/Pintxos in Bilbao

Pintxos in Bilbao

Bar Gatz in Bilbao’s old quarter.

After several days and several meals in Bilbao, I have become infatuated with the city’s pintxos. Mamma Parla and I had a few restaurant meals (2 out of 3 were painfully disappointing) which drove us to drown our sorrows in txacoli, the local wine, and artfully prepared finger foods. The pintxos we enjoyed were recommended by several readers who gave suggestions via Twitter and Facebook. A very special thanks goes out to Marcy Benson (@prosecoprincess on Twitter), Sara Nieto (@sara_nieto on Twitter), and Ibone Bengoetxea, and Marta Yrizar whose advice led us to bite after bite of deliciousness.

Pintxos in Bilbao

One of our favorite spots was Bar Gatz on Calle Santa Maria in the Casco Viejo (old town). We really did a number there. We started with roasted red peppers filled with tuna salad and belted with an anchovy: sweet, tangy, fishy, perfect.

Pintxos in Bilbao

Next up was the ubiquitous Basque specialty, bacalao al pil-pil, cod with a sort of olive oil fish fat glaze.

Pintxos in Bilbao

The ham with whole wheat bread and a sliver of tomato was simple and delectable.

Pintxos in Bilbao

But the highlight was pureed roasted eggplant with goat cheese. Smokiness and tanginess are a beautiful couple.

Pintxos in Bilbao

We were just about to leave when a plate of fried anchovy pintxos came out. So of course we stayed for one more bite. And another txacoli.

Xukela at lunchtime.

Our next stop was Xukela on Calle Perro, just around the corner. This place was buzzing, but we squirmed our way to the bar and picked out a handful of pintxos, which we downed with yet more txakoli. I am fairly certain this local white wine has a very local alcohol content because at this point I am still lucid.

Pintxos in Bilbao
Pintxos at Xukela.

The headcheese with pickles was phenomenal and the bizarre looking mushrooms with a vinegar reduction was outrageously good. The salmon was nice, but the ham sandwich didn’t quite rival the previous evening’s version at La Viña del Ensanche.

The third stop on the afternoon’s pintxos crawl was Kepa Landa on the other side of the river on Calle Henao 12. Its creator Begoña Pérez Azcona had just won the coveted black beret for best tortilla in the region the second year in a row.

Pintxos in Bilbao

Her simple potato tortilla (omelette) was perfectly prepared with skill and attention. She also makes an incredible torrija (aka tostada de pan, thick slices of bread soaked in milk and cinnamon).

Pintxos in Bilbao

El Globo, a Bilbao institution was another fun spot. Mamma Parla even stepped out of her comfort zone and ate anchovies!

Pintxos in Bilbao

And last but not least, we visited Txiriboga in the Casco Vecchio with Marta who introduced us to their wonderful croquetas (fried besciamel!!!)

2017-02-17T15:26:53+00:00 July 1st, 2011|Categories: Basque Country, Gastronomic Traditions, Spain|8 Comments


  1. Frank July 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Anchovies are right *in* my comfort zone, so I’d be in heaven… 🙂

  2. Katie July 3, 2011 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    @Frank oh man i had the most delicious snack this morning: a freshly baked baguette with Cantabrian anchovies. punto. amazing. you would have loved it.

  3. Angie July 4, 2011 at 3:26 am - Reply

    Wow! All of these look sooooo good! My boyfriend is in the Basque country too right now and I just told him and told him he HAD to read this post.

  4. Andrea Sponzilli July 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Ti invidio tantissimo…

  5. Katie July 5, 2011 at 12:24 am - Reply

    @Angie if he gets the chance, tell him to check out Zuberoa outside San Sebastian. magical!

    @Andrea allora non leggere i prossimi post! comunque sono sicura che stai mangiando bene anche te!! 🙂

  6. | Lunch at ZuberoaParla Food July 5, 2011 at 2:10 am - Reply

    […] to learning the basics of Basque cuisine. Accordingly, Mamma Parla and I have spent a lot of time eating pintxos, perusing markets, quaffing txakoli, and frequenting simple taverns. It has been hard to resist the […]

  7. Chris Chapman October 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Oh god I want those bechemel croquettes. I’m going to Bilbao next week for pinxtos y Gugenheim!

    • Katie October 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      enjoy it! and dont miss that amazing omelette!!!

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