Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dinners in Bilbao

For dinner in Bilbao, we head to Old Town for pintxos, tapas offered in the restaurants and bars.  The pintxos cover the counters of each location and we first pick a place to eat, then pick some dishes (and wine), then (often) move on to another place to try something else.

We're not sure what to expect and find our way to Plaza Nueva in Old Town.  We enter and see a grand plaza, with tables and umbrellas (important for the occasional downpour) lining the edges, people playing soccer in the middle, and lot of small shops, restaurants, and bars in the buildings.

 Plaza Nueva

As we walk along covered passageway, we start to see the great offerings on the bars and tables and wonder how we will select one of the many and choose a spot to stop.

 Many choices!

We start our pinxtos crawl at the spot that calls to us the most (the top picture above, where the guys pose for our photo), choose some pintxos from the counter, and settle in for the great tastes and views of the plaza.  Our first choices are duck, ahi on pasta, albacore tuna (with balsamic, olive oil, onion, red/green bell pepper), and a mini hamburger with cheese on a roasted red pepper bun.  Accompanied by local Basque white wine.

 Duck, ahi on pasta

 Albacore tuna, mini hamburger

We stroll across the plaza to our next pinxtos bar, where we have a chicken taco and serrano ham (and a little more of the great Basque white wine).

Chicken taco, serrano ham

The next night, we head back to Plaza Nuevo and choose jambon (Iberian ham) and cheese, shrimp on baguette, cod with squid ink rice, and tuna.  Followed by goat cheese with zucchini and pesto and cod in a pastry shell.  More local white wine.

 First choice

Next choice

As night falls, the crowd grows and the plaza fills with great sounds and smells. One German couple, also dining in the bar, wanders over and asks if we are Swiss.  We're not quite sure what about us might make them choose Swiss, but we tell them no and have a great conversation for a while, before we each move on to our respective next stops.  One of the great things about travel is such random interactions with strangers, where we meet, enjoy time together, and make new friends.

 Night falls

Returning to our hotel, it's only appropriate for a nightcap in the bar.

 Winding up

While we're on the subject of food/dining, we should mention the breakfast buffet in our hotel, the Hotel Barcelo Bilbao Nervion, on the Nervion river between the Guggenheim Museum and Old Town.  The buffet is huge and filling, with lots of regional dishes to get us going every morning.

 Great start to the day

We've found a lot more in Bilbao than we expected and are really glad that we stopped here.  We have a little more exploration in the morning, then on to San Sebastian.

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