Long story short, I moved to País Vasco in October of last year. I’ve been living in a town of 600 people in the Basque province of Álava. I’ve learnt some words in the local tongue (Basque, or ‘euskera’) and I have discovered some places to get my music and craft-beer fix that I’d love to share with you.
I’ll start with Logroño, even though it´s technically not in País Vasco. It’s my closest city so I’ve spent the most time here. The first bar that caught my eye was El Dorado on Calle Portales. I heard Bob Dylan playing and I was won over by the decent craft-beer selection. The music alternates between jazz, rock, and the classics, like Dylan and Springsteen.
Just last week I came across Café Odeon. They were cranking Guns ‘n’ Roses, and their four craft-beer fridges definitely caught my eye. The staff here are super friendly, too. I sat between a Bob Dylan poster and a Led Zeppelin one, and I noticed an electric guitar hanging from the ceiling. It’s close to El Dorado, so you’ve got time to try both before heading to Thursday night Pinchato on Calle Laurel.
As for concerts, I’ve never been to any around here as I can’t get home afterwards, however I’ve heard great things about Biribay Jazz Club.
Vitoria (Gasteiz in Basque) has a cool punk-rock feel about it. The medieval city is full of Basque men with rats’ tails and hoop earrings, and the great music that comes with Basque culture. The first place I’d recommend is El Parral, a vegetarian restaurant by day, and a great little music venue by night. With frequent free gigs that range from traditional Basque folk bands, to rock, to ‘power pop-rock’ (whatever that means!), it’s a music paradise. Get in early if you want a good spot.
For bigger gigs, including international acts, check out Jimmy Jazz Gasteiz, the local spot for all your rock and metal needs (among other genres).
While you’re in town, grab a great coffee with a sweet treat at Fresa y Chocolate. The staff here are great, and it’s perfect for relaxing while waiting for the bus! If you like enjoying a nice vermouth with your pintxos, don’t miss Dazz.
Even after three visits, I still haven’t accomplished all of the things on my Bilbao list, (partly due to everything in Europe closing on a Sunday). The first place I must mention is Penguin Bar. With 16 craft-beer taps, it’s definitely worth a visit. Head in after lunch if you like your beers quiet, or go after dark for a bustling local vibe. Morrocotuda was a nice stop for a beer from their decent selection, but Penguin still has my vote. There are a few on my list that I haven’t had a chance to check out yet, but let me know if you have! La Catedral de Cerveza, a craft-beer store, and Bihotz, which looks like a fantastic spot for beer and coffee.
I would love to get out to Laugar Brewery one day. It’s not in Bilbao, but they have brewery visits available if you can get there (bookings required). A bus would take a little under an hour from Bilbao.
The only concert venue I’ve experienced in Bilbao so far is Santana 27, and it didn’t disappoint. They have so many bars so you won’t have to worry about a line, and the lockers located throughout the venue are much easier than the traditional cloak-room.
If you like cupcakes, you have to go to Mami Lou Cupcake, a cosy Belgian bakery by the river. Without a doubt, the best cupcake I’ve ever had! The coffee was not half-bad either, and they do have a few nice Belgian beers available.
Before we head into San Sebastián, I want to stop about a 20 minute train ride away, at Basqueland Brewing Project. This one is on my to-do list, and they offer brewery visits (bookings required). Another local brewery, about 35 minutes by train from the city, is Bidassoa Basque Brewery.
Now, heading into the centre, I recommend checking out the quirky neighbourhood of Gros. Here you’ll find Kañabikaña, a craft-beer shop where you can purchase beers from one of their 18 taps to take home. Just around the corner you’ll see Mala Gissona Beer House, stocking their own beers as well as a great selection of national and international beers. Their burgers are fantastic, too! If you get sick of beer, check out Holly Burger for a nice selection of interesting gins which have been flavoured in-house.
For amazing coffee and breakfast, don’t go past Sakona Coffee Roasters.
Feel free to comment your music and craft-beer findings!