Restaurant feature - Txantxangorri Tarragona

by Neil Morris - 16 June 2012

txantxangorriTxantxangorri Tarragona
Plaça de la Font 16,
43003 Tarragona,

Txantxangorri (it means Robin in Basque) is a traditional Basque style Taberna located in the picturesque Plaça de la Font in the historical City of Tarragona. The square is a popular meeting place for tourists and locals alike and there is huge choice of bars and restaurants catering for all tastes.

I was drawn to Txantxangorri for two reasons; firstly, it was recommended by some locals and secondly, my experience of Basque eateries has generally been very good. When we arrived we noticed the place was already packed inside but the chairs outside were empty; quite common with local-centric bars in Spain. We went in and squeezed into a corner and were soon presented with an impressive menu and offered drinks. After a grabbing a couple of pintxos from the counter to get us going, we ordered some plates of combined tapas dishes, as recommended by the waiter, and a fine bottle of 2009 La Montesa Rioja which we sampled whilst soaking up the atmosphere. The decor is wonderfully rustic with green walls, wooden beams and lots of pictures everywhere; this is a bar that feels cosy and welcoming and is generally a nice place to hang out.

The food in Txantxangorri was exactly what we were looking for on a late spring evening in Spain; simple but good quality pintxos and tapas dishes, cooked to perfection and then washed down with some decent wine. The perfectly tender pulpo a la gallega (Galician style octopus) was a particular highlight and was reason enough to draw us back the following day. In typical tapas style, the dishes were delivered to us over a period of time rather than all at once and the service was excellent and efficient throughout (although it helps if you know a little Spanish!).

As the evening went on, the place got really busy and there was an incredible array of food travelling around in a blur of colour and smell that was utterly infectious; so much so that another bottle of wine and a few more pintxos were duly ordered.....

I have read a few negative reviews about Txantxangorri on some tourist websites but the locals really love this place, so I guess that tells you something! It is not a restaurant in the traditional sense so don't expect to be greeted at the door in perfect English, ushered to a table and waited on attentively all night; this is a traditional Basque bar and is operated in a traditional way. You find a table where you can, you help yourself to Pintxos from the bar (but save the cocktail sticks so they can calculate your bill!) and any tapas you order will not all arrive at the same time. If you take all this on board you will enjoy a traditional and relaxed dining experience, eat some great food and get a sense of the role that food and drink plays in the social lives of the locals.

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