Basque Country, Spain


Eating at Asador Etxebarri is not a spur of the moment decision. It requires planning.  About 40 minutes driving distance from Bilbao, it’s in the center of what you dream a picturesque Spanish Basque village would look like. Rolling hills, stone buildings, sheep grazing, and winding roads that resemble ribbons. There is no stoplight here, not even a stop sign. But people come from all over the world for one guy. His name is Victor Arguinzoniz and he is quickly building an international cult following.

In 1989, Victor bought a 200-year-old stone building that was falling into disrepair. Why? Because he liked grilling. He turned the building around, attracting a local crowd downstairs. Ten years later, he started experimenting with his grill. Not hamburger and hot dog type stuff. Items no brave man would ever think should touch coals: butter, oysters, caviar, apple pie, ice cream.

Today, the downstairs bar is still filled with locals. However, upstairs is where they send the grill seekers. In a country known for molecular cuisine, Chef Arguinzoniz could be thought of as the other end of the spectrum. But that is not the case. He makes his own coal on a daily basis using an assortment of different woods such as oak, apple, orange, grape and even olive. Not every item receives the same heat treatment. Some require white coals, other just the gentle smokiness of the embers. He has also created specialty grills to handle everything from smoking the beads of caviar to the yokes of eggs.

Chef Arguinzoniz only uses ingredients from the area. Locally caught gooseneck barnacles, white tuna, baby squid, Palamos prawns, baby eels. He makes his own chorizo, and even dessert is grilled, not baked. Vegetables rarely make an appearance.

The tasting menu is 12 courses (120 euro), but there is also an a la carte menu. Wine is extra. The dining room is on the casual side, even though the tables are covered in white linen.

Fire has always been a part of Chef Arguinzoniz’s life. He was raised in a Basque hills farmhouse with no electricity or heating, other than a traditional hearth. Which is why his artful ability to work with the grill and smoke has made Asador Etxebarri a must-try destination.

Spanish Basque Country


Plaza San Juan, 1


48291 Atxondo-Bizkaia, Spain

T: +34/946.58.30.42




Tue - Sun: 1pm - 3pm

Sat: 8:30pm - 10:30pm



For more about Asador Etxebarri, watch the slide show.


Download the Basque Country guide.