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 | Spanish

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

  • 2. Etxebarri

    $$$$ | Spanish

    Of all the three-Michelin-star outposts in the Basque Country, Victor Arguinzoniz's Etxebarri may be the most exclusive, since it only opens...Read More

  • 3. Gaucho

    $ | Spanish

    This legendary tavern, which remains surprisingly calm even during San Fermín, serves some of the best tapas in Pamplona. Opt for classics like...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. A Fuego Negro

    $$$ | Parte Vieja | Spanish

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

  • 6. Azurmendi

    $$$$ | Spanish

    This award-winning, highly ranked restaurant, a 10-minute drive from town, is constantly lauded for its envelope-pushing cuisine and industry...Read More

  • 7. Bergara

    $$$ | Gros | Spanish

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

  • 8. Cachetero Comidas

    $$$$ | Spanish

    A Calle del Laurel standby, this refined taberna with wood-paneled walls serves Riojan specialties like cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig...Read More

  • 9. Etxanobe

    $$$$ | El Ensanche | Spanish

    This legendary nueva cocina vasca restaurant relocated to a larger space in 2018 to accommodate two distinct concepts, La Despensa del Etxanobe...Read More

  • 10. Europa Restaurante

    $$$$ | Spanish

    Pamplona's finest restaurant, in the hotel of the same name, the Europa offers refined, Michelin-starred Navarran cooking with reasonably priced...Read More

  • 11. Kokotxa Restaurante

    $$$$ | Parte Vieja | International

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

  • 12. La Ribera

    $$$ | Casco Viejo | Spanish

    Make a beeline to this gastro bar on the ground floor of the eponymous Mercado to satisfy your Basque food cravings after ogling all the shimmering...Read More

  • 13. Mugaritz

    $$$$ | Spanish

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

  • 14. Ni Neu

    $$$ | Gros | Contemporary

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

  • 15. Restaurante Astelena 1997

    $$$$ | Parte Vieja | Spanish

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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. Zaldiarán

    $$$$ | Contemporary

    There's some tacky plating—think sorbet served in martini glasses— but worthwhile are the contemporary interpretations of classics, such as...Read More

  • 19. Kiskia

    $$$$ | San Mamés | Spanish

    A modern take on the traditional sidrería, this rambling tavern near the San Mamés soccer stadium serves the classic menu of chorizo sausage...Read More

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