The western parts of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa
By Tom Perry
This Guide was last updated on 12 February 2010
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El Portal de Echaurren is Rioja’s sole Michelin-starred restaurant. Located in Ezcaray, south of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, it is well worth the detour. El Portal is one of two restaurants in the Hotel Echaurren, run by the fifth generation of the founders. The traditional restaurant is looked after by owner Marisa Sánchez, whose specialities are exquisitely prepared Riojan dishes made with local ingredients, while El Portal, specialising in experimental cuisine with many of the same ingredients, is run by her son, Francis Paniego. He likes to tell the story of how he attempted to improve on his mother’s recipe for potatoes with spicy sausage, a Riojan speciality, served like a stew. His creation turned out to be alternating layers of pureed potatoes and sausage served in a conical cocktail glass. Both restaurants merit a visit. If lunch and dinner are too much in one day, book a room at the hotel! There is a third restaurant owned by the family adjacent to the hotel, El Comilón (‘The Glutton’), a bistro serving light, informal meals.
Useful information: Tasting menu at El Portal from €70. Closed Sunday evening except in July and August. Closed two weeks in July and two weeks before Christmas. Annual closing varies, so it’s best to check. Rooms: €78-€90; breakfast: €8.
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