Chef Alex Raij, El Quinto Pino, Txikito, La Vara, New York, NY, NYC, Manhattan, Brooklyn, NY, Spanish, Basque, Chelsea, Cobble Hill, Where to eat, Where to drink, What to eat, Where to shop, What to drink, Wine, Sherry, Recommendations, Chef’s Recommendations, Chef’s Favorite Restaurants, Spanish, Spain, Galicia, Madrid, Bilbao, New York, Anchovies, Sardines, Markets, Stores, Restaurants, Bakery, Wine, Canned Seafood


Photographs courtesy of Alex Raij, Txikito and El Quinto Pino


Txikito - El Quinto Pino | New York, NY & La Vara | Brooklyn, NY



Spanish / Basque

240 9th Avenue

New York, NY 10001

T: 212.242.4730


El Quinto Pino


Spanish / Basque

401 West 24th Street

New York, NY 10011

T: 212.206.6900


La vara

Cobble Hill

Spanish / Moorish / Jewish

268 Clinton Street

Brooklyn, NY 11201

T: 718.422.0065



Q & A


Recommended By

- Chef Marc Vidal (Boqueria in New York, NY)

- Chef Jesus Nunez (Gastroarte in New York, NY)

- Chef Jason Hall (Crown in New York, NY)

- Restaurateur Lolo Manso (Socarrat Paella Bar, Socarrat Wine Bar, La Nacional, La Churreria in New York, NY)

- Wine Importer Andre Tamers (De Maison Selections)

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Q & A with Chef Alex Raij

Q. On May 6th, you have your annual charity event, Txikifest, can you tell us about it?

A. Txikifest brings together great food from our favorite restaurants and txakoli from more than 15 of the best producers available stateside for a day of street fair fun. One thing we also try to do is community building through Spanish food. All proceeds go to NYU Langone Pediatric Care.

[Get Txikifest info here]

Q. You’ve just opened your newest restaurant, La Vara in Brooklyn, what are the influences that inspire the menu?

A. La Vara is a Spanish restaurant that celebrates the Moorish and Jewish legacy in the cuisines of Spain. We're having fun revisiting Mediterranean flavors and seeking out ingredients that were brought to Spain by these two cultures, as well as tracing the techniques that were absorbed into the Spanish repertoire, due to the intersection of these cultures (during the time of Convivencia).

That being said, La Vara is serving a current expression of Spanish food. We are not reviving dishes that are dead or medieval, but rather focusing on dishes that are alive and well, or riffing on classic preparations that reflect the impact of these times.

Q. You have two Spanish places in Manhattan -- El Quinto Pino and Txikito:

A. I don't think anyone sets the bar higher for themselves than we do on authenticity, ingredient quality and/or tastiness when it comes to Spain.

El Quinto Pino (EQP)

El Quinto Pino delivers the best tapas in a super charming, 400-square foot storefront, with a marble bar and antique tiles. EQP is about eating and drinking standing up (though their are seats too). We strive to bring home tapas as a social tradition and ignite a new interest in traditional Spanish foods.


Txikito is a Basque restaurant in the tradition of the Jatetxea, where you can eat all things Basque from pintxos and squid-in-ink sauce to New York’s best suckling pig, whole turbot Elkano-style and cider house steaks, with a wine list planted firmly in Basque DOs of Navarra and Rioja Alavesa among others.


Chef’s Recs | Food

Noras Peppers

Photograph courtesy of La Tienda

Find | Spice For Spanish Cooking

Ñoras Peppers

I am loving Ñora peppers, a smoky dry pepper used to make Romesco sauce from Valencia. I rehydrate them and harvest all their meaty pulp and blend it with olive oil garlic. I cook it out in a pan and add in the reserved liquid from hydrating the peppers to make a paste. This can then be combined with soffrito to make a rice dish, for example, or with salt cod for Valencian Pericana, which I love.

[See details.]


Don Bocarte Anchovies | Ortiz Tuna En Escabeche | Rias Gallegas Galician Clams

Photographs courtesy of Despana | La Tienda | La Tienda

Find | Canned Spanish Seafood

Anchovies | Don Bocarte & Nardin

I love Don Bocarte and Nardin anchovies. I’m kind of an anchovy fanatic and what I love about them is umami and salinity. The higher the quality, the more rarefied elegance you can find in a product that is the true meaning of artisanal.


I have gone on at length about Ortiz and how great those products are.

Rias Gallegas

For amazing products.

[See details.]


Chef’s Recs | New York, NY

Despana | Saxelby Cheesemonger at Essex Market

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

Find | Spanish Shops and Markets


It’s the best retail store I know of in the country, not just in New York. Others may have more pottery and music, but for food it can't be beat.

Essex Street Market

I love Essex Market, which is not Spanish, but Hispanic, with an ever-growing roster of new vendors, like Heritage and Saxelby Cheesemongers. I love this place because the price and quality are great. It is a meeting point for food lovers and cookers and I feel like I’m in a Spanish market.

[See details.]

Patisserie Claude | Pastries from Patisserie Claude

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

Find | Bakeries

Patisserie Claude

I love Patisserie Claude on West 4th for awesome for palmiers and French pastry.

[See details.]


Chef’s Recs | Spain

Eat | Restaurants


Photographs courtesy of Arbolagaña



It’s in the Museum of Fine Arts. It’s for a fancier meal. Tasting menus always include really cool wines and well-prepared pork hocks and desserts.

Rio Oja

The stews and casuelas at Rio Oja are always wonderful, whether snails or trotters served with lots of bread for mopping up great sauces.

[See details.]

Galicia | Don Camillo

In San Xenxo, Galicia, I love Don Camillo for awesome seafood and Albarinos.

[See details.]

Madrid’s Mercado San Miguel

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

Madrid | Mercado San Miguel

In Madrid, a trip to Mercado San Miguel is in order, but expect to pay lots for delicacies from all of Spain. Still, a must see.

[See details.]


Txakoli | Cortijo Rosado | Ostatu Rosado

Find | Spanish Wine

Naturally I love Txakoli in all its styles, but lately I have been enjoying the Garnatxa Blancas (Garnacha Blanca) of Terra Alta and the white wines from Ribeiro. I also love the new roses from Ostatu and El Cortijo.

[See details.]


Yakitori Totto

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

Eat | Restaurants

Where To Take A Visiting Chef

Cong Ly

I love to take visitors to ‘my Lower East Side’ and Cong Ly is a Pho noodle shop at Hester and Christie streets for pitch perfect, unsurpassed in NYC broths. I order traditional Xue La or Curried Chicken with thin noodles. Stick to noodles and stews here.

North Dumpling

Hands down the best for dumplings. They need no sauce, skins are handmade and stuffed, and they use chinese garlic chives instead of scallion for a very special flavor. Their soups also have seaweed...everything here is just a little better than it has to be!

Yakitori Totto

I love going here for beef tongue, chicken cartilage and a view of the super hip Japanese cooks. Come for the food, leave with a T shirt.

[See details / See Yakitori Slide Show.]