Where to find Basque’s best pinxtos

May 22, 2013

Within the handful of restaurants in the tiny Basque fishing village of Getaria, only one has had the honor of being awarded for the best pinxtos three years in a row.

What originally started out as a joke between two friends about owning their own restaurant ended with the opening of Bar Giroa in 1995. Owned and operated by Chef Eukene Echegoyen and her son Axut, Giroa is a small establishment with two dining rooms and a bar. The name Giroa means “good ambience” in Basque. The restaurant has an elegant but comfortable atmosphere and excellent food. The lighting is warm and inviting, and there are paintings of fishing boats lining the walls. Echegoyen cooks and prepares the food, while her son tends the bar.

Echegoyen serves entrées as well as pinxtos, a Basque form of Spanish tapas. Her entrées are mainly traditional Basque dishes like baked monkfish or pork with a mushroom sauce. However, the pinxtos are the pride of the restaurant. Mireia Ondarra, one of Echegoyen’s waitresses, said every year on Jan. 17, the Getaria city council holds a contest to celebrate the Day of San Anton. The contest determines which restaurant has the best pinxtos in Getaria.

“We have won three years in a row,” Ondarra said. “We pick a different one each year, and we always enter our best.”

This past year Echegoyen entered Filipino, which is similar to a cookie with squid ink filling.

“The pinxtos are made to honor the fisherman,” Echegoyen said through a translator. “They go out at 5 a.m. every morning and catch each squid by hand.”

She said her father, Agustin Echegoyen, was one of these fisherman, and she is very proud of that fact. Echegoyen said it is this pride in her father and her heritage that makes her pinxtos taste just a little bit better than the competitors.