People from Bilbao, like the rest of the Basque people, cherish two passions: food and friendship. Both concepts are nurtured at the same time in the so called "pintxo" routes: informal get-togethers without prior arrangement, where group of friends go pub-crawling tasting these delicious aperitivos at the bars. The tradition of "pintxo" routes is so vast that locals do not need to arrange to meet because they know that at a certain time, every single day of the year, they will come across someone having a "pintxo" in the bar they regularly go to. Bilbao offers an excellent opportunity to savour the "pintxo" food-culture to the full in seven different areas of the city.
Luis Gomez kindly created a Google map with all the suggestions mentioned on this page:
Metro stop: Moyúa / Indautxu / San Mamés
The endless Calle Poza is a meeting point for the people of Bilbao and visitors every day of the year, but it is jam-packed from early afternoon on Athletic de Bilbao match days. This bar-hopping route starts at the Regional Government building (Diputación) and crosses the centre of the city until reaching the San Mamés football stadium. A different atmosphere can be discovered, in which the sentiment of the most fervent football fans and the authentic people of Bilbao can be felt whilst enjoying a pintxo. The big advantage of Poza is that the pavement is often an extension of the bar. Furthermore, it is said to be the pedestrian street with the highest concentration of bars in Spain
Metro stop: Casco Viejo
The Old Quarter, from where the Villa of Bilbao originated over 700 years ago, is full of religious and civil buildings with a lot of character. But there are also plenty of bars to relieve hunger and quench one’s thirst whilst sightseeing. There are over 200 establishments, some of which form an essential part of the city’s pintxo routes. There is no single area, but many areas: Plaza Nueva, Santa María, Somera, Unamuno, Jardines, the cantons… What is important is that tradition and modernity form part of this proposal for all.
Metro stop: Abando / Moyúa
Parallel to the city’s main shopping street (Gran Vía), Calle Ledesma has numerous bars to stop off for a snack and rest, some of which boast decades of experience in catering for the pedestrians. Its geographic location, close to the museums and the shopping streets or the old part of the city, make it a must place to visit. Furthermore, it is a pedestrian area. At lunchtimes and in the evenings, it is full of executives who work in the surrounding area.
Metro stop: Moyúa
Perpendicular to Gran Vía, this small street is one of the hubs of the pintxo routes due to its proximity to the commercial and cultural centre. The fact that it is a pedestrian area helps, inviting visitors to stop off in the bars or on the terraces to try the classic bite-size delicacies (ham and omelette) as well as the most innovative pintxos (authentic miniature-size haute cuisine) at any time of the day. In the week, the atmosphere is more professional but from Friday onwards, parents and children share this area.
Metro stop: Moyúa
The area around the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum has become one of the must places to visit thanks to the attractions in the new urban area of Abandoibarra. A residential area par excellence, this part of the city has succeeded in adapting to the changes with bars that combine attractions for tourists with the tradition of Bilbao. What is important, however, is that Ensanche streets (Heros, Lersundi, Iparraguirre, Henao, Mazarredo, Máximo Aguirre…) have excellent pintxo bars to relentlessly savour the ephemeral art of the bite-size snack
Metro stop: Deusto
Separated from the city centre by the river and linked to it by several bridges, the residential neighbourhood of Deusto is next to the urban centre. The “tomateros”, as its inhabitants are known, have a long tradition of pintxos, so it is common to cross the river to savour them in the bars, in the streets of Lehendakari Aguirre, Madariaga, Blas de Otero or Ribera de Botica Vieja, among others. It has an extremely diverse and bustling atmosphere.
Metro stop: Indautxu
Small but full of bars. This is the sole purpose of this street named after a teacher, just a stone’s throw away from the Gran Vía, Indautxu Square and the AlhóndigaBilbao building. Its key attribute is that it acts as a bridge between the different areas of the city. This street is home to some of the bars with the best selection of pintxos in the city, in which bars with traditional names converge with innovative establishments. There is an atmosphere at all hours, mainly that of the “cuadrilla” or group of friends.
Since 1950 Emeterio their great grandfather opened this place, they are famous becouse of the triangles and towers with the freshest ingredients, their artisan bread and their famous and inimitable secret sauce. They are now four generations in the same family business. It has become a tradition for over half a century.
They have renewed their local so you can go and try their triangles, towers and the rest of their specialties or, if you prefer,You can take them home.
Since 1981, Café Florida has served many "Bilbainos" who wanted to savor quality fast food at a reduced price.
The great success of this small business has a name: Antonio Cuesta, its creator. A chef from La Rioja, trained in the kitchens of the Monasterio de la Estrella, came to Bilbao in the seventies to work in the kitchens of the Royal Society Golf de la Galea. He continued his training at the legendary restaurant California, until he decided to start with his wife Gloria his most personal project, the Cafeteria Florida, which today continues in the hands of his son, Iñigo Cuesta restorer in 1981.
The philosophy of Florida Café remains the same today as the day it opened: work from the maximum demand and only with top quality, fresh and natural products. The selection of the best raw materials is the key to providing a tasty and healthy product.
Seven dishes: just as it sounds, without further ado. This is the composition of the Tasting Menu at the Mina restaurant, which boasts one Michelin Star. The establishment, which was opened over six years ago by chef Álvaro Garrido, offers a different, set menu each day, the preparation of which makes use of a key advantage: Mina is located opposite the Ribera Market, and its cuisine is nourished each day from this enormous pantry. The Mina dining room only seats 25 diners (eight tables), which ensures a friendly service.
Closed on Sunday evenings, all day on Monday and on Tuesday evenings
Located in Larrabetzu, just a few kilometres from Bilbao, the Azurmendi restaurant, awarded three Michelin Stars, surprises with its breathtaking views and refined decor. In this setting, the gastronomic proposals of chef Eneko Atxa, for the Adarrak (4 appetizers, 4 starters, 1 fish, 1 meat, two desserts and a “petit fours”) and Erroak (4 appetizers, 4 starters, 1 fish, 1 meat, 1 dessert and a “petit fours”) menus seek to provoke sensorial experiences for the diner. Azurmendi has another area where it offers a “prêt à porter” menu, which changes each day and takes haute cuisine to a “casual” format. It is also reasonably priced.
Opened in 1999 and run by Fernando Canales, the Etxanobe restaurant is located on the third floor of the Euskalduna Conference and Performing Arts Centre. It has two dining rooms and a spectacular well-prepared terrace all year round with views over Abandoibarra. Its gastronomic proposal is based on the combination of traditional and creative cuisine, constantly seeking depth of flavour and striving to surprise with new creations thanks to its R&D team. It has a Seasonal Menu and different Tasting Menus to get to know its cuisine.
Closed on Sundays, except on specific dates.
The Zortziko restaurant is one of the gastronomy temples of Bizkaia. Run by Daniel García, whose efforts to turn each dish into a special creation can be highlighted, whilst not forgetting recipes of the regional cuisine, to which he adds touches of innovation. The menu offers seasonal dishes and a Tasting Menu called “Lehengaia” (raw material), which consists of ten dishes (served to the whole table). It also boasts a Cooking Room, where courses, exhibitions or tasting events are held. Its website offers special vouchers and discounts.
Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Nerua, run by chef Josean Martínez Alija, is located in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, next to the ArcelorMittal Gallery, which is home to the Richard Serra installation, ‘The Matter of Time’. His cuisine is very personal, unique but healthy at the same time, with Basque cultural roots but open to the world, traditional, light and aromatic with vegetables playing a major role, filled with soft nuances and born from reflection and experience. It offers a menu with personal creations and two tasting menus (one with 6 dishes and another with 9 dishes) offering combination options.
This restaurant, located in a restored 15th century farmhouse, is a gastronomic reference where nature, tradition and avant-garde co-exist in perfect harmony under the supervision of chef Javier Gartzia. The cuisine is deeply rooted in Bizkaia, where traditional dishes are evolved up to the point that they surprise. There is an extensive à la Carte Menu and six different menus (one of which is vegetarian), which need to be booked at least three days in advance and are served to the whole table (minimum of eight diners).
Lunch is served from Monday to Sunday; Dinner is served on Friday and Saturday evenings; and early evening meals are served from Monday to Thursday.
Closed on Mondays and Sundays and Tuesday
Asador Etxebarri remains the leader among grill houses in Bizkaia, thanks to the fact that many of its grilled dishes do not have any competition. This is the case of the cod, chops, seafood, fish (for example, grilled grouper) or vegetables, which are served at their optimum point. Víctor Arguinzoniz is at the stove, seeking cuisine that is traditional yet creative, using seasonal products in a traditional atmosphere.
Closed on Mondays and every evening except Saturdays.
Founded in 1964 through the determination of Patxi Asúa, whose hope lives on in today’s manager (his son, Roberto), the Andra Mari restaurant is a classic in Basque cuisine. It is located in the upper part of Galdakao, alongside a Romanesque church from which it takes its name. Its cuisine combines rural and marine gastronomy with modern haute cuisine. In addition to the à la carte Menu, it offers different Tasting Menus. Closed on Tuesdays. Dinner is only served on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Located in the lower part of the Hotel Meliá, Aizian combines traditional Basque cuisine with the most avant-garde creativity. Its dining room, like the hotel, has been designed by the architect, Ricardo Legorreta, highlighting the warm wooden atmosphere and the views of Doña Casilda Park from its large windows. It is run by chef José Miguel Olazabalaga and offers different menus as well as an à la carte menu.
Closed on Sundays.
The Garibolo has already made its mark in vegetarian cuisine in Bilbao and is doing such a good job that it has over 800 specials to choose from. Described as lacto-ovo-vegetarian-vegan-macrobiotic given the range it offers, this restaurant features a set menu consists of different types of bread + salad + soup, cream soups and purées + main course + homemade dessert. The drinks served include cold or room-temperature water (there are no soft drinks), wine (which includes organic ones) or beer or non-alcoholic beer. Its specials include vegetable meatballs and the carrot, coconut and chocolate dessert. They have gluten free dishes and have lunch-time, dinner and Saturday menus..
This restaurant has been running for nearly 30 years, which means that it is the forerunner in vegetarian food. Its formula is based on three premises: they only serve food from Monday to Friday, the dining area is small but people are expected to share tables, and the menu, which is displayed in the window, meets the expectations of a good vegetarian meal: organic bread + salad + soup or juice + main dish + dessert. They also serve herbal teas, along with organic wines and beer