3033 NE Alberta ST.
Portland, OR 97211
Pintxo Tour: Tues - Fri, 5-6p
Lots of things excite me, a dozen donuts, fresh bed sheets, surfing, new shoes, and sunny days. The list is extensive, but few excite me quite like happy hour plans and basically all things involving Spain -you know, the place where I eloped and honeymooned summer of 2014. With that little story spewed at you, let's just say happy hour and Spain-anything send me over the happiness edge! Imagine my face when I heard that there was a new 'Pintxo Hour' happening at Urdaneta, a Spanish restaurant located on the busy, yet hip, Alberta street -be still my heart.
Last month I was invited on a media preview to scope out the newest addition to Urdaneta's current offerings, a pintxo-inspired happy hour menu featuring traditional tapas-style eats, influenced from the northern Basque region of Spain.
One question, I and many others had, "if these are tapas, why are they called pintxo's?"
Well my friend's, pintxo's and tapas are very much alike, they are small bites, or, rather drinking snacks that are commonplace all over Spain. The main and rather perplexing difference with pintxo's or pinchos (depending on regions in spain the spellings are different), is that they are found in the northern part of Spain, the Basque region, and often have a toothpick or skewer through them to keep the toppings from falling off of the bread foundation.
Pintxo's come from the spanish verb, 'pinchar', meaning 'to pierce.' Tapa's come from the spanish verb, 'tapear,' meaning 'to cover.' Does that make more sense? Tapas are typically found in the southern parts of Spain while pintxo's or pinchos are from the Basque regions.
From my personal, albeit short experience in northern Spain, pintxo's are often very hearty, complex in flavor and very satisfying. At some bars the the skewers are not to be tossed until the end of your meal as they are tallied up and used to determine your bill, much like sushi plates at a conveyer belt sushi joint.
Urdaneta is a Spanish restaurant in NE Portland founded by Owner and Chef, Javier Canteras. Urdaneta captures the true essence of Spain with a bustingly open-style kitchen where patrons can cozy up to the counter, right next to a leg of iberico ham, and watch their meals be expertly prepared by the master chef himself. By and large Urdaneta is a tapas-style restaurant constructed from Javier's Spanish heritage, with the newest addition of pintxo hour highlighting the Basque style of tapas -where Javier's roots in spain lay- each pintxo is inspired from traditional basque offerings but presented with a Pacific Northwest twist. And, the iberico ham on the counter is not for looks, it is to be enjoyed, or rather melted in your mouth, a pork candy melt if you will, between sips of sherry.
Upon arrival we were treated to a cocktail off of their regular menu, the bermeo.
- Bermeo: fino sherry, orange liqueur, fresh orange juice, cardamom bitters, allspice dram.
The drink was named the bermeo, after the city where Javier's family is from
Now for the pinxtos, which we now know are cousins to tapas or did I confuse you more?
- The Gilda: house made boquerone, Basque piparra pepper, green olive.
If you like strong briny, salty, and savory flavor profiles, this is the choice for you! Plus, this is perhaps the most traditional style of pintxo on the menu.
If you're looking for a traditional experience, they offer plenty of sherry, vermouth, spanish-region wines, and of course cava! Seen above is:
- Sidra: a tabanco basque cider, a very dry, yet slightly effervescent cider.
The above pintxo was my full-time favorite of the ones we tried. The juicy sausage on toasted bread, just comfort on a skewer.
- Morcilla: grilled blood sausage, dad's marinated peppers, piquillo jam, piparra, and toasted bread
A close runner-up favorite was the Huevo Diablo, think of the heartiest deviled egg, jam-packed with a semi-sweet tuna filling, served on top of romesco, on top of bread, heaven!
- Huevo Diablo: confit albacore tuna deviled egg, romesco, mustard seed caviar, and toasted bread
For the image above:
- Alcachofa: artichoke gratin, idiazbal, jamon, and fermented radish on bread
- Crudo: hamachi, sidra compressed pineapple, cucumber salmorejo, marcona almonds, and dill
The above items is seasonal and currently a part of their regular menu offerings.
So next time you have yourself questioning what's the difference between tapas and and pintxo's don't go to google for your answers, head to Urdaneta and experience the difference for yourself!
disclosure: i was invited to attend a media preview of Urdaneta's newly launched pintxo hour, while there i received complimentary tastings and beverages. i have previously eaten at Urdaneta on my own dime and will continue to do so. all opinions shared are my own and not in exchange for a positive review.