The Top 5 Eats in San Sebastian – Pintxos
San Sebastian has the wide open sandy beaches, the laid back Spanish culture and the charming old town to wander but this isn’t why we’re here. No, we are here for one thing only. Pintxos! Similar to tapas, pintxos takes on a whole new meaning in this small city on the west coast of Spain. San Sebastian comes in second place for having the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world (shortly behind Kyoto, Japan). Walking through the streets of Donostia it’s hard to miss as every other shop seems to be brimming with tasty bite size treats and legs of jamon dangling from the ceiling. It’s a foodies paradise! Here are some of the best.
Popular with both tourists and locals alike Paco Bueno is a big player on the pintxos scene. Make sure not to miss on on the speciality of the house “Gamba a la Gabardina”, tempura style prawns in a light batter. Due to it’s popularity it can get pretty crowded here so embrace eating at the bar like a local and standing up if only for a few bites.
Come for the papas bravas, stay for the 5 Euro litre of Sangria. This place has particularly good seafood, common with all the tapas bars in San Sebastian. But with plenty of choice and great prices it’s not hard to see why La Mejillonera is so popular. Try the mussels or “Mejillones” from which the restaurant takes it’s name.
A personal favourite of mine head to Casa Alcade for something a bit different. The pintxos here stand out from the crowd with delights such as “ham egg and chips” and “angulas” (baby eels which are actually just sliced fish). You absolutely HAVE to try the Iberian ham in some form or other, you will see the big legs drying here above the bar and it literally melts in your mouth! For around 2 to 3 Euros a dish you really can try a bit of everything, but save room for the melt in the middle chocolate pudding or the local speciality cheesecake!
When you’re stuffed full of baby eels (or not as the case may be) make the long journey next door for some hard earned refreshment. Casa Vergara is a much more chilled establishment where you are more likely to get a seat. Now’s the time to enjoy a nice Cava or Rioja. They serve up sea urchins with cheese and shrimp on sticks, but don’t miss the cones of tiny chorizo! The Basque region is famous for it’s pork and these little bites of heaven don’t disappoint.
While not technically a tapas bar Heladeria Oiartzun is one of the top spots on a food fuelled day in the city (I think I came here 3 times in one day once). It’s the perfect place to take a break from pintxos hunting, grab a coffee and look out towards the main square. It’s full of delicious delicatessen cakes and perfect pastries. From fresh fruit tarts to truffles and brownies there’s everything a sweet tooth could desire.
Five of the best places not to miss in San Sebastian. But of course the name of the game is to try them all! A top tip is to sample one at a time, get a feel for the restaurants prices and seating options (you pay at the bar generally) then if it’s great go back for more. If not move on! Lunch is quieter it starts getting busy after 8pm. Embrace the culture, take a couple of hours or even the whole day! Pintxos, pintxos, pintxos!