The use of top-quality local products, grown on our farms or caught in our seas and cooked with great care, has always been the key to make the best traditional dishes, which have captivated people all over the world. Our traditional recipes include the secret to delicious meals, such as marmitako (tuna pot), porrusalda (leek soup), kokotxas (made from stewed cod necks), grilled sardines, putxeras, kidney bean stews cooked on charcoal in large pots the way railwaymen used to do it in the past, pisto Bilbao-style (a stir-fried mix of vegetables), or piperradas (made with onions, peppers and tomatoes).

Our typical sauces are absolutely indispensable. Fruit of the know-how of the cooks and chefs of Biscayan kitchens, they play a central part in our food culture. The green sauce is made of fish fumet with garlic and parsley, an ideal accompaniment to hake; the bizkaina sauce is made with choricero peppers, and perfectly combines with fish and meat alike; the baby squids’ black sauce is a sauce made of the squid’s own ink; and the pil pil sauce is a combination of olive oil and the cooking juices from the cod, a gastronomic masterpiece whose onomatopoeic name comes from the sound the bubbles make during the cooking process. 

If we add the passion that we have for innovation to the respect we feel for traditional dishes, together with the preferential use of regional products, what we obtain as a result is one of most creative cuisines in the world. Michelin-starred restaurants are the point of reference for the haute cuisine in Bilbao. In this category, we find restaurants such as Andra Mari in Galdakao, which offers contemporary food rooted in family tradition; or Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, with sustainable avant-garde menus. In Amorebieta, at Boroa you can enjoy a unique experience in a 15th-century baserri; at Eneko, in Larrabetzu, txakoli accompanies an outstanding gastronomic proposal; and the experimentation with burning wood and embers allows Asador Etxebarri in Atxondo to serve the most impressive creations. In Bilbao, next to the river, Mina makes a selection of the best local products and takes them to their fullest expression; while in Casco Viejo, the kitchen at Ola works wonders with market-based menus. Nerua Guggenheim Bilbao, inside the titanium structure of the renowned museum, bases its offer in tradition and in a careful selection of produce. Not far from there, at Zarate, you will find seasonal, local fish dishes; and you cannot forget to take an exclusive culinary trip at Zortziko, one of the pioneering places to serve fine dining in Biscay. 

However, the gastronomic offer is not only limited to the most celebrated restaurants. What makes Bilbao Biscay a paradise on earth for gourmets – and people in general – is the infinite variety of bistros, restaurants, and dishes. You can opt for eating pintxos, our little food jewels, going from one bar to the next along the liveliest streets in Bilbao. You may prefer indulging yourself with a bean stew, with all its fixings, in the former mining area of La Arboleda. If you fancy some seafood, you can taste the delicious fresh fish caught by our boats off the coast of our fishing villages; grilled sardines are a must to try in Santurtzi, the same as anchovies are in the harbours of Ondarroa or Lekeitio. The best Bonito del Norte (a gourmet type of white tuna) can be eaten in Bermeo, always combined with txakoli, a young local white wine produced all over Biscay, including the vineyards in the nearby Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. 

If you still have room in your stomach, every good meal must be concluded with a fine Idiazabal, a cheese with designation of origin made of sheep milk from the Latxasheep who graze on the hillsides of Gorbeia Natural Park, our highest mountain. Lastly, for those who have a sweet tooth, here are some finger-licking sweet treats: the inimitable Carolina, a tower made of meringue, yolk and chocolate on a puff pastry base; our bollos de mantequilla or butter rolls, with extra soft butter, ideal either for breakfast or as a snack; the pastel de arrozor ‘rice cake’, a custard tart with no rice in it; and the unparalleled pastel ruso, which you can find in every patisserie of Bilbao, a delicacy made of baked meringue and buttercream. 

  • The best restaurants here tend to draw crowds, so we recommend you book a table and check the opening times for each establishment.

    But there is no reason to worry, since in Bizkaia you can have great dining experiences in most bars, restaurants or asadores (grillrooms serving meat and fish).