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14 Best Pintxos Bars in Bilbao

14 Best Pintxos Bars in Bilbao

Pintxos are a staple of the Basque Country bar experience and there is no better place to sample these delicacies than in the biggest city, Bilbao. These are some of the best pintxos bars in Bilbao that you don’t want to miss.

Of course, the term best is objective. These are my personal favorite pintxos bars in Bilbao where you can find traditional Basque pintxos. Some are tourist hotspots, others are packed to the brim with locals.

The most touristed pintxos bars in Bilbao are located in the old town, particularly around Plaza Nueva. I ate a lot of average pintxos there, but I also found a few gems which I’ve included below.

The best spots are located a short walk away or an even shorter subway ride away.

These are the places around Bilbao where you will be able immerse yourself in the culture. Grab a cold beer and practice your Euskara

There are so many amazing things to do in Bilbao. From Frank Gehry’s architectural masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum, to the history of the old town. But you’ll need to eat in between your adventures. Pintxos make for the perfect snack.

What are Pintxos?

Pintxos or pinchos as they are sometimes spelled, are little snacks that you find in bars and restaurants around Basque Country.

In other parts of Spain, you might call these bar snacks tapas, but in the local Basque language, they are known as pintxos (pronounced pin-chos).

You will spot them all over Bilbao whenever you walk into a bar. They are unmissable on the countertops. Usually it is a piece of bread with a meat, cheese or vegetable (or a combination of these things). They are then pierced with a toothpick to hold it all together.

For the most part, pintxos are pre-made and you simply choose which ones you want. If your Spanish is a little bit rusty, this is a great way to eat a ton of different local dishes without having to speak much Spanish. You can just point at what you want.

Pintxos lovers won’t want to miss a trip to San Sebastian as well where you can enjoy even more amazing pintxos bars there.

inside of a pintxos bar in bilbao with food on slate on top of the bar and empty wine glasses hanging above the bar an a chalk board menu above that.

There are so many great pintxos bars in Bilbao to check out! Most bars are pintxos bars since they serve at least a few snacks everywhere.

Take a Pintxos Tour of Bilbao

Whether you are only in Bilbao for 3 days or you are spending more time exploring the region, taking a food tour when you arrive to a city is a great way to learn more about not only the food, but the history. It also gives you a better understanding of the layout of the city for the rest of your trip.

And if you take it at the start of your trip, you can ask your tour guide which pintxos bars in Bilbao are their favorites.

We have an entire article dedicated to all of the best food tours in Bilbao. These are our top picks for a quick trip.

  • Market Tour and Wine Tasting: This food tour takes you to La Ribera Market where you’ll sample some delicious pintxos in Bilbao. You’ll also be able to taste local Basque wines. Book that tour here.
  • Walking Food Tour: Get to know the historical center of the city, learn about its past, and eat some delicious pintxos along the way on this tour. Book onto it here.
  • Original Food Tour: This tour is one of the mainstays when it comes to great pintxos places in Bilbao. They take you to some of the best bars in town all with a knowledgable and passionate guide to order the classics for you. Book that tour here.

Best Pintxos Bars in Bilbao

1. El Globo

This is without a doubt one of the best pintxos bars in Bilbao. If you are looking for a place where the locals head when they’re hungry on a Friday or Saturday night, get yourself a place on the sidewalk at El Globo.

The interior of the bar is quite small and finding a seat can be difficult. Even if you do manage to get a seat, the bar is so crowded on the evenings that you will likely not want to sit with your head at the same height as most people’s elbows.

Instead, do as the locals do and grab a spot outside with your drink and snacks. 

There is no table service here. Head the counter which is packed to the brim with freshly made pintxos. The most famous pintxo here is Txangurro which is crab topped with grilled cheese. The Spanish tortilla topped with white truffle is also exquisite.

2. Cafe Iruña

Another of the can’t-miss pintxos bars in Bilbao is Cafe Iruña. It’s a popular tourist hotspot, but for good reason. And you’ll find plenty of Spanish tourists here enjoying pintxos, too.

Be sure to sample around the counter with some of their cold options. But do not miss out on the freshly grilled lamb skewers here. They don’t make them all day, so if you see some available while you’re in the bar, order a few to share with the table because you will not want to share.

The interior of the cafe is beautiful. There is intricate tile work both in the bar as well as the restaurant side. On a nice day, try to grab a table outside where you can enjoy some fantastic people watching.

sitting at a table in front of cafe iruña, one of the best pintxos bars in Bilbao with a tortilla and slice of bread on a plate an two drinks at the edge of the table.

Cafe Iruña has so many great pintxos to choose from.

3. Ledesma Taberna

Tucked down a side street full of pintxos bars, this one stands out as one of the best in the bunch. 

This is a great place to come for small sandwiches filled with local ham or cheese. They have one of the larger selections of freshly made Spanish omelettes filled with chorizo or roasted red peppers. The croquettes are also a nice salty snack to have with a beer.

Order first and then you can either prop up at the bar or grab a table. Depending on the time of day, they usually have a bunch of tables outside. 

4. El Sacacorchos

If you are looking for a slightly upscale spot for pintxos in Bilbao, then El Sacacorchos is your place! The name translates to the corkscrew, so you can imagine that it’s a pretty great place for wine.

They have unique flavors that you won’t find elsewhere in Bilbao like seared tuna with lime mayonnaise or octopus with garlic-chili aioli. They also have local ingredients like cecina, which is a cured beef and local cheese pintxos.

In addition to a nice local wine selection, you’ll find Estrella Galicia on draft and a full bar for the cocktail lovers.

croquetta on top of a slice of bread with a strip of jamon over the top on a white plate which has been placed on top of a metal bar.

I like to sample one or two snacks and then move onto a different place. The great thing about pintxos is that you can eat with your eyes, you can see if it looks tasty before you order!

5. El Huevo Frito

El Huevo Frito or the fried egg focuses heavily on, you guessed it, egg-centric pintxos. You’ll find cured meats topped with fried eggs, Spanish omelettes, cooked meats topped with fried eggs, and a few sandwiches without eggs (but mostly bread, meat, and eggs).

It’s a fun concept and not just for show. The egg yolk that oozes over most of these pintxos adds the perfect bit of richness and moisture that I often feel is missing in many of the other pintxos that I have sampled in Bilbao.

Wash it down with a cold beer or a house wine, either of which will set you back only a few euros.

6. Gaztandegi Taberna

Cheese lovers, take note. Gatzandegi Taberna is home to the widest selection of cheese-centric pintxos that you’ll find in Bilbao (or maybe anywhere in Basque Country!).

The selection of cheese is extensive with a huge focus on local Basque cheeses. But you’ll also find other Spanish cheeses and a few French cheeses, too like the melted brie with jam on top of a slice of bread.

If there is a particular cheese you fall in love with, the bar is also a cheese shop. So you can sample a few different local farmer’s cheeses and then buy some as souvenirs to take home.

row of pintxos under a glass counter at one of the best pintxos bars in Bilbao.

Sometimes I walk into a pintxos bar, have a look at the counter and if nothing looks exciting, I’ll leave and check somewhere else out. Find spots that look good to YOU!

7. Taberna Umaran 

This is without a doubt my favorite pintxos bar in Bilbao.

It’s not particularly flashy and it’s probably not serving up anything out of the ordinary, but it has the vibes that make me fall in love with Spanish bars.

It’s small, it’s filled mostly with locals, the music is mellow but fun with English and Spanish classics. There are Spanish newspapers for you to peruse, but not for longer than 30 minutes because we’re all trying to share here!

The staff are really friendly and the simple pintxos on offer here are done to perfection. I had one of the best Spanish tortillas that I have had in all of Spain at this bar.

They also have some local cheese, cured meats, and salty gildas which are a popular pintxo around Basque Country. It’s made of Guindilla peppers, an anchovy, and an olive which are all skewered together and meant to be eaten as a single bite.

8. Batzoki Indautxu

Another popular spot with the locals, this bar is down a dead end street with tables inside and outside. They have a nice selection of pintxos, with delicious Spanish tortillas, bacalao al pil pil, and croquettes.

But I highly recommend ordering from their full menu for even better dishes. The raciones or full portions of food are excellent here with tons of great seafood, incredible cured beef (cecina), and beautifully cooked steaks. 

They also have local vermút available which is the perfect way to wet the appetite before you eat. 

three snacks on toothpicks at a pintxos bar in Bilbao with a man's hand at the edge of the photo holding a glass of vermouth.

Sample salty snacks like gildas with a sweet vermouth.

9. Ziripot

This little corner bar is surrounded by tons of great little pintxos bars. It’s small inside with a few stools at the bar and then more tables outside. So it’s not ideal on a classically rainy Bilbao day if it’s too busy, but in the summer sunshine, it’s a great spot.

It’s also home to the best bacalao al pil pil that I had during my entire trip to Basque Country. This popular Basque pintxo is made of salted cod topped with a garlic sauce. As a pintxo it’s usually served atop a thick slice of bread.

The sauce here was so packed with flavor. They also have a few other traditional pintxos and a nice selection of local wine and cider. 

10. Bar Bikiak Berri

If you are exploring the old town or Casco Viejo in Bilbao, you’ll need to stop and refuel. This little pintxos bar in Bilbao is one of the best places in this neighborhood to pop into for a cheap and tasty snack.

They have a really great selection of cheese, meat, and fish on top of always fresh bread. They are open from 8:30am until 11pm, so you know you can always grab something at this place when most others close in mid-afternoon for a little siesta.

slice of tortilla with bread.

I can never say no to a slice of Spanish tortilla when I walk into a pintxos bar in Bilbao!

11. Sorginzulo

I promised that there were one or two places in Plaza Nueva where it was possible to have good pintxos. This place was by far my favorite of all of the places that I sampled around this popular pintxos plaza.

This is a great place to try the local wine called Txakoli. It is a young, dry white wine that goes well with salty pintxos.

The selection here is varied and while not all of them are delicious (that can be said of pretty much any pintxos bar to be honest!). The calamari sandwich (bocadillo de rabas), the shrimp croquettes, and the Spanish tortilla are all worth sampling.

12. Cafe Bar Bilbao

The other spot around Plaza Nueva that I recommend checking out is Cafe Bar Bilbao. This blue-fronted pintxos bar in Bilbao is an institution that is still serving up quality ingredients to the masses.

They have vegetarian options alongside plenty of meat and seafood options. The octopus pintxos are some of the best here as well as the ham topped with cheese and fried onions. 

They create new concoctions depending on what ingredients are available that season, so you are sure to be able to try something new if you revisit. 

They have a great wine selection, beer on draft, and a full bar for cocktails.

de bellota bar in bilbao from the outside with two entrances and chalkboard signs telling you the specials of the day.

De Bellota is a cured meat-lovers dream. Pair your jamon with a glass of local red.

13. De Bellota

This simple wine and meat pintxos spot is one of my favorites on this list. It’s one of the few places that I revisited several times on my recent trip to Bilbao. It was my choice for the last pintxos bar in Bilbao that I visited and will likely be the first I return to when I am next in Bilbao.

There are a few tables to the left of the bar as you walk in. On the right side it is more of a butcher and cheese shop, but you can order from either side.

They have local red wines and Iberica ham sandwiches with toppings like goat cheese, Manchego, jalapeño, and fig jam. All of the pintxos are toasted on fresh bread so that the cheese melts and the bread toasts slightly.

La Ribera Market from across the river with blue skies above and the entrance to the market up a set of stairs.

La Ribera Market should not be missed on any trip to Bilbao. Even just to window shop or grab some groceries. But the pintxos are pretty great as well!

14. La Ribera Market

La Ribera Market has to make the list for the best pintxos bars in Bilbao. Although it is not technically a bar, it’s a market, the market has a bar, so we’ll count it.

It also has tons of different pintxos stalls, so it is an ideal place to visit to sample a wide variety of pintxos. One stall has tons of small sandwiches while another one focuses on Spanish tortillas. Alternatively, you’ll find a stall with vegetarian options and another with Iberico and Serrano ham on everything.

It’s a great option if you are traveling with a group and everyone has different food requirements.

The bar is fully stocked with wine, beer, cider, and cocktails available.