Restaurants in Bilbao
Arguably the best place in Spain to enjoy Basque cuisine, Bilbao has a reputation as a culinary centre and eating out in the city is rewarding. Bilbao has many Michelin-starred restaurants, as does nearby San Sebastian, and these two cities jointly showcase the best in Basque cookery.
Seafood is the highlight in this port city, although there are also some delicious meat dishes available. Cod, squid, sardines, anchovies, hake, sea bream, and clams are all staple ingredients, and veal and pork are popularly used meats.
The local word for tapas is pintxos, and bar-hopping is the ideal way to sample a variety of these treats. The Old Quarter (Casco Viejo) is the best place to indulge in a pintxos meander, as it is largely pedestrianised and bursting with great bars. The Plaza Nueva is a good place to start.
If the tapas doesn't fill you up, make your way to one of the city's many quality restaurants, some of which are listed below. Bilbao has restaurants enough to suit all tastes and budgets, with all the usual fast food chains for those who need a cheap and familiar snack, and some fantastic upmarket restaurants with famous chefs for special occasions.
The Guggenheim Restaurant is located inside the world-class Guggenheim Museum, and it prides itself on being one of the city's very best eateries. Serving traditional Basque cuisine using the freshest local produce, diners can enjoy innovative dishes that have been expertly prepared by chef Josean Martínez, such as the mouth-watering perfumed 'euskal oiloa' chicken (Basque breed organic chicken) with rosemary and lime leaves, or the decadent pure chocolate with coffee ice cream and a hot marzipan sand. Bookings recommended. Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and Wednesday to Saturday for dinner.
Address: Avda. Abandoibarra 2
Telephone: +34 944 23 9333
For a break from traditional Spanish and European food, this superb sushi restaurant is ideal. The friendly staff will help you select what you want to build your own take-away sushi box, or will make what you want if it is not available. There is no seating in the restaurant, but the glorious food can be enjoyed on the many benches outside or in a park nearby. Sumo also offers other traditional Japanese fare, like noodle dishes, but the sushi is definitely the highlight. Sumo is a good option for vegetarians.
Address: Calle Ledesma 5
Telephone: +34 944 416 144
Located in a quaint and charming country house just outside the city centre, Bilbao's Aretxondo Restaurant has a unique and distinctive character with modern and inventive twists on traditional cuisine. A popular venue for events, weddings and other special occasions, it boasts and extensive wine list, knowledgeable waiters, and simply heavenly food. Try the sautéed prawns with potato guacamole, tomato and condensed grapefruit, or the log on entrecote in fine herbs and black pepper, and end off with the mango cheesecake with mango ice cream and spices - deliciously light and decadent! Open daily for dinner, lunch on Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Mondays, the first two weeks in January, Easter week and the first two weeks in August.
Address: Bo Elexalde, 20. (Galdakao)
Telephone: +34 944 56 7671
Clean white linen tablecloths juxtaposed by the colourful and almost garish artwork on one of the walls creates a somewhat classic meets contemporary feel to this popular Bilbao eatery. Run by owner and chef, Fernando Canales, Etxanobe is located on the top floor of the Palacio Euskalduna and delivers innovative and intelligent dishes that tantalise and haunt the taste buds. Try the boneless suckling lamb with sweetbread or the Muscavado pudding with cinnamon and rice. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. Bookings recommended.
Address: Avda Abandoibarra, 4
Telephone: +34 944 42 1071
The Michelin-starred Zortziko boasts a formal atmosphere and an air of grandeur and is, deservedly, one of Bilbao's finest eateries. Three distinctive and classy dining rooms, each with its own theme, create the ultimate sophisticated yet contemporary dining experience. Try the Bisket of rock fish or the Fricadellede chicken with pistachios, and for those with a sweet tooth, the chocolate sponge, Malden salt and oil Hojiblanca is pure indulgence. Reservations recommended. Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday and Mondays and the second fortnight in August and the first two weeks in September.
Address: Calle Alameda Mazarredo, 17
Telephone: +34 944 23 9743
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