In five words: the temple of the bean. Aitola-Zar restaurant is a remodled farmhouse located at the foot of the Izarraitz mountain, in the lush valley that abruptly descends from the Port of Azurki to the green pastures of the Lastur area.
Going from the Madariaga (Madarixa) neighborhood toward Lastur, turn to the right (it’s indicated by a big wooden sign) and in less than two kilometers, after descending down the steep, curvy road, stop at the beautiful, newly reformed Aitola-Zar restaurant, where the previously explain road comes to a stop.
With great views above mount Erlo and towering over various green valleys that descend to Lastur, the raised area is where the farmhouse is located and is inexplicably large, with enough room to park the dozens of cars that migrate there each weekend.
The reformed farmhouse has numerous ornamental details, from the typical coat of arms in the facade to the rustic decoration in the dining room. There are numerous references to the rural Basque farmhouse way of life, traces of historic pride that sadly are being lost little by little.
The menu is relatively short, but the price/quality relationship is unbeatable, with homemade dishes that prove to be a delight to any customer, especially those known as “well-refined diners.”
Entrees like chorizo paella and the fried assortments are the typical you’d expect. The croquet dough is naturally delicious, but if you want to talk about a legendary dish, it would be the alubias (haricot bean) dishes they serve in rural Basque style. They casually put the “perolo” stew down on your table with a huge spoon, accompanied with a plate of chili and another small plate of cabbage and blood sausage stuffed with vegetables.
I calculate that the bean stew comes accompanied with chorizo and ribs fills about 3-4 big saucepans. Even the guests with the biggest appetites will leave full and satisfied with what they’ve eaten.
Anyway, it’s not the quantity, but the quality of the bean and the care with which they’re cooked that is the most impressive thing from the first spoonful. They come apart in your mouth and that’s not always easy to achieve with haricot beans. They’re always homemade, an authentic specialty that I definitely recommend. There aren’t any excuses not to try this historic delicacy offered at Aitola-Zar restaurant.
Regard the second dish, the fried cod and hake are stand outs; the grilled meat choices are more extensive. The grilled chops and ribs stand tall at Aitola-Zar. In any case, be careful what you order. The bean dish can really leave you full, without much room for the next course. So, it might be a good idea to share the beans with the others at the table to have room for the rest of the meal. I didn’t have enough room for desert, but I can tell you they’re homemade and of great quality, especially the selection of pies, the pudding, and the rest.
The wine menu is good, but this isn’t necessarily a place for wine connoisseurs. A good, chilled Basque cider can be the perfect thing to sip on after eating the famous haricot bean dish.
The dining room is very cozy with rustic decoration down to details like the tablecloth. The place gets packed on the weekends, as the towns of Elgobar, Azkoitia and Deba are nearby. It’s a good idea to make reservations in advance, especially considering it’s not the easiest road to drive (especially in the winter) to get to the restaurant.
The unbeatable gastronomic offerings are beautifully complimented by the green and mountainous backdrop. I’ll for sure go back and get the beans again. They’re the king dish, almost scandalous. It’s a typical place to bring guests. They’ll flip out at how good the food is.