Pintxos in Bilbao: 5 must-try you can’t miss!

Are you looking for the best pintxos in Bilbao? In this list, you’ll find the essential ones you must try. Don’t miss them!

Bilbao emerges as one of northern Spain’s most fascinating tourist destinations, where history and a vibrant cultural scene blend with an exquisite gastronomic offer. This city, which has undergone an astonishing transformation in recent decades, seamlessly blends the traditions of the Basque Country with the most avant-garde cultural trends. However, its taverns hide a marvelous culinary treasure that fascinates every visitor who visits the city. As you may have already guessed, and as in Navarre, we are referring to its delicious pintxos. These small gastronomic delights have turned the Biscayan capital into a paradise for lovers of good food. So, if you’re determined to go out for pintxos in Bilbao, here you’ll find the essential ones you can’t miss!

However, what are and why pintxos in Bilbao are so appreciated?

Pintxos are small portions of food held by sticks or skewers, generally served on slices of bread, characterized by their elaborate presentation and a rich blend of flavors. Indeed, these properties have made them one of the best expressions of the gastronomy of the Basque Country. Using combinations of fresh, local ingredients, chefs have created small works of art that reflect the local passion for gastronomy.

But pintxos in Bilbao go far beyond expressing the love for cuisine. Eating these little delicacies has become a habit that brings together friends and families in lively taverns where they can chat and share experiences. Moreover, this tradition involves going from one bar to another trying different pintxos, which allows you to enjoy the gastronomy and a stroll through the city.

Moreover, the quality of Bilbao’s pintxos has transcended borders, attracting international attention. The city has gained a reputation as a top culinary destination and, as a result, it receives thousands of tourists every year who are delighted to visit its bars to sample all they have to offer. So, if you’re one of them, this guide to Bilbao’s top-rated pintxos will do the trick – read on!

Gilda from Bar Negresko, the most traditional pintxo of Bilbao

Gilda from Bar Negresko, the most traditional pintxo of BilbaoGildas are one of the most characteristic pintxos of the Basque Country. They are a simple but delicious combination of green olives, anchovies, and piparras. This mixture of ingredients creates intense and distinctive morsels with salty, spicy, and smoky flavors.

As a curiosity, it is worth mentioning that its name hides a fascinating story. People say this pintxo was created in La Espiga bar in San Sebastian in the 1940s. When the creator tasted the mixture of flavors, he remembered the film Gilda starring Rita Hayworth because the combination of ingredients was as attractive and provocative as the character.

So, if you’re looking for one of the best gildas in the city, Bar Negresko is an essential stop on your pintxo route in Bilbao. This establishment, located in the heart of the Casco Viejo, is the heir to the former winner of numerous gildas competitions. The new owners have kept the same centuries-old recipe, which is why it is still one of the most popular among people looking to try them.

Triangulo from Bar El Eme

Triangulo from Bar El Eme, one of the most delicious pintxos in BilbaoAlthough the Triangles from Bar El Eme are not a Bilbao pintxo per se, they have earned a place on this list due to their popularity among the locals. We are referring to the simple but mouth-watering sandwiches made here for over 70 years. They are made daily using freshly baked bread and fresh ingredients such as lettuce from the garden, homemade mayonnaise, top-quality ham, and their famous secret sauce.

The secret of these sandwiches lies in their mysterious sauce. Its creator, Emeterio, who gives his name to the bar, devised it by mixing different ingredients and passed the recipe down from generation to generation until nowadays. Seventy years later, people still argue about what ingredients the sauce contains. Although many have tried to imitate it, and some have come close, no one has succeeded.

These sandwiches are an excellent choice as a pintxo accompanied by a cold beer or breakfast with a white coffee. Their inimitable flavor makes them a unique product in Bilbao. For this reason, we encourage you to try them. We love them!

Txangurro au gratin from Bar El Globo, one of the most delicious pintxos in Bilbao

Txangurro au gratin from Bar El Globo, one of the most delicious pintxos in BilbaoBar El Globo is not just a simple place to eat pintxos in Bilbao. It is a place that has become one of the leading exponents of these small delicacies. And if we had to point out one culprit, it would be its txangurro au gratin. It is a recipe that combines tradition and innovation, with which they have managed to win the hearts of locals and tourists alike, regardless of their place of origin.

Its exquisiteness lies in the intensity of its flavor and the contrast of its creamy texture with the crunch of the toasted bread. For us, it is one of the best pintxos we have ever tasted!

With all this in mind, it is no wonder that the bar is always full of people. Moreover, its offer is so varied that it has led El Globo to win several awards and to feature prominently in national and international gastronomic guides. In our opinion, all these reasons make it an obligatory stop on your Bilbao pintxo route.

Bacalao al pil pil from Cafe Bar Bilbao

Bacalao al pil pil from Cafe Bar Bilbao, a pintxo not to be missed on your pintxo route in bilbaoAs everyone knows, the gastronomy of the Basque Country is famous for its variety. It features iconic dishes reflecting the tradition and culinary excellence that are popular nationally and internationally. Among them is bacalao al pil pil, a recipe that requires quality ingredients and a certain level of mastery in its preparation.

So, if you want it to appear on your pintxo route in Bilbao, would it not make sense to look for one of the oldest bars in the city? In that case, we recommend you visit Café Bar Bilbao. This establishment was founded in 1911 and, while maintaining its old tavern atmosphere, has remained faithful to its aim of preserving the authenticity of the tradition. With this in mind, it is not surprising that it is one of the best-known places in the city.

In any case, Café Bar Bilbao offers one of the most popular pintxos of bacalao al pil pil in the Casco Viejo. We have tried it, and we loved it. That’s why we highly recommend it!

Idiazabal cheese soup from Gure Toki, one of the most innovative pintxos in Bilbao

Idiazabal cheese soup from Gure Toki, one of the most innovative pintxos in BilbaoAs we mentioned at the beginning of this post, in Bilbao, the respect for the traditions of the Basque Country is mixed with the most avant-garde cultural trends. That is evident in many areas, and the cuisine could not be exempt. That is why our latest recommendation is Gure Toki. We mean a highly-regarded restaurant that deservedly earned a well-deserved reputation in the disputed world of creative pintxos.

The pintxos on offer include several competition-winning dishes. But if we had to highlight just one, it would be the Idiazábal cheese soup. We are talking about an innovative dish that fuses fine cuisine with the most typical products of the region, which has led them to win numerous awards. For this reason, it is one of the most popular pintxos in Bilbao and tends to run out quickly.

We want to make it clear that this is not an overstatement. We went to Gure Toki twice exclusively to try it out. Sadly, on both occasions, we were unlucky. But as the saying goes, the third time’s the charm! And after tasting it, we understood everything. This pintxo will be your favorite if you like intense flavors, creamy textures, and Idiazábal cheese.

You can not miss the chance to try it!

BONUS: Carolina from the Arrese Bakery

BONUS: Carolina from the Arrese BakeryAlthough Carolinas are not directly related to pintxos in Bilbao, we have decided to include them in this list because, in our opinion, their shape and size resemble a sweet version of the traditional Bilbao tiny delicacies. And also because, after tasting them, we can state they are a sweet treat that could add the perfect finishing touch to your Bilbao pintxos route.

But what are Carolinas? They are puff pastry tarts filled with custard cream on which a meringue cone is placed and then covered with chocolate and egg yolk. They are such a traditional sweet from Bilbao that it is rare not to find them in any pastry shop in the city. In other words, they are a genuine delight.

And if you’re looking for an iconic patisserie to try them, that would be any of the Arrese shops. The first one was founded in 1852. Since then, they have been offering sweet delicacies to the sweet-toothed locals. We don’t know which is the best Carolina you can find in Bilbao, but we certainly believe that the one we tried at this bakery was finger-licking good. We loved it!

Pintxos and Bilbao: impossible to imagine them separately!

Throughout this gastronomic journey, as well as discovering historic and iconic places in Bilbao, you’ll explore the wide range of flavors that characterize the cuisine of the Basque Country: from the most traditional dishes such as gilda or bacalao al pil pil, to innovative creations that have won countless competitions. Each bar you visit will leave you with the pleasant memory of savoring the tapas culture while experiencing the real day-to-day life in the city.

We are sure these memories will inspire you to embark on future gastronomic adventures without taking your mind off the friendliness of this corner of the Basque Country. And, as you should already know, pintxos in Bilbao are much more than small plates. Pintxos are a link that connects friends and family while creating unforgettable moments around a table.

What’s most likely to happen to you is what happened to us. By the time leaving Bilbao, you will be thinking about returning to continue discovering new bars and pintxos!


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