The Best Seafood Restaurants in Basque Country and Northern Spain

By: Genevieve Mc Carthy / Last updated: January 11, 2024

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The French and Italians would undoubtedly disagree, but in our experience, nowhere matches the Spanish Atlantic coastline for the quality and freshness of their seafood. Indeed, Northern Spain is a positive mecca for lovers of excellent fish and shellfish: spider crab, oysters, mussels, scallops, and lobster, dover sole, cod, bay eel, wild sea bass, hake, the list goes on.

This great love of seafood in Northern Spain ensures that dining out in the Basque Country, Asturias, and Cantabria is rarely anything other than memorable. The region is blessed with an abundance of great seafood and boasts the largest firmament of superstar chefs in Spain, particularly in the Basque Country. These gastronomic geniuses manage to transform freshly caught fish into culinary works of art night after night; chefs often serve seafood alongside complicated sauces, with delicacies such as foie gras often on the cards. But equally, some of the finest seafood served in Northern Spain is simply cooked on a charcoal grill.

But whether you’re looking for haute cuisine or simplicity itself, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for in our guide to the finest seafood restaurants in Northern Spain today.

Que Aproveche!


Elkano Website: Read more

There are quite a few contestants for the prize of Spain’s best seafood venue, but Elkano is definitely up there! The head chef, Pedro Arregui, aided by grill master Luís Manterola, is one of the greats famous for only using locally sourced ingredients to craft a menu that changes according to the flavors of the month. Fresh, perfectly cooked fish dishes – including sea bream, Dover sole, Halibut – shellfish on tap, and an extensive wine list. However, the undisputed highlight at Elkano is the rodaballo (turbot) – the whole turbot simmered on oak charcoal ashes without touching the fire, with a resulting excellent smoky flavor. It represents everything wonderful about this remarkable gem of a restaurant.


Etxebarri Website: Read more

A Basque institution, Etxebarri competes with Elkano for Northern Spain’s finest seafood restaurant title. It was founded by Victor Arguinzoniz, a master of Asador-style cooking, whereby every dish is cooked to perfection over a large charcoal grill. Hardly surprising, then, that Etxebarri is packed most nights, attracting a healthy mix of locals and tourists. They come for the idyllic location in the beautiful Basque countryside but stay for the exquisite food prepared by Arguinzoniz – baby eels, scallops, clams, anchovies, and black truffles are all up for grabs. But most importantly, Arguinzoniz is obsessed with only using the freshest ingredients, which shines through in his uncomplicated yet refined cooking. Moreover, it’s not only the superb food – his extensive choice of local wines will leave oenophiles drooling, and the service is spot on. If this restaurant has a downside, we can’t think of it!


Casa Camara Website: Read more

A quintessential Basque seaside restaurant, Casa Camara is situated in the most scenic of villages, with much-coveted alfresco tables overlooking the harbor; it’s hard to imagine a nicer place for seafood dining in the summer! So come for the location but stay for the excellent (and reasonably priced) selection of shellfish and fish, the crab and lobster being particular highlights. Simplicity is their secret: fresh fish caught daily is cooked to your liking with a constantly changing specials board that keeps you up-to-date with what’s good. Of course, this is everything, but our favorite is their spider crab; grab it quickly while it’s in season.


Kaia Kaipe Website: Read more

On location alone, Kaia Kaipe would pull in a massive crowd, even before they had a chance to try the delicious cooking. The restaurant overlooks the charming port town of Getaria; you’ll find this delightful restaurant, which is undoubtedly Getaria’s best spot for sublime seafood. Indeed, fish does not come fresher than at Kaia Kaipe – choice tables offer views of the boats below. The atmosphere, too, is utterly convivial, completed by polished service that is nonetheless very warm and friendly. And so it is little wonder that locals return again and again for the wonderfully fresh seafood, grilled platters, and soups. There are always a host of special dishes featuring lobster, prawns, octopus, and whatever is fresh for the season. Our advice is to ask for recommendations and prepare to be dazzled.


Address: Kepa Deunaren 1,Mundaka, 48360 – directions

If you’re staying in the Basque capital Bilbao, this is a taxi destination, but worth the expense for excellent local seafood and a traditional atmosphere. The building dates from the early 19th century when it was used as a fish auction house for the local fishermen’s guild. It functions today as an excellent restaurant and gentleman’s club, which incidentally translates into Casino in Castillian Spanish. The owners opened the restaurant to create a veritable paradise for seafood lovers in the middle of Mundaka – they have succeeded! They proudly present dishes like roast turbot with clams and sea urchins prepared most imaginatively. A top-notch wine list and excellent service round things off in style.


Marucho Website: Read more

This is as close as you’ll get to the seaside without leaving Santander. Marucho remains our favorite seafood haunts in Cantabria and, in our opinion, is unsurpassed for the quality and freshness of the fish on offer. A traditional but inviting dining room is attended to by lovely, engaging staff who ensure that everyone leaves smiling and contented. So take our advice, ignore the rest of the menu, and instead focus on divine, fresh fish fillets cooked as you want. Roasted Halibut certainly hits the spot, as does grilled lobster and the best prawns to be found anywhere in Northern Spain. A well-priced wine list compliments this mecca of fine seafood dining – a must-visit for anyone who loves excellent fish.


Auga Website: Read more

Countless people are drawn to Auga because of its wonderful location overlooking Gijon’s harbor, with its glass-fronted exterior affording gorgeous views in the summer months. The restaurant, too, is bright, airy, and modern, with impeccable service to boot. However, what keeps the clientele returning is the exceptional cooking, which is both inventive and nourishing: red mullet and pickled cauliflower; sea bass marinated in lime; cod with smoked paprika and dried tomato pil-pil and divine line-caught hake are all pretty spot on. As is the brilliant wine list, with enough delicious Galician whites to keep even the fussiest of oenophiles happy!


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Genevieve Mc Carthy

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