A Basque cider house is probably the best kept secret of the San Sebastian and Bilbao regions. You might be surprised to know not many Spanish people from outside Basque Country know about them.
However, once you go to one, your life will be changed forever. We must confess, while our memories of Basque Country are starting to fade, the T-bone steak we had at the Cider House will be forever remembered.
Basque Cider House. The best kept secret of the Basque Country.
Basque Cider house. The story behind them
The Basque Country (País Vasco or Euskadi) has a long tradition of cider making. Cider houses were originally the place for villagers to purchase cider. As cider tasting was a certainty, people would bring along some snacks; not even in the good old days was it a bright idea to drink on an empty stomach.
Today however, they are much more than shops, they have evolved into restaurants. And not any restaurant, but one you will remember forever.
So, what’s the big deal about these restaurants?
Basque Cider Houses (or Sagardotegi in their local language) are a mix in between a bodega (the cider barrels are generally on display) and a restaurant.
People from the region have a reputation for eating a lot, and only top quality foods. The cider house’s menu will be no different and we can guarantee it is very likely one that you will struggle to finish!
The typical Cider House menu will go as follow:
- A cod omelette
- Chorizo cooked in cider or pil-pil cod (it depends on the place)
- T-bone steak
- Cheese board
All of the above will be shared for your table and will come with as much cider from the barrels as you want.
It will cost you around 35€ per person. A bargain if you keep in mind that the T-bone steak we had in Basque Country is, to the day, one of the best (and biggest) slabs of meat we have ever had.
It is important to say that cider is a seasonal product. But do not worry, some Cider Houses are opened all year long. However, if you visit during the season, instead of bring served a bottle they will open the barrels and people will queue to fill their glasses. Such a great experience!
The best Cider Houses in San Sebastian and Bilbao
Traditionally they were located in the country outside San Sebastian. While that is still the case, luckily for you, nowadays you can find some in the cities too.
The best Basque Cider House in Bilbao
- Galtzagorri Sagardotegia: Located outside the city centre this is the one we went to and absolutely loved it! Traditional and full of locals. The meat was superb.
- Asador Arriaga Sagardoregia : Located in the historical city centre. One of the most famous ones in the city. Their reputation and the fact that it is always full speaks for itself.
Where to stay in Bilbao
We stayed in this stunning hotel in the city center (Not the historical city center, in the modern part of town). The hotel is normally for business so we got a pretty good deal (61€ per night) as we visited on a weekend when the hotel does not have much use.
The best Basque Cider House in San Sebastian
- Txirrita Sagardotegia: Located near La Concha beach. Rustic styled with all the flavour.
- Lizeaga Sagardotegia: Located outside the city this sixteenth century house is as authentic as it gets. They have been cider producers for more than 450 years.
Where to stay in San Sebastian
If you are on a budget an do not want to spend much in accommodation we stayed in Pension Aida. It is a basic hotel but renovated and in a very good location. We paid 49,50€ per night for a double room.
- Read our experience in Galtzagorri Sagardotegia, a cider house in Bilbao here >
- Are you also visiting San Sebastian? Check out 3 unusual things to do in San Sebastian to enjoy the city like a local>
Save money on your trip to visit a Basque CIder house in San Sebastian or BIlbao!
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