Anyone who knows anything about the world’s best food has undoubtedly heard of a small Basque seaside town called San Sebastian, found in the north-west corner of Spain.
For those who don’t know it, here’s a fun fact for you:
San Sebastian has more Michelin stars per head than anywhere else in the world.
(and it’s really damn beautiful – even in the middle of winter!)
Everyone already knows about Spanish tapas – it’s hands down one of the best food cultures in the world, IMHO. Jumping from bar to bar, tasting a meal in each one along with a glass of wine or a G&T is the perfect night out for me, always. It literally has a 100% strike rate – check out my trips to Madrid or Barcelona for tapas inspo.
San Sebastian takes it to a new level with their famous Pintxos – think even smaller tapas, allowing you to go to even more bars and eat for even longer! Win-win. So the real question becomes – where can you find the best Pintxos in San Sebastian?
What I found out on my most recent trip is that each pintxo bar has its own specialty and if you pick the right one, you’ll have an evening full of the best food that you’ll be talking about for the next 30 years, telling your kids about “that time you had the best fried garlic mushrooms in the world” (really, that’s a conversation I’m still having regularly 9 months on, though obviously not to any kids). Ugh… those mushrooms though….
So in the Basque Country pintxos are pretty much a way of life between lunch and dinner.
The local rules are that you order a bite and a drink at each bar, finish them at the bar, then move on to the next one.
It’s not about getting sloshed or so full you can’t walk – pace yourself correctly and by the end of the night you’ll be the right level of full (really satisfied but not so much that you can’t sleep) and tipsy. My fave combination.
I’m putting some of the best pintxo bars that you NEED to visit below, but let your eyes and nose do the rest of the work and lead you to discover your own favourites too.
Related posts you may like:
The 3 main streets you need to remember and head straight for to find the best Pintxos are:
- 31 De Agosto
- Fermin Calbetón
The rules: One bar, one wine or Zurito (small beer), then next. Can’t break tradition.
I consider it a travel sin to not always opt for the local wine options wherever I am, and San Sebastian have a really unique one called Txakoli. It’s a white wine but because of all the sea salt in the air and around the vineyard region, the wine tastes somewhere cross between a white wine and a cider. Incredibly refreshing so give it a chance, even if you don’t like it at first sip.
One other thing to try is a Vermouth – perfect summer drink served straight up on ice (think an alternative to Aperol Spritz), but I also found it really warming in the winter months. This is a pretty good tip for all of Spain in general tbqhwy.
Stop babbling and tell me where to find the best Pintxos in San Sebastian
Right, fine, down to business then. The best pintxo bars in San Sebastian and what you have to order at each, including the world’s BEST cheesecake are:
- Bar Zeruko – Calle Pescaderia, 10: Try the Lobster toast with Txakoli wine
- Bar Txepetxa – Calle Pescaderia, 5: For anchovy lovers (not me). Try the Antxoa a la jardinera – apparently it’s amazing
- Cuchara de San Telmo – Calle 31 de Agosto: Try the beef cheek or duck ravioli
- A Fuego Negro – Calle 31 de Agosto: This place is owned by some restauranteurs who have worked in some of the best kitchens in town. Try the crab ice-cream.
- Gandarias Taberna – Calle 31 de Agosto, 23: Much more traditional compared to the above and probably the best value. Try the hake and hake cheek
- Atari Gastroteka – Calle 31 Agosto, 44: Try the squid in ink, also the amazing gin & tonics.
- Goiz Argi – Calle Fermin Calbetón, 4: Eat the ‘brocheta de gambas’ (Mediterranean prawns)
- La Cueva – Plaza de la Trinidad: The best ‘champiñones’ (mushrooms) I’ve ever had + ‘piperrak’ (green paprika)
- La Viña Bar – Calle 31 de Agosto: Saved this one for last because you absolutely cannot go home before trying one of the cheesecakes. 100% the best I’ve ever had! Don’t leave it too late because they tend to sell out on a busy night (I had to go back in the morning for my share).
Oh, and I can’t finish a post without a good breakfast option...
- Try Koh Tao on Benegoetxea Street and order the toast with tomate and olive oil, plus an omelette. ?
The more high-profile stuff
Of course if you want to visit the big Michelin star restaurants they’re easy to find online so I won’t list them here but just make sure you book before you arrive in San Sebastian.
Some other fun foodie options to consider for your travels include:
The best way to fly?
Get a flight to Biarritz in the south of France, hire a car from the airport and drive down. You can get flights from about £40 return + a hire car for another £40, so there’s really no excuse not to go.
Write it, print it, map it out, try it all and don’t forget to tell me what you think when you do!
London New Girl