Where To Find The Best Pintxos Morunos In Bilbao
If you've ever been to the Basque Country, you'll know how pintxos form a big part of the culture. But what exactly are pintxos?
Pintxos ("pinchos" spelled with a tx in Euskera) comes from the Spanish word pinchar or to prick. As opposed to the typical Spanish tapas ranging from anything like a slice of cheese or jamón to a portion of piping hot patatas bravas, the Basque pintxos are prepared by adding meat, seafood, vegetables, and/or sauce on top of a sliced piece of bread and then held together nicely with a toothpick... hence the name.
The Basques are surely famous for turning their own pintxos into art. In and around the region, you'll see many elaborate varieties of this delightful appetizer, which include stuffed crepes, Spanish croquettes on a stick, and savory dips on a glass served with skewered meat or seafood, among others.
One of my absolute favorite twists to the pintxo is the pintxo moruno. It´s believed to have made its way to Spain through the southern regions of Andalucia and Extremadura. It has then grown into a popular local treat, and for good reasons. They're incredibly tasty!
This Moorish-inspired lamb or pork skewer is marinated in a spice blend of cumin, ground black pepper, ginger, sweet pepper, turmeric, saffron, garlic, spiced coriander, onions, parsley, a zest of lemon, salt, and oil. Whew! That's almost like doing a spice tour around the world.
When you're in Bilbao, you definitely have to try them out. Here are two of my favorite pintxo moruno places in this city.
Melilla y Fez
Calle Iturribide, Casco Viejo
Each skewer of pintxo moruno is served with bread, and you can ask for the spicy red sauce to go with it if you're feeling extra bold.
Aside from pintxo moruno, Melilla y Fez also serves tortillas (or Spanish omelettes) at the bar. You'll see interesting variations like con cebolla (with onions), con chorizo (with Spanish sausage), and con verduras (with vegetables). But my absolute favorite is the especial de la casa, which has everything on it!
Make sure to also try their champis de la casa (garlic mushrooms). They're tasty and definitely go well with a pintxo moruno.
Calle Berastegui, Abando
The owners of the kebab stand at Melilla y Fez expanded some years later to Cafe Iruña, one of the oldest bars in Bilbao. Because of its central location, pintxos morunos here are a bit more pricey, but still are served deliciously hot and spicy.
Heading to Bilbao soon? Make sure you drop by these places! Safe travels!