Hot Spot: Etxanobe Bilbao, Spain

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Published June 2006; Newsweek International

Situated atop the Congressional Palace in Spain’s most contemporary city, Etxanobe is the dining venue of choice for politicians and high society—not to mention the perfect spot for sampling exquisite Basque cuisine.

Décor: The room’s great height is accentuated by a charming mishmash of old-fashioned French touches and gold lamé curtains, as well as drapes billowing from the ceiling and a wall decorated with Dali-esque flair by Spanish artist Joaquín Gallando.

Best dishes: You’ll be hard pressed to find tenderer lamb than this succulent cordero, served with an artistic accoutrement of edible garnishings. For a more regional specialty, opt for the codfish, Bilbao’s most revered dish. Or try a little bit of everything with the menú gastronómico (five courses for a reasonable $80).

Dessert to die for: The leche caramelizada is a decadent caramel flan, topped with crystallized muscovado, an unrefined sugar with hints of molasses. Chocoholics, take note: there is an additional dessert menu with such specialties as triple-chocolate mousse and mini-chocolate bombs with mango ice cream.

Wine list: The extensive list specializes in reds and whites from the neighboring Rioja region, otherwise known as “Spain’s own wine country.”


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