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. Café Iruña

    $$ | El Ensanche | Café

    This essential Bilbao haunt (est. 1903) on El Ensanche's most popular garden and square is a favorite for its interior design, boisterous ambience...Read More

  • 2. Ganbara

    $$ | Parte Vieja | Spanish

    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 Cuchara de San Telmo

    $$ | Parte Vieja | Spanish

    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 like...Read More

  • 4. La Viña

    $$ | Parte Vieja | Spanish

    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...Read More

  • 5. Tondeluna

    $$ | Spanish

    A gastro bar that strives to bring haute cuisine to the masses, Tondeluna has six communal tables (with 10 seats each), and all have views into...Read More

  • 6. Berton Bukoi

    $$ | Casco Viejo | Spanish

    Dinner is served until midnight in this sleek yet casual pintxo spot in the casco viejo. The industrial design—think wood tables with a green...Read More

  • 7. Café Iruña

    $$ | Café

    Pamplona's gentry has been flocking to this ornate, French-style café since 1888, but in 1926 Ernest Hemingway made it part of world literary...Read More

  • 8. La Cocina de Alex Múgica

    $$ | Spanish

    In the heart of Pamplona’s old town, this sleek, contemporary bar is famed for its mix of traditional and experimental pintxos, which include...Read More

  • 9. La Herradura

    $$ | Spanish

    Rub shoulders with small-town riojanos as you tuck into a bowl of caparrones, a local stew made with Riojan red beans, sausage, and fatback...Read More

  • 10. Sagartoki

    $$ | Spanish

    This cathedral-like bar serves eclectic Basque bar food by local celebrity chef Senén González in an industrial, modern space. Don't miss the...Read More

  • 11. San Marcial

    $$ | Centro | Spanish

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

  • 12. Toloño

    $$ | Spanish

    This deceptively simple-looking bar resembles an American diner with shiny white plastic chairs and a sleek wood bar top. But behind this unassuming...Read More

  • 13. Xukela

    $$ | Casco Viejo | Spanish

    The main draw at this tavern is the pintxos–-imaginative, internationally inflected bites ranging from smoked Cantabrian anchovies to mushroom...Read More

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