Modern Basque cuisine from the family who helped found the movement
The Chef: Elena Arzak is the daughter of Juan Mari Arzak, one of the founding fathers of contemporary Spanish cookery. During the 70s, Juan Mari helped ignite a movement toward avant-garde Basque cuisine, which set the stage for later legends like Ferran Adrià and José Andrés. Elena now fully runs operations, while 75-year-old Juan Mari takes a supporting role, tasting dishes, greeting customers and helping with menu creation.
What’s on the plate: Arzak’s artistic offerings are divided between multiple tasting menus and an à la carte option. Expect unsung flavour combinations like roasted pigeon with vanilla and kimchi, and sometimes whimsical service pieces: a wheel of Vietnamese chocolate may hit the table atop a skateboard.
What makes it special: The restaurant, situated atop a hill in San Sebastian, has been in the Arzak family for generations, but it was charismatic Juan Mari who revived the menu to make it what it is today.
Restaurant interior: The restaurant counts several different dining rooms, including a light-filled downstairs space that’s formal yet relaxed. There’s also a secret kitchen table reserved for special guests.
To drink: Arzak boasts an enormous wine cellar stocked with over 100,000 bottles from around the world.
Images: Mikel Alonso / Jose Lopez / Sara Santos / Restaurante Arzak