20 Best Restaurants in Bilbao, Bilbao and the Basque Country

Azurmendi

$$$$ Fodor's choice

The immersive gastro-experience at the envelope-pushing eco-restaurant by renowned Basque chef Eneko Atxa starts with nibbles in the indoor garden, continues on to the kitchen with a quick tour, and culminates in the dining room with a conceptual tasting menu featuring dishes like "dew water" and "essence of the forest."

Legina Auzoa, Bilbao, 48195, Spain
94-455--8866
Known For
  • three-Michelin-star dining
  • Bilbao's most innovative and sustainable restaurant
  • a 10-minute drive from town
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon., No dinner Tues.–Thu., Reservations essential

Bihotz

$ | Casco Viejo Fodor's choice

Rest your legs at this third-wave coffeehouse that uses a sleek La Marzocco machine and is furnished with cushy armchairs and floor lamps. There are also small-production vermouths and local craft beers to try alongside soups, sandwiches, and other snacks.

Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao

$$ | El Ensanche Fodor's choice

Museum restaurants tend to be underwhelming, overpriced tourist traps, but Bistró—with its exuberantly colorful dining room and meticulously prepared modern Basque cuisine served by a knowledgeable waitstaff—is a blissful exception to the rule. Tartares, roast meats, local seasonal vegetables, and top-grade seafood are the building blocks of the three set menus, the most expensive of which is a five-course degustación for a paltry €40.

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Café Iruña

$ | El Ensanche Fodor's choice

This historical Bilbao haunt (est. 1903) in the Ensanche's most popular garden and square has azulejo-lined walls, dreamy murals of rural scenes, and a painted artesonado ceiling. Stick to tried-and-true classics like Basque steak frites or bacalao al pil pil. The room overlooking the square is the place to be—if they try to stuff you in the back dining room, resist or come back another time.

Casa Rufo

$$ | El Ensanche Fodor's choice

Charming and cozy, this centenarian Bilbao institution is essentially a series of nooks and crannies tucked into a fine food, wine, olive oil, cheese, and ham emporium. Leave it to the affable owners to recommend specialties such as txuleton (gigantic T-bone steak), which pairs wonderfully with the house Rioja or any number of pours from the 1,000-bottle-strong wine list.

Calle Hurtado de Amézaga 5, Bilbao, 48008, Spain
94-443--2172
Known For
  • deep wine list with hard-to-find selections
  • delectable txuleton de buey
  • homey dining room
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun., Reservations essential

Gure Toki

$$ | Casco Viejo Fodor's choice

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant outdoor lunch in Bilbao than at this chic little pintxo bar with sunlit tables smack on the charming Plaza Nueva. Fried rabas (squid strips), croquetas, and locally made txistorra (smoky chorizo sausage) never come off the menu for good reason.

La Viña del Ensanche

$$$ | El Ensanche Fodor's choice

Littered with used napkins and furnished with simple wood tables beneath hams hanging from the rafters, this lively, deceptively simple bar attracts locals and tourists alike for its exceptional pintxos and affordable breakfasts. Don't pass up the deconstructed Galician-style octopus on a bed of mashed potatoes laced with pimentón (paprika) or the appetizer of house-made foie gras with three preserves. For a more exclusive (and pricier) fine-dining experience, reserve a table at the abutting El Taller, and be sure to peruse the gourmet food store stocked with local conservas, cured meats, wines, and cheeses.

Pentxo

$ | Casco Viejo Fodor's choice

Consistently delicious, shockingly affordable, and unapologetically old-school, Pentxo is the sort of restaurant Bilbaínos like to keep to themselves. Whether you pop in for a pintxo at the bar (the flash-fried antxoas rellenas, or stuffed anchovies, are a must) or come for breakfast or a €16 prix-fixe lunch (opt for whatever seafood main is listed), you'll leave wishing you could be a regular.

Aizian

$$$$ | El Ensanche

Chef José Miguel Olazabalaga's Aizian is anything but a "hotel restaurant," even if it's situated inside the Meliá Bilbao. Sure, his dishes err on the staid side—you won't find tweezed microgreens and dry-ice displays here—but they're dependably delicious: think sautéed wild mushrooms topped with foie gras and a runny egg or seared venison loin with beets and smoked chestnut puree.

Arriaga

$$$ | Casco Viejo

The sagardotegi experience is a must in the Basque Country, but if you can't swing a trip to one of the huge cider houses in the countryside, Arriaga is a fine urban stand-in. Expect unlimited sidra al txotx (cider drawn straight from the barrel), sausage stewed in apple cider, codfish omelets, txuleta de buey, and Idiazabal cheese with quince preserves. Reserving a table is a good idea, especially on weekends.

Calle Santa Maria 13, Bilbao, 48005, Spain
94-416--5670
Known For
  • unlimited cider from the kupela (enormous barrel)
  • char-grilled rib eyes
  • convivial atmosphere
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted

Asador Guetaria

$$$$ | El Ensanche

With a wood-paneled dining room awash with antiques, this family operation is a longtime local favorite for top-quality fish and meats cooked over coals. In the open kitchen, wild lubina (sea bass), rodaballo (turbot), and other regional delicacies from land and sea cook to crackly perfection.

Colón de Larreátegui 12, Bilbao, 48001, Spain
94-424--3923
Known For
  • masterful grilled dishes
  • familial atmosphere
  • homey, old-timey dining room
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential

Berton

$ | Casco Viejo

The kitchen is open until midnight in this unfussy Casco Viejo pintxo spot. The industrial design—think tables with a green polyethylene finish and exposed pipes—belies a comfort-food-heavy menu with star dishes like octopus brochettes and juicy grilled steaks.

Etxanobe

$$$$ | El Ensanche

This Nueva Cocina Vasca (New Basque Cuisine) favorite houses two concepts: La Despensa, with vibrant, internationally inflected raciones served beneath neon lights and Edison bulbs, and El Atelier, the sedate, white-tablecloth restaurant serving ultra-high-end seafood-centric tasting menus. Both are terrific in their own right; spring for whichever your budget will allow.

Gure Kabi

$$ | El Ensanche

This family-friendly restaurant off the tourist track serves a wide range of classic, lovingly prepared dishes ranging from creamy squid croquetas to griddled European lobster. The best value is the €15 weekday menú del día (prix fixe), which can be made vegetarian upon request.

Jolastoki

$$$$ | Neguri

If you find yourself in Getxo, the beach town north of Bilbao where the Puente de Vizcaya is located, treat yourself to a meal at this graceful mansion serving mouthwatering dishes like rice with squid and salsa verde and oxtail in Rioja wine sauce. Set menus, ranging in price from €15 to €75 per person, are a good value whether you're looking to save or splurge.

Av. Los Chopos 21, Getxo, 48992, Spain
94-491--2031
Known For
  • location near the Puente de Vizcaya
  • locally sourced ingredients
  • variety of set menus
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No dinner Sun. and Tues., Credit cards accepted, Reservations essential

La Ribera

$$ | Casco Viejo

Make a beeline to this gastro bar on the ground floor of the eponymous mercado to satisfy your Basque food cravings after you've ogled all the shimmering fresh fish, plump jamones ibéricos (Iberian hams), and sweet-smelling fruit. The menú del día (price varies) is usually a good deal, and the highbrow pintxos are consistently tasty.

Nido Bilbao

$$ | El Ensanche

Even the bread is homemade at this wildly popular Basque restaurant on the Left Bank that's renowned for throwback dishes like goose foie gras with raspberry coulis, dry-aged T-bone steaks, and house-made morcilla (blood sausage). A list of small-production and organic wines rounds out the hyperlocal dining experience.

Salón de Juegos Concha 1

$

Locals know that this nondescript salón de juegos (literally "gambling hall") slings some of the city's best potato omelets, flipped nonstop from 8 am to midnight. The basic potato-and-onion rendition, gloriously gooey in the center, will set you back €2; more deluxe versions (with crab, jamón ibérico, etc.) are a tad pricier. Minors are not allowed entry, but the staff will happily wrap food to go.

Calle General Concha 1, Bilbao, Spain
94-410--1971
Known For
  • shockingly affordable
  • hot Spanish omelet served around the clock
  • secret local haunt

Txiriboga

$ | Casco Viejo

Locals flock to this hole-in-the-wall for what might be the city's best croquetas—choose from jamón (ham), chicken, bacalao, or wild mushroom. The rabas (fried calamari) also stand out for their non-reasy, ultracrisp exterior.

Calle Santa Maria 13, Bilbao, 48005, Spain
94-415--7874
Known For
  • burst-in-your-mouth croquetas
  • quintessential Basque taberna
  • terrific calamari
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.

Xukela

$ | Casco Viejo

The main draw at this quirky tavern is the pintxos---imaginative, internationally inflected bites ranging from smoked Cantabrian anchovies to mushroom-foie-gras toasts. The interior feels like a professor's study, with books and magazines scattered about, and there's a sign on the wall that says "This is an Atheist establishment."

Calle de El Perro 2, Bilbao, 48005, Spain
94-415--9772
Known For
  • cozy interior
  • nueva cocina tapas at taberna prices
  • varied wine list