Do Kids like REAL Spanish Tapas?

We decide to party in Bilbao Spain




Winters Chilling Tales #105

Days 188 to 190

After spending two weeks on a Spanish farm (days 174 to 187) I decided we should head to Bilbao and San Sebastian to experience the lively North Coast.

About 7 years ago I stayed in San Sebastian for work and it was minus 1 degree and snowing on the beach. This time it is Summer and we couldn’t afford to stay there and instead we picked up two rooms in a Pensiones (cheap hotel) for three nights about 2 k’s out of Bilboa centre.



We drove for 10 hours straight to get there and both Summer and I took it turns to drive. I will say the Spanish motorways are excellent, 130kmph speed limit pretty much the whole way. You can’t help but creep up in speed and when you get passed doing 140kmph like you are standing still you know the passing car is flying.

Even Summer, a very safe driver, had a little game when a car was coming to pass she would speed up to see how fast they were actually going 155kmph she got passed like she was standing still.

All over Spain we kept seeing these huge black bulls.

Driving around Spain we kept seeing these huge black bulls.

We got to Bilbao and realised we were in a rough area when we saw a car pull up and a drug deal went down right in front of the hotel. So we ducked into a tavern and had hamburgers then headed to bed.

We are in Bilbao to spend our last few days in Spain sightseeing, swimming and eating tapas. But we have only tried homemade tapas, Spanish snacks and two meals out that was not authentic tapas.





Our first day sightseeing in Bilbao started at the Guggenheim museum. Pretty out there architecture, but we actually found it very impressive.

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain.

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain.

Took plenty of photos of the building and the equally impressive massive pot plant dog statue out the front.

Flower dog in front of the Guggenheim Museum.

Flower dog in front of the Guggenheim Museum.

We didn’t actually go in the museum, just admired from the outside. We then went over to the play area for a while. The play equipment is identical to what we have in Sydney except this one below.

Kids playground Bilbao.

Kids playground Bilbao.

It started to rain and so we drove around the city before parking in an underground parking bay and walked to the old town, Casco Viejo. It was really nice, heaps of character and rows of tapas bars or pintxos  (the Basque version of Spanish tapas) bars and a really good vibe about it.

We decided to check out the Plaza Nueva. This square was full of kids running and playing soccer. And all around the square there was one bar after the other. You had a choice of either old school or new school eatery.

Old style bar with older staff.

Old style bar with older staff, Plaza Nueva.

New style bar.

New style bar with higher prices and cleaner floors.

We decided to ask the girls what they wanted to try and they chose the older style first.

The girls first 'pinxtos' in Bilbao, Spain.

The girls first ‘pintxos’ in Bilbao, Spain.

The girls had done a lot of running around and chose an egg potato quiche dish that came with a side serving of bread. It was called ‘patatas y huevo tortilla con pan’ (potato and egg small cake with bread). Yes they really enjoyed this dish but the most exiting thing about eating at the bar was they were able to throw their napkin on the floor with no questions asked.

After that they had another good run around we asked them what they would like next and they chose the classic looking Cafe Bar Bilbao.

The very cool Cafe Bar Bilbao.

The very cool Cafe Bar Bilbao.

We all ate plates of small ham sandwiches, salmon on bread and calamari freshly fried to perfection. However, the variety of ‘pescado’ (fish) did not sit well with the girls even though they are good fish eaters. The amount of anchovy and other fish variety dishes was too much to handle. On top of that they offer a great deal of vegetarian dishes that included one, two or three cheeses. But we simply did not want to cheese and fish and found it hard to fill their belly’s.

We then decided to head out of the Plaza Nuevo to try another place and went down the cobble stone streets to a busy pub called Bar Jateko.

Jateko pub menu in Bilbao.

Bar Jateko menu in Bilbao.

The menu here included chicken, which we hadn’t had before but it was in a sauce that the girls didn’t like. We then decided to call it a night.




The next day I packed up all swimming gear and drove the family to San Sebastian only 1 hour East of Bilbao.

It was a beautiful day and the beach was packed. We were all starving and so headed toward the old town and had pintxos in a small cafe.

Lunch in San Sebastian.

Lunch in San Sebastian.

This was a hit with the girls because they had chicken and mayonnaise while Summer and I had ham with marinated capsicum on slices of bread and a potato small cake in bread.

We then decided to walk around the old town and walked down all the small laneways.

Old town San Sebastian.

Old town San Sebastian.

The many bars were overflowing with people and after the main lunch rush we stopped to try some more pintxos. This time we walked up to the bar and grabbed a plate and took what we wanted.

Pintxos in San Sebastian.

Pintxos in San Sebastian.

The girls liked these. Spring had a gerkin that was sliced down the middle and stuffed with tuna. Autumn had cheese in batter and deepfried. It was good because by this time they had tasted a lot of different varieties.

We then decided to head to the beach and go for a swim. It was busier now than when we first walked past.

Busy San Sebastian beach.

Busy San Sebastian beach.

The water temperature was not as warm as we expected but we still spent about 2 hours before getting changed and heading back to Bilbao.

We went straight to the old town and had more pintxos for dinner. Again we ate at Cafe Bar Bilbao. We finished off our time in Spain trying a few different dishes in a really cool place. It was funny because we ordered olives on their own and they came stuffed with anchovy paste. They were so salty but girls liked them anyway. We ate a big meal and then headed back to the hotel happy with our pintxos tasting adventure.




Overall we had a great time in Bilbao and San Sebastian. We tried so many different varieties of pintxos and most of it was really nice.

It takes some time to get used to the small portions but once we tried different ones we came to really enjoy them.

The kids liked:

  • shredded crab in a cream sauce served on or in bread
  • calamari was cooked to perfection and so soft we all loved it
  • smoked salmon slices on top of bread
  • tuna in gerkin or on bread
  • potato and egg small cake

What they didn’t like:

  • anchovy’s on anything
  • zucchini or eggplant dishes

Seafood was everywhere. If your kids don’t like fish, crab, tuna, salmon or calamari it will be difficult to take them to enjoy this regions unique food. But if they are like our kids and are willing to try different dishes then this can be a fun way for the whole family to enjoy the food and atmosphere in the small pubs.




When were we there:

26 July until 28 July

To learn more about Bilbao click here

To learn more about San Sebastian click here

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