Perhaps this past weekend, if you were near The International Boardwalk at Redondo Beach Pier, you might’ve thought you heard a rumbling resembling a herd of aggravated bulls barreling through the streets. You would’ve been right. Fortunately, that action was all taking place in Pamplona, Spain via Esquire Network for the annual Running of the Bulls, part of the Festival of Sanfermines. And the best local place to safely catch all the man vs. bull bravado was at A Basq Kitchen, the new Redondo Beach Pier Basque eatery (known in Basque country as a jatetxea or eating house—typically a lively one).
Keeping to tradition, plenty of kalimotxo (pronounced: kalee-moh-cho), a cocktail blend of half Coke and half red wine, was poured, in addition to red and white sangrias. It’s recommended to imbibe some liquid courage before rubbing rumps with the bulls, or even if you’re merely watching on t.v.
Chef-owner Beñat (Bernard) Ibarra is himself of Basque heritage. I met him for the first time at a fundraising and chef series dinner at the nearby Terranea Resort where he acts as Executive Chef for the destination’s food and beverage operations, including all dining venues. This personal project, A Basq Kitchen, is a much more humble affair and certainly a labor of love.
The casual space is opened up to the the rest of the boardwalk and its various restaurants, somewhat like you’d experience in Spain with streets teaming with tapas bars. In fact, A Bask Kitchen encourages its guests to amble along the pier sampling food and drinks from other establishments as would be the practice in Spain.
As far as grub, you can anticipate pintxos (skewers) and tapas like plancha-seared squid cooked in its own ink, lots of marinated olives, tender, smoky grilled lamb chops, fantastic steamed mussels with chorizo, even a Basque burger served with potatoes bravas.
However, the real special tapas come from the offals of the bulls, er, cows. Lengua a la Plancha or beef tongue was thin, tender slices of slowly braised tongue. Next, a beef tripe dish called Callos Lapurdi-style further established A Basq Kitchen as a traditional-style tapas restaurant feeding guests food that have been enjoyed for ages in the Basque region.
Serious Spanish cooking has established a foothold on Redondo Beach Pier’s International Boardwalk. Best of all, you don’t even have to get gored by a bull to enjoy it.
A Basq Kitchen, 136 N. International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, 310-376-9215