Why have we started off this blog by talking about gastronomy? Well, because food and our cuisine are a very important part of the Basque Country traditions. This region surrounding Bilbao is considered to be one of the best fine dining destinations in the world, with 28 Michelin stars for 19 restaurants located in the three Basque provinces and 4 exceptional three-starred restaurants.
A truly memorable meal in the Basque Country, Spain.
Today’s post will be about an amazing dining experience available to all in a nice, small restaurant located in Bilbao. A truly memorable meal to enjoy at a reasonable price: Michelin Star Restaurant “Mina” is one of the finest restaurants in Bilbao or even Spain.
The Mina restaurant is located in a beautiful area, by the Nervion river, in the old district (Bilbao La Vieja) of Bilbao. Behind an almost hidden door, travel up a flight of stairs and into a small bright dining room with an open kitchen. From the Mina restaurant windows, you can observe the Ribera Market (close to lots of hotels in down-town Bilbao), a commercial reference point throughout the province, along with San Antón Church and bridge, which form part of Bilbao’s coat-of-arms.
The chef and owner, Álvaro Garrido, turns out tasting menus that have won him a Michelin star, with his very creative and innovative ways of bringing your senses alive with each dish. This is Bilbao at its finest and it has made a name for itself throughout Spain.
What to expect?
The restaurant offers “market fresh, seasonal and tasty” local cuisine. The price is quite reasonable, especially for a Michelin starred restaurant and the food is truly fantastic. They work with a fixed menu (of 10 to 14 small dishes) and also offer a light sampling menu. It is not our first time enjoying Mina’s great cuisine d’auteur and wine pairing menu. For us it is the best way to celebrate any special occasion and a frequent spot to share with visitors.
We enjoyed the 10-course tasting menu. Each course was superb, delivering brilliant flavors and consistently excellent dishes.
It’s an awesome way of conveying culinary art, as they offer dishes with harmonious proportions alternating to create a balanced combination: fresh dishes followed by other more unctuous ones; quick cooking followed by slow stews; minimalist products that prelude others more elaborated: flavors from this land, flavors from far away.
Everything is made based on what is available and in season at the local market, which is constantly changing. On this occasion we sat at a table instead of at the bar, where we would have been able to enjoy watching all the magic happening in the kitchen, a sort of choreography taking place as the beautiful and extraordinary meals are prepared. It is such an interesting experience as you can watch some of the dishes come together and really appreciate how much effort and detail go into each of them!
The wine pairings were wonderful, different choices that matched perfectly with our meal. You can spend a good couple of hours here in gastronomic heaven. Even if you are not a foodie, it’s worth giving it a try as it is a place of creative genius and still accessible to all at the same time, you can taste some of the best flavors in town.
Top Ten ‘One-Star’ Michelin restaurants in the Basque Country
The Michelin guide has not only awarded the quality and great flavors of Basque Country food: but has included 5 of our restaurants in “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants”, a list annually produced by the prestigious British “Restaurant Magazine”. Amongst these 50 is one of the finest retaurants in Bilbao, Zortziko. A top rated spot, that has been running since 1989 and is a leading gastronomic icon in Bilbao and the rest of Spain. You can read about Zortziko in almost any guide you pick up at your hotels.
Another ‘must’ for restaurants to visit near Bilbao in 2018, is: Azurmendi. This incredible place has such a diverse menu and can be located amongst stunning green hills just east of Bilbao. Azurmendi is exceptional in every way and the best as far as innovative restaurants go, in our opinion; with three Michelin stars to its name, who could argue!
Here is our top ten list of one-star Michelin restaurants, in or around Bilbao. There are many more to be discovered, but we hope you can enjoy at least one of these restaurants when you visit our home:
Marqués de Riscal. Chef: Francis Paniego. Address: Calle Torrea, 1. 01340, Elciego. Phone: +34 945 180 880. Website: www.hotel-marquesderiscal.com
If there is one thing that’s really peculiar about this restaurant it’s the architecture. Designed by Mr. Frank Gehry, it will remind you immediately of the Guggenheim Museum located in central Bilbao. Under the inspirational guidance of the chef, Francis Paniego, you will discover fine dining made from the best seasonal products and a large wine offering containing not only the selection from Marques de Riscal cellars, but also more than 200 international labels.
Zaldiaran. Chefs: Gonzalo Antón and Patxi Eceiza. Address: Avenida de Gasteiz, 21. 01008, Vitoria-Gasteiz. Phone: +34 945 134 822. Website: www.restaurantezaldiaran.com
Alameda. Chef: Gorka Txapartegi. Address: Minasoroeta Kalea, 1. 20280, Hondarribia. Phone: 943 642 789. Website: www.restalameda.com
If you are looking for traditional Basque Country gastronomy, make your way to this restaurant not far from the capital, Donosti. This one-star Michelin restaurant will certainly exceed your expectations. Visitors are served traditional yet innovative dishes accompanied by an extensive menu of some of the best regional and international wines. Located inside the hotel Almeda (under the same name) and surrounded by a charming atmosphere, it truly makes you feel at home.
Kokotza. Chef: Dani López. Address: Campanario, 11. 20003, Donostia – San Sebastián. Phone: 943 421 904. Website:www.restaurantekokotxa.com
The name of this restaurant refers to the flesh under a fish’s jaw. The highly gelatinous content of this area creates a fantastic broth. These jaws are cooked keeping with the basis of simple Basque country cuisine, with olive oil, garlic and parsley. This typical Basque green sauce results in one of the most terrific local dishes.
Mirador de Ulía. Chef: Rubén Trincado. Address: Pº de Ulía, 193. 20013, Donostia -San Sebastián. Phone: 943 272 707. Website: www.miradordeulia.es
The Mirador de Ulía restaurant was constructed in the 1950s by the San Sebastian architect José Antonio Mendizábal. Here guests will be captivated by the views, allowing them to see almost the entire city of Donosti.
Zuberoa. Chef: Hilario Arbelaitz. Address: Araneder Bidea, Barrio Iturriotz. 20180, Oiartzun. Phone: 943 491 228. Website: www.zuberoa.com
Under the close supervision of head chef Hilario Arbelaitz, Zuberoa has made a name for itself among Michelin star gourmets and is located only a few kilometers away from San Sebastian. It offers a laid-back setting and an unpretentious atmosphere. Only fresh and natural ingredients are used in their cooking and the excellent staff are more than happy to give advice on the menu.
Andra Mari. Chef: Roberto Asúa. Address: Barrio Elexalde, 22. 48960, Galdakao. Phone: 94 456 00 05. Website: www.andra-mari.com
A rustic Basque farmhouse established in 1964 in Galdakao – Bizkaia. It has been recognized as a prime example of high-end Basque cuisine. Dishes are prepared using the finest and freshest seasonal goods in order to create the most true-to-tradition menus.
Etxanobe. Chef: Fernando Canales. Address: Juan Ajuriaguerra,8. 48009, Bilbao. Phone: +34 944 42 10 71. Website: www.etxanobe.com
After 18 years in the Euskalduna Palace, the Etxanobe has moved to the center of Bilbao, “el Ensanche”. With the same devotion to product, the same impeccable attention to detail, but now with two different locations: Atelier Etxanobe & La Despensa de Etxanobe.
Mina. Chef: Álvaro Garrido. Address: Muelle Marzana. 48003, Bilbao. Phone: 944 795 938. Website: www.restaurantemina.es
Nerua. Chef: Josean Martínez Alija. Address: Avda. Abandoibarra 2. (Under La Salve Bridge ). Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa. 48001, Bilbao. Phone: 944 000 430. Website: www.nerua.com
Nerua restaurant takes its name from the Nervión River which in ancient Latin was called Nerva. Located in the heart of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and with beautiful views to the river, it is a space designed for a gastronomic and cultural experience.
This list is just a small foretaste of what you can expect when you visit our regional restaurants.
Have you ever been to a Michelin starred restaurant? Do you have any particular one in mind? Leave your comments below, we will be more than glad to hear about your experiences. Discover more of what nothern Spain has on offer! Remember to book one of our Bilbao food tours if you are looking for a guide to help you book hotels, organise visits and make the most out of your trip!