The Best Places to Eat Pintxos on Bilbao's Plaza Nueva

Visit the Plaza Nueva in Bilbao
Visit the Plaza Nueva in Bilbao | © Jose Mario Pires / CC BY-SA 3.0 / WikiCommons
Esme Fox

Pintxos are one of the most iconic Basque foods – small tapas-style mouthfuls on sticks or round pieces of bread topped with a combination of cheeses, seafood, meats and vegetables. Although you can find good pintxos anywhere in the Basque city of Bilbao, one of the most atmospheric places to try them is Plaza Nueva – in the city’s Casco Viejo, or Old Town. Here are our best places to eat pintxos on Plaza Nueva.

1. Bar Charly

Bar, Spanish, Pub Grub, Mediterranean

Courtesy of Bar Charly, Bilbao

Having first opened back in 1973, Bar Charly has been a favourite Plaza Nueva hangout for over 4o years. Inside, this tiny bar has been given a modern makeover with sleek wood panelling; however, its delicious pintxos are still made to their traditional recipes. Here it’s all about home-cooked food and good quality ingredients. Some of the bar’s best pintxos include goat’s cheese, foie gras and apple; deep fried shrimp rolls with ham; fried cod spinach croquettes. Quite a few of the offerings here don’t include meat, so vegetarians are sure to find something to nibble on, along with their drinks.

2. Café Bar Bilbao

Bar, Cafe, Spanish, Tapas, Pub Grub, Mediterranean

Cafe Bar Bilbao
© jose angel/Flickr

One of the most famous pintxos bars in the city, Café Bar Bilbao is somewhat of a Bilbao institution. The bar was founded way back in 1911 and has been part of the city’s foodie scene ever since. A traditional dining spot with its chequered floors and intricately tiled walls, it offers main meals, as well as a wide variety of pintxos. Try mouthfuls such as cheese truffles, crispy seafood, veal crêpe with mushrooms or tuna and anchovy.

3. La Olla de la Plaza Nueva

Bar, Spanish, Mediterranean, European

Meaning ‘The Cooking Pot of Plaza Nueva’, this classy restaurant is both stylish and traditional. Choose to dine on polished wooden tables surrounded by whitewashed brick walls, or gather around the flashy bar for bites of pintxos. A step up from your usual ingredients, La Olla serves pintxos such as crunchy black pudding and pine nuts; baked mushrooms with parmesan cheese and aubergines; and octopus and potato strudel with herb broth.

5. Gure Toki

Bar, Restaurant, Spanish, Tapas

Courtesy of Gure Toki, Bilbao

Gure Toki first opened its doors 35 years ago, but in 2015 the bar rebranded itself, creating a funky and stylish modern space, offering contemporary gastronomic Basque mouthfuls. Haute cuisine in miniature, the pintxos you find here are among the best you’ll find anywhere in the city. Like works of art found in the Guggenheim, the pintxos here look just as good as they taste.

6. Taberna Plaza Nueva

Bar, Spanish, Tapas, Pub Grub

A rustic and traditional bar on Plaza Nueva, this place offers classic pintxos, drinks and plenty of fun. With its bright blue walls, the bar is packed with odd knick-knacks and curios, and special displays are often exhibited for various special occasions such as Easter. Stop for a glass of txakolí – Basque-style white wine – and pair it with some homemade pintxos.

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