Bilbao + Basque Country restaurants
Many travelers come to Basque country just for the food. The area has lately spawned a new generation of avant-garde and Michelin-starred chefs, but there's a rich culinary tradition here, too. The quintessential dining experience here includes pintxos (pronounced peen-chos—the local version of tapas, covered in our Nightlife section), as well as hearty dishes made with local produce. Crabs, prawns, clams, mussels, and fish (especially anchovies and bacalao, or salt cod) are used in many recipes; so are choriceros (dried sweet red peppers), lamb and beef (often served as chuletas —grilled steaks served with a sprinkling of coarse salt); and a large variety of mushrooms. For most people, lunch is the biggest meal of the day, though high-end restaurants also host multicourse feasts late into the evening. Most folks here don't have dinner until around 9 p.m.