Seattle >Food & Dining > Bilbao Tapas bar and restaurant
4500 9th Ave NE, Seattle, WA | Directions 9810547.661679 -122.318316
Neighborhoods: University District, Northeast Seattle, Northeast
Amazing Experience! – So what started with poor planning on my part, turned into an unexpected culinary and service delight. We were trying to make it to a 2:30 show at the Met next door, but our children, 6 and 4 were starving. Noticing the Spanish restaurant next door, I was at first relieved, thinking "I'll just grab a few tapas to go...". Well then I walked in. The dining room was intimate and cozy. The tables dressed in goblets and white linens. Ooops, I thought, two kids in tow, not a place to grab a quick bite. I was about to leave when a rather tall and very polite gentleman waved me in. I explained my novel idea of grabbing a quick bite, did he think it was possible to get something before the show in 15 min? He waved us in and insisted we sit down. I didn't want to mess up an entire table for some food to grab and go, but he was charming and welcoming and so we did. My urge to stand and not mess up the table was noted and the server gently reminded me that there was plenty of time and not to worry. I'm so glad he did!
We quickly ordered the pan con jamon, and pan con manchego. Moments later our server (who I regret not getting his name) returned with fresh warm bread. My children devoured it. Then, before the items we ordered were delivered, he returned with complimentary steaming hot croquetas and a plate of delicious potatoes smothered in rich creme and a spicy red sauce. Both delicious! I lived in Spain years ago, and until this day have not had the authentic delicious flavours I was tasting! Then, our sandwiches arrived: 3 pieces of yummy crusty bread surrounding a mound of mixed greens and drizzled with an aromatic olive oil. We still had 10 minutes to enjoy our food. We were savoring every bite and, except for the manchego, my children loved everything.
Our server delivered the check with our sandwiches and promptly processed the payment. Total: $11.00. Seriously? I am in the service industry, this was by far the best experience I've had in quite some time on all accounts. Thank you, Bilbao! We will be back!
Culinary disaster – It's hard to say what is worse in this place: the food or the service. The unjustifiably high prices are like a spoiled cherry on top. It's mindboggling how they manage to screw up simple combinations of the Spanish cuisine, i.e. toasted bread with jamon serrano. To call this mediocre would be a huge compliment. The interior and the music are the only two good things about the place.
Wonderful dining experience – wonderful restaurant with amazing flavor in a beautiful location. I have travelled all over spain and their receipes are bang on authentic. I will be back soon when i dont have to rush out to make a movie at the metro next door
AMAAAAZING!!!! – The atomosphere is great, the food is amazing and the Owner is so lovely. He pays special attention to all of his guests. He'll also sing and bring a birthday guest dessert. A must try for everyone who loves culture!
Terrible service, mediocre food – The service was horrible and the food was kind of sad if you are expecting more than what a mid-western housewife would serve as a 'hot-dish'. My wife and I ordered $50 worth of tapas and were impressed by none. The only one that was 'tasty' was the fried goat cheese, but come on, how can fried goat cheese not be tasty? The server raved about the oxtail and it was no different than a crockpot potroast. There were no unique spices or anything that suggested spanish cuisine. The service was the worst and actually somewhat offensive. We were seated and got no water or server for quite awhile. The server never asked my wife if she wanted a second drink. On the menu it described tapas as dishes that came out quickly. Well, it took 20 minutes for our first one to arive and another 5 minutes for numbers 2 and 3. The rest arrived a few minutes after that. I hope that this was an abnormality or that they were understaffed, but they did not make any excuse or explanation as to why the service was so bad. If the food was spectacular, I would totally excuse the bad service, but it was not. Complete. Waste. Of. Time.
What a scary place – Do yourself a favor. Avoid this place at all costs!
While the food is you typical tappas food (which has been the saltyiest I've tasted in Seattle) the wait staff doessn't really give you that feel you should be getting with these prices.
When the owner came over to our table my husband noticed he was very drunk. Later into the night we watched him get into unprofessional arguments with his staff in such a way it became hard to enjoy what little food by then had arrived to our wobbly little table. It is a pretty restaurant to be in and might be more enjoyable if the owner acted more professional. The food was not as impressive as some of the other tapas in this city for sure.
Authentic Spanish Cuisine – I've not been to the Basque region of Spain but I have lived in Andalucia for three years and so I was excited to try out this Spanish restaurant last night. I was not let down. My girlfriend and I ordered a bottle of the house tempranillo, Torres, which was fantastic for $28. A slew of tapas ensued including the Chorizo al Jerez, Tortilla Espa?ola, Chuletas, Champi?ones, Patatas Bravas, and a couple of ensaladas. Everything tasted authentic and reminded me of being in Spain. The actual entrees on the menu were quite limited so I would recommend visiting and ordering several of the tapas as they were each very generous in size. I found them to be much (about twice) as large as tapas in Spain and would therefore be akin to ordering "raciones" on the Iberian peninsula. On a side note, the service was outstanding and there was a live band that rather enhanced the already impressive ambience (this was on a Friday evening). Two things I would love to see as improvements would be to offer Fino and Oloroso as sherry choices and perhaps to add an ensalada with tuna, corn, and sea salt, the ensalada staple of Andalucia (I know, I know, its supposed to be Basque but that would be an amazing addition for me).
Finally, I noticed that another reviewer named "diamondbride" blasted this restaurant with a one-star review tattered with poor grammar and misspellings. When pulling up diamondbride's review history, one notes that this individual has given Macaroni Grill a 5-star review. If that doesn't dismiss the credibility of this philistine's 1-star review for Bilbao, I don't know what does. People who adore the kitschiness of American chains are doing a disservice to cuisine in this country. As Americans, we should go out and support fantastic independent restaurants like Bilbao.
Great afternoon getaway – My wife and I hopped in shortly after the lunch hour on a Saturday. Our experience was fantastic. The restaurant was almost completely empty so I'm not surprised the service was as good at it was, but I was impressed that we were not overwhelmed with visits.
We ordered 4 dishes and each was good to great. The bread they served was fresh and the olive oil very fruity and delicious. We the best of the dishes for me was the braised ox-tail which was perfectly seasoned and meaty, while my wife enjoyed the shrimp in a roasted garlic and chili-oil sauce. We both enjoyed a dish of toasted bread with three different spreads, while the potato dish was plentiful and and good.
We will make this a stop on our frequent visits to Seattle and I look forward to having dinner there with a group of friends.
Fantastic Wine, Food & Service – I have been several time for a pre-movie drinks, and 3 other times for dinner. Each time the staff, atmosphere, wine and food have been excellent. The music on weekends sets just the right tone as well.
WORST EXPERIENCE EVER! – My husband and I went to this restaurant two days ago. And I have never been so insulted in all my life. We went in and first the man who was our waiter wouldn't even listen when it came to what drinks we wanted. Once he figured out we didnt want alcohol that night, he barely paid attention to our food orders and ended up bringing out the wrong thing. I'd ordered the Lamb Shanks dinner, and I got two small things that couldn't have been more than an appetizer. He never checked on us till we were getting ready to go. The owner who I saw walking around to every other table, laughing and being amiable flat out ignored our table the moment he saw that we weren't happy. Now granted we only got charged for the Lamb appetizer but thats not what I ordered. The sauce for on top of the ox tail was nothing more than a thick gravy from a packet that my mother used to make and I'd had not a week ago at her house. Same flavor and everything. 50 cents at the grocery store. On top of that they never even bothered to come back and refill my coffee cup though they were sure to run around and refill the wine glasses. I understand its a tapas restaurant, but that shouldn't mean you give crappy service. I will NEVER be back and given how much i go to the theatre thats alot. To top it off, I walked outside and slipped off their curb. When I looked behind me as I was getting up and through the window two servers were pointing and laughing at me as I got up. Not so much as an attempt to go out and help or anything. I will never be back to that place again I dont care what the occassion is. I'd get better customer service at Denny's.
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