Francis Paniego (Ezcaray, La Rioja, 54 years old) has turned his town into a gastronomic destination, following in the footsteps that his parents started in the restaurant and in the Echaurren hotel, which is now run by the second generation of this family of hoteliers, where they also his brothers, Félix and Marisa Paniego, work for him. In 2002 he opened El Portal de Echaurren, in the same space where the other family businesses are, and where he shared cooking and experiences with his mother, the legendary Marisa Sánchez. He has two Michelin stars and three Repsol suns. In Logroño he has the Tondeluna restaurant and advises the kitchen of the restaurant of the Marqués de Riscal hotel, in Elciego, where he adds another award from the French guide.
where to have breakfast
1. At the Bar Satorre. It is one of the oldest buildings in the historic center of Ezcaray and has been run by the same family for more than a century. Here you can have a fresh orange juice, with toasted bread with oil and a tortilla skewer. Address: Plaza de Conde de Torremúzquiz, 1, Ezcaray, La Rioja. Tel. 941 055 145.
Where to have an aperitif
2. I like Tastavin, in Logroño, because it has an illustrated wine bar, unsophisticated, very simple and neat. The chef, Pedro Cárcamo, has made the classical tradition evolve. They have good vermouth. Among the skewers, the smoked cod, green pepper and anchovy baguette, an acorn-fed rib taco, or the crystal bread toast with tuna, quail, smoked anchovy, herring or acorn-fed dewlap. Address: Calle de San Juan, 25, Logroño, La Rioja. Tel. 609 787 036.
Where to eat
3. I recommend going to Alameda, in Fuenmayor. They have a good meat and fish grill and a very careful kitchen. In addition to a chop or a sea bream, they offer dishes such as chickpeas with lobster or a shrimp ravioli. Address: Plaza Félix Azpilicueta 1. Fuenmayor, La Rioja. Tel. 941 450 044.
4. Also Nublo, in Haro. The cooking they are doing is amazing. Address: Plaza San Martín, 5, Haro, La Rioja. Phone: 636 725 850
5. And Venta Moncalvillo, where the Echapestro brothers, Ignacio and Carlos, prepare a kitchen overlooking the landscape. It has a Michelin star. Address: Carretera Medrano, 6, Daroca de Rioja, La Rioja. Tel. 941 444 832.
A coffee or sweet in the afternoon
6. For a snack I would recommend something salty, and I suggest going to Bar Tizona, in Logroño, to have a potato tortilla skewer. In 2022 he won the XV Spanish Tortilla de Potato Championship. Address: Ciriaco Garrido, 14, Logroño, La Rioja. Tel. 662 19 99 09.
Where to have a drink
7. In Ezcaray I would have a drink at the Troika Bar, where they make fantastic cocktails. It has a menu of more than 500 different gins. When you take a combination of Ernesto García, an Alexander or a Bloody Mary you know that you won’t try one like it. Address: Arzobispo Barroeta, 24, Ezcaray, La Rioja. Tel. 941 427 496.
where to dine
8. It’s hard to get a table, but if you can, there’s nothing like dining at Kiro Sushi. It’s crazy how good you eat at this Japanese restaurant. Address: Emilia Pardo Bazán, 5, Logroño, La Rioja. Tel. 941 123 145.
9. The level that Logroño is having right now is incredible. There is another restaurant, Ajonegro, with a Michelin star, which is wonderful, since it is Mexican and Rioja fusion cuisine —its owners, Mariana Sánchez is from Cuernavaca and Gonzalo Baquedano is from Logroño—. Address: Hermanos Moroy, 1, bajo 9, Logroño, La Rioja. Tel. 941 545 141.
A product to buy in the market
8. You have to go to the Logroño food market, the San Blas Market, where in the central stalls there are market gardeners to buy good vegetables, from cabbage, borage, thistles, asparagus, peas, pods or pintos. The Marino fish market in Logroño is also a jewelry store. Addresses: Sagasta, 1. Tel. 636 740 340. García Morato, 14, Logroño, La Rioja. Tel. 941 250 728.
9. In Ezcaray is the Despensa Pisón, a store with the best artisan sausages from La Rioja. Address: Padre Jose Garcia, 1, Ezcaray, La Rioja. Tel. 941 354 332.
A gastronomic ‘souvenir’
10. I recommend always buying La Rioja wine.
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