A starry cuisine
The quality of its diverse gastronomic offer has turned Bilbao Biscay into one of the most attractive foodie destinations in the world.
Proof of the importance of our regional gastronomy is the large number of haute cuisine restaurants that can be found in Bilbao Biscay. Always innovating and creating sensational dishes based on traditional recipes, using top quality products from our sea and our farms, these restaurants have taken our gastronomy to new heights.
Choosing where and what to eat in Bilbao Biscay is not an easy task. Such is the variety and the quality of our food that just thinking about it makes our mouths water. The pintxos found in the bars of the liveliest streets, those traditional dishes cooked by chefs in the same style they have been prepared in our houses for ages, the tender meats and other products picked from local farms and served at grill restaurants, and the fresh fish selection offered at Biscayan ports are a true feast for the palate.
The latest edition of the Michelin Guide has recognised the quality of Bilbao Biscay’s gastronomic offer one more year, awarding a total of 14 stars to 12 of the best restaurants in the region. These are, according to the prestigious guide, the temples of cuisine in Bilbao Biscay:
Rooted in traditional flavours, the modern cuisine of Azurmendi does not cease to receive recognition from all over the world. It is in the small but monumental town of Larrabetzu where chef Eneko Atxa and his team creatively interpret the essence of the local dishes and formulate new ones. Always showing the utmost respect towards local the culinary tradition, they are strongly committed to sustainability and the use of locally grown products to offer a genuine final product.
In 2017, Eneko Atxa embarked on a new adventure when he opened his restaurant Eneko–located near Azurmendi in Larrabetzu–and the winery that supplies the restaurant with txakoli wine. The restaurant features an open-plan kitchen which integrates the process of cooking into the dining experience. Respecting both our culinary tradition and Atxa’s principles, the menu of Eneko relies on sustainable high-quality products to surprise its customers with new emotions and experiences.
Fire is the cornerstone in the kitchens of Asador Etxebarri, where the perfect cooking point for every meal grilled in them is key. This exceptional experience was conceived by Bittor Arginzoniz, the same person who makes it possible for the restaurant to be listed among the best year after year. The grills at Etxebarri bring out the best of any chop, hake, sea bream, or seasonal vegetable. On top of that, Asador Etxebarri is privileged to be located in Atxondo, under the shadow of Mount Anboto, the home of the local goddess Mari.
In the neighbourhood of Boroa, Amorebieta, just a few kilometres away from Bilbao and Durango and surrounded by hundred-year-old trees, we find the exquisitely remodelled 15th-century baserri–typical regional farmhouse–that houses the Boroa Jatetxea. This gastronomic paradise, placed in an idyllic natural setting, is run by Mari Asun Ibarrondo. This restaurant’s primary purpose is to surprise customers with the rediscovery and evolution of traditional dishes that are imaginatively prepared.
The dishes on the traditional menus in the region are the main source of inspiration for Andra Mari, a reference point for Biscayan cuisine from 1964. Throughout the years, the restaurant has been building bridges between local deep-rooted gastronomy and the most avant-garde cuisine. Housed in a former baserri in the neighbourhood of Elexalde in Galdakao, with views over the nearby mountains and Gorbeia Natural Park, Andra Mari is a truly unique restaurant.
Garena, led by chef Julen Baz, has been the latest incorporation into this exclusive list. Sited at the foot of Gorbeia Natural Park in Dima, this restaurant serves meals derived from Biscayan traditional dishes making use of the products obtained from its surroundings and the know-how of local producers. As a result, Garena offers an innovative gastronomic experience full of freshness and personality. The restaurant is housed in an 18th-century baserri and the meals are accompanied by the txakoli made at their own wineries.
Famous for being one of the most well-established restaurants in Bilbao, Zortziko has been offering matchless gastronomic experiences under the management of Daniel García since the 1980s. The menu of Zortziko is built around the products and flavours that have accompanied Biscayan people for centuries, which are now being rediscovered thanks to the innovative incorporation of more exotic ingredients. Sited in opposite the Isozaki Atea, right in the middle of Bilbao, the meals at Zortziko take customers on a trip down memory lane where they will be able to explore new sensations at the same time.
A magnificent landmark such as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao deserves to have an equally outstanding restaurant. Nerua, led by Josean Alija, has managed to take the artistic creativity of this wonderful building, designed by Frank Gehry, and its exhibitions to its kitchens. Featuring a menu that is constantly adapted to the seasonal products that come from our coasts, vegetable gardens and farms, Nerua blends tradition and modernity in its dishes nestled in an incomparable urban setting.
In the heart of the Ensanche in Bilbao, a former window factory is now Atelier Etxanobe, the restaurant in which Fernando Canales and Mikel Población give full rein to their imagination and share their passion for food. With the importance of excellence always in mind, the dishes created by Atelier Etxanobe burst with originality and joy. Top quality ingredients are appreciated and used at all times, and fish is given special prominence on the menus of Atelier Etxanobe.
In the neighbourhood of San Francisco, the large windows of the Mina Restaurant, look towards Estuary of Bilbao, the bridge and church of San Antón, and the Mercado de La Ribera. The latter is clearly one of the main sources of inspiration for Álvaro Garrido to create his characteristic seasonal market cuisine. In his kitchen, everything revolves around excellent raw ingredients which are combined and experimented with to obtain dazzling final results. His harmonious menu is sure to offer a symphony of flavours and textures from beginning to end.
The sea is the main protagonist in Sergio Ortiz de Zarate’s dishes, forever indebted to the knowledge passed down from previous generations, the basis of the restaurant’s principles. Zarate is a restaurant where the familiarity with the fruits of the sea caught at neighbouring fishing ports is combined with the best of culinary traditions and every recipe is cooked with love. The taste and the smell of the sea can be experienced at the dining room of this restaurant–located on Calle Licenciado Poza, just a few metres aways from San Mamés–thanks to its innovatory and varied menu.
Ola Martín Berasategi*
A menu that changes as the seasonal products do is what chef expert in Basque cuisine Martín Berasategi, born in Guipuzkoa, offers at his restaurant Ola Martín Berasategi. Ideally situated in the Casco Viejo in Bilbao–an unquestionable mecca for good food–the team led by Raúl Cabrera adjust their recipes to whatever products are available in the market at a particular time of the year, sticking to the principles established by Martín Berasategi, as they provide a new and personal interpretation to the most traditional recipes.
The Michelin Guide has also given Bid Gourmand Awards to three restaurants in Bilbao in 2022 for their excellent value for money. Los Fueros (founded in 1878 near Plaza Nueva in Casco Viejo in Bilbao), which has a wide selection of most typical dishes in the city but customized for the 21st century; Kimtxu, a restaurant on the central Calle Henao that combines Asian techniques with local products to obtain a tasty fusion; and La Escuela, at the Escuela Superior de Hostelería de Bilbao, where you can have a taste of some of the creations made by local young talents and enjoy the impressive views of the city from Artxanda.