Alameda in Hondarribia is one of these places that could only be in the Basque country as it is firmly rooted in its region.
Despite the traditional surroundings, Alameda feels surprisingly cosmopolitan. The interior is timeless, comfortable and warm. The ladies in the service brigade add a familial charm to the dining experience and thus make you immediately feel at ease.
In line with this spirit, the restaurant is run by the Txapartegi brothers, Mikel, Kepa and Gorka. Not unlike the Roca brothers in Girona, each of them has his own task: Mikel is the maître, while Kepa and Gorka are the chefs. Together they have build a restaurant that can compete with the famous names such as Arzak, Mugaritz, Beresategui etc. Not in terms of food, let’s be clear about that, but in terms of price/quality ratio; there aren’t many restaurants offering such a good 5-course menu for 60 euro. Compared to the ever more pricey gastro-temples of the region, this seems to be refreshingly humble and affordable. Add to this the atmosphere and produce used, and you have a very convincing restaurant.
To illistrate this, nothing is better than locally caught squid. Served grilled with caramelized onions, these are divine: There is a bite to them, whilst the meat is tender and nearly crunchy. Paired with the rich sweetness of the onions, this is as simple and satisfying a dish as you could possibly hope to find.
Hake with a compote of red peppers is no less compelling. Again, it is not groundbreaking, but the quality and cooking of the fish make it a convincing plate of food: It is moist, flaky and firm, with that gelatinous texture that you rarely get.
Finally, a roasted pigeon with its offal is on the same level. It is cooked perfectly, with a texture that is firm, yet soft. The flavour has great complexity, whilst fruits and a very intense jus add depth and contrasts to the dish. It is what Alameda does best: delicious food, simply prepared, but incredibly tasty.
Eating here really is all about the generous, appealing food and the warmth of the service. There are no pretences here, and the prices reflect that. You’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant, serving such produce at such low prices.