Bilbao and the Basque Country Restaurants

Foodies may never want to leave the Basque Country, where the avant-garde and home cooking mingle seamlessly. Though top restaurants are expensive in Bilbao, some of what is undoubtedly Europe's finest cuisine is served here in settings that range from the traditional hewn beams and stone walls to sleekly contemporary international restaurants all the way up to the Guggenheim itself, where superstar chef Martín Berasategui runs a dining room as superb as its habitat. San Sebastián is another enclave of delicious food, where sampling from pintxos bars is an art form.

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  • 1. Arzak

    $$$$ | Alto de Miracruz

    One of the world's great culinary meccas, award-winning Arzak embodies the prestige, novelty, and science-driven creativity of the Basque culinary zeitgeist. The restaurant and its...Read More

  • 2. Ganbara

    $$ | Parte Vieja

    This busy bar and restaurant near Plaza de la Constitución is now run by the third generation of the same family. Specialty morsels range from...Read More

  • 3. La Viña

    $$ | Parte Vieja

    This centrally located, no-frills bar is almost always crowded, drawing busloads of tour groups as well as locals, who come to try the viral "burnt"...Read More

  • 4. Martín Berasategui

    $$$$ | Lasarte

    Basque chef Martín Berasategui has more Michelin stars than any other chef in Spain, and at his flagship in the dewy village of Lasarte-Oria, it's...Read More

  • 5. A Fuego Negro

    $$$ | Parte Vieja

    Sample experimental pintxos here like Kobe beef sliders (the house specialty), béchamel-stuffed mussels, and Basque-style "pastrami" made from indigenous pigs. The dim lighting, industrial decor,...Read More

  • 6. Bergara

    $$$ | Gros

    Winner of many a miniature cuisine award (don't miss the prawn-filled txalupa tartlet), this Gros neighborhood standby offers a stylish take on traditional tapas and...Read More

  • 7. Goiz Argi

    $ | Parte Vieja

    The specialty of this tiny bar—and the reason locals flock here on weekends—is the garlicky seared-shrimp brochette....Read More

  • 8. Gorriti

    $ | Parte Vieja

    Next to the open-air Brecha Market, this traditional little pintxos bar is a well-priced neighborhood standby filled with good cheer and delicious tapas....Read More

  • 9. Kokotxa Restaurante

    $$$$ | Parte Vieja

    This simply decorated award-winning restaurant in the heart of the parte vieja hinges on chef Daniel López’s clean, innovative cuisine, which plays on traditional Basque...Read More

  • 10. La Cepa

    $$$$ | Parte Vieja

    This boisterous tavern established in 1948 has ceilings lined with dangling jamónes, walls covered with old photos of San Sebastián, and a dining room packed...Read More

  • 11. La Cuchara de San Telmo

    $$ | Parte Vieja

    You may have to throw an elbow or two to get into this teeming bar, but it's worth braving the sardine-can digs for outstanding pintxos...Read More

  • 12. Mugaritz

    $$$$

    This bucolic farmhouse in the hills above Errenteria, 8 km (5 miles) northeast of San Sebastián, is a veritable laboratory of modern cooking techniques helmed...Read More

  • 13. Ni Neu

    $$$ | Gros

    Chef Mikel Gallo's Ni Neu ("Me, Myself" in Euskera), defined by its experimental comfort-food cuisine, occupies a bright corner of Rafael Moneo's dazzling Kursaal complex...Read More

  • 14. Restaurante Astelena 1997

    $$$$ | Parte Vieja

    Chef Ander González has transformed the narrow stone rooms of a defunct banana warehouse into one of the finest spots for modern Basque dining—at a...Read More

  • 15. San Marcial

    $$ | Centro

    Nearly a secret, this quintessential Basque spot has big wooden tables and a monumental bar filled with cazuelitas (small earthenware dishes) and tapas of all...Read More

  • 16. Zuberoa

    $$$$

    This is the kind of restaurant where the chef greets every table and meals start with an amuse-bouche of foie gras—in other words, it's an...Read More

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