I remember the days when it seemed chips and salad were the only options for vegans in Spain, but my last visit to Barcelona proved those days are long-gone - and it turns out Bilbao is keeping up!
Just walking around the streets, I stumbled on a number of health foods shops (I even found Tofurky, which can be tricky to find in Bristol).
A fair number of cafés have signs up advertising the fact that they offer soya milk. The times really are a changin’!
Lost in translation?
Language can be tricky if you don’t speak much Spanish, the Basque (Euskara) language is unrelated to the other languages of Europe or any other known language.
If you have a bit of Spanish, you should be able to get by! ‘Yo soy vegano’ (I am vegan) is a good start along with ‘sin carne, sin huevos and sin queso’ (without meat, eggs and cheese).
Here are some of my top picks for eating vegan in Bilbao:
1. La Camelia
This is a 100 per cent vegan café on Calle Villarías 3 in Bilbao. There are a number of tables inside, or you can sit at the table outside or takeaway.
Specialties include vegan sushi, homemade miso soup, tofu, tempeh, and seitan sandwiches, as well as hummus. They make fresh juice too, or you can have a beer.
I tried the tempeh sandwich which comes with vegan cheese, rocket and tomato and a sweet relish (€5.50), and the sushi (€13 for six pieces, a salad or dip and a drink) – it was all lovely.
The sushi rolls are large and stuffed with cucumber, tofu, ginger, sprouted lentils and other tasty things, and they come with soy sauce and wasabi. The seaweed salads are amazing. It makes for a very filling lunch!
This vegan bakery is on Calle Carniceria Vieja 3 in the old town. It specializes in cupcakes, tarts, coffees, teas, infusions, juices, pintxos (small snacks a bit like tapas), sandwiches, and salads.
The people who run the café are lovely, very friendly and happy to see how delighted we were to find a totally vegan cake shop!
The woman working there the first day I went had made all the cupcakes herself, and on her recommendation I tried the carrot cake cupcake (€2.50). It was lovely and moist with a great flavor.
On another day, we shared a slice of almond and cherry cake and apple tart – again – spot on flavor!
3. Bizu Bi
This is in the Plazuela Santiago, again, in the old town. This place looks like a burger joint, but has a separate vegan menu! I tried the seitan fillet with sweet onion, lettuce, tomato, and French fries (€9). It was all good, and the waiter was a really nice fella! Maybe not the place for a romantic dinner, but a good place for a quick stop.
If you are looking for a lively, music bar with vegan food, head down to Muga on the Calle de Maria Munoz 8, in the Old Town. It’s one of the few places that stays open late – Mon-Fri 12:00pm-12:00am, Sat 12:00am-1:00am!
It was a bit of a surprise that many of the bars seem to shut around 10.30pm, but these guys were still serving food at 10.30pm.
They serve a few vegan pintxos, sandwiches, burgers, and salads. We had the pintxos one night, and a seitan burger another night. The burger comes stuffed in a large, crusty bread roll with pickles, salad, and vegan mayo (I think there was some ras el hanout in there maybe). It was very tasty and good value for around €5.
This eatery on Juan de Ajuriaguerra 13, is a few minutes’ walk from the Guggenheim. They serve various vegan pintxos, and have a small vegan menu which you can order from after 9pm.
There are some tables inside, and few out on the pavement.
The food was OK, the usual seitan burger etc. I had a Seitan a la jardinera con trufa negra (€8.50) – seitan steaks with a tomato sauce, some chips and salad.
This ice cream shop was definitely a foodie highlight of the trip! On Iparraguirre 1, it is literally a stone’s throw from the Guggenheim. This international chain of ice cream shops offers a range of vegan sorbet flavors, such as chocolate, raspberry, mango, passion fruit, lemon, hazelnut, and lime and basil.
I had hazelnut, raspberry, and chocolate in a small tub - it was €4.60, but was so worth it!
Whatever bar, café, or restaurant you are in, it’s always worth checking the menu, as veganism is on the up and there seem to be options in the most unlikely of places.
The bar Marzana for instance, right next door to our Airbnb apartment, had a roast veg wrap with couscous and soya yogurt dressing on the menu - it was very nice too.
This article was first published on justbloggs veganhere