Here I am, after a full-on three days in Bilbao, where it’s fair to say I ate my body weight in tapas – or pitxos as the locals call them. So when I finally got my head around posting about it on Instagram, I got innundated with messages from people who are planning to visit Bilbao in the following months. I thought: this must be a sign. I must put together a full Bilbao tapas guide – for all of you out there looking for recommendations. So without further ado, here we go…
Bilbao Tapas Guide: Toma y Daka
The first on my list is Toma y Daka. This is by far my favourite restaurant in Bilbao – not only for the great vibe, but also for the amazing food and drinks menu. The menu is seasonal, and with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and a 0km ethos. Think: Padron Peppers grown 36km away; cured chorizo from pigs bred 28km away; peppers grown in the restaurant’s garden; sheep cheese made 65km away and so on. Everything is cooked and prepared on site – including their home-made vermouth which is just spectacular. I tried the cured chorizo, some pintxos from the display and an amazing torrija: a sort of next-level french toast that is indulgent, moreish and extremely generous in size. Located in Plaza Nueva, this is a favourite destination not just for tourists but also for locals.
Bilbao Pintxos Guide: Taberna Plaza Nueva
If you’re looking for a propper taberna experience, look no more. Taberna Plaza Nueva should definitely be on your list. It’s busy, it’s crowded, it’s loud – and it’s fantastic value for money. As its name states, the taberna is situated in Plaza Nueva, in the old town of Bilbao. Go for the fried calamari – and for the quail egg and chorizo pintxos. You can thank me later 🙂
Bilbao Pintxos Tour: Victor Montes Restaurante
Still in the Plaza Nueva, we have Restaurant Victor Montes. Definitely on the more pricier side, the restaurant has an impressive wine, whisky and cognac list and a spectacular dining room. We stayed at the bar, had a few drinks and some pintxhos from the counter. But once you’re in, take a tour of the dining room and aslo go upstairs to see an impressive gallery of famoust past visitors. Cooking is more elaborate and innovative, so be prepared to be amazed. The bacalao pil pil was the best I had in Bilbao – and the Extremadura Jamon pintxos were quite delicious too.
Bilbao Tapas Guide: El Mugi
Moving away from the old town, the new town of Bilbao is just as vibrant. El Mugi was a chance discovery, as it was very close to our hotel. I particularly loved the tortilla: impeccably cooked, with a gooey center – and the perfect size to allow for tasting a few other tapas – and a generous serving of Jamon Iberico.
Bilbao Tapas & Drinks: Boss Bilbao
Also in the new town, Boss Bilbao is quite vibrant and cheerful – and there’s a large terrace outside, perfect for people watching. They serve a small selection of pintxos, but very generous in size and simply delicious. I went for a toato and jamon pintxo which was seriously good. Be prepared to queue in the evening – or wait a bit at the bar until you can get a table.
Bilbao Bocadillos: Mercado de la Ribera
Last, but most definitely not least, the food market is an absolute must if you want to fully immerse in the Bilbao food culture. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds – and be prepared to take home a few edible souvenirs. The food hall gets busy towards lunch time, but it’s definitely worth a pit stop for pintxos and drinks. Do try the bocadillo – a simple but most delicious sandwich with Jamon Iberico.
So here it is, my selection of tapas restaurants in Bilbao. One piece of advice if you plan a visit: do some research ahead of time, as some restaurants may be closed during evening, or may only open during specific times of day. Enjoy your trip – and do leave a comment if you visit any of these places. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Taking pictures of food is just as fun as cooking (and eating) it, so follow me on Instagram @mintandrosemary for my latest foodie shenanigans, ongoing projects, stories and glimpses of my everyday life.