The variety of the Spanish regional culinary repertoire, its top-quality local products and the rise of haute cuisine over the last two decades have expanded the map of essential Spanish restaurants beyond the classic centers of the Basque Country and Catalonia on the one hand, and Madrid as the capital on the other. All over Spain, gourmet travelers can expect to be surprised and delighted by both traditional cuisine and updated versions of it.
This is certainly the case of Extremadura, a region in the center/southeast of Spain sharing a long border with Portugal. Here, according to national and international food writers, is one of Europe's best restaurants, Atrio, in the historic city of Cáceres, whose old center is a World Heritage site protected by UNESCO.
Atrio offers elegance and subtlety in its décor and the presentation of its dishes, and personified by Toño Pérez (chef de cuisine) and José Polo (sommelier and maître). Having known each other as children, they then worked together in a bakery, and subsequently decided to form a professional team as restaurateurs. Atrio was opened in 1986, and was the first restaurant in Extremadura to establish maximum quality parameters and to aim for a reputation beyond that of the local area.
From the start, both Pérez and Polo had firm ideas about what they wanted to offer – prime local ingredients, prepared with simple, straightforward techniques. The menu features a broad range - local beef from the Retinta breed, Pimentón de la Vera (a Spanish type of paprika), Almoharín figs, succulent cuts of Ibérico pork and the traditional Torta del Casar cheese.
Atrio is the proud bearer of two Michelin stars. In 2012 Toño Pérez and José Polo presented the new location of Atrio Hotel & Restaurant, in Cáceres historic center. In www.foodswinesfromspain.com we defined it as "The Discreet Charm of the New Atrio".
One of the main distinguishing features of Atrio is its winelist and cellar. This is the responsibility of Polo who, over the years, has built up one of the most complete selections of Spanish and foreign wines on the European restaurant scene. Wine Spectator considered it the World's Best Winelist in 2003 and 2004, an award never received since by a Spanish restaurant.
- 2009 International Award PDO Torta del Casar.
- 2006 Best Restaurant, Gourmetour Guide 2006.
- 2006 Best Sommelier, Gourmetour Guide 2006.
- 2004 and 2003 Grand Award from the prestigious American journal, Wine Spectator, for the World's Best Winelist.
- 2004 Silver Parchment, best-designed Winelist, Salon de Gourmets.
- 2002, 2001 and 2000 Award of Excellence, Wine Spectator for the World's Best Winelist.
- 1999 Alimentos de España Award for the Best Establishment for the care of wines.
- 1996 Alfa Romeo Award to Spain's Best Restaurants.
- 1995 National Gastronomy Award to José Antonio Polo for his career, Real Academia Española Gastronomía
- 1993 Best Chef (Toño Pérez) National Gastronomy Award, Real Academia Española Gastronomía.
- 1993 Represented Spain at the Bocuse d'Or.
- 1992 Winner, National Chefs Contest.