While the ten rosette holders are the most coveted, with months-long waiting lists, a host of others feature up-and-coming chefs in new places that are well worth a visit.
That said, chef Eneko Atxa at the three Michelin-starred Azurmendi is at the top of the list of hot young chefs in Bilbao.
Atxa is a 40-year old from a town near Bilbao who trained at the Leioa restaurant school. After working with most of the top Basque chefs he opened Azurmendi, a futuristic place on the top of a hill (‘mendi’ is Basque for ‘hill’) not far from Bilbao airport.
Among the testimonies to his talents is an award for the best young creative chef in Spain as well as being named the best chef of the year by the prestigious French gastronomic society Fourchettes.
Azurmendi won a ´Best Of Wine Tourism’ award from the Great Wine Capitals in 2008.
Atxa’s dishes are based on traditional Basque dishes alternating with others showing constant creative evolution featuring aromas and textures.
In spite of his superstar status, Atxa is no media darling. In fact, he thinks of himself as rather boring. When off duty he hangs out with old friends from his hometown and can usually be seen in the stands of the football stadium in Bilbao, rooting for the local team, the Athletic de Bilbao.
Atxa recently opened a second restaurant called Eneko with dishes that are lighter on the wallet than its neighbor that was recently awarded one Michelin star.
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Eneko Atxa (photo: Azurmendi)
Surprisingly for a city of big eaters where restaurants often feature such staples as cod, hake, shellfish and huge steaks from aged beef called chuletones, nuanced oriental cuisine is making its mark here.
Kuma is the best Japanese restaurant in Bilbao, starring chef/owner Daniel Lomana. Locally trained at the Artxanda restaurant school, Lomana interned at several restaurants in Spain before devoting himself to his passion: the cuisine of Japan. Following training under the best chefs in Spain and London he continued his culinary education at Watakan in Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu.
Lomana’s cuisine combines pure Japanese style with an original touch.
+34 677 483348
One of Lomana's dishes
Kimtxu is a play on words, combining the Asian ‘Kim’ and the Basque diminutive ‘txu’ that bills itself as a “Basque-Asian tavern”. The restaurant is the brainchild of Iván Abril, who after working in restaurants in several countries founded the restaurant to combine Asian cuisine, especially from Thailand and China, with Basque ingredients.
Abril features an à la carte menu that changes each month with sixteen dishes as well as a three course menu del día at noon. A typical example is Pad Thai with sautéed rice noodles, bits of Iberian ham, garlic shoots, egg, tamarind, peanuts and lime.
An original feature of Kimtxu’s website is a list of recipes including “the authentic sweet and sour pork” where the reader discovers that this dish isn’t a traditional Chinese dish but rather the westernization of another dish made popular during the Chinese opium wars with the British in the 19th century.
+34 946 527 892