Knock on the green wooden door and wait. It’ll slowly swing open with a creak, granting you entry into Gure Txoko Basque Club. Gure Txoko, which means “our corner” in Basque, began as a male-only social club in 1966. These days everyone is welcome to join their Sunday lunch, a three-course meal prepared by member volunteers that costs just $25. Bargain. And the grog is cheap too, with glasses of wine at $4, beer for $5 and bottles of wine starting at $15.
There’s still a blokey feel to the place – its wood-panelled walls are covered in trophies, portraits and sports memorabilia. Lunch isn’t served until 2pm on Sundays but as long as you’ve made a booking*, you can arrive anytime from noon for drinks. Hang with the Basque locals – a mix of friends, families and wizened old timers – but do make sure you check out the pelota court at the back, a traditional handball game that uses curved baskets to hurl a rubber ball at breakneck speed.
The menu changes from week to week but expect rustic home-style cooking served on mismatched vintage crockery. On our visit we start with salmorejo, a chilled tomato soup laced with garlic and paprika, garnished with shredded Serrano ham, chopped hard-boiled eggs and croutons.
Main course is marmitako, a Basque fish stew that translates as “from the pot”. It’s a hearty serve of tuna, carrots and potatoes simmered into a rich seafood stock. Dessert is a massive wedge of baked cheesecake.
Everything comes out of a tiny kitchen, manned not by the nonnas you’d expect, but a brigade of young and chirpy volunteers. There might be a gap between courses but no-one’s in a hurry. Sit back, relax, and Basque in the last lazy hours of your weekend.
*Sunday lunch seats must be pre-booked by 5pm of the Friday beforehand