Madrid and Barcelona may wow the masses with world-class museums and iconic landmarks, but to tap into Spain’s culinary nerve center, you must head north to the Basque Country, the green, hilly region that boasts the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, not to mention some of Spain’s most prestigious vineyards. Given the area's reputation, you might assume that the best Basque meals are exclusive events punctuated by luxurious amuse-bouches served on demitasse spoons. But as locals will tell you, Basque food isn’t just for sybarites with deep pockets: From the laidback pintxos (Basque tapas) bars in San Sebastián, to the boisterous cider houses of Gipuzkoa, to the family-owned Txakoli vineyards on the Cantabrian coast, the Basque Country has something for every type of food lover. Here are our top picks for what you can't miss when visiting the region.
By Benjamin Kemper