The food’s great in the north of Spain! That’s what everyone says.
And we agree! How we love to enjoy our food at home, in restaurants or the numerous food societies in the villages, and chat around the table with our loved ones long after the meal is finished!
Charcoal-grilled rib-eye steak, tasty game, like venison, pigeon or partridge, lamb cutlets... Not to mention the vegetables, which are so healthy and very much a thing here. Tender artichokes, delicate asparagus, borage, tasty roast peppers or delicious vegetable stew which mixes almost all of them. They're so good that not even the kids can resist. Yes, you heard right!
And you can make the most of this food in bars in the form of pintxos or in the finest restaurants, where they manage to mix tradition and modernity in great style. And there are local companies offering a host of activities that allow you to dive into the local culinary culture from a different perspective. There’s even a wine route awaiting you in Navarre!
And don’t forget that you can take a taste of Navarre back home with you by buying txistorra sausage, canned and jarred products, wine, cheese, olive oil, confectionery and cava at the shops, fairs and markets you can find throughout the community. Many of them, such as piquillo peppers, come with Designations of Origin.
So if all this sounds like heaven, and you want to find out more about our gastronomic secrets, read on, because we're going to give you the essential ingredients of our tremendous and varied cuisine.
The pintxos route in Pamplona
So, let’s get started! And we’re going to begin with one of the most deeply rooted traditions in the capital of the old Kingdom: going out for pintxos. You’ll soon discover that Pamplona emanates food culture everywhere you turn, and you can find a good example on the counters of its bars. And when is a good time? Well, here we go out for pintxos before lunch or in the early evening, before dinner.
Whether you go for the revered traditional pintxos of txistorra sausage and deep-fried prawn, pepper and egg or would prefer to try miniature haute cuisine with a creative touch, your mouth will start to water with just a glance at the array of food on offer.
You’ll always want to try more!
Wine tourism in Navarre
Let’s move swiftly on to wine. Because all you need to do is take a quick look at our Designations of Origin to understand that this is a land of wine. We have our own D.O. Navarra and share D.O. Rioja with Rioja and the Basque Country. Both designations are recognised all around the world for their outstanding quality.
Navarre’s vineyards turn out reds, rosés, whites and sweet wines. But make no mistake; Navarre isn’t behind the rest of the pack in the world of sparkling wines, either; the magnificent cavas made in Mendavia and Viana bear the D.O. Cava.
And food tourism here has come up with experiences which go far beyond mere wine tasting. You can join in with the grape harvest and grape treading, ride through vineyards in a horse and cart, attend workshops to develop your more creative side, do yoga in vineyards or treat yourself to a vinotherapy session.
Not to mention taking a traditional tour of a winery, wine tasting included.
The Navarre Wine Route
Almost a religious experience.
That's what you're going to have on this wine route, which takes you on a sensory journey through the world of wine at 25 locations in the Central Zone and the Ribera.
The route relies on the participation of carefully selected wineries, bars, restaurants, agroshops and accommodation, all making their unique contribution.More information about the wine route
And on to another treat: Navarre’s vegetables
Part of the old Kingdom’s gastronomic heritage sprouts straight from its soils in the form of tasty and, in some cases, unique vegetables, which, of course, have shaped the local cuisine.
Artichokes, asparagus, borage, cardoon, lettuce hearts and piquillo peppers are often the stars of culinary events.
But they are not alone, because the Community boasts no fewer than 6 Designations of Origin, 6 Protected Geographical Indications and 4 quality certifications, all confirming the outstanding quality of our vegetables.
And with so many culinary distinctions, it’s little wonder that Navarre is home to the town with the greatest number of designations of origin in the whole country: Mendavia, with 11 certifications in just 78 square kilometres.
Because in Navarre, gastronomy isn’t just celebrated around the table.
We invite you to take part in some of the fun, educational and even surprising food tourism experiences available, an assortment of which you can find here.
Click on the red button to find out more.
Let’s go mushroom hunting!
Navarre is a mycological paradise where you can find different kinds of boletes, cloud funnels, the highly regarded St. George's mushroom and even Caesar's mushroom, which is among the most coveted varieties around.
And with such a range right on the doorstep, it’s not surprising that numerous events and activities are held to celebrate them, such as learning to find them.
All you have to do is visit the Ultzama mycological park or hire an expert guide and venture out into the beech and oak woods to forage for saffron milk caps, grey knights and bronze boletes.
And from there, straight to the kitchen.
Learn how to make talos
A talo is a flatbread made from toasted cornmeal, salt and water, cooked on a griddle. A recipe of humble origins and a simple bite to eat, but so moreish!
Especially if you fill them with txistorra sausage, bacon, cheese or chocolate, and wash them down with a nice glass of Navarra wine. Now, doesn’t that sound good?
If it does, you should know that, in addition to trying them, you can actually learn how to make them from scratch at the Amaiur/Maya mill.
The best thing since sliced bread!
Visit a cheesemaker’s
If you're a fan of cheese, Navarre is definitely the place for you.
Because cheese from Navarre boasts not just one but two different designations of origin. D.O. Idiazabal and D.O. Roncal.
And as with wine, so with cheese: it’s not just all cheese tasting.
Deepen your knowledge and visit a cheesemaker’s to see how this dairy delight is made close up.
And, if you’re up for it, you can make a cheese yourself or even accompany a shepherd to the mountainsides as he/she reveals the secrets of the trade to you.
Live a truffle experience
The world of truffles awaits you in the winter.
A fungus with that peculiar smell and taste which the finest chefs just adore thrives beneath the soil of Navarre in the coldest months of the year. And what better way to appreciate it than to visit the Metauten Truffle Museum, very close to Estella-Lizarra?
There you can discover all the secrets of this exquisite fungus, try products made with it and take part in a tasting of local wines. And you can explore truffle grounds with expert truffle hunters, see a dog training display or collect truffles at a truffle farm, too.
Let's see who's first to spot a truffle fly!
Sweeten up your life at a honey producer’s
And discover how this delicious local product is made from start to finish.
The tour begins with a visit to the apiary — with suitable protective garb —, where you’ll learn how honey is extracted and discover the importance of bees to our environment.
You’ll also see how honey is jarred and how other bee products, like candles, soap and cosmetics, are made. And you can even take them back home with you if you like.
And where can you discover this strange world? You have two options; the Ezkurdi Apiculture Museum in Eltso, in the Ultzama Valley, or the beekeeping resource room at the Orísoain Eco-museum.
A place well worth its salt
Two of the few saltwater spring salterns still operating in the world, Gironés and Nuin Eraso, are in Salinas de Oro, whose very name means “golden salterns”.
Tours are available to show you where the salt we use to flavour our food comes from and reveal the secrets of how it is obtained.
As you go, you’ll also get some good advice on how to use salt for therapeutic purposes, learn the role it plays in our health and discover all the ways in which this humble mineral helps us.
Afterwards, if you like, you can even take part in a salt tasting. Who would have thought that different kinds of salt could taste so different?
What's cooking in the different parts of Navarre?
Navarre is the Spanish region with the broadest range of climates and landscapes, and that brings us a wide variety of products made using the finest ingredients, some of which hold one of the no-fewer-than-15 different food quality certifications you can find here. Not a bad number, is it?
If, on top of that, these ingredients are prepared with a cookbook full of nuances and influences from Basque, Riojan, Aragonese and French cuisine, all of which have gradually enriched the local repertoire over the centuries, then you are in a position to write one of the finest menus in the world. Shall we get our taste buds working?
In the mountains of the north, the Pyrenees
The north is synonymous with mountains, rivers, forests and green valleys. The ideal place for the local breeds farmed to bring us delicious rib-eye steaks and lamb cutlets, for duck and game (try the pigeon, partridge or venison when they are in season), and for trout and river-caught salmon.
From the forests, a great variety of wild mushrooms; and from the local vegetable gardens, those black beans that taste so good in winter. And let’s not forget the local dairy products: D.O. Roncal and Idiazabal cheese, junket and artisanal cakes and desserts. Are you going to leave without trying the pastry horns, the delicious goxua or the txantxigorri cakes?
Around Pamplona, the capital of Navarre
You can find all the flavours of Navarre in Pamplona, from the vegetables grown on the banks of the Ebro to the stews from the mountains. And these in both their most traditional and their most innovative forms, because there are restaurants for all tastes and budgets.
And that’s not to forget the products from the Pamplona Basin itself, like roast lamb, relleno (a sausage made with egg and rice) and txistorra sausage, a local fresh sausage you can try and buy in the local markets and gourmet shops.
Well, now you know; whatever you do, don’t leave Pamplona without going out for pintxos.
The Central Zone, land of transition
The Central Zone, garnished with gentle hills and fields of grain, smacks of the Mediterranean, of D.O. Navarra and Rioja wines, wheat flour bread and olive oil.
But it is also the home of one of Navarre’s most prized, and hidden, treasures, the black truffle; and of irrigation farming, which turns out piquillo peppers, asparagus and Sangüesa’s delicious potxas beans; of shepherd’s cheese and of mouth-watering roast suckling pig.
Everything is just begging you to seat yourself at a table.
In the Ribera, the lands of the south
And finally, the Ribera, the banks of the River Ebro, that prodigious vegetable garden which holds so many treasures in store. Its produce is even praised by the world-famous chef Ferran Adrià.
White, red, green and yellow gold in the form of its internationally renowned asparagus, peppers and wine, its artichokes and lettuce hearts, and its olive oil. And, lucky us, we can enjoy them all year round thanks to the area’s thriving canning and jarring industry.
And for perfect pairing, one of the local wines.
And now it’s time to eat!
After hearing all this, aren’t you just dying to sit down and eat?
Now you know that Navarrese cuisine is fresh, healthy, traditional and avant-garde. And diverse, too, because there’s something for everyone.
On the one hand, you have those traditional restaurants that appear in all the prestigious Spanish and international guides, including, of course, the odd Michelin-star eatery.
And then you have newer talent, gradually reaping well deserved success thanks to hours and hours of hard work and enthusiasm, all with a good dose of innovation; the traditional cider and grill houses that specialise in serving that irresistible meat and fish cooked till it is “just right”; and one of the latest arrivals on the scene, the Slow Food movement, with its emphasis on chiefly organic, local products and respect for the environment.
Restaurants for foodies
Let’s start with the more established restaurants in the region. The ones run by chefs whose work has been deservedly acknowledged. Their main objectives? Respect for Navarre’s gastronomic identity, innovation and only using the finest ingredients available.
Check out the Kingdom’s restaurants.
And here’s another association. This one is more recent and brings together Navarrese vegetable and local product enthusiasts. Its members include not only renowned chefs and sommeliers but also younger talent with plenty of upside and whose success in numerous gastronomic competitions makes discovering them well worth everyone’s while.
Passion, loving care and a large dose of creativity at very reasonable prices. Who could resist?
See the restaurants that belong to Zaldicook
Grill and cider houses
You can’t visit Navarre without experiencing another of our most deep-rooted traditions. eating out at a grill house (asador) and a cider house (sidrería).
That’s right, at both. Because each has its own charm, as you will see:
At the cider houses, particularly from January to May, the menu on offer is very specific and there is one star dish: chorizo cooked in cider. But there are more things, too: cod omelette, cod loins with green peppers, the revered rib-eye steak and, for dessert, cheese with walnuts and quince jelly. Simply delicious! All washed down with the fresh cider of the season that you serve yourself straight from the barrels lining the dining room.
And another really popular food choice in Navarre is eating out at a grill house, where you don’t only have delicious charcoal-grilled meats, such as rib-eye steak, sirloin, rack of lamb or suckling pig, paired with a good D.O. Navarra wine, but can also eat wild-caught fish, brought straight from one of the nearby fish markets. These are charcoal-grilled, too. Try some delicious hake, monkfish, red seabream or turbot.Discover Navarre’s closed-cycle cider houses
Navarre’s locavore restaurants (which are called “km 0” here) prepare all their dishes with local, high quality, mainly organic ingredients produced within a radius of less than 100 km.
And Navarre was a global pioneer when it opened the first ever Slow Food School at the Ultzama School Farm thanks to the enthusiasm of its founders, Beatriz and Óscar. A true institution since the push for good, clean, fair food began.
Traditional food, to savour at your leisure...I want to eat out at a locavore restaurant
Para saber todo sobre la gastronomía navarra
En el folleto Catar Navarra está todo recogido.
Food, the soul of every celebration.
It doesn’t matter when you plan to come, because the hard thing is not to find some kind of food-based celebration somewhere in Navarre. Here are some of the most popular ones, but there are many more.
Other ways to enjoy Navarre
And what better way to complete your food journey through Navarre than with some of these other ideas?
Culture and roots
Culture and roots
Travel to the heart of the old Kingdom, where Navarre’s truly splendid cultural heritage will quench your curiosity.
Wellness and wellbeing
Wellness and wellbeing
A walk, breathing in the fresh air, a spa session or a good massage are some of the best ways to recharge your batteries in Navarre.
A weekend goes a long way when you're in Navarre. Culture and pintxos join forces to bring you the best of urban leisure.