Logrono: Tapas crawling in the capital of La Rioja

Logrono. Capital of La Rioja. The gorgeous River Ebro running through its heart. Awash with green spaces and quaint squares aplenty. Heaving with tapas bars and restaurants. It was the perfect base for our recent road trip round Spain’s most renowned wine producing region.

The charming, medieval fort town of Laguardia and the architectural masterpieces that are Calatrava’s Bodegas Ysios & Gehry’s Marques de Riscal Hotel are a mere 20 minutes drive away. Just 30 minutes away are the beautiful villages of Briones, San Vincente de la Sonsierra, Samaniego and their surrounding wineries. Slightly further afield, you will find the world famous Bodegas of Rioja Alta – home to household names such as Muga, CVNE and Lopez Heredia.

When the sun sets after a day of wine tasting and sight-seeing, it’s time to hit the tapas bars. And in all my years of travelling through Spain I’ve yet to come across a more dense population of tapas bars than those in Logrono’s Calle Laurel, Calle San Juan & their adjoining side streets. The sheer energy emanating from these 2 streets alone is just immense. Admittedly, I reckon the food in the likes of San Sebastian and Barcelona still have the edge. However, the vibe here in Logrono tops them all.

After trawling through more bars than I could keep count of and working through their respective signature dishes, here’s my pick of Logrono’s best tapas bars.

Torres Gastrobar

This creative tapas bar on Calle San Juan puts a modern spin on traditional tapas classics. Their signature Medallones de Kobe are a must. Made from chopped Kobe Sirloin, the medallions are seared ever so briefly on each side so it retains a rare, tartare-like quality on the inside. So delicious, we ordered seconds in a heartbeat after our first bite. Do also try their Bocatito de Calamares – a warm bap stuffed full of crispy squid and topped with patatas bravas sauce. Scrumptious stuff! My favourite of the whole lot of Logrono’s tapas bars we tried.

 

Bar Charly

Smack in the heart of Travesia Laurel, there’s no better vantage point to soak in the energy and vibe of Logrono’s tapas bar culture. The house speciality here at Bar Charly are their Morritos (pig snout!). Have them fritos (deep-fried) as a snack or slow-cooked guisada style until melt-in-the mouth. Just as delicious are their Prawn, Cep & Jamon brochetas chargrilled in olive oil, sea salt, garlic and herbs. Simple but oh so satisfying stuff.

 

Bar Lorenzo

This bustling bar at the top of Travesia Laurel is famed for it’s pinchos morunos – pork skewers marinated in ollve oil, garlic, oregano and paprika then chargrilled over the flat-top. The smoky chargrilled flavour on these were superb. There’s a choice of eating these straight off the skewers as a pincho or as a Tio Agus – wrapped in a toasted sub roll and topped with lashings of spiced mojo verde sauce.

 

La Segunda Taberna

Mushrooms are the order of the day at this traditional tapas bar on Calle San Juan. And there’s all types on offer here. Champignons. Boletus. Pholiotas. Girolles. Shitakes. The Boletus cep & foie pincho here was a revelation – each bite a mega bomb of moreish, meaty goodness. Can’t pick between the various types? Go for the ‘surtido’ – an assorted plate of 5 mushroom varieties with a fried sunny-side up egg thrown in the middle for good measure.

 

Hasta luego Logroño! Till the next time.

G.

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