As it happens in every city in the world, there´s an area that is visited by tourism, leaving apart other places that may be as interesting. With the arrival of tourism (the Guggenheim effect), the bars in the Old Town have risen prices and quality is…well, very good, but not quite the same.
What follows is a shortlist of places I like in Bilbao (ordered as they come to my mind), that you normally will not visit as a tourist (and at very fair prices):
1) Bar EME, http://www.baremebilbao.com, absolutely the best sandwiches in the whole world (and I´m not exaggerating), locals flock in to buy them, you can have them at the bar or to take away, it´s amazing how many hundreds of them they sell every day. Made with a special bread and a secret sauce, they are a treat. At 2,20 euros each, a bargain!!
2) La tabernilla de Pozas (the small tavern), in Licenciado Poza street (known as “Pozas”), you´d never enter here because it doesn´t even have a name outside. There are no bars like this anymore. Wine in barrels or drunk in “porrón”, it´s popular to have (non peeled) peanuts and wonderful tuna sandwiches (real ones with good chunks of fish and real crusty bread), an ageless counter, unaltered premises for ages,…, and the legend says that the two brothers behind the counter haven´t talked to each other for years..
3) Melilla y Fez, in Iturribide street (Old Town), just entering the street on your left hand side, a huge variety of potato omelette (Spanish omelettes) served in big portions at very good prices.
4) Bar Estoril, in Plaza Campuzano (center), the best long drinks in your life, together with wonderful omelette pintxos.
5) Bar Rio Oja, in El Perro street, the best cazuelitas (tapas), Old Town.
6) Azak restaurant, in Pablo Alzola st, in the Basurto district, you can have selection of Iberic specialties and cheese for as less as 14 euros…and so big you´ll need to have another bottle of their extensive (and cheap) wine list. A rarity in this district. Huge selection of meals, appetizers and beers.
7) Taberna Taurina, in Ledesma (center), small but authentic with dozens of pictures of bulls and bullfighters.
8) Mina restaurant, in the Old Town. A bit pricey, but worth every cent spent at it.
More to follow, there are still many places worth visiting in Bilbao…