I am very excited to announce that I am on the precipice of realizing a dream I’ve had for most of my life: opening my own restaurant. Those who know me know that I love great food and wine and have sampled some of the best from around the world. My new restaurant Gerníka Pintxos will bring the best of Spain to Puerto Vallarta.
Those of you who follow my blog know that I love to travel in Spain. Mexico will always be home to me, but Spain is a marvelous adventure with some of the best food and wine on this planet.
I have very good friends who had a Spanish restaurant in Puerto Vallarta for years named La Esquina de los Caprichos, or the “Corner of the Whims.” Octavio, who is also known as “Chapis”, his wife Miren and their two children Itzel and Iker, closed the restaurant in 2014 and moved back to Spain to be closer to their families. Their return to Spain, however, was short-lived and in less than a year they were back in sunny Puerto Vallarta. They have spent the last few years doing catering and other special events and have been able to dedicate more time to spend with their children. Their plan was always to go back into the restaurant business.
I have always had a dream of owning my own bar. I was not sure what kind of a bar it would be, but I wanted a place where everyone would want to gather. It would be fun and casual, serve great drinks and great wine. One day this past May a group of my friends, including Chapis and Miren, started talking about the possibility of us partnering to do a bar/restaurant. That evening Gerníka Pintxos was born.
Pintxos are the Basque Country version of tapas and they are served at bars all over the Basque Country of northwestern Spain with wines, beer, hard cider and cocktails. The fun thing about pintxos is that most are single-serving small bites, so you can order just one to tide yourself over until your next meal or order a bunch to share with the table and make a meal.
The artistry involved in creating each pintxo is the draw and most bars will prominently display the pintxos in glass cases in their windows to lure customers into the bar. In Spain, most bars offer both inside and outside seating with people-watching as a daily activity, a key element to a successful bar. Chapis and Miren are at work in the kitchen now, trying out new recipes and bringing back artful old favorites.
The other key element for our new restaurant is offering good wine BY THE GLASS at reasonable prices. Many restaurants now have wonderful wine lists with wines from all over the world, but most only offer a couple of wines by the glass with the rest only by the bottle. With the help of my friends at Uncork Mexico, we have created a list of 14 different wines by the glass: 11 from Spain and 3 from Mexico, with prices ranging from $80 pesos to $240 pesos per glass.
Once decisions had been made on food and drink, we set out to find the perfect location in Puerto Vallarta. We started our search with a list of “must haves.” First, we wanted to start small. Second, we needed a place with street appeal to show off the pintxos. Third, we wanted to find, if possible, somewhere with outdoor seating, which is often difficult in Puerto Vallarta. Fourth, we wanted a spot in a busy part of town, but without a lot of noise from the car and bus traffic and all of the new construction going on south of the Cuale River. A daunting task, but not impossible.
Fortunately, we were able to locate a property that checked all of the boxes. Gerníka Pintxos will be opening its doors this month across the street from Archie’s Wok and just down the block from the new pier at Los Muertos Beach.
If you live in Vallarta or will be visiting, I invite you to stop by and linger a while!
In my next blog, I’ll be going over the procedures for opening a new business in Mexico.