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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Go Beyond the Guggenheim in Bilbao

4. Insider’s Tip

Txokos—secret Basque eating clubs developed under Franco's regime—are usually members-only, but a few are open to tourists in the know.  

Euskara, the co-official language of the autonomous Basque community, almost died out when it was outlawed during Franco’s regime. In an effort to preserve it, secret cooking societies were formed, where men could get together to eat, drink, and speak Euskara without being noticed by the authorities. While Euskara can now be freely spoken in public, these clandestine social clubs remain, taking place behind unmarked doors. These uniquely Basque meals, called txokos, mostly take place in private kitchens owned by a group of members and are not accessible to the public—but a few tour operators, like Romotur or Travel Basque Country ($112 per person), can take you behind closed doors.

Published on Oct 3, 2014 as a web exclusive.