Pintxos is part of the way of life in Basque Country. Breakfast, lunch, a pre-dinner snack or anything in-between, these tasty little bites are the best way to sample the quality produce that’s available in this region.
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Being the overly polite Brits that we are, our first pintxos experience was one of “oooh, what do we do?” “do we just take one or two?” “how much do they cost?!”… now with that first hurdle smashed & having had numerous pintxos experiences since then, we thought we’d share with you guys exactly how to enjoy your pintxos when you visit Basque Country.
Pintxos – What Is It?
Pintxos are the centre of Basque cuisine. Served at bars & tavernas throughout Basque Country, these little snacks traditionally consist of a small piece of bread with a delicious topping. However, the evolution of Basque cuisine is increasingly seeing pintxos served up in many new & inventive ways.
Not to be confused with tapas, which is a way to enjoy small portions of famous Spanish fare – pintxos has an identity all of its own. Coming from the Spanish verb ‘pincar’ which means to poke or stab because of the way they are normally served with a toothpick through them.
Where To Eat Pintxos
Seemingly everywhere in Basque Country with each bar or taverna having its own style. From small coffee shops to larger, funky wine bars – displays start from a few bites on offer to lavish affairs spread across the whole bar. We’d recommend just taking a walk around whichever town, village or city you happen to be visiting to see where exactly takes your fancy.
How To Eat Pintxos
Ok, let’s get serious here guys, just kidding, to be honest rules really do vary from place to place. Generally speaking if you want to do as the locals do your experience(s) should be paired with a bar crawl [enter bar, order drink & said delicious snack, stand & chat with friends & move onto the next place.]
Each establishment has a different etiquette when it comes to helping yourself, for example when we were in San Sebastian it was a case of just taking what we wanted & letting the bar tender know what we’d had when we paid at the end. In Bilbao however, it was a slightly different story with the bar tender preferring to serve us our pintxos with our drinks. To avoid confusion, just ask for a plate that way they’ll either serve you or hand it over so you can serve yourself.
Pintxos is meant as a pre-meal snack which is why most people only enjoy 1 or 2 before heading out to dinner, that being said we LOVE the way it gives the opportunity to taste so many different things so if you fancy filling yourself on these lovely little bites we say, ditch the ‘rules” & go for it!
Hot or Cold?
This varies from place to place, some will serve only cold pintxos & others a mix, heating some that have been pre-prepared. Some places specialise in pintxos & will have a wider variety of hot & cold options available, these will normally offer a menu with hot Pintxos to order.
Most bars have little signs displayed with their Pintxos to show how much each bite will cost. They generally vary between €1 – €1.80 per pintxos. Pair that with a coffee in the morning or glass of wine at lunch or in the evening & you could be walking away having only spent €2-€3 per bar meaning your pocket will be also be thanking you.
Our Favourite Pintxos Spots
Out of all of the places we have visited we’ve narrowed our favourite spots down to a select few. In no particular order we have chosen these places not only for their delicious pintxos but also for their warm & friendly atmosphere.
Check out more of our Bilbao highlights HERE.
Before we wrap this up we’ll just add a couple more points to get you fully down with your pintxos knowledge…
To help when you’re asking for it, it’s pronounced “peen-chos” & in our opinion they are best paired with Txakoli (pronounced chac-o-lee) a slightly sparkling, dry & pretty darn good wine from the Basque Country.
Any questions or anything to add? Please pop them in the comments just below…
Buen provecho 🙂
Kelly & Adam x