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Bilbao, Spain has one of the best nightlife cultures in the world thanks to the city’s love of pintxos. Pintxos (pinchos in Spanish, pintxos in Basque) can be found at bars all over Basque Country. Pintxos are the perfect food for pairing with an evening of drinking. The basics of a pintxo are simple: some toppings such as meat, seafood, cheese, or tortilla, placed on a piece of bread (sometimes), and usually held together with a toothpick or skewer. Each pintxo can be picked up and consumed in just a few bites. They generally cost between €1-2, making them the best fast food in Spain. All of Bilbao’s pintxos bars have their own house specialties, and thanks to the small portions it’s possible to do a bar crawl & try several places in one night out, especially around the bustling Plaza Nueva. All of the various pintxos lined up across the top of a bar create quite the sight. Combine pintxos and some local txakoli, beer, cider, or wine, and you’ve got the recipe for a great evening, especially on busy nights where the fun spills out on to the streets of the city. For an even deeper experience, there are plenty of pintxos tours around Bilbao. Here are some of my favorite pintxos bars in Bilbao. If you’re not hungry yet, you will be soon!
The best pintxos bars in Bilbao, Spain
The hotspot for pintos in Bilbao is Casco Viejo’s Plaza Nueva, also known as Plaza Barria. Surrounding this square, you’ll find about a dozen pintxos bars, many of them regarded as some of the best pintxos places in the city. On weekends especially, the whole square is buzzing with happy diners. The first few restaurants are some of my favorites in the Old Town, all of them having their own house specialties. Hit up a few of them in an evening to create your own pintxos crawl through Bilbao.
Zuga has a fantastic selection of pintxos, with a strong focus on seafood, foie gras, and cheese. It’s obvious that a lot of care goes into their pintxos, from the presentation to the delicious local flavors.
Each pintxo was €2 – proving that “fast food” doesn’t need to be mass-produced garbage. When you can get something this exquisite so quickly, why go to a chain? For travelers on a budget, other pintxos bars in Bilbao are even cheaper than that!
Address: Goikolau Cueva Kalea, s/n, 48005 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
Innovation meets tradition at Plaza Nueva’s Gure Toki. Their fresh pintxos use high-quality ingredients for modern takes on Basque standards. There is also a full wine list, including the traditional Basque txakoli.
One thing to note is that while some of Bilbao’s pintxos bars may open in the mornings, their early selection can be limited, with perhaps a few items such as tortillas available. With other bars, sometimes there’s a full fresh selection & the place will be empty, so just be flexible & go with whatever has the best offering. That’s the beauty of having so many nearby pintoxs bars in Casco Viejo.
Address: Plaza Nueva, 12, 48005 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain (map)
While Sorginzulo of course has a full range of pintxos made with local ingredients, their biggest draw is their fried calamari, which is served on weekends. Be sure to also note the menu of made-to-order pintxos in addition to what’s already pre-made on the bar.
Address: Plaza Nueva, 12, 48005 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain (map)
Café Bar Bilbao
Café Bar Bilbao is one of the busiest pintxos bars on Plaza Nueva. This lively local favorite has been serving up delicious pintxos since 1911.
In addition to the great food, Café Bar Bilbao also hosts cultural events. If you can distract yourself from stuffing your mouth with pintxos such as my favorite, the quail egg fried with jamón ibérico & foie gras, check out all of the beautiful tile work throughout the bar.
Address: Plaza Nueva, 6, 48005 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain (map)
Victor Montes has some of the fanciest pintxos in Bilbao, along with a massive wine list. The focus at the brightly-lit Victor Montes, which has been open since 1849, is on meat & seafood items, but you’ll find more as well.
Everything was fresh & ready first thing in the morning. You might expect to pay a premium for their generous portions, but prices were right in line with other high-end pintxos bars.
It was at Victor Montes where architect Frank Gehry & others signed off on the plans for the Guggenheim Museum, changing Bilbao forever.
Address: Plaza Nueva, 8, 48005 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain (map)
Baster’s specialties include quiche & tortillas, along with vermouth & craft beer. There’s no shortage of other pintxos & txakoli, of course.
Address: Posta Kalea, 22, 48005 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
Peso Neto has a younger, hipper vibe that many of the other Bilbao pintxos bars, but it’s more than that. The restaurant feels like you’re stepping into your friends’ living room. With a small, but quality selection of pintxos to go along with a full food menu (plus cocktails, tea & coffee, & some craft beer), Peso Neto is a nice change of pace that’s also open late.
Address: San Frantzisko Kalea, 1, 48003 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
El Huevo Frito
El Huevo Frito is Spanish for “The Fried Egg.” Based on the name alone, you can guess what you’ll find in this centrally located bar just south of the Museum of Fine Arts, and you won’t be disappointed.
One of my primary rules in life is to always put an egg on it when given the opportunity. El Huevo Frito does exactly that. Nearly all of the pintxos at El Huevo Frito are topped with a fried quail egg.
Popular pintxos include jamón ibérico, blood sausage, and tortilla, all topped with a fried egg. Yes, even an eggy tortilla gets an egg on it at El Huevo Frito; it’s eggs all the way down. Some might consider that overkill, but not me.
Their egg with olive & anchovy in olive oil is a slightly different take on the ubiquitous gilda, which you will find at nearly ever pintxos bar in Basque Country. A gilda is usually made with anchovy, olive, and pepper.
My favorite pintxo at El Huevo Frito, fried goat cheese with jamón, actually didn’t have an egg on it – but it wouldn’t have been bad with one.
El Huevo Frito’s yellow walls are covered with cartoons & football memorabilia. The warmth of El Huevo Frito comes not just from the quality pintxos & the decor, but also the friendly service. In a city where it’s not always easy to stand out with original pintxos, El Huevo Frito is doing something just a bit different.
Address: García Rivero Maisuaren Kalea, 1, 48011 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
Bar El Globo
El Globo Taberna is another of Bilbao’s most beloved pintxos bars. It appears regularly on “best pintxos” lists, and rightfully so.
Popular selections include spider crab au gratin, fried artichoke hearts with ham, and the Idiazabal cheese tartlet. Not only is their wide selection of pintxos among the best in Bilbao, it’s also among the most accessible pintxos places for visitors. While there’s certainly a fun element to pointing at a pintxo not knowing what you will be trying, Bar El Globo has multilingual signs describing each item.
Even when busy, Bar El Globo has a solid amount of places to stand or sit, plus there’s a huge outside patio as well. The neighborhood has tons of pintxos bars, so make it part of your pintxo crawl.
Address: Diputazio Kalea, 8, 48008 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
La Viña del Ensanche
La Viña del Ensanche is one of the most popular places for pintxos in Bilbao. As with many of these pintxos bars, crowds spill out onto the surrounding streets, just as they have since 1927. Little has changed here since then. There is also a grocery store selling quality local delicacies. Try visiting during off hours to avoid the crowds, or brave the bustle for the true Bibao pintxos experience.
Address: Diputazio Kalea, 10, 48008 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
Open since 1903, Café Iruña is one of the oldest & best known pintxos bars in Bilbao. Although recently remodeled, the bar still looks back at its past with love. Be on the lookout for Moorish touches throughout, including gorgeous wood ceilings, arches, and tiled walls. While Café Iruña is open for pintxos all day, it is particularly famous as a breakfast hangout. Their lamb skewers are also popular.
Address: Colón de Larreátegui Kalea, 13, 48001 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
The drink of choice at Café Estoril is vermouth, but you’ll find plenty more inside the blue walls of this local Bilbao favorite. Popular items include their chorizo tortilla & foie gras pintxos.
Address: Plaza Campuzano, 3, 48011 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
Bar El Figón
Bar El Figón has a typical menu of pintxos, but they are all done well, and they’re some of the cheapest pintxos in Bilbao. My favorite was the pastry with ham.
One thing to keep in mind is that there’s often a lull between lunch and dinner at pintxos bars in Bilbao. While the bars may still be open, there will be a smaller selection of pintxos sitting out & kitchens may be closed. This is a good thing, as it means that later in the evening, you don’t have to consider whether or not the pintxos have been sitting out all day. If you’re doing a pintxos bar crawl, just note that you’ll have fewer options late in the afternoon.
Address: Orueta Apezpikuaren Kalea, 1, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
Bar El Eme
Bar El Eme has pintxos, of course, but the true specialty items at this family-owned bar are their famous ham sandwiches.
Known as triángulos, these amazing sandwiches do every little thing right. The ingredients of El Eme’s triángulos are simple, but their focus on high quality, local ingredients elevate what seems like a basic ham sandwich into true art.
Start with fresh homemade bread, then take sliced York ham, lettuce, and drench it all in mayo and most importantly, a special, top secret, delectable house sauce. Yes, you are going to get messy while eating a triángulo at Bar El Eme.
There’s a takeaway window for the popular sandwiches, but often you can skip the queue by going inside. This also lets you sit & wash down your sandwich with a cold local beer.
Bar El Eme might not be a traditional pintxo bar, but it’s still a must visit for a true local treasure.
Address: Calle Gral. Concha, 5, 48008 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain (map)
Taurina Taberna is notable for one reason in particular – it’s open much later than most other pintxo bars in Bilbao. The bar is open until 1:00am on most nights, and until as late as 3:00am on weekends.
While the pintxos here might not be quite at the level as some other spots in Bilbao, Taurina Taberna is the place to go for hungry night owls.
Address: Ledesma Musikariaren Kalea, 5, 48001 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain (map)
As you can see, there’s no shortage of amazing pintxos bars in Bilbao. It’s truly a fantastic experience to grab some great food, a glass of txakoli, and some friends for a fantastic Basque evening out. Or take a pintxos tour! Be sure to also check out my list of the best pintxos bars in San Sebastián.
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