Pintxo Wha? : What is a Pintxo and How Do You Even Pronounce It?

At Pintxo we get asked a lot how to pronounce our name and what it means.  I mean to shed a little light on that subject right here and now.

Pintxo is a Basque word that literally means a “spike.”  So, when the term “pintxo” is used in reference to food, we’re talking about skewered foods.  For the record, “pintxo” is pronounced “peen-cho.”  “Pincho” is how the word is spelled in Spanish (the “txo” is characteristic of Basque words”), and pintxos are enjoyed throughout the country.  In much of Spain, the term “pintxo” or “pincho” is used to refer only to food that is served on a stick, or small bite-sized foods.  In the Basque region of Spain, the term “pintxo” is often used in casual conversation to refer to either  just skewered and bite-sized foods, or as a general term for tapas or small plates.  This is because despite the exact meaning of the word, the tapas culture is so prominent that many people, no longer specify between small plates and skewered bites.  Of course, this isn’t always true, there are exceptions to the rule.  There are always exceptions to the rule, and some Basque are very specific about terminology.  However, this is generally true, and this is where many Spanish restaurants in the U.S take their concept of pintxo and tapas from.

Pintxos may be meat, fish, cheese, or vegetables, or any combination of two or more.  They are also commonly seen paired with bread.  For those new to the world of Spanish cuisine and tapas, this may be a bit confusing since montaditos (toasts) are also a common offering on tapas menus.  However, just remember the basic meaning of pintxo (skewered) and you should be OK.  Most pintxo that come with bread still feature the characteristic toothpick or skewer spiked through it.  And, to clarify, montadito are more like open-faced sandwiches.  They are meats, vegetables, cheeses, fish, and sauces, served on a bread that is similar to a baguette.

The best part about pintxos are in the way that they are enjoyed.  A pintxo is not the type of food you take to-go.  Pintxos are meant to be enjoyed in the company of others.  They are meant to be eaten with friends and acquaintances, both new and old.  Sitting at a bar and having a drink and pintxos with friends is the ultimate in Basque experiences, and it is this vibe that Pintxo strives to offer.

Pintxo Seattle’s offerings for pintxos (and montiditos) vary based on the time of the year and what we’re feeling at the moment.

My current favorite pintxo:  Flat Iron Steak.  This pintxo is served with bread, aioli, and a decadent demiglace drizzled over the top.

My current favorite montadito (while we’re talking about them): Duck Confit.  This montadito consists of confited duck wrapped in prosciutto set on top bread and aioli, and topped with a burnt orange and cream sherry reduction.