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Basque Tapas

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I was in Bilbao for a week in August.

There were few places where good food wasn't standard. A notable exception being the Guggenheim bistro which was terrible and twice the price of most lunch menus available everywhere else.

The area around Jardines de Albia had a few good places to eat. You pass the garden on the way to Zortziko (good but much more classic than avantgarde - and the wine list is very good value too).

I particularly enjoyed Bitoque de Albia. This place had a wide range of more technically interesting plates when compared to some of the more traditional places. Among my favourites was a low temperature egg and potato dish. Foie a la plancha was remarkably good and the slightly expensive patatas bravas were good too. This place also served some interesting wine by the glass and although more expensive it was certainly good. If I was going back it would be one of the places I would head for first. I also enjoyed Cafe Iruna (at the oppostie end of this block)- in the evening they have excellent spicy pork brochettes hot off the BBQ. This place is in most guide books and is worth a look. The Garden opposite also has free Wi-Fi if you have a device (as do quite a few of the public squares).

In the old town the Berton places, of which there are a few, are reliable for a beer and if I remember correctly the ham was very fine. I also had some decent hot items; the Morcilla was good as was a langoustine and octopus dish. Gatz and the place next door were also fine if usually frantic. There are so many places in the old town, most have something worth eating but some places just dont look like you should. I tended to go for suff as soon as it appeared, hot and fresh from the kitchen. Follow the crowds and your nose and you will be fine. I found the Barria Plaza was nice for an occasional drink but the prices were a little higher due to the location. Victor Montes was ok; I preferred Zuga tucked away in the corner.

I also had many good things to eat and drink on and around Calle Licenciado Poza. This road runs parallel to Gran Via Don Diego Lopez De Haro and is awash with good bars and restaurants. I had some good seafood downstairs at Cafe Serantes. Upstairs is a formal sit down restaurant serving fine seafood at an equally fine price. Bar Sentos (I think) was a short walk down the street and was also nearly always busy and offered a huge selection of pinxtos. Further still, almost as far as the stadium is the excellent El Viejo Zorti. This is the more casual sibling of Zortziko and offers a restaurant with a bar area where you can sit and order small plates of good stuff and drink ace wine. If you venture this way then give the cheese plate a go.


Edited by MaLO (log)


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Just to explain my view on the Guggenheim.

The Guggenheim dining room is in two parts (three if you count the coffee bar).

My plan was to have lunch in the cheaper bistro part to get a feel for the place and then reserve for the full works in the gastronomic restaurant as we left.

The food was really poor.

The salad was old, brown and in places mushy. The mains were edible, but miserable. There was very little craft in any of the dishes served. The staff spoke good english until they realised things were not going well. Worst of all, no one cared that we hardly ate any food.

If you are just after a feed on your way around the gallery then give it a try but there are, in my view, countless better options.

I also have read many positive reports about the food so I was quite suprised how bad it was. Perhaps there was a good reason. It may also be that the gastronomic restaurant is great. I went to Zortziko instead.


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We were there last year - see our full trip report at - lots of photos, give it a minute to load, scroll down for San Sebastian pintxos report.

In Bilbao, El Globo had some great pintxos. We also ate at the bistro at the Guggenheim and were underwhelmed. Not recommended.

San Sebastian is a dream come true - pintxos hopping that will blow your mind, see the trip report above for some highlights, too many to mention.

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  • 4 weeks later...

My photos are here:

Parte Vieja, San Sebastian-Donostia

I was neglectful in finishing my 2009 San Sebastian report on eGullet, but we hit up:

Parte Vieja:

La Cepa - liked the scrambled eggs with mushroom, jamon with melon, Gilda (we actually ended up here a lot since they're open daily and it was an easy fall back when San Telmo and Ganbara were closed)

Alona Berri - tasting menu but favorites were "delights of Ulia," baby squid in "sea balance," foie gras with red onion and green tea, steak, torrija (Spanish "french toast"). Overall felt it was a bit below expectations, though.

La Cuchara de San Telmo - foie with apple jelly, risotto (used orzo), "goat cheese stuffed vegetables" (more like warm round of cheese with carmelized top)

Ganbara - chistorra sausage in puff pastry, served hot right out of the oven, baby croissants with jamon (again, watch the oven and the man doing the slicing!)


El Patio de Ramuntxo - seared foie gras on toast, grilled razor clams, considerably more upscale/modern than other spots, seemed to have a large menu

Garbola - shark pintxo (was OK, definitely worth trying to say you've eaten shark), pistachio croquetta, interesting but I think Ramuntxo and Hidalgo were better

Hidalgo 56 - Blood sausage "volcano" with egg yolk and apple (amazing), also seemed to have a large & creative menu, sadly didn't get to try more items

Senra - large variety of croquettas, they have a very large menu, but we were unfortunately very full at this point

HIGHLY recommend heading over to Gros for one night. Not quite as scenic but far less crowded and lots of places doing creative things. We only did one night in Gros and were kicking ourselves for not walking over the bridge earlier, but, then again, we also were eating at Arzak, Mugaritz, and Asador Extebarri....

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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  • 7 months later...

Thank you Matthew for your reference about our site Todopintxos.com

To update the original post from kathryn:

Aloña Berri has closed since the owners have retired and nobody has continued with the bar.

El Patio de Ramuntxo has been renewed and a new team manages the bar. It has lost its innovative character.

Both bars are in the Gros area. Good substitutes are "El Lagar" and "Mil Catas". Both have also a good wine list served by the glass. You can also purchase the bottle.

In Parte Vieja, the former chef from La Cuchara de San Telmo owns a bar named Borda Berri. Good pintxos as well.

Alfonso Aguirre



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Todopinxtos is what I'm using for my trip, thank's so much Alfonso!

My contributions, I've been here for 3 days and have 3 left. This is the plan...come home to the states, rob bank, sell everything and move back here.

Fried artichokes, ham, shrimp


Mushrooms, muscles and crunchy thing


Crab cake with a shimp


Iberico ham sando


Cod salad, anchovy


Salmon, cheap ass cheese with another shrimp on top


Oh there's another shrimp! egg, peppers


Roasted mushroom, normal ham and iberico ham


Chicken salad, cheese, and a shrimp


Eggplant, peppers, monkfish liver


Crab and paprika


Anchovy and tomato, smoked salmon and imitation baby eels


(I think) imitation baby eels and roasted green pappers


Bree, olives, and who knows what


Ham and roasted shrooms


Salmon belly, anchovy, butter


Edited by ScottyBoy (log)

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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