If we talk about La Rioja, the first thing that comes to mind inevitably is its well-celebrated wines. It’s about, with all probability, the best-known Designation of Origin in all Spain, which has occupied by its own right, a place that’s more than highlighted in the international winegrowing panorama.
La Rioja is wine, and wine is La Rioja. It is its main sign of identity and its present from times immemorial in its history, culture, and traditions. But, moreover, this deep-rooted wine culture is inextricably linked to the passion of the Rioja people for good food, and it is at the confluence of both that lies the particular idiosyncrasy of this wonderful land of warm and close people.
Because, if riojanos are specialists in anything, it is in elevating to the category of art the combination of a wine, a pincho and a good conversation.
Logroño is the capital of La Rioja. It counts with a little bit more than 150 thousand inhabitants and is a go-to for those pilgrims that would like to go through the Camino de Santiago. And, if wine is Law here, pinchos are religion and on the famous Calle del Laurel we will find the Promised Land.
Located in the main historical center of the city, a few steps from the centric Plaza de Espolon, the pinchos zone, known as La Laurel, is composed by the street of the same name and its surrounding streets Albornoz, San Agustín and Travesía del Laurel. Sometimes, the neighboring San Juan is included, but the main nucleus is composed of the first four, which conglomerate more than 60 bars on barely 200 meters. It’s popularly known as Senda de los Elefantes (Elephant’s pathway), because if you visit too many locations, you may end up Trompa y a cuatro patas (drunk and on all fours)
Here, bars and restaurants are located door to door, each one with its specialty, and the gastronomical offer is infinite. We can find from lifelong taverns that offer just one pincho, based on the quality of the product and the good craftsmanship that brings the experience, to more avant-garde premises with endless bars that in no way have to envy those of San Sebastián.
It’s the most lively and fun area of the riojan capital, the authentic epicenter of its social life, where kids and older people can enjoy and let themselves go by the mix of odors, colors and flavors that meet there at any time of the year.
We invite you to join into this succulent gastronomical scavenger hunt throughout its indispensable pinchos. Given the impressive offer, it’s clear that they can’t all be included, but all included are impressive. So, cheers and suit yourself!
1. Bar Soriano. Champignon
Founded in 1972, El Soriano is an authentic institution in the city, and its stellar pincho (the only one), is an emblem of the Riojan gastronomy in miniature. You could say that, if you haven’t eaten a champi in El Soriano, you have not been to Logroño.
The proposal is as simple as it is round: three mushrooms cooked to their point right on a plate, placed on a slice of bread and topped with a small prawn. All of which flavored with its delicious secret sauce, in which, at most, you can only tell there is some garlic, oil, and vinegar. A snack as simple as it is spectacular, that delights children and adults alike. It is recommended to go early, because it is one of those bars that are always up to the flag. Must be for something.
Address: Travesía del Laurel, 2.
Estimated Price: Champi + beer: 2,30 euros
2. Bar Lorenzo. Tío Agus
Another of the mythical pinchos from the zone is the one named Tio Agus. It’s a hot bread roll filled with pork chops in the style of Moorish pinchos (which are their other specialty), bathed with, again, a secret sauce, this time with its own name: Abuela Damiana (Grandma Damiana), in which ingredients similar to those of the previous sauce are intuited, and which give it an impressive taste and juiciness.
It has a lot popularity among the youth and it’s usually full, so we recommend visiting it in the first hour.
Address: Travesía del Laurel, 4.
Estimated Price: Tio Angus + young wine: 2,90 euros.
3. Bar Charly. Fried Pig Snout.
Flanked by the first two, we find Bar Charly. With thirty years of activity on their backs, their offer is wider than that of its surroundings and it also disposes of a small saloon in which we can enjoy a brief calm. Bonito Tuna with onions, peppers stuffed with meat, and tigres (mussel croquettes served in the mussel’s shell) are some of its specialties.
But, without a doubt, the fried pig snout sparkled with coarse salt, crunchy on the outside and spongy in the inside, is the one that has put this place on the map of the essentials of La Laurel.
Perhaps because of its resemblance to the classic pork rinds, this is another of those pinchos that tend to be preferred by the younger ones, although the older ones will not take long to become addicted to this delicacy.
Address: Travesia del Laurel, 2.
Phone: 680 82 24 00
Estimated Price: Morro + young wine: 2 euros.
4. El Perchas. Battered Pork Ear.
El Perchas is another of those locations considered a temple of the riojan pinchos. It opened its doors in 1955 and, even though it closed by the end of 2014, causing a little turmoil among many parishioners who didn’t doubt on declaring a “grief period” on social media, it opened again by the end of 2015, remodeled but true to its original spirit.
And it’s that its battered pork ear, served between two slices of bread, is what today would be considered a “must” of the local gastronomy. A plump filling but at the same time soft pincho with an unmatched flavor.
Even the most skeptic to offal (which, on the other side, it is recommended to remember it’s a la mode), will fall before the singularity of this little jewel.
Address: Travestía del Laurel, 3.
Phone: 941 22 00 77
Estimated Price: Pork Ear + beer: 2,80 euros.
5. Bar Cid. Griddled Mushrooms
“If you drink to forget, remember to pay”, prays one of many tiles that decorate this small place with a vintage flavor.
Entering Bar Cid is like making a short trip to the past. Everything oozes authenticity, and its stellar pincho, which they’ve been serving for over three decades, can’t be less. Because you come here to eat mushrooms. Whether in raciones (portions), medias raciones (half portions) or pinchos, mushrooms are the absolute protagonists.
Not in vain, La Rioja brings more than half of the mycological production of Spain, and here they are very conscious of the privileged product they have on their hands, as is clear from the tremendous mountain of farmed mushrooms that is stacked on the side of the bar. Tasty and light pincho as they come, it is tremendously recommended to make a fatless stop.
Address: Travesia del Laurel, n/a
Phone: 9 41 22 82 56
Estimated Price: Mushroom pincho +beer: 2€
6. Blanco y Negro. Matrimonio
It’s the oldest bar in Logroño. Opened at the end of the XIX Century, El Blanco y Negro is the germ from which nowadays is one of the most famous zones of tapeo in Spain, and it’s still one of the obligatory stops of the Senda de Elefantes.
Strategically located at the start of Travesía del Laurel, its cozy decoration is the first thing to get attention. Here, the bonito tuna pinchos are the most ordered, smoked cod, and, for the fearless, the delicious bruschettas, such as goat cheese and ham.
But it is without a doubt its famous Matrimonio (marriage) that makes this place a unique place. Namely: a freshly baked hot bun, stuffed with anchovies, marinatd anchovies and fried green peppers. It is, without a doubt, a well-matched marriage that is worth getting close to.
Dirección: Travesía del Laurel, 1.
Phone 9 41 22 00 79
Estimated Price: Matrimonio + young wine: 2,80 euros.
7. Bar Jubera. Patatas Brava.
If you ask the locals around their forties for any of the essential bars to visit in La Laurel, it’s probable that the name Jubera comes out. Founded in 1980 under what is already known as Filosofía del Monopincho (Single-pincho philosophy), Jubera has been a place of gathering and reunion for many generations of logroñeses.
The fact is that drinking a wine and a portion of its famous bravas is not only exquisite to the palate, but also carries with it the virtue of moving us to another era. You have two options: the classic bravas, with its homemade mayonnaise and hot sauce, or the ones that lack hot sauce. We recommend the first ones, which have a little bit of a spark, but you’ll have to make sure there’s a good glass of wine nearby, just in case.
Address: Calle Laurel, 18
Estimated Price: Portion of bravas + young wine: 4 euros.
8. Bar Villa-Rica. Zapatilla.
Located at the corner of the Laurel Street with Albornoz, the Villa-Rica is another of those ancient bars with very few specialties but masterfully executed. Its stellar pincho is, without a doubt, the famous “zapatilla”, which is nothing but a slice of payes bread with olive oil, tomato, and a fine slice of Serrano Ham, all of which is griddled.
A slight variation of the known Catalonian pa amb tomaquet, served warm and usually folded in half. Because of its size and strength, this is one of those pinchos that are usually left for the end of the night. But well, you come here to eat pinchos, so, who said “fear”?
Address: Albornoz Street, 1.
Phone: 9 41 20 45 98.
Estimated Price: Zapatilla + pint of beer: 2,70 euros
9. Bar Sebas. Tortilla.
It’s the national pincho by excellence, the undisputable king of the gastronomical panorama in miniature. Never something so humble gave so much to talk about, and at Bar Sevas they are pretty conscious of the responsibility it carries with it.
The result is simply spectacular: A generous portion of potato tortilla cooked to its point, spongy with a very nice interior, in which stands out the use of a premium fresh ingredients.
Also, it can be chosen with or without hot sauce, a typical thing around these bars. Their other tortillas are also very recommendable: Serrano ham, cod, anchovies, and chorizo, and their meat-stuffed peppers are essential. Their wine cellar deserves an honorary mention, which offers more than 130 references of local wines among red, white, and rosé.
Address: Calle Albornoz, 3.
Phone: 941 22 01 96.
Estimated Price: Tortilla pincho+ beer: 2,50 euros.
Additional Information and recommendations.
During all week, bars are used to open at 12:00 and close after lunch, between 15:30 and 16:00. In the afternoon, they retake their activities from 20:00 through 23:30, approximately.
The weekend is the most crowded period. Even though it’s worth to live the unique ambient it’s created, if we go with kids or we want something more peaceful, it is advisable to go early.
Just like a great part of the North of Spain, Logroño has its own nomenclature at the time to order a drink. As it is about visiting many bars throughout the day, we recommend ordering cortos instead of cañas (a corto is about half a caña) and when it comes to vermouth, a Marianito (Red or white Vermouth in a small format) For kids, the Mosto (grape must) is a cities classic.
Regarding wine, it’s useful to point out that if you simply order a wine, they will serve you a glass of Rioja Joven (Young wine). So, if you fancy something more sophisticated, like a Crianza or Reserva, remember specifying it.