Bilbao Pintxos Advice from Michelin Star Chef Josean Alija

72 Hours in Northern Spain and wondering where to find the best pintxos from San Sebastian to Bilbao?  We’ve got you’ve covered!

What better way to familiarize ourselves with Basque Country than via a personalized, pintxos tour led by world-renowned, Michelin One Star, No. 56 World’s 50 Best Chef Josean Alija? That was a mouthful of adjectives, but he’s got a lot of accolades.  When a leading chef offers to take time out of his busy schedule to give you a tour, you put on your walking shoes, hit the road and prepare to eat and drinks for hours on end.  🙂

Josean Alija is famous for his role as executive Chef of Nerua Guggenheim, an exquisite dining experience in the heart of Bilbao that we enjoyed twice over the duration of our stay in Biscay.  Heeding Chef’s advice, over a three day period, we ventured into the heart of Bilbao and San Sebastian following his lead noshing on all the best bites Northern Spain has to offer.  Below is a handy list with some delicious pics and a few suggestions for what to order (and do) at each location in Bilbao and San Sebastian. Chef Josean knows all the legit, non-touristy spots where you can eat like a local while enjoying the finest ingredients around. There’s a few places that crept onto the list that we found all by ourselves, plus a few places that our well-traveled friends recommended – those spots were pretty tasty too. All compiled below for your convenience.


Bilbao : Best Pintxos & Bars

  • Asador Indusi, Bilbao
  • Bodega Indautxu, Bilbao (no known website)
  • Corto Maltes (bar), Bilbao
  • Katu Bar, Bilbao (no known website)
  • LaVina Del Ensanche (pintxos), Bilbao
  • Peso Neto (pintxos), Bilbao
  • Pub Lust Bilbao (nightclub), Bilbao
  • Ormaetxe (bar), Bilbao (no known website)
  • Bar Restaurant Victor (pintxos), Bilbao
  • Taberna Basaras, Bilbao (no known website)
  • Zezen Gorri Montes (pintxos), Bilbao (no known website)
  • Bar Zuga (pintxos), Bilbao (no known website)


All recommendations provided by Michelin Star Chef, Josean Alija unless otherwise noted.

The Specifics 

Asador Indusi  

Garcia Rivero Maisuaren Kalea, 7 48011, Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

  • What to order:  Croquetas Caseras, Jamon Iberico Corado a Chuillo, Tomatoes, Vina Tondonia Reserva Rioja, Torrijas Caramelizadas (french toast)
Croquettes | Asador Indusi


Tomatoes & Olive Oil
Chuleton De Buey (on the same level as Asador Etxebarri)


Vina Tondonia Rioja Wine


French Toast | Asador Indusi

Bodega Indautxu (no known website)

Calle Gregorio de la Revilla, 18 48011 Bilbao

  • What to order: Sardine Sandwiches & House Txakoli


Corto Maltes (bar)

Maria Diaz Haroko Kalea, 20, 48013 Bilbao, Viacaya, Spain

  • What to order: Gin & Tonic.
Brockman’s Gin & Tonic in a laid-back & cozy spot.

Katu Bar (no known website)

Barrenkale, 17, 48005 Bilbao, Bizkaia, Spain

  • What to order: House Txakoli & beer
Chill bar, cozy, good music

LaVina Del Ensanche (pintxos)

Calle Diputacion, 10, 48008 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

What to order: Ibérico aged 2 years

ibérico aged 2 years


Peso Neto (pintxos) suggested by @e.b.woodward

San Frantzisko Kalea, 1 48003, Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

What to order: Gazpacho (like you’ve never, ever had before!)

ginger ice cream, sardines, seaweed, cherries, tomatoes | we promise it’s interesting & good.

Pub Lust Bilbao (nightclub)

Calle Manuel Allende Kalea, 8 48010 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

  • What to order: Gin & Tonic and 80’s music

Ormaetxe (bar), Bilbao (no known website)

Dorre Kalea, 4 48005 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

  • What to order: beer & house txakoli and play a game of ‘throw a token into a golden frogs mouth’ a game called Juego de la Rana

Victor Montes (pintxos) ~ suggested by @e.b.woodward 

Plaza Nueva 8 48005 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

  • What to order: Mini Burgers and Foie Gras Crepes
olive, pepper, iberico & cheese on toast
mini burger & foie gras crepe

Taberna Basaras  (no known website)

Pilota Kalea, 2 48005 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

  • What to order: Spicy Sardine Bread & Cheese Souffle
Sardine Bread (spicy) & Cheese souffle

Zezen Gorri  (pintxos) (no known website) ~ suggested @e.b.woodward

Nueva Plaza, 10 48005 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

What to order:  Brie Pepper Stuffed Corquette & Iberico Ham Toast

Brie Stuff Croquettes & Iberico Toast


Bar Zuga (pintxos) (no known website) ~ suggested by @chefwjrwatton

Goikolau Cueva Kalea, 48005 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

  • What to order: Pintxos of the day
Bar Zuga in the Plaza | Pintxos of the day

In addition to the Bilbao suggestions above, Chef Josean Alija of Nerua Guggenheim & his resident communications specialist, Naiara Ortiz, graciously arranged a tour of ‘can’t miss’ San Sebastian restaurants which we’ve shared with you below.  Two locations  hold “The Michelin Plate” recognition and are worthy of a stop, and the third place is a brain-child of Mugaritz, No. 09 Best Restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list for 2017.  All were outstanding recommendations.

San Sebastian : Best Lunch Spots

  • Bodegón Alejandro, San Sebastian    Recognition: The Michelin Plate
  • Ganbara (pintxos), San Sebastian       Recognition: The Michelin Plate
  • Topa Sukalderia, San Sebastian         Affliation to: Mugaritz

The Specifics

Bodegón Alejandro ~ lunch/dinner  FAVORITE

Calle de Fermin Calbeton, 4 20003, San Sebastian, Guipuzcoa, Spain

  • What to order: Croquettes, Egg, Seasonal tomatoes with dried tomatoes, peppers
Croquetas cremosas de patata
Huevos asados a baja temperatura con consomé de Emmenta
Ensalada de tomate del país “Karabeleko”

Ganbara pintxos~ Suggested by @travellikeacheiff

San Jeronimo Kalea, 19 20003 San Sebastian, Guipuzcoa, Spain

  • What to order: mushrooms and egg plate


Topa Sukalderia lunch/dinner

Agirre Miramon Kalea, 7 2002 San Sebastian, Guipuzcoa, Spain

Basque/Latin American Fusion introduced by Chef Andoni Luis Anduriz of Mugaritz, No. 09 World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017

  • What to order: guacamole, mole tacos & “Al pastor” Basque style tacos
Aged Mole from Restaurant Pujol in Mexico City collaberation with ingredients from Topa and under directorship of Mugaritz.


Guac with avocado, tomato marmalade, cilantro and lime (see video of making the quac here.)


“Al pastor” Basque style tacos

When you find yourself in Basque Country, take this list with you.  It will definitely come in handy and it will ensure that you won’t get stuck in the touristy spots around town.  Do keep in mind that daily between 2 pm – 4:30 pm, restaurants and businesses close, so be sure to plan around the afternoon break and go early or late.  Let us know if you have any questions or need further advice on attractions in the area. It’s a short 1.5 hours drive between San Sebastian and Bilbao with beautiful scenery along the way.  If you make the drive, it will set you back about 25 euro to drive on the tollway that connects the cities, so be sure to take cash ~ it’s worth the spend!


E & B Woodward

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7 Replies to “Bilbao Pintxos Advice from Michelin Star Chef Josean Alija”

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