Recently, I visited Urdaneta, located on NE Alberta, for the first time. It has been on my list for a while from when Chef and Owner Javier Canteras with Ryan Spragg was running the Basque Supper Club as a pop up (and which he plans to still do) and then won funding from Restaurant Startup to open Urdaneta. It’s always hard to balance my wishlist with the reality of a reasonable amount of dining out and when some restaurants are literally on the opposite side of town from me (I live in SW Portland). Finally though I made it – and then all I could think about is why did I wait so long and when could I come again? What really stood out was having such unique and strong flavors, so small bites go a long way.
The focus of my visit was to experience pinxtos and I didn’t try their tapas, but I look forward to returning soon both for the tapas and for a pop up event of Basque Supper club, which is going to be quarterly since they are now busy with the brick and mortar restaurant!
It would be hard to miss the open kitchen which allows everyone to see the action from their seats, including even a few seats at a counter right at the kitchen. It has a very rustic feel that at the same time feels homey, packed with all the functional tools and ingredients in every available space. There’s something intimate even with all the energetic bustle of the small space with close set tables as you can look into every move they make and watch it literally move from the hands of the chefs to your table (or your neighboring table…)
Cocktails at Urdaneta are a great way to start the meal. Urdaneta after all specializes in traditional and modern Spanish tapas from the Basque country, and tapas are drinking food that are usually bold in flavor and a little salty to keep you drinking. Although there’s plenty of Spanish wines by the glass and bottle, don’t miss out trying out their sherry and vermouth (including used in cocktails as shown below) or alone, or their Basque Cider.
Recently, Urdaneta introduced a Pinxto Hour, which is 5-6 PM Tuesday through Friday. Pinxtos are a twist on the Spanish tapas (using the word pincho, or to pierce because at first pinxtos were literally pierced with some sort of skewer to attach the toppings to the piece of bread). Although you’ll see a lot of skewers, it’s not a hard and fast rule. The Pintos here at Urdaneta, as explained by owner Chef Javier Canteras include the very traditional, some that have their own homemade take such as curing their own sardines, and others are more of a twist that are pinxto inspired.
On the regular dinner menu you’ll find half a dozen pinxtos. But during Pinxto Hour, the options for pinxtos increases, including some daily pinxto specials based on what the chef might find in the farmers market, just to have some creative fun. All the pinxtos are about $5 or less, and an offering of a handful of slightly discounted tapas as well.
Here are a few examples of pinxtos:
- Gildas with house boquerone, Basque piparra pepper, green olive, crouton. This is one of the most traditional pinxtos (here also pictured with their addictive fried chickpeas)
- Morcilla, grilled blood sausage, dad’s marinated peppers, piquillo jam, piparra, toasted bread. Do not be scared away by the mention of blood sausage – this is a tasty sausage and blood is used as a binder similar to how eggs are and you are not going to be tasting iron or anything like if you ever licked a wound.
- Huevo Diablo, albacore tuna deviled egg, romesco, mustard seed caviar, toasted bread. This was a favorite of many of the evening
- These were new for spring, the Alcachofa, artichoke gratin, idiazbal, jamon, fermented radish.
- And here’s a daily special pinxto, Hamachi over vermouth compressed pineapple, miner’s lettuce coulis, marcona almond.
- Urdaneta Pinxto Hour menu item of Txistorra in slider form with house chorizo sausage, cabra pimento cheese, kalimoxto ketchup, quail egg, squid ink brioche bun
With the reasonable bites, you’ll have room for dessert, such as the Goxua, rum soaked magdalena, Catalana custard, whipped cream, bruleed sugar, pomegranate, or the Flan de Cabra, goat milk flan, roasted grapefruit, caramel, amontillado sherry cream
Have you ever heard of pinxtos before? Where do you go for tapas, and have you had Basque tapas or Basque cuisine before before?
Disclosure: I attended a complimentary media Pinxtos sharing meal, but I was not compensated in any way and was not asked to write this post – I enjoyed the experience and the food and wanted to share it, and would return on my own, on my own dime. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.