The movable night time feast that is the pintxo crawl is the only way to eat dinner in Bilbao. After hopping to three, four or five bars in the Casco Viejo or other side of the Nervion River around Plaza Moyua, it negates ever sitting down for a meal.
The difference between the pintxo and the tapa is that a pintxo is usually serves on bread and is pilled high with a mayonnaise- or olive oil-based spread, then topped with a meat or fish. There are hundreds of varieties and your stomach will be wanting to try it all. You just have to tell yourself, “move on!” It’s sacrilegious to stay at one place the whole night.
There are several great aspects of this nightly ritually. First, no matter where you go, you’re going to eat something amazing. Second, the variety of colors and styles in each place will guarantee that you’re palate will be satisfied.
While there is no overall “must-see” bar that is world famous, the one I went to on my first night here was featured on the PBS series, Spain … On The Road Again. If you remember, that’s the series where Mario Batali, a pre-Goop Gwyneth Paltrow, former NY Times food writer Mark Bittman and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols went around Spain, ate, cooked and tried not to strangle Paltrow.
The place is called Berton on Jardines Kalea, 11 (it was originally called Berton Bukoi in the show). You can order a plate of shaved jamon for a group or just point at a few things and they’ll serve to you on a plate. Wash it down with some sparkling cider and you can a party in your mouth.
Much more food porn and pinxto etiquette later. I gotta eat more.