Alexandra Raij and Eder Montero are the husband and wife chef team behind Txikito, New York’s only Basque restaurant and El Quinto Pino its “most authentic tapas bar”.
Despite his formal training in San Sebastian and being born and raised in Bilbao, Eder spent his early years cooking Mediterranean flavors in Catalunya under Carles Abellan, Sergi Arola and Xavi Sagrista. Alex, the daughter of Argentine immigrants, found an affinity for Spanish techniques and flavors in the kitchen of Meigas where the couple, now married, first met.
Eder went on to pursue an interest in Japanese cooking at Nobu while Alex returned to seasonal American favorites like Prune and The Tasting Room. Their frequent travels through Spain inspired a desire to bring a true and current expression of Spanish tapas to New York. The two put together plans and menus for a tapas bar that would set a new standard for the genre and reflect a culinary trip through Spain. Simultaneously, it would be informed by their particular experiences and personal food histories. Based on that model, Alex opened the kitchen at Tia Pol, with Eder at her side. She went on to receive further acclaim for her dishes at El Quinto Pino. Those projects were designed to unify all Spain’s cuisines through tapas. Txikito on the other hand proposes you “unpack and stay for a while” by casting a wide net over a single cuisine. At Txikito one can find Basque home cooking, beside dishes that fit into “the Cocina de Autor” paradigm and of course, no shortage of the fabulous pintxos that make El Pais Vasco a favorite Tapeo destination. Alex sold her interest in Tia Pol and simultaneously revamped El Quinto Pino to reflect their broader tapas vision; adding new and signature dishes to it’s now expanded menu. They now divide their time between El Quinto Pino and Txikito. Alex and Eder’s commitment to quality ingredients and originality have inspired a host of new restaurants which have recast a traditional cuisine as a canvas for creativity and seasonality.
Txikito was named among the 50 Best restaurants in Travel and Leisure for their perfectly crisp suckling pig and dynamic seasonal specials. Txikito’s burger “El Doble” was a game changer when introduced in the burger wars has been named repeatedly as one of New York’s best by the burger intelligentsia. El Quinto Pino has been named best Tapas Bar by New York Magazine, and New York’s ‘only true tapas bar’ by Peter Meehan of the New York Times. EQP’s Uni Panini it has been suggested may just be the most original thing to happen to the sandwich in since the ‘hot dog’.
Alex and Eder’s most recent and happiest collaboration is their young daughter Maayan who loves to eat good things.