My favourite cider houses are around San Sebastian, in Astigarraga and Hernani. You can reach them in under 20 minutes from the city. I am also giving you some places in the rest of the region but the authentic Cider Houses are native to San Sebastian and its neighbourhood.
San Sebastian and around
Open ALL YEAR
A traditional cider house in a farmhouse, this is one of the oldest in the region. I love the long wooden tables.
Address: Gartziategi Baserria, 20115 Astigarraga
Tel: +34 943 468290.
Petretegi (book early)
A huge place, very popular with Basque residents and visitors. Don't get put off by the size, the experience is magical. You will be shocked at the size of the barrels in this family owned place.
Address: Petritegi Bidea, 20115 Astigarraga
Tel: +34 943 457188
One of the few cider houses open for lunch on weekdays, I like it for its plain and honest atmosphere. The hospitality makes it feel very welcoming.
Address: Petritegi Bidea 4, 20115 Astigarraga
Tel: +34 943 336999
Calonge (most convenient)
This is the most convenient place to go from San Sebastian. Some say it is a less traditional cider house because of its large menu with. Its central location on Monte Igueldo, overlooking San Sebastian and the sea, is a big draw.
Address: Gurutzeta baserria, Orkolaga paseoa 8, 20008 San Sebastián
Tel: +34 943 213251.
Open ONLY in season (Jan to Apr)
I love this place for its Wednesday male choir (Otxote) made of local customers. It has very steep steps so be careful especially after a few glasses.
Oialume Bidea, 63, 20115 Astigarraga
Tel: +34 943 552242
A warm and hospitable, family owned cider house. Standing tables only, and great home style food.
Address: Martindeji Auzoa 29, 20120 Hernani
Tel: +34 943 555851
Zapiain (book early)
A unique industrial looking place, because it is a wholesaler who serves a very small portion of their stock. The rest is sold at retail or exported.
Address: Kale Nagusia 96, 20115 Astigarraga
Tel: +34 943 330033.
Mina (best views!)
Despite the cider made of apples imported from around the region, Mina is worth it for its stunning views from a height.
Address: Txoritokieta Bidea 50; 20115 Astigarraga
Tel: +34 943 555220.
Western Basque Region:
Tierra Astur - Make sure to visit if you happen to be in the towns of Oviedo, Gijón, Avilés, or the village of Colloto. They have branches in all these places. Their decor is very unique and inventive.
Bilbao is not famous for traditional cider houses so you will have to make do with cider on tap or by the bottle in bars. If you are keen to go to a real cider house in or around Bilbao, I can recommend
- Sidrería Arriaga in the old city
- Artxanda Sagardotegia, on Monte Artxanda
Important Cider house tips
Cider House budget
Traditional Cider Houses work on an all you can eat and drink basis, for between 25-35 euros per person.
Best time to go
January to April, latest by May, is the best time to visit a cider house for the best experience of fresh cider. While cider does not go off for a year after it is made, the ideal time to have it is when it is fresh.
Typical food with cider
The cider house food menu is pretty similar wherever you go. Be aware that all food is shared at the table. And it is perfectly ok to eat with your hands.
The main items are: chorizo cooked in cider, tortilla de bacalao (cod omelettes) or cod fried with peppers and garlic, 'txuleta' grilled steaks. For dessert there are walnuts, Idiazábal sheep's cheese and membrillo (quince jelly)
How to drink cider
Basque cider is natural, made without any preservatives, carbonation, or sugar. So it is best drunk fresh, from the barrel.
- When the barrel is pegged (txotx), line up for your cider.
- Do not fill your glass. A 100-150 ml serving at a time is the best way to drink fresh cider. If you pour more, it will not release the flavor in the glass; the aeration will subside quickly, and it will go sour. You get unlimited refills anyway.
- Because cider is not aerated, the pouring from a height is important because the splash causes natural aeration.
The Hernani and Arrigorriaga areas in Gipuzkoa are full of good cider restaurants! Hernani is closer to San Sebastian and Arrigorriaga is closer to Bilbao.
There are 3 named cider houses to visit if you happen to be in their neighborhood during your Basque region stay.
Sidreria Asador Mendiola
Located in Mendiola town near Vitoria-Gasteiz, the old dining room of this farmhouse has an unhurried feel to it. The food and ambience is traditional Basque and the guests are almost all from the area. You can sit on the terrace in the summer or around the fireplace when it gets cold. The pricing is reasonable and portions are large.
If you are in Hondarribia (Fuenterrabia) you must visit Laia Erretegia for its simple setup and fantastic views, overlooking fields and mountains. Their service is attentive, and the food is delicious, with their steaks aged 60 days or more. The set menu, a mix of traditional Basque and contemporary cuisine, is for around 25 Eu. And the cider straight from the barrel is excellent.
Restaurante Sidrería Casa Armendáriz
In a pedestrian zone of Viana (in Navarra area), Casa Armendariz has great cider in the cellar downstairs from the main level. The terrace has a nice environment and the service is very quick. A nice place to go in a group.