Consider this your checklist for must-visit restaurants in Basque Country.

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Restaurante Alameda
Credit: Courtesy of Restaurante Alameda

Basque Country, or País Vasco, is a unique and mysterious place. My mother comes from a small town in the northern part, and I’ve always loved exploring its distinct culinary culture. (The seafood and vegetables are incredible.) Some of the best chefs in Spain—Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter, Elena; Martín Berasategui; Andoni Luis Aduriz—come from Basque Country, and together they’ve sparked a culinary revolution.

Asador Etxebarri: San Juan Plaza, 1, Atxondo, Bizkaia; +34 946 58 30 42

The chef, Victor Arguinzoniz, makes the most elegant grilled food in the world. From big slabs of meat to tiny baby eels, everything is cooked over a wood fire, and it’s all amazing.

Ganbara: San Jeronimo Kalea, 19, Donostia, Gipuzkoa; +34 943 42 25 75

If you want to know what pintxos are about, go here. Most bars specialize in a single type, but these guys do it all really well.

Restaurante Alameda: Minasoroeta Kalea, 1, Hondarribia, Gipuzkoa; +34 943 64 27 89

This family restaurant, owned by three brothers, serves creative dishes using local produce and seafood.

Sidreria Zapiain: Calle de Nagusia, 96, Astigarraga, Guipúzcoa; +34 943 33 00 33

You come here to eat steak and salt cod tortilla and drink as muchlocal cider as you want, all while standing up. It’s only open during cider season, which is January through April.

Topa Sukaldería: Agirre Miramon Kalea, 7, Donostia, Gipuzkoa; +34 943 56 91 43

This is famed chef Andoni Luis Aduriz’s new informal restaurant, a one-of-a-kind place that celebrates Latin American cuisine’s connection to the Basque Country.

Akelarre: Padre Orkolaga Ibilbidea, 56, Donostia, Gipuzkoa; +34 943 31 12 09

A brand new hotel by Chef Pedro Subijana at the same location as his three Michelin star restaurant—not only is the food incredible, it has some of the best views in all of the Basque Country.

Must-Have Spanish Sandwiches

  • Bikini – toasted ham and cheese on white bread
  • Flauta – long thin sandwich, usually filled with jamón serrano or Manchego
  • Bocadillo de calamares – fried calamari sandwich, get it at Chiringuito Señor Martín in Madrid.
  • Pepito de Lomo — steak sandwich – for purists, it has nothing else, but it’s very popular with cheese as well, or green peppers.