Aside from having one of the highest densities of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, San Sebastián, on Spain’s northern coast, is the home of pintxos (‘pinchos’). Pintxos, translating directly as ‘spike’ or ‘thorn’, are one of the gastronomic highlights of this Basque town – and one of the best ways to experience these is to hop between the many pintxos bars of San Sebastián.
On first wandering the buzzing streets of San Sebastián, it’s impossible to miss the many pintxos bars lining every street. Whilst plates of ready-made bites line every counter-top (think slices of bread topped with an array of toppings, spiked with a skewer), to get the real experience and eat like a local, avoid the reheated plates and instead order a selection of freshly-made dishes, rustled up in a matter of minutes. Each pintxos bar tends to have its own specialities or dishes for which it is famous – try one or two bites per bar and meander on to the next one. Whilst there are so many worth exploring, to save you time, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites below.
Aldamar Kalea, 8
A favourite of many of San Sebastián’s chefs, and once featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’, Haizea didn’t disappointed. For both look and taste, we loved theBrick de Bacalao – a cod fritter, tied beautifully in a delicious parcel. We also enjoyed the langoustinos con crema marisco– with its rich seafood sauce drizzled over freshly grilled prawns – and the creamy croquettes de jamon.
Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 4
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Whilst it may not initially look all that special from the outside, follow the locals and head to Goiz Argi. Here we enjoyed one of their famous dishes, Mari Juli– fresh smoked salmon, topped with local peppers and an anchovy. But the real star of the show here is the brocheta de gambas– juicy grilled prawns with a garlicky, tomatoey, pepper relish on top. Delicious!
31 de Agosto Kalea, 7, 9
Grabbing a spot by the bar, we loved the hustle and bustle here – an easy place to while away an hour or two, watching the world go by. With the many ham legs hanging over the bar, a platter of jamon here is a must. We had the jamon de jabugo– a delicious board of melt-in-the-mouth Iberican ham, with the most incredible depth of flavour. We also ordered the pulpo a la gallega– a typical Galician dish, of tender octopus bathed in paprika, olive oil and salt, on a bed of thinly sliced potatoes. Sooo good! They also offer a range of good local wines, all below three euros a glass.
31 de Agosto Kalea, 3
If you’ve still got space, round off your trip with a visit to La Viña. Aside from its savoury offerings, it is renowned for its tarte de quesocheesecake and is wellworth a visit to end off with this delicious sweet treat (so much so, it got devoured before I remembered to take a photo – oops!).
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