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Apr 11, 2011 03:50 PM

Bilbao, San Sebastian and environs

Aside from tapas, which are beyond compare in the region, can anyone recommend some restaurants that won't break the bank?

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  1. Bodegon Alejandro in San Sebastian

    1. That's an interesting question - be aware that SS is probably one of the cheaper places to eat top starred Michelin food in Europe. It may be expensive but it is a bargain compared to other cities and may be worth stretching the budget whilst there.

      4 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        Phil and Parigi,

        For an art pilgrimage to Bilbao, would you recommend staying in San Sebastian rather than Bilbao proper?

        Also, we hope to drive from Bilbao to Barecelona, hitting notable food/wine stops along the way. Any "must not miss" on the road to Barcelona?

        Many thanks.

        1. re: cortez

          "For an art pilgrimage to Bilbao, would you recommend staying in San Sebastian rather than Bilbao proper?"

          I once had the same dilemma and studied the question, LOL. I decided on staying in San Sebastian because friends who know both places explain to me: Bilbao is even more beautiful than San Sé, but San Sé offers a nicer, more graceful living: the chalk-a-block excellent pintxos bars in the old town, the walk along the pier in the old port, the well-designed city with beautiful, animated city squares everywhere.
          And from San Sé, it is an easy train or bus ride to Bilbao.

          1. re: cortez

            We wiized through Bilbao and San Se last year and stayed one night at the Miro Hotel across the street from the museum. It's a bit pricey but a very modern chique place with interesting rooms and fixtures. The breakfast was excellent but I can't recall if it was complementary. If you crave that sort of thing then this is a good choice.

            I posed my question, above, because it was all too fast and we never ate a proper meal but if your stay is short you can more than survive on tapas. This year I'd like to spend a little more time in the area, hence my question regarding restaurants.

            FWIW San Se is easier to navigate, more accessible, and the weather is better. Bilbao is tougher to figure out and thus seems to hold more possibilities. I may be wrong, but... I'm headed back to Bilbao.

            1. re: gabe

              For me SS is the better of the two, the food options are far more extensive both in depth and breadth, you can eat in a choice of starred places or cruise the tapas bars. I enjoyed Bilbao but it was historically a far more industrial and less prosperous town than SS and I think this shows with the food on offer (SS was always a good beach resort).

              The Guggenheim is spectacular, and the city is coming back to life but it can be seen in a day with ease (assume you start early) and as Parigi says the train service is good between the cities (the motorway is fast but very twisty)