Gastronomía Andrea González

Cantabria, bite by bite

With a total of eight Michelin stars, Cantabria is a first-rate gastronomic attraction at the forefront of culinary creativity. We visit the six restaurants that have been awarded stars by by the prestigious guide and reveal some of their chefs’ best-kept secrets.

  1. 1 Cenador de Amós

    With three Michelin stars, the restaurant of chef Jesús Sánchez, which is located in an 18th-century house in Villaverde de Pontons, leads the list. Its offering is organised into three different tasting menus that bring an innovative approach and impeccable technique to local traditions. Cenador de Amós’ kitchen has revamped its menus for this season, and the sea is the star of the show,with ingredients are directly related to the Cantabrian Sea. “We start with anchovies, followed by a morsel of ‘sea rock’ with barnacles or sea urchin, and oyster in carrot escabeche, or ice cream with butter and caviar,” explains the cook. “The baby squid dish has been one of the most popular of the season and also the one that has produced the most excitement.”

    Where does the chef eat?
    Some Mondays, you can find him at Restaurante Sinfo in Suesa enjoying red beans or battered hake.

    ostra en escabeche de zanahoria
    Ostra en escabeche de zanahoria, del Cenador de Amós
  2. 2 El Serbal

    In Santander, El Serbal has held a Michelin star for almost 20 years. Its very honest and tasty proposal is based on respect for produce and traditional flavours. This season, the nuance of flavours stands out – intense yet at the same time delicate. As its director, Rafael Prieto, says, at El Serbal you can enjoy incredible combinations, “from mushrooms with barley, roasted pepper juice and abalone to deer with chestnuts and coffee. These flavours linger subtly on the palate, reminding us of the season of the year and the excellence of its produce.”

    Where does the chef eat?
    He recommends El Faro in Cabo Mayor, an idyllic spot where you can enjoy a plate of deep-fried squid and a red vermouth while gazing on the glorious landscapes of the Cantabrian coast.

    vista desde la mesa de el serbal
  3. 3 La Bicicleta

    La Bicicleta – as you might guess from the name – is always in motion. It opened in Hoznayo in 2011, although it was completely reinvented in 2016. Soon afterwards – in 2017 – its efforts were rewarded with a Michelin star. Its spontaneous and laidback character connects perfectly with local produce – the kitchen works with its own vegetable and flower garden – and with seasonality: this autumn-winter, seafood joins the menu alongside the earthy flavours of mushrooms and turnips. Guests gather round the bar to see how the starters are made, while Cristina Cruz – who created this project with chef Eduardo Quintana – explains what is going on. No one should leave this restaurant without trying its hand-rolled puff pastry. 

    Where does the La Bicicleta team eat?
    Cristina recommends the “cocido montañés” at Casa Terio in Llerana.

    Hojaldre de La Bicicleta
    Hojaldre caramelizado, crema especiada y helado de arroz con leche, de La Bicicleta
  4. 4 La Casona del Judío

    La Casona de Judío was one of the last restaurants to join the list, as it received its first Michelin star in December 2021 in recognition of work done of chef Sergio Bastard’s team. Located in a spectacular 19th-century mansion in Santander, this space is focused on returning to traditional cuisine, to home, to the smell of wood. In the words of the chef, the offering is a “personal cuisine that looks to the sea and local produce, where sustainability plays a very important role.”

    Where does the chef eat breakfast?
    Sergio Bastard recommends the tortilla at Passarola.

    Anchoa de La Casona del Judío
    Anchoa, crujiente caramelizado y café, de La Casona del Judío
  5. 5 Solana

    As chef Ignacio Solana reminds us, Cantabria is the number two region in Spain for the proportion of Michelin stars it holds per capita. And in his restaurant in Ampuero he embodies the essence of contemporary Cantabrian cuisine, which focuses on local produce and respects time and season. In accordance with these principles, this season, Solana is incorporating mushrooms, game, rock fish and winter vegetables into its menu. “Fine dining is helping to improve traditional businesses and gastronomy,” explains the cook. “I think we’ve never eaten so well in Cantabria, wherever you go here.” 

    Where does the chef eat?
    His personal recommendation is the roasted venison at Las Nieves restaurant.

    Chef Ignacio Solana
    El chef Ignacio Solana en su restaurante de Ampuero
  6. 6 El Nuevo Molino

    Having won a Michelin star in 2009 after reopening a 30-year-old business in 2004 in Puente Arce, El Nuevo Molino defines itself as a place of contrast: “In our kitchens, the vast and rich Cantabrian pantry acquires new nuances, adapting classic cuisine with contemporary nods that allow us to interpret traditional dishes and to find new formats for flavours enjoyed over a lifetime. Sea and mountain. Ocean and stone. Orchard and terroir,” explains its chef, José Antonio González. In its 18th-century rooms, you can enjoy a variety of dishes ranging from porrusalda (a leek-based vegetable soup) with a cod tripe stew to magnificent local fish.