After visiting both San Sebastian and Pamplona, I quickly learned how much I love the idea of a pinchos crawl. This is the concept of walking from bar to bar, eating little bits of tasty food along the way. It’s one of our favorite ways to eat in Spain. When visiting the Rioja wine region, though, we learned about a place called Calle Laurel, the famous Logroño food street. We embarked on more than one Calle Laurel pinchos crawl and are here to help you do the same.
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Where Is Logrono Spain
In order to have this authentic food and drink experience, first, I want to talk about Logrono Spain (or, more properly Logroño in Spanish). Logrono is one of the main cities used to explore the Rioja wine region in Spain.
The Rioja region includes over 50,000 hectares of vineyards. The wine region spans three different political or geographic regions of Spain: La Rioja, the Basque Country, and Navarre. Most of the wine region falls within La Rioja. Logrono is the capital of La Rioja and is the perfect place to explore the wine region.
Learn more in our guide to The Best Rioja Wineries.
Why Visit Logrono For Food
One of the main reasons why Logrono is a great base for wine travelers is its proximity to some of the top wineries in Spain. But, it is also a great base because of the local food scene.
After a day of wine tasting, we generally don’t seek out lengthy multi-course meals in fancy restaurants. Of course, there is a time and place for that. After stopping at two or three wineries, we want to eat casually, and Logrono is the place to do that.
Logrono is also a city on the pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago, so perhaps this guide can help other travelers enjoy an evening eating in Logrono after a long day of walking.
Check out our Spain Food Guide – What To Eat In Spain for more details on regional must-try dishes in Spain.
Tapas And Pinchos And Pintxos
Many travelers think of tapas when they think of Spain. This is because tapas bars are becoming popular in cities around the world. Originally, tapas started as a little bite of food that was placed on top of a glass of wine or beer in order to keep the flies out. Over time, this evolved so that tapas are now slightly larger portions but still much smaller than a full course.
Around the Basque region in Northern Spain, though, the small bits of food served at bars and restaurants are known as pinchos or pintxos. In San Sebastian and Bilbao, they use the word pintxos, which is the local Basque language. In Logrono and La Rioja, they use the word pinchos, which is in the Spanish language. They are the local version of Rioja tapas.
What Are Pinchos
Now that we’ve gotten some of the nomenclatures down, what are pinchos anyway? At its most basic, a pincho is a small bite of food that is normally served on a skewer or a stick. The original pintxo, from San Sebastian, is the Gilda. The word pincho comes from the Spanish pinchar, which translates to puncture. It is the action of piercing the food with a skewer.
But, just like tapas have evolved over the years, so have pinchos. Pinchos also include small bits of food placed on a slice of bread, similar to the shape of a baguette. It can also refer to small plates of food as well.
This is where I differ from a lot of people when I’ve researched tapas and pinchos. Many people write that it is not common to find Spanish pinchos served on a plate, but I disagree. We’ve eaten more pinchos on a plate than any other way, particularly in San Sebastian where chefs are perhaps more creative.
Normally people order one pincho per person, but sometimes we do share a pincho just so we can try more. There are almost always pinchos found on the bar and it’s okay to ask for a plate and serve yourself. They will count at the end.
But, some of the best pinchos to order are the ones made fresh and served from a menu. Always look for a menu or a chalkboard in the restaurant to see what else they serve besides what is on the bar.
What Is Calle Laurel In Logrono
Calle Laurel is a street that runs through the center of Logrono, a few blocks south of the Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Rodonda. Calle means street in Spanish. Although the street itself contains dozens of pinchos bars, there are also tons more on the alleyways and other streets that are parallel or perpendicular to Calle Laurel. Also, check out some of the bars on Calle San Agustin and Calle Albornoz.
Most of the bars are fairly small, where people stand shoulder to shoulder eating on the weekends. On Thursdays, most bars offer Logrono pinchos deals with free or discounted pinchos, so that is also a busy time.
This area is easily accessible by foot from most of the hotels in the center of town. As it turns out almost all of our recommendations for pinchos bars in Logrono are located on the streets around Calle Laurel rather than actually on Calle Laurel.
What Is A Pinchos Crawl
Americans are quite familiar with the term bar crawl, at least I was in college (and after college as well I will admit). A pinchos crawl is similar except the focus is on food rather than drink.
Essentially it is a way to walk from bar to bar, order a drink and a pincho, and then move on to the next spot. It’s quite possible to make five or six stops in a night.
One important thing to note. Most bars don’t have tables and chairs. Be prepared to stand. Wear comfortable shoes. And, feel free to eat and drink outside the bar with the locals. Then, move onto the next stop on your crawl.
Calle Laurel Pinchos Crawl Pro Tip:
It’s perfectly okay to eat and drink outside the bar, in the streets and alleys that surround Calle Laurel. Many bars, though, have a sign asking you to pay for your pincho and drink before bringing it outside so that they can keep track of things. This is common in other tapas-eating cities like Seville or Malaga as well.
What To Drink During A Pinchos Crawl
Along with your pincho, order something local to drink. They do have beer, which you can order as a caña, a small draft beer. They also can serve cider, or sidra in Spanish. If you spent your day doing a Rioja wine tour, feel free to go this route as it is a palate cleanser after all of the wine.
We basically kept to wine during our pinchos crawl, normally ordering a Crianza or Reserva, which are two types of aged Rioja wine. Most Rioja wines are red, but they also produce white and rose. When asking for a red wine you will probably be served Rioja. If you order white or rose, they might offer wine from farther north or west, like Rueda. Ask for a Rioja Blanco or Rioja rose to make sure you are drinking local.
How To Order From A Pinchos Menu
If we are answering the question of what to eat in Logrono, it has to be pinchos. But, how does a traveler, particularly one who might not speak a lot of Spanish, go about ordering pinchos during a Calle Laurel pinchos crawl?
I love San Sebastian, but I felt Logrono to be a lot more authentic and less crowded. Although there are other tourists, there aren’t as many. It’s mostly filled with locals.
It’s common to order the house specialty along with a drink. There are picture menus outside many of the bars, but those aren’t for the tourists like they are in other cities. Instead, they help to show the locals some of the unique specialties of each pinchos bar. This also helps you to find the house specialty with ease.
Another way to do that is just to see what everyone else is eating, politely point to it, and say “por favor!”
Pinchos in Rioja Pro Tip:
It’s common to see a bar of pinchos and just start eating. But, don’t feel that you are limited to what is on the bar top. Look for a menu behind the bar or on the wall or look at what most of the locals are eating. These are often the best and most fresh options.
How Much Is A Night Of Pinchos In Logrono
Although it is possible to pay with credit cards, it becomes a little difficult, particularly for Americans who need to sign their credit card purchases. This is particularly true on busy nights. I recommend carrying a few tens and twenties for the night, maybe with some coins, to make paying easy.
Beers and wines generally cost between €1.50-3. Most pinchos cost between €3-5. That means that for two people to have a decent crawl, you can probably spend between €15-20 per person. This is really not bad considering if you plan it right you can have a fun evening out. It’s almost like the Calle Laurel pinchos crawl is your evening entertainment.
Eating Pinchos on Calle Laurel – Logrono Spain
Pinchos On Calle Laurel – The Logrono Tapas Street
Some of our recommended pinchos and tapas can be considered La Rioja food specialties. Some are specialties of a particular pinchos bar. Most of them might be a little more Spanish than Riojan, but they are still worth searching for. I will try to recommend a particular bar to visit for each of the pinchos on our list.
Although the locals might do one or two pinchos before a full dinner out, we normally make an evening of pinchos our main meal. This helps us to try a lot of different dishes and flavors even when only in town for a few days.
Remember that many of the bars have their specialty pincho. At Bar Lorenzo, try the grilled chistorra, a chorizo sausage with paprika and garlic, which is a closely-guarded family secret. Or, La Aldea specializes in razor clams, known as navajas in Spanish. At Pata Negra, try the jamon Iberico. La Universidad specializes in Galician-style octopus. I could go on.
Here is our list of favorites. We did not eat these all in one night and you probably can’t either. This should, though, be a good list for you to work from for a pinchos crawl.
Although originating in San Sebastian, a Gilda is a great way to start the evening in Logrono. It’s a single stick with spicy pepper, an olive, and an anchovy. It’s such a collision of flavors that it really wakes the taste buds up.
Croquetas are another good starter pincho in Logrono. They are normally deep-fried balls of potato or bechamel sauce, sometimes mixed with Jamon or bacalao, which is salted cod fish. They can also be a great end-of-evening tapa, to soak up all the alcohol.
Carrillera is pork or beef cheek and it’s nothing to be afraid of. We often meet Americans who are worried about trying this cut of meat, but when properly prepared it is one of the most tender cuts of meat. Try to order the Carrillera at Tastavin on Calle San Juan, where it is slow-cooked and served with red pepper and crispy potato strips.
Ventresca Con Piperrada
Ventresca is a piece of tuna. This version is served over a bed of piperrada, which is a Basque-style preparation of peppers. The peppers are slow-cooked and tangy along with onion and tomato. It’s a side dish that is often served with various types of meat or seafood. Try Ventresca Con Piperrada at Umm on Calle Torrecilla en Cameros, a more contemporary pinchos bar near Calle Laurel.
Setas – Grilled Mushrooms
The biggest, juiciest grilled mushrooms I’ve ever had. Bar Soriano on Calle Laurel specializes in just one tapa, their grilled mushrooms. They are prepared fresh, grilled on a flat top grill, drizzled with garlic oil, and then filled with a small prawn. They are messy but worth it.
Carpaccio de Oreja
This is not a tapa in Logrono for the unadventurous eater but it is one of the most traditional tapas to eat in La Rioja. A true Riojan specialty. Carpaccio de Oreja is a pig’s ear carpaccio, where the ears are sliced thin and drizzled with olive oil and paprika. Try this at El Canalla, a cute bar with a great picture menu on Calle Albornoz.
If pig’s ear carpaccio is a bit much, then try this pincho at El Canalla instead. Huevo is egg in Spanish. So, this is an egg explosion and I don’t know how else to describe it. A small quail’s egg yolk is wrapped in a pastry and fried. Eat it in one bite not to make a mess, or bite the top off like we did to get a photo of the gooey inside!
Cochinillo – Suckling Pig
This is one of our favorite things to eat anywhere in the world, suckling pig, which is a baby pig. In Spain, this is called cochinillo. It’s tender and juicy with a lovely crisp skin on top. Try this version at las Cubanas on Calle San Agustín, a great little place for traditional Riojan cuisine.
Lecherillas Con Pimientos
Another more adventurous pincho to try in Logrono can also be found at las Cubanas. Lecherillas are essentially deep-fried intestines, in this case, served with juicy red peppers. Don’t be scared of this dish. They taste a little like popcorn chicken and go well with a glass of Rioja wine.
This is a dish we could eat morning, noon, and night. Revuelto is a dish with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, and pancetta. You’ll find different versions, some with asparagus or Jamon. No matter what’s inside, the results are the same. A salty yet filling plate of goodness.
I understand this is not the best photo, but that’s what happens at the tail end of a pinchos crawl. At Pata Negra, the specialty is a little sandwich, called a boletita, with Jamon and melted cheese. The ingredients melt together really well and provide you with the perfect hand-held pincho. It’s a perfect last stop (or first stop) of the evening. Jamoneria Pata Negra is on Calle Laurel.
Arroz Con Leche – Spanish Rice Pudding
We are not huge dessert people. Often we fill up on savories way before dessert comes. But I always can find a place for a little Arroz con Leche, a Spanish rice pudding. If you still have room after a night-long Calle Laurel pinchos crawl, definitely order a bowl of rice pudding at Meson Jebugo on Calle Alfonso.
Felix, the bota maker in Logrono
Things To Do in Logrono Spain
There are other things to do in the city besides eating pinchos. But, most of what we did while in town focused on Rioja wine trips. We spent almost a week in Logrono exploring the wine region. A great way to see the area is to book a Rioja wine tour that leaves from Logrono. Check the best price for this Logrono wine tour here.
Also, while in Logrono, definitely check out the Mercato de San Blas for a glimpse into all of the local produce, meats, and fish that are used in all of the tasty pinchos mentioned above. Look for embuchados, which are coiled intestines, which you can find at some of the Logrono pinchos bars. Just outside of the market is an adorable little spice shop called La Casa del Pimenton. It’s a perfect place to pick up a little paprika or pimiento pepper to bring home.
A few blocks away, check out Botas Rioja, where they have been making botas for four generations. Botas is the leather bag traditionally used to carry wine while walking or riding a horse. We took one home. It makes a great souvenir. Ask for Felix, who is proud to predict that his son will be the fifth generation to hand-make botas at the shop.
Restaurants in Logrono Spain
In addition to the bars listed above, there are a couple of Logrono restaurants I can recommend that specialize in the food of Rioja.
Tondeluna on Calle Muro de Francisco de la Mata
Tondeluna is a great option for contemporary sit-down dining as an alternative to pinchos in Logrono. Try the pimientos riojanos, which are sauteed red peppers from nearby Navarra. They are most known for the giant bucket of butter they put on the table at the start of the meal. It is not entirely clear why.
Enascuas on Calle Hermanos Moroy
Enascuas specializes in grilled meats. They cook on an asador meaning they cook the meats on an open flame. If you like meat, this is the place for you.
FAQs – Calle Laurel Pinchos
You certainly won’t be thrown out of the country, and chances are you won’t be using the phrase tapas or pinchos anyway. You will be ordering dishes by their name. But, try to use the word pinchos because it shows that you have educated yourself on the local food culture, which is distinct from other areas of Spain.
Because we were out exploring the wine region, we only hit the pinchos bars in Logrono at night. We normally ate lunch in or near a winery – but I can’t complain about that. Normally the pinchos bars are open for a crawl during both lunch and dinner. Some bars are open all day, but it is common for them to close in the afternoons. The bars will open back up again around 7 or 8 pm, but won’t get busy until 9 pm or later.
Generally, no. Drinks are so inexpensive anyway. But, on Thursday nights, there are deals on pinchos. Sometimes there are discounted pinchos or even free ones with a drink purchase. This can be a great deal, but it is probably one of the busiest nights for the locals to do their own Calle Laurel pinchos crawl, so be prepared.
Calle Laurel Logroño is a pedestrian-friendly street in the center of the town. It’s just a few blocks south of the cathedral and a few blocks north of Avenida Gran Via Juan Carlos I.