Burgos uncovered

Burgos uncovered

Tara Stevens uncovers lesser-known Burgos, a city full to the brim with culinary flair.

‘Where is this place I’ve never heard of?’
In northern Spain, an hour and a half south of Bilbao. It’s the historic capital of the Castile region.

‘Why should I take note?’
The city was the hometown of medieval hero El Cid but it’s caught our attention by being named Spain’s Gastronomic Capital 2013.

‘Does it deserve such a grand title?’
It certainly ticks all the boxes: great markets; a serious wine region (the Norman Foster-designed Bodegas Portia, www.bodegasportia.com, is a 40-minute drive away in Gumiel de Izan); and a booming restaurant scene where traditional cuisine is combined with innovative ideas from newcomers.

‘So it’s got some culinary clout?’
Hot young Castilian chefs are a breath of fresh air in a region better known for its rib-sticking fare. At Fabula (www.restaurantefabula.com), Isabel Alvarez takes a playful approach to local products (hamburgers with cherry ketchup from the nearby Valle de Caderechas). Saul Gomez ramps it up with modern techniques at the Blue Gallery Cafe (+34 947 057 451), and Patxi Alvarez and Elena Perez serve clever creations in miniature at Tabula Gastro & Bar (+34 947 461 922).

‘What about local dishes?’
Burgos lechazo (suckling lamb slow-roasted in a wood-fired oven) and morcilla de Burgos (spiced-blood-and-rice sausage) are off-the-scale delicious. Dig in at old-world taverns such as Casa Ojeda (www.restauranteojeda.com).

‘Sounds a bit like San Sebastian?’
For food quality and visionary young chefs, yes, but its culinary identity is more rustic than San Sebastian’s.

‘Anywhere nice to stay?’
The NH Palacio de la Merced (www.nh-hoteles.com; doubles from about ?65) is a sleek and contemporary contrast to the town’s historic architectural backdrop.

Published in Conde Nast Traveller September 2013.

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