Horno Artesano was my favourite cafe in Pamplona because of its reasonable hours, amazing coffee, and selection of pastries. Most cafes closed on Sundays, as well as during the Siesta hours (2 pm to 6 pm), but Horno was open every day until 9 pm. Because I was never sure of my university’s hours on the weekends, I relied on Horno as a place to study and would often go on either Saturday or Sunday between 2 and 6 pm, a.k.a. Siesta hours. Locals who frequented Horno would usually spend that time at home so the café was empty and quiet. Horno’s coffee became a bit of a staple for my weekends in Pamplona, especially around exam time.
I love Spanish coffee and Horno’s €1.20 café con leche (coffee with milk) was my go-to order. I also really liked their super thick hot chocolate, and mild chai lattes.
Horno also had amazing pastries. My absolute favourite was the neapolatina (unsure of the name and spelling), a flaky pastry with chocolate filling. I have yet to find an adequate replacement for it in Toronto. I also really enjoyed ordering Spanish tortillas in cafes. The tortilla is another very basic item sold at pretty much every Northern Spanish café. The simplest tortillas consist of egg, potato and cheese; however, there are many different types of tortilla which can contain lettuce, mayo, tomatoes, meat, etc. A slice of tortilla is surprisingly filling and very affordable at €1.50 per slice.
I was lucky to discover to Horno on my first week in Pamplona. By the end of the semester, Horno became a meeting place for my friends and me. Especially when it came time for exams, I would find many UNAV exchange students studying at the café. I loved randomly bumping into people, catching up, and stressing together.
Menu Del Dia
Mmm…food! The Menu Del Dia is a three-course meal at a fixed price, usually between 10 and 25 euros. I tried a variety of Menu del Dias in Pamplona.
One of my favourite places is on the outskirts of Pamplona’s old town; as a result, it’s slightly cheaper, around 10 euros on weekdays and 14 euros on weekends. Menu Del Dia is pretty good value because for the fixed price, you actually get sizeable portions and delicious food.
Appetizers include salads, soups, or rice and noodle dishes while entrees will usually consist of meat. I also love the dessert menu which gives customers a choice between chocolate cake, cheese cake, and flan.
Pinchos (or “pintxos” in Basque) are tapas of the North, small and flavourful dishes often priced between 2 and 4 euros. In Northern Spain, pinchos usually come in the form of bread with either meat or vegetables on top. Pinchos are a nice idea and very tasty; they allow people to eat a variety of dishes in smaller portions. Despite this, I prefer large dishes and after my first month in Pamplona, I thought I was pretty much done with pinchos.
Juvepinchos (translated to Thursday pinchos) are on sale every Thursday night at a store window in Old Town Pamplona; the weekly event brings friends together, acting as a meeting place before hitting the bars. Customers pay two euros and receive a small pincho and cup of wine. I love the social aspect of juvepinchos because it’s a great place to meet new friends, but the pinchos themselves are small and subpar.
The photo above shows pinchos from the Hemingway café. I really like how different and flavourful the two pinchos are; the small portions prevent people from feeling overwhelmed by the strong taste of each dish.
Spanish Food Staples
The photo above shows some absolute staples to the Spanish diet: bread, bocadillos, and jamon. Bread is a huge part of most European diets which was great news for me because I love all carbs. In the top left of the photo is a bocadillo, a long sandwich made from Spanish bread/baguette. Bocadillos are often filled with meat, eggs, and vegetables. It makes for a very filling meal. Jamon, Spanish ham, is also featured in the photo (bottom middle). I like jamon, but I find it very salty and needs to be paired with bread and vegetables. That brings me to the last item in the photo above: eggplant and other various vegetables. I like how Spain actually has vegetarian dishes.
Another very important part of the Spanish diet is the tortilla. In North America, a tortilla is a flat wrap for tacos. In Spain, tortilla is a pie-like dish that consists of egg, potato, and cheese. Tortillas can also have tomato, ham, lettuce, and crab/mayo sauce. For the few months, I had a slice of tortilla almost everyday from my university’s cafeteria.
Chocolate Con Churro
This is one of the first desserts I tried on exchange. It’s literally churro dipped in a very thick hot chocolate drink…yum! I love how thick the hot chocolate is in Spain; it really feels like pure chocolate.
Alcohol in Spain is very affordable. My go-to bottle of wine was under 1 euro (cheap and disgusting, but whatever). Navarra, the province that Pamplona is capital of, is actually known to be Spain’s major wine producer. About an hour away from Pamplona is Olite, a very small city known for their wine production. Because wine is the drink of choice in Spain, both white and red wine really grew on me. I was never much of a wine drinker before exchange, but Spain changed that about me.
My favourite drink in Spain is Tinto de Verano which is essentially sangria minus the actual fruit. Tinto de Verano is also really cheap at restaurants and bars, usually under 2 euros. In general, I appreciate the drinking culture in Spain. In Europe, developing a taste for alcohol is a part of growing up; as a result, when people become of legal age to drink, they make better decisions and have a better understanding of their tolerance. In North America, drinking for the first time frequently happens in high school or university and often results in blackouts and intense hangovers.