Mrs. Brainiac insisted that we drive down to San Sebastian - Donostia from Biarritz to eat tapas one Saturday afternoon during our two week road trip around southwest France. I caved in to the inevitable and we managed to find a parking space along the coast road not far from the pedestrian area filled with tapas bars. It was just what Mrs. B was looking for and it was a very pleasant surprise.
We roamed a bit and stopped into several tapas bars including Ormazabal. Given the euro/dollar exchange rate, the tapas was not exactly a bargain -- 2 Euros a piece -- but it was still a better deal than the French restaurants north of the border. One beer and four tapas items later and we were out about 10 Euro or around $14. Not too bad.
The proprietor at Ormazabal was a kindly gent who listened patiently as my Spanish rolled out of my mouth at the speed of molasses flowing in the Yukon. This was our first trip to a tapas bar and we asked how in the world the system worked. He grinned and said it was quite simple: we take what we want, he watches and keeps track of the bill. When we are done, we pay. I don't know how they keep track of 30 or 40 customers grabbing food, but they do. And they really love it if you manage a few syllables in Spanish. Be prepared to accept a free shot of hospitality from the bartender for your linguistic efforts.
We liked the place and would stop back in if and when we go back. It is a typical tapas bar full of tourists, but the food was fresh, there were lots of different things to choose from, the beer was ice cold, and the festive atmosphere was a treat.
Tip: try some of the off beat items for some real taste surprises! Octopus on toast was a keeper.
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