We took a week-long trip to Spain’s Basque country last spring, staying in San Sebastian and Bilbao. It is a beautiful and fascinating region with some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.
Our friends Dustin and Amaia hooked us up with a detailed list of places to get the best pintxos – Basque tapas – in both cities. Amaia is from a city near Bilbao, and these two have great taste in all things, so we followed their list like a treasure map. We ate so, so well.
I love that each pintxo is a tiny, flavorful work of art. Salmon, anchovies, tuna, jamón, bacalao, beef cheeks, foie, red peppers, olives, cheese… The combinations were inventive and endless. The pintxos crawl is the way I want to eat all the time:
- Go into a bar, where the counters are covered with platter after platter of tempting small bites.
- Order a glass of txakoli, the Basque white wine that is a tiny bit sparkling and very refreshing. (Also, the bartender pours it from about a foot in the air, and it’s fun to watch.)
- Grab a plate. You’ll probably serve yourself, and the bartender will add up your total later. (You can also order larger portions of hot dishes at a lot of places – some of which are definitely worth the effort.)
- Try to pace yourself. Fail.
- Pay up, walk next door and repeat… and repeat… and repeat.
We have found a couple of Basque tapas bars here in Barcelona, but the best one by far is another Amaia and Dustin discovery. They were in town in October, visiting us and other friends and family, and the apartment they rented just happened to be next door to a brand new pintxos bar. Coincidence? I think not.
Bertso Taberna is in a quiet part of Gràcia, conveniently a short walk from our apartment, but it’s always bustling with people. The owner is very warm and welcoming, and the food is outstanding and affordable. We’ve tried a variety of the pintxos out on the bar, as well as the larger portions ordered from the kitchen, and everything is good. Give me all of the seafoody pintxos and extra heaping helpings of the octopus, the morcilla (blood sausage – don’t let the name deter you; it is so good – served with a sweet apple compote) and the meatballs, and I am a happy girl. We’re looking forward to becoming regulars. You should join us.
Metro: L4 Joanic, L3 Fontana
Carrer Torrent de les Flors, 113
Monday & Tuesday: 7:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Wednesday – Saturday: 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
7:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.