10 Must-Try Basque Gourmet Restaurants in Pais Vasco and Pays Basque

By: Genevieve Mc Carthy / Last updated: April 9, 2024

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

The Basque Country, with its beautiful gem San Sebastian, has emerged as a coveted destination for connoisseurs of refined gastronomy in Spain. The Basque people, known for their fierce pride, have always cherished the pleasures of food and drink, and their region abundantly provides them with exceptional ingredients like fresh fish, seafood, game, vegetables, mushrooms, fine wines, and other culinary delights.

Guide to Basque Wine Regions: Read more

Over the past few decades, Basque cuisine has experienced a remarkable renaissance, drawing inspiration from the influential French nouvelle cuisine movement. This creative resurgence has firmly established the Basque region as Spain’s unrivaled gourmet stronghold, captivating visitors with its culinary wonders.

Unsurprisingly, the Basque country boasts the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain, which continues to rise as culinary standards reach new heights. In the vibrant city of San Sebastian alone, a true haven for food enthusiasts, one can discover an astonishing selection of nearly 40 Michelin-starred establishments.

Among them stands the legendary Arzak, an iconic pioneer of the modern Basque cuisine movement, where gastronomic artistry reaches its zenith. Prepare to be enthralled by a world of exquisite flavors and unparalleled culinary craftsmanship in this gastronomic paradise.

Experience the Best Basque Gourmet Restaurants: Our Top Picks



Akelarre website: Read more

With over 40 years of experience in wowing diners, head chef Pedro Subijana rarely hits the wrong note with his refined, exquisite take on traditional Basque dishes and cuisine. This 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in San Sebastian has it all: spectacular views of rolling hills that plunge into the sea, sublime food, a lengthy wine list, and professional but not overly formal service. To savor Subijana’s star dishes, try the seven-course ‘menu de degustation.’ Every dish is a gastronomic treat. However, particular highlights include the Sauteed Fresh Foie Gras with Salt Flakes and Grain Pepper and the utterly irresistible Roasted Baby Pig with Tomato “Bolao” and Iberian Emulsion. One for that special occasion! A personal fave is our clients, who get extra exceptional service here.



Arzak website: Read more

Considered to be one of the world’s best restaurants in any gourmet guide worth its salt, ad, judging by the consistently excellent standards at this icon of modern Basque cooking, we’d have to agree. Founded in 1897 as a house by the current owner’s grandparents, Arzak’s fame can be attributed to one man with a great vision – Juan Mari Arzak. After returning home from the army, Arzak trained in his mother’s kitchen and founded Spain’s first restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars in 1989.

Today, he works with his equally passionate daughter Elena to bring diners a taste of his incredible take on Basque dishes – Arzak is the godfather of new Basque cuisine. Signature dishes include his marvelous Rape Marea Baja, Monkfish with mussels and nori-flavored shells, and his sublime Pichon con Chia, a moreish concoction of roasted pigeon with a Mexican Chia seed cracker and chia spheres filled with broth. A venue everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.


Azurmendi website: Read more

If Azurmendi were up for sale, it would pull in a fortune for its location alo if it were up for sale! A spectacular hilltop setting is a 10-minute drive from Bilbao airport, housed in a modern glass and steel building that serves 3 Michelin-starred food of the highest quality. A relatively new kid on the block, Azurmendi was founded in 2005 by superstar chef Eneko Atxa, who cut his teeth at such prestigious venues as Andra Mari and Mugaritz. Its fame quickly rose, and in 2013, the venue was awarded a third Michelin star.

In addition to being celebrated for its Nouvelle Basque cuisine, the restaurant is noted for its exceptional and well-stocked wine cellar, which is also of excellent value. For example, a bottle of the superb Alion from Vega Sicilia can be obtained for the retail price. Atxa’s prize-winning dishes include his roast lobster with a tapenade of lobster, mushrooms, black olives, and spring onion emulsion and the already legendary Confit of pork on a breadcrumb base salted with pork bones and acorns, garnished with pork jus, herbs, and pork crackling. Divine!



Martin Berasategui website: Read more

A living legend in Basque gastronomy, Martin Berasateguy holds more Michelin stars than any other Spanish chef. He opened one of the Basque country’s leading restaurants in 1993 in a charming converted farmhouse. He quickly earned a Michelin star and was awarded his third in 2001. This restaurant strives for perfection and easily achieves it; the service is some of the best in Spain, each dish is meticulously crafted, and most importantly, Berasategui will happily substitute any dish for something more to your liking. He will also design a menu to fit your budget, a rarity in Michelin-starred establishments. Add an extensive wine list and a beautiful setting into the mix, and you have the recipe for gastronomic perfection. His signature dishes include a cold potato soup with smoked bacon and the award-winning roasted Araiz pigeon with fresh mushroom pasta, spring onions, and light touches of truffle cream.



Elkano Website: Read more

This restaurant is justly celebrated for being a seafood lover’s paradise. Located in the charming Basque village of Getaria, head chef Pedro Arregui, aided by grill master Luís Manterola, famous all over Spain, Europe, and beyond for their exquisite shellfish and grilled fish dishes washed down with the local Basque wine, Txacoli. Their secret is only using the freshest, seasonal, and locally caught produce, which is reflected in the menu. The undisputed highlight at Elkano is the rodaballo (turbot), the whole turbot simmered on oak charcoal ashes without touching the fire; the result is the finest turbot we have ever tasted. Visitors must also try the delightful kokotxas pil-pil, grilled hake jowl served with a sauce prepared with gelatin, olive oil, parsley, and garlic. Finish with the delicious “helado de queso de Idiazabal,” ice cream made from a local cheese served with fresh strawberry coulis.



Asador Etxebarri website: Read more

Head chef and founder Victor Arguinzoniz is the master of Asador-style cooking, a traditional Spanish method that cooks everything over a large charcoal grill, including dessert! Located in the beautiful Basque countryside, the restaurant offers new culinary creations based on classic techniques. Arguinzoniz is unafraid to grill baby eels, rice, clams, anchovies, and black truffles in his quest for culinary perfection. At the heart of this gastronomic temple, however, is a love of freshness and flavor rather than aesthetics for aesthetic sake or overwrought creations. The wine list is a similar delight, packed with diverse offerings from Spain’s finest regions. Start your feast with his signature grilled baby eels. Follow with baby sea cucumbers, green beans, and tartar of fresh lobster, then move on to the obligatory chuletón or grilled ribeye. Although off the beaten track, this restaurant is an essential visit for great food and wine lovers!


La Table d’Aurélien Largeau website: Read more

One of France’s most excellent restaurants, the Michelin-starred Villa Eugenie, can be found in the stunningly beautiful Hotel du Palais in the glamorous French resort of Biarritz. The hotel was founded in 1855 as a private villa (known as Villa Eugenie) for Empress Eugenie. In 1880, the villa was sold and subsequently converted into a hotel-casino and then the luxury hotel we see today. It is now a must-visit destination of gourmets traveling in the Basque country and the favorite of many Parisians, who say it exceeds the finest restaurants in the French capital.

Head Chef Jean-Marie Gautier is a culinary master, but unlike some of his contemporaries prefers to serve classical dishes and is not a slave to the inventiveness of the new Basque school of gastronomy. The ornate, opulent dining room is a sight to behold and one of the most romantic destinations in France. Diners come from far and wide to enjoy his wonderful creations, including the sangria-poached duck foie gras and sautéed sucking lamb with artichoke. As expected, the wine list is extensive and a delight for Bordeaux and Burgundy lovers.



Mugaritz website: Read more

Andoni Luis Aduriz, who founded Mugaritz in 1998, has a pedigree like no other in Spain. This incredibly talented chef worked at the legendary El Bulli in the 1990s and trained under Martin Berasategui, another of the Basque country’s leading chefs. He is widely acknowledged to be at the forefront of the new Basque haute cuisine of the region, following the template set out by chefs like Arzak, who wished to investigate the science behind food preparation in their pursuit of perfect molecular gastronomy. As a result, dining at Mugartiz – a mere 20-minute drive by car from San Sebastian – is an experience rather than just an evening of great food.

Expect such creative delicacies as noodles of milk skin wrapped in lard served with tomatoes and pumpkin emulsion, hake with cauliflower and mascarpone cheese, and lamb with brain ragout! Service, as you’d expect, is flawless and attentive throughout, and the wine list is a monument to every major Spanish wine-producing region.


Le Kaiku website: Read more

Located within the exquisite confines of a 16th-century historic house (reputed to be the oldest in Saint Juan de Luz), Le Kaïku is an enchanting destination where Basque flavors and Japanese inspirations intertwine. Led by visionary chef Nicolas Borombo, a protégé of renowned chefs Dominique Bouchet and Philippe Legendre from esteemed Parisian establishments, this Michelin-starred restaurant offers a culinary experience like no other. Guests can indulge in two tantalizing tasting menus or explore the enticing a la carte options (available for lunch). The menus boast remarkable dishes such as the artfully crafted “Sashimi Sushi,” the delightful Teriyaki pork, and the exquisite roast pigeon confit, all thoughtfully combined with locally sourced Basque ingredients. And make sure to leave room for dessert – the coconut snow and sorbet are an absolute delight, a personal favorite that shouldn’t be missed.



Zortziko website: Read more

The legendary Zortziko remains today Bilbao’s finest Michelin-starred restaurant, founded by Daniel Garcia in 1989; it continues to wow visitors with Garcia’s superlative, contemporary haute cuisine. The destination is worth the price of admission alone: a gorgeous and elegant building that was declared a historical monument. Garcia keeps the menu seasonal, allowing diners to return and sample different innovative, sublime dishes. Service is professional, and the wine list is impressive. Start your meal with the signature langostino con risotto de perretxikos (prawns with wild mushroom risotto), followed by the suprema de pintada Asada a la salsa de trufas (guinea fowl in a truffle sauce). Finish with strawberry soup and rhubarb ice cream for absolute gastronomic heaven.


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Genevieve Mc Carthy

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One thought on “10 Must-Try Basque Gourmet Restaurants in Pais Vasco and Pays Basque

Gisela Carrasco - hoteles donostisays:

June 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Muchas gracias por la información!! muy útil chicos! Besitos!!

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