The Basque region of northern Spain is well-known for its diverse and delicious cuisine. San Sebastian is well recognized as a top culinary destination, and visitors come from all over the globe to experience the city’s fare. But in recent years, Bilbao’s exceptional gastronomy has also put it on the map.
There are many great places to dine in the city, including restaurants with Michelin stars, classic cafés, and food stands selling regional specialties. It might not be easy to know where to start with so many options available.
Top 6 restaurants in Bilbao, Spain
We compiled a list of Bilbao’s finest dining establishments to assist you in planning a trip of a lifetime.
- La Viña del Ensanche
- Gure Toki
- Café Iruña
Chef Alvaro Garrido gets the materials for his exquisite creations from the nearby Mercado la Ribera, the city’s enormous covered market, which is visible from the quay.
Garrido took a chance ten years ago by creating a fine dining business in Bilbao la Vieja, which was once considered a dangerous neighborhood, but the investment paid off when the restaurant gained a devoted following and eventually got one Michelin star. This place is now one of Bilbao’s best eateries.
There are eight seats at the counter and six tables, all of which look out over the river. Smooth transitions between dishes characterize tasting menus; for example, a dab of chilly cheese is combined with squid ink in a warm mushroom infusion, and brilliant split peas top a creamy sea urchin. All are expertly paired with a variety of sharp dabs, salty roe, and aromatic surprises that culminate in a variety of sweet endings.
Azurmendi, the first Bilbao restaurant to get two Michelin stars, is frequented by the city’s elite because of its reputation for serving some of the best Basque cuisines in the world, which makes it one of Bilbao’s best restaurants.
The restaurant is situated in a restored farmhouse and is headed by Eneko Atxa, who in 2010 was named “Le Chef del L’avenir” by the International Academy of Gastronomy.
Atxa, who has a talent for combining unusual flavors, has blended the finest of the Basque region with haute cuisine to produce a menu that is sure to please foodies all over the world. Azurmendi is in Larrabetzu, only ten minutes outside of Bilbao by car.
Zortziko, under the direction of renowned Spanish chef Daniel Garca, is often ranked as one of Bilbao’s greatest eateries. Award-winning and critically acclaimed, this Basque eatery serves up regional specialties like Roast Baby Squid with Peppers and Scallops on Tomato Carpaccio.
Zortziko features three unique eating areas, one with a Versailles decor, another with an English theme, and a third with a more modern, relaxed atmosphere. However, the greatest alternative is to eat in the wine cellar below, where you may have a meal at a rustic wooden table surrounded by fine wines.
4. La Viña del Ensanche
La Via del Ensanche, which can be found directly across the street from El Globo, first opened its doors back in 1927. This restaurant is truly one of Bilbao’s best restaurants that have been serving its customers for nearly 100 years.
With its tulip-shaped lamp shades, thousands of vintage postcards, and enormous gammon legs dangling above the bar, this establishment successfully exudes an endearingly retro vibe.
The bar’s signature dish is this incredibly thinly sliced acorn-fed jamón, although they also serve a wide variety of other pintxos. The restaurant/bar launched a grocery store in 1996 to satisfy customer demand for its popular food and drink offerings.
5. Gure Toki
Located in a quiet corner of Plaza Nueva, Gure Toki is widely considered the best pintxo bar in town, with some of its dishes deserving of the fine dining category. Gure Toki is, without a doubt, one of Bilbao’s finest eateries.
The sheep’s cheese soup, served in a little dish with a quail egg, mushroom, and truffle oil, is one of the tastiest two euros you’ll spend anywhere, and it’s one of the restaurant’s specialties. Don’t be shy about asking for the menu or ordering pintxos straight from the kitchen.
6. Café Iruña
Since its opening in 1903, this gorgeous cafe has looked out over the Jardines de Albia, and its glazed tiles, painted murals, wood carvings, and tassel valance above the bar make it feel like something out of a Moorish fairytale and one of Bilbao’s top eateries.
The grill in the far corner is where the lamb kebabs are seasoned and grilled to order, and while the restaurant as a whole is rather big, it is divided into several distinct sections. It’s hard to find a better late-night snack spot.