Best new restaurant (and first review) in years!

Welcome — to A three-dimensional fiesta of flavors, sounds, and ambience. (also known as the restaurant that inspired the blind food critic to want to pick up the virtual pen again!) Each of you has now been transported to my absolute favorite town in the world, San Sebastian, located in the marvelous Basque country, which may look like Spain on the map but don’t believe the hype! I have whisked you away so that you can experience the true definition of fusion, executed in the right way: there shall be no gimmicks or incorrectly mish-mashing cuisines together here. Instead, we are visiting a restaurant whose chef forages the best local ingredients associated with the Basque Country and then uses them to perfection in an array of dishes found in Latin America. Make sure to reserve in advance, and let us find out together what kind of party is in store here!

Topa Sukalderia
Aguirre Miramón 7
San Sebastián (Basque Country)
943 569 143
5 out of 5 stars!

Walking in the door:

As we enter, you will notice the soundtrack of festive music that puts us into a lovely enthusiastic mood. Each time I have dined here, I noticed how crowded the restaurant seemed, which not only made me happy to have reserved my table a month ago, but there is something about snagging the last table that gives me the feeling of exclusivity and, sadly, a kind of VIP status. After being seated, the first thing to observe is Topa’s extensive list of cocktails. The clear winner was a Basque take on the frozen margarita “bitxilore”, which was very refreshing and strong with defined notes of citrus.

Where to start:

This place can’t miss with their appetizers… ever! My dining companions always choose the outstanding – Tôpa Guacamole, which stands out because of it’s unique “do-it-yourself” presentation (I don’t want to ruin the surprise). I absolutely adore two seafood-based choices, which may appear on the menu depending whether you dine for lunch or dinner. The Causa de Txangurro is a marvelous creation: its bottom is composed of spider crab (txangurro in Basque) that is shredded and mixed with mayonnaise, then topped with a potato puree, sweet potato puree, cilantro, and zesty lime. This combination of flavors and textures was simply outstanding and a preparation I had never witnessed elsewhere. My other favorite appetizer, available only once, was a seafood Molcajete: shrimp calamari and clams cooked in a sort of Mexican bowl of volcanic rock. However, my favorite is Empanadas argentinas de ossobuco y kalimotxo. The filling is composed of moist and tender shredded veal, but the game changer here is the glaze! As a matter of background, there exists a drink in the Basque country which some describe as either disgusting, appealing, or a great reason to mix coke with alcohol. It is called
kalimotxo
and generally consists of a local wine (txakoli) combined with Coca-Cola. Therefore, imagine this potent potable transformed into a glaze: sweet, aromatic, and with just a hint of the wine reduction — magical!

We then proceed to the “tacotalos”. These are handheld items resembling tacos, but which are really made of talo. As a matter of definition, think of talo as a very thin Basque corn-based bread, which was the only bread product made on the basque farmhouses (baserris) because all they planted was corn. Everyone at my table enjoyed all varieties: Al pastor vasco, featuring pork, Merluza frita con salsa pipian verde pays homage to the undeniable king of fish in the area (hake), and Chipirones en su tinta con mole features squid cooked in its ink.

The Grill:

Visiting the grilled section of the menu, you will find Txoripan de txistorra, like a split hot dog on a brioche bun except using the well-seasoned local Basque sausage of txistorra. For lovers of chicken, Anticuchos de pollo con pimientos confitados juxtaposes 2 skewers of boneless chicken thighs with soft pequillo peppers, all with that wonderful grill flavor. Finally, if you are really a hungry carnivore (and your friends are as well) dig in to the surprising highlight of topa: Asado de ternera, chimichurri y papas! Again close your eyes and imagine a huge platter with a foot long piece of the most tender, marbled, and charred piece of brisket you ever have tasted! This hunk of meat is grilled to absolute perfection, and feeds a small crowd. The icing on the cake appears with the accompanying out-of-this-world crisp potatoes and a chimichurri sauce so authentic that it spares us the cost of going to South America for the actual thing. Come hungry, leave happy, and understand that this high level of cuisine and flavor is rarely matched anywhere.

At this juncture, and after such fine dining and cocktails, I would be in more of a need of a taxi then of desserts. Yet, Topa keeps hitting us over the head with gems, so I must boringly report again that there are no misses in this category. On my first visit, I was presented with churos that were so light and fluffy on the inside, I was amazed. Next time, I opted for the airy coco loco, with coconut gelato, caramelized pineapple, and other matching fruity elements. Both were the perfect end to an otherworldly meal.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter to me if this review earns 1 cent, 1 follower, or even 1 like. I am just thrilled to have shared this experience with all of you.
In summation: Remember when I asked you to book your plane ticket to San Sebastian, 850 words ago? Let’s go!

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