The Best Breakfast and Brunch Spots in Casco Viejo, Bilbao

The Beetle Bar, Bilbao
The Beetle Bar, Bilbao | Courtesy of The Beetle Bar, Bilbao
Photo of Esme Fox
23 January 2018

The Spanish usually eat very light breakfasts, which often consist of simple pastries or toasts paired with coffee or a fresh juice. If you’re looking for a traditional morning snack while staying in the Basque city of Bilbao, then check out our guide to the best breakfast and brunch spots in the atmospheric Casco Viejo (Old Town).

The Beetle Bar

Cafe, Pastelaria, Spanish, Coffee, Japanese, Vegan, Pastries
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The Beetle Bar, Bilbao
The Beetle Bar, Bilbao | Courtesy of The Beetle Bar, Bilbao

You can’t miss The Beetle Bar, located on Plaza Unamuno, with its display window filled with all manner of homemade cakes, tarts and quiches – just beckoning you inside. The café itself is small, yet inviting, with a few wooden benches for seating. Try their desayuno completo (complete breakfast), featuring toast or croissant, a slice of sponge cake and natural yoghurt, with one of their freshly made juices, served from huge jars. Alternatively, you could opt for a coffee paired with one of their more elaborate creations, from courgette loaf to Japanese cheesecake or a strawberries and cream tart. Many of Beetle’s cakes and tarts are also vegan-friendly. There are of course a range of pintxos on offer along the bar, too, if you’re looking for something a little more savoury.

El Tilo de Mami Lou

Cafe, Bakery, Pastries, Belgian, Spanish, $$$
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El Tilo de Mami Lou, Areatzako Pasealekua
El Tilo de Mami Lou, Areatzako Pasealekua | Courtesy of El Tilo de Mami Lou, Bilbao

If you have a sweet tooth, then El Tilo de Mami Lou is the place to go. Situated just opposite the Arriaga Theatre, it’s a Belgian bakery specialising in cupcakes. Inside you’ll find a quaint country-kitchen-like interior with a touch of fancy Baroque-style. As well as the amazing-looking cupcakes, which include flavours such as toffee, red velvet, berry, and, of course, chocolate – there’s everything from loaf cakes to brownies and giant tortes. Open for breakfast until midday, El Tilo de Mami Lou serves homemade recipes inspired by the owner’s Belgian grandma, as well as light sandwiches, salads and focaccias for lunch. Pair your cake with a hot cappuccino, chai tea or hot chocolate, or your lunch with glass of cold Belgian beer.

Cafeteria Bizubi

Cafe, Spanish, Coffee, Vegan, Vegetarian
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vegetarian pintxos
vegetarian pintxos | Vegetarian pintxo with red pepper & asparagus | Pixabay

Cafeteria Bizubi is a sleek, modern-looking bar with seating on the terrace, out on a sunny square. Its main offering are pintxos, which you can enjoy for lunch, dinner or a snack, although they also offer a couple of excellent-value breakfast deals, too. The first is a coffee with a pintxo or a piece of cake, and the second is the same but with the addition of freshly squeezed orange juice. They also offer delicious chocolate con churros (fried doughnut fingers dipped in thick hot chocolate), as well as hamburgers and a special vegan and vegetarian menu.

Gallo Negro

Bar, Cafe, Coffee Shop, Spanish, Coffee, Tapas, $$$
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GALLO NEGRO - Café & Jazz - BILBAO, Bilbao
GALLO NEGRO - Café & Jazz - BILBAO, Bilbao | Courtesy of El Gallo Negro, Bilbao
This funky little bar may not seem like an obvious choice for breakfast, as it doubles up as a jazz and cocktail bar, but it’s a cosy place to sit and it has some good offerings. Surrounded by vintage mismatched furniture and old-fashioned chandeliers, you can choose from a range of toasts (with toppings such as tomato pulp and avocado), tarts, eggs, cereals and fresh fruit. Come back in the evening for tapas, pintxos, and gin and tonics with live music.

Nata Lisboa

Bar, Pastry Shop, Pastries, Pub Grub, Spanish
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Pastel de nata
Pastel de nata | Pixabay

If you’re craving one of those delicious little Portuguese custard tarts known as pasteis de nata, but find yourself in Bilbao instead of Lisbon, then don’t fear as you can find them here, too. Creamy and sweet, wrapped in crispy pastry and topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon, pasteis de nata make for an excellent breakfast, served with a cup of hot coffee. Nata Lisboa brings the traditional Portuguese recipe to Bilbao, as well as offering light bites such as soups, salads, quiches and sandwiches.

Café Lago

Restaurant, Pub, Bar, Cafe, Spanish, Pub Grub, Pastries
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Tostada con tomate
Tostada con tomate | © Tamorlan / Wikimedia Commons
Café Lago is a classic café and restaurant, which has been a popular spot in the Old Town since 1976. For breakfast, it offers a range of cakes, pastries, croissants and doughnuts, as well as homemade chocolate con churros. This is also a great place to try one of the best and simplest Spanish breakfasts there is – a piece of toasted baguette topped with tomato pulp, olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.

Café del Arenal

Cafe, Restaurant, Bar, Spanish, Pastries
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Churros with chocolate
Churros with chocolate | Pixabay

Café del Arenal is a bright and lively café and bar located close to the Arriaga Theatre. They specialise in one of the most famous Spanish breakfasts around – chocolate con churros, which are also among the best in the city. Their churros are spongy in the middle, yet crispy on the outside and are served with cups of thick custard-like chocolate. Toasts, pastries and sandwiches are also available if you prefer something else.

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