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Etxebarri, Axpe

1 Plaza San Juan
Tel: 34 94 658 3042's insider take:

A bit off the beaten path but well worth the trip, Etxebarri is set in a small town about 30 miles east of Bilbao. Every dish you'll eat here will include something grilled or smoked—and that's a good thing, since chef Victor Arguinzoniz makes his own charcoal from local vine shoots, oak, and apple wood. He also uses the best raw ingredients, and the confluence of fresh and smoky flavors works beautifully. Grilled tender baby octopus is served with fresh shelled peas and asparagus; barbecued egg yolk comes with green peppers and zizas (a local variety of mushroom); and even Arguinzoniz's ice cream is made with smoked milk. Reservations are a good idea on weekends.

Closed Mondays. No dinner on Sundays.

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