Posted July 13, 2022, at 11.00
Radisson Collection Bilbao, the hotel under the pillars of the bank
This cozy boutique hotel opened in May on Gran Vía, Bilbao’s modern axis. A stone’s throw from the Guggenheim and Azkuna Zentroa, and a bridge from the Plaza Nueva, its 137 rooms and suites feature the Japanese touches of functional chic. The Banco de Santander has lost half of its square meters, the Radisson live in a shared apartment between the same Wall Street-style columns as the bank. The table, well, of the Basque-Japanese fusion type, is held by Eneko Atxa – whose restaurant Azuremendi gravitates its three stars on the outskirts of the city. Here as there the chef does not let go of his Basque roots nor his seasonal cuisine. For a brunch in the early morning heat Radisson offers its roof terrace with vertical vegetation, also perfect for a cocktail when the hills sparkle in the twilight heat. To discover in the basement, an intimate spa and a swimming pool.
4 Gran Via. Such. : 00 (34) 946 05 67 53. Double room from 111 euros. radisson.com
Zarate Jatetxea, the star jumped from the sea
The entrance, discreetly like a smart trattoria in Florence or Milan, has something exclusive about it. Chef Sergio Ortiz de Zarate came from a Biscayan family of steelworkers and began cooking with his father, for whom the family menu took shape from the fisherman’s shop. He got his Michelin star from his destructive passion for the Cantabrian Sea, which made him even before the restaurant opened his lonja, a fishmonger’s where they prepare fish to take on the spot. Oysters currently, arroz verde with mollusks, salmon sashimi, spider crab with stone juice: Zarat is supplied by proven suppliers, because in order to hope for something, you have to rub yourself with the fruit of the sea, from the trap or the net.
65 calle del Licenciado Poza. Such. : 00 (34) 944 41 65 21. About 100 euros.zarate.restaurant
Azkuna Zentroa, culture and design roof
The winner of the Global Awards For Excellence, Azkuna Zentroa is the renovated heart of Alhondiga, the former wine hall. The exterior has retained its modernist features from the visionary urban planner Ricardo Bastida, who rebuilt Bilbao in 1923. The interior has been shaken by Philippe Starck and his touch of humor: On the ground floor, the Atrium de las Culturas is a low-ceilinged main square, where each of the 43 pilasters reject his style, from Ming China to Rococo. At this underground square mayor you reach a cultural center or a shop pavilion This is Basque design which distributes revisited Basque handicrafts. At the very top, Terrassa del Sol combines a trendy roof terrace and a double swimming pool with a transparent bottom.
4 plaza Arriquíbar. Such. : 00 (34) 944 01 40 14. azkuna.zentroa.eus
Tamarises Izarra, the restaurant with a view
More than one old family from Bilbao has their weekend home in Getxo, twenty minutes from this metro, decorated by Norman Foster. You can even get there by boat, sailing up the Nervion estuary. The large windows of this newer half-timbered house face the beach in Ereaga. On the first floor, the restaurant necessarily has a breathtaking view of the sunset. Javier Izarra serves new seasonal Basque dishes there, without rejecting his penchant for Japan. The young chef filters out up-to-date but effortless know-how, and highlights or becomes friends with returns from fishing, market baskets and partridges from the mountains, with appeals from the foot to current standards, such as this chocolate fondant that turns out to be a delicate solomillo (fillet) made tender by slow cooking.
4 quays in Areaga, Getxo-Algorta. Such. : 00 (34) 944 91 00 05. 60 euros, taste menus. www.tamarisesizarra.com
La Ilusa, the alternative bookstore
Thanks to its corner position, the bookstore is open to one of tomorrow’s hype districts: San Frantzisko, near calle Bailen. A shop with colorful columns from the golden age of Biscayan cast iron, a feminist twist. No one should come in here if they do not speak a little Spanish – or Basque – even if the bookstore develops in the spheres without mentioning art and photography. Launched a few months ago Illusion (L’Illusion) is a place to exhibit, buy and sell graphic works and alternative ready-to-wear: a space for expression, an unofficial library and a reference point for tackling another Bilbao, at the convergence of a district, where Basque and Berber cultures merge.
8 calle Hernani. Such. : 00 (34) 944 25 72 99.
Victor Montes, the pintxo brewery
On the Casco Viejo side, on the indispensable Plaza Nueva, this tiled brasserie was founded in 1849. Both bar, restaurant and catering, Victor Montes is a sure bet to taste pintxos – tapas Basque version, that is, more careful: peppers, anchovies, eggs, cheese, cod fritters … The establishment does not omit caviar or truffles from Piedmont, nor bellota of DOP pork fed with acorns from Extremadura (Extremadura). To accompany the cocktail with variable geometry that reigns at night in Bilbao: Martini-preparado – Martini in the barrel, bitter after the bartender’s mood, ice cream according to the temperature and slices of citrus fruits in abundance. We admire the terrifying collection of whiskey and cognac (the oldest is from 1846). Among the legendary dishes of Victor MontesNorwegian salmon sprinkled with gold or fresh liver marinated for 45 hours.
4 Plaza Nueva. Such. : 00 (34) 944 15 70 67. Count from 20 to 50 euros. www.victormontes.com
Charcuteria San Mames, family institution
The pressure is high as soon as you return from Spain without bringing any charcuterie back … In 1951, the San Mames House – the patron saint of the legendary Athletic de Bilbao team – appeared in this working-class neighborhood. Today, Iñaki and Ane Camarena maintain the tradition: third generation butchers, supported by third generation suppliers and … customers. Demand has developed and the brother and sister offer without chauvinism a bellota from Extremadura along with chorizos from Pamplona, roncal and idiazabal from Basque sheep, not forgetting the incomparable txacoli – white wine of green grapes, Biscay as hell. Jams, cookies, canned vegetables are also at the counter.
2 calle Alda San Mames.Tlf. : 00 (34) 944 22 19 13.
Spanish Tourist Office: 01 45 03 82 50. www.spain.info/en/
How to get there: Transavia from Paris-Orly, Mondays and Fridays, from 70 euros round trip. www.transavia.com