and very reasonable. I can recommend the Hamburguesita Buey, the Solomillo Foie Hongos and the Arroz Cremoso (all A). Can’t remember what this was but it was undoubtedly very good and more photogenic than the others!
I ate well in Guernica but I’m aware I just scratched the surface of this little town. I’m sure there’s much more to it.