The Basque Country has a very unique vibe and boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants per capital than anywhere else in the world. There are an independence and originality in the heart of the people that comes across loud and clear in the local cuisine of this rugged region of northern Spain.
With some of Spain’s most beautiful scenery, as well as some of it’s most gorgeous cities in Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Vitoria, the Basque Country is ripe for road tripping. Hiring a car and spending a few weeks exploring this unique part of the world, while sampling the wonderful restaurants that call it “home” will be the holiday of a lifetime, especially for people with a love of creative, delicious, and world-class cooking.
So without any further ado, let us introduce you to six of this magical region’s best eateries. The list includes a few ultra-modern food laboratories who are experimenting on the cutting-edge of modern cooking and have (almost) more Michelin stars than Michael Phelps has Olympic gold medals, an ancient farmhouse selling traditional cider and steaks, and a neighborhood bar serving surely the most insanely good bar snacks to be found anywhere on the planet!
Be sure to make note of the establishments and dishes that most appeal to you in your BUCKiTDREAM planner.
Arzak is Considered To Be One Of the Greatest Restaurants On Earth, So Book Early People travel from all over the world to try Arzak’s famously inventive tasting menu. This flagship Basque restaurant, located just east of the city of San Sebastián, is run by chef Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Arzak Espina, who won the title of ‘World’s Best Female Chef’ in 2012.
Arzak has three gleaming Michelin stars and specializes in nouvelle cuisine, Basque. Its tasting menu boasts crazy flavor combinations that would make Willy Wonka blush! Their kitchen doubles as a lab in which the chefs allow their imaginations to run wild, as they test unusual new taste and texture combinations.
Savory cones of yucca plant filled with foie gras mousse, sardine with strawberry, and chocolate with citrus and basil ice cream are culinary treats that you will not find anywhere else. It is crucial to make a reservation well in advance because a visit to Arzak is an experience that sits atop the bucket list of foodies from all over the world.
Location: Avda. Alcalde Jose Elosegui 273, San Sebastian, Spain
Martín Berasategui Creates Wonder Dishes That are Novel, Yet Perfectly in Harmony With Mother Nature Martín Berasategui is a Michelin-starred Basque chef who has been making exciting and delightful dishes for over 35 years. He is a passionate food fan, having dedicated his entire life to the pursuit of culinary perfection.
Much like Juan Mari Arzak at Arzak, Berasategui takes a scientific approach to his cooking, experimenting with strange and exotic flavor combinations. His renowned tasting menu is populated with unusual taste combinations such as caviar and turnip, with pork shank broth cubes and lemon, lightly marinated warm oyster with iced cucumber slush and K5, and spicy apple, and the intriguing Young pigeon, charcoal roasted at a low temperature with potato and truffle bites and forgotten vegetables.
For Berasategui, it’s all about mixing the raw ingredients he has at his disposal in the most interesting and effective way possible. The restaurant is situated southwest of San Sebastián in a peaceful and serene countryside that is nicely visible through the dining room’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Much like Arzak, Martín Berasategui is deeply in demand, so reservations need to be made well in advance.
Location: Loidi Kalea, 4 – 20160 Lasarte-Oria, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Andra Mari is Authentic Basque Cooking At its Best Andra Mari Restaurant was established in 1964 by brothers and sister Patxi, Juan Cruz, and Dominga Asua. It is located in a beautiful stone and wood farmhouse (which also contains a proper old-style country tavern that is very popular with locals) nestled deep in the rugged, green Basque countryside.
The food is as lush and authentic as the surroundings and provides a true taste of high-end Basque cuisine. They use only the best seasonal, local produce. The dishes are pure and traditional; eating at Andra Mari is a lesson in the history of Basque cuisine.
The meat and fish are all recently deceased Basque Country locals, who lived good lives roaming the green countryside freely. Turbot with seaweed purée and shallots with truffles and roasted deer with sweet potato and cocoa are some of the exquisitely, uniquely Basque dishes on offer.
Location: Barrio Elexalde, 22, 48960 Galdakao, Bizkaia, Spain
No Trip To the Basque Country Would Be Complete Without a Visit To a Traditional Cider House, and Petritegi Sagardoa is One Of the Best The sagardotegi is a unique type of cider house found only in the Basque Country where they serve local cider and traditional foods such as cod omelets and steaks. Petritegi Sagardoa is a prime example of an old sagardotegi.
Cider is one of the Basque region’s most ancient, traditional drinks and is made in small breweries and farmhouses all over the area. Basque cider comes in large barrels and is poured directly into glasses from a meter’s distance (bar staff in this part of the world need a sharp aim). This long pour livens the beverage and brings out its intense flowery, apple flavors.
Petritegi Sagardoa is one of the area’s most loved cider houses. It is situated in the heart of cider country, just south of San Sebastián, in the midst of multiple rolling apple orchards. Petritegi is popular with locals and tourists and offers visitors a totally authentic sagardotegi experience.
It has three main dining rooms, each with wood-beamed ceilings, long wooden tables and benches, elegant chandeliers, and huge, wooden cider barrels stacked against the walls. This old farmhouse has been making cider since the 1500s and it has certainly retained its antiquated charms.
The food menu at Petritegi Sagardoa is exceptional, with traditional Basque favorites like the aforementioned cod omelet, fried cod with peppers, the tail of hake, and t-bone steak playing a starring role alongside the tart and delicious local cider.
A visit to Petritegi Sagardoa will provide you with a beautifully ‘Basque’ food and drink experience.
Location: Petritegi Bidea. 20115 Astigarraga, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Azurmendi is a Bizarre Eating Experience You’ll Never Forget Situated a few kilometers southeast of Bilbao, Azurmendi has three Michelin stars, and is an unusual dining experience, to say the least.
Guests take a tour through a rooftop vegetable garden and greenhouse, where they inspect the produce and enjoy a selection of snacks. When they are eventually seated in the dining room, each course is accompanied by different scenes projected onto the walls around them.
Chef Eneko Atxa is committed to creating interesting dishes with fresh, organic, eco-friendly ingredients. Menu highlights include Pigeon, duxelles and legume flowers, and sea urchin, its emulsion and late harvest wine jelly.
Location: Legina Auzoa, s/n, 48195 Larrabetzu, Bizkaia, Spain
Bar Ganbara is a Hotspot For Traditional Basque Pintxos Tapas in the Basque Country are known as pintxos, and Bar Ganbara in the heart of San Sebastian is a very popular place to eat these small and tasty morsels.
This cozy neighborhood bar elevates the humble pintxos to new heights, using typical Basque ingredients such as cod, anchovies, peppers and jabugo ham, and making inventive and unique little dishes that people travel from far and wide to munch on.
The counters of the bar are piled high with an array of mouthwatering pintxos plates, containing strange and delicious little bites.
Location: c/San Jeronimo 21, 20003- Donostia, Spain
How yummy does a food tour of the Basque Country sound?! Hopefully, you are feeling inspired to visit this lovely part of the world. And while you are sampling the famously, crazily inventive tasting menus at Arzak and/or Martín Berasategui, or sipping cider and munching t-bones with the locals at Petritegi Sagardoa, why not share your Basque food tour experiences on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!