Long gone are the days when Bilbao was only known as an industrial port city. Since the opening of the Guggenheim Museum in 1997, Bilbao’s cultural offerings haven’t stopped surfacing. Contemporary Bilbao is the city of the Zubizuri bridge, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, as well as the Azkuna Zentroa cultural centre, redesigned by his French counterpart Philippe Starck.
But while its architectural gems certainly put it on the map, Bilbao’s culinary scene is what now attracts legions of tourists to its riverside shores enclosed by picturesque mountains.
Pintxos are what set the Basque Country’s cuisine apart from the rest of Spain. Whereas tapas have become famous the world over, tourists are often unaware of what makes pintxos distinct from them. While tapas are normally served on a small plate and eaten with utensils, pintxos are usually eaten with your hands in one or two bites. Traditionally, pintxos were held together by a toothpick and served on bread, but modern creations may bypass both of these stipulations altogether.
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The beauty of Bilbao’s pintxos culture lies in being able to hop from place to place sampling everything the city has to offer. There’s no commitment to choose a single restaurant for dinner – in fact, getting too comfortable at a single place is discouraged, no matter how good their food is. Instead, opt for variety – we grouped our picks for the best pintxos in Bilbao in four sections, but they’re close enough to each other that you could visit a couple of areas in one go if you really wanted to. The choice is yours…
El Pintxito has been a staple in Bilbao’s culinary scene since 1968. Located on Poza Lizentziatuaren Kalea 24, the venue boasts contemporary furnishings with both indoor and outdoor seating. While its counter is well-stocked with tempting bites to choose from, it’s the skewers that steal the show. The Moorish pintxo (lamb meat skewer) and octopus and prawn skewer are a must.
Oysters are the only thing on the menu at this oyster bar on García Rivero street but there’s enough variety to keep your palate intrigued. Hailing from different parts of Spain, France, Ireland and the Netherlands, El Puertito’s oysters are best enjoyed with a…
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