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. Asador Bedua

    $$$$

    This idyllic fourth-generation asador in a centuries-old house draws the crowds with its flawless tortilla de bacalao, txuleta de buey, and local game and fish...Read More

  • 3. Asador Etxebarri

    $$$$

    Of all the three-Michelin-star Basque temples, Bittor Arginzoniz's Etxebarri is the most exclusive, since it serves only lunch and reservations are limited. Here, grilling is...Read More

  • 4. Azurmendi

    $$$$

    The immersive gastro-experience at this envelope-pushing eco-restaurant by renowned Basque chef Eneko Atxa starts with nibbles in the indoor garden, continues on to the kitchen...Read More

  • 5. Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao

    $$$ | El Ensanche

    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...Read More

  • 6. Casa Cámara

    $$$$

    Four generations ago, Pablo Cámara turned this 19th-century fishing wharf on the Pasaia narrows into a first-class seafood restaurant with lovely views over the shipping...Read More

  • 7. Casa Rufo

    $$ | El Ensanche

    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...Read More

  • 8. El Mesón

    $$

    Textbook-perfect Basque classics draw a local crowd at this Ensanche restaurant run by a seasoned husband-and-wife team on the cusp of retirement—so visit while you...Read More

  • 9. Elkano

    $$$$

    Ever since Anthony Bourdain waxed poetic about award-winning Elkano's grilled turbot on Parts Unknown, the dish has become something of a holy grail among in-the-know...Read More

  • 10. Ganbara

    $$$ | Parte Vieja

    This busy bar and sedate downstairs restaurant near Plaza de la Constitución is run by the third generation of the same family. Exquisite minimalist morsels...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Alameda

    $$$$

    The Txapartegi brothers—Mikel, Kepa, and Gorka—are the decorated chefs behind this restaurant in elegantly restored house with a sunny terrace. Count on seasonally rotated combinations...Read More

  • 13. 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...Read More

  • 14. Astelena 1997

    $$$ | Parte Vieja

    The narrow stone rooms of a defunct banana warehouse are now one of the finest spots for modern Basque dining. The €55 weekend tasting menu...Read More

  • 15. Baserri Maitea

    $$$

    Eleven km (7 miles) south of Mundaka and 1 km (½ mile) northwest of Gernika, you'll find this restaurant in an idyllic 18th-century caserío, or...Read More

  • 16. Bergara

    $$ | Gros

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

  • 17. Bodegón Alejandro

    $$$ | Parte Vieja

    Hiding in the basement of a timber building in the heart of the Parte Vieja, this restaurant—where world-renowned chef Martín Berasategui cut his teeth—toes the...Read More

  • 18. 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,...Read More

  • 19. Europa Restaurante

    $$$$

    Pamplona's finest restaurant, in the hotel of the same name, the Europa offers refined, Michelin-starred Navarrese cooking with reasonably priced à la carte dishes as...Read More

  • 20. 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...Read More

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