We had been hearing a LOT about the food in San Sebastian. You know the drill: How any self-respecting food lover just had to make the trip there, and that the concentration of great restaurants to a small town was something to behold. Our expectations were pretty sky high and, happily, San Sebastian met them easily. But with so many restaurants to try, where do you start?
The best way is to pick the very best pintxos or tapas from the very best restaurants - and in the words of boy band 5ive - keep on moving. So everything we've listed below can be grabbed from the bar, alongside a glass of Txakoli.
With that in mind - here are our tips for the best of the best in San Sebastian. And a special shout-out here to Nieves Barragan (ex-Barrafina and now Sabor) and food Instagrammer @ks_ate_here, both of who gave us amazing lists which helped to power our weekend.
Where: La Vina, 31 de Agosto Kalea
As you walk into La Vina, you'll see these straight-from-the-oven cheesecakes piled up on the bar. A single portion is easily enough for one, and it's pleasingly gooey on the inside too.
Where: Goiz-Argi, Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 4
What: Prawn brochette
Another spot where you can spot the special because it's what everyone is ordering. Because of course prawns are improved with that amazing topping. The Marijuli (padron pepper, salmon and anchovy) is also recommended.
Where: Bar Narrika
Narrika might be better known for its huge Autonomo Sandwich - which you can see in all its glory here - but we did love this calamari pintxos. It looks very simple, but that calamari was perfectly cooked.
Where: Bergara Bar
What: Txalupa - mushrooms, langoustines, cheese gratin
Cheesy, prawny, mushroomy gratin on bread. What's not to like?
What: Salt Cod
Where: Gerald's Bar, Iparragirre Kalea, 13
While most of the tapas places are in the old town, it really is worth making the trip across the river to check out some of the places away from the main drag. The main menu at Gerald's Bar looked great if you wanted to sit down, and we adored these salt cod bites (and they do excellent devilled eggs too).
Where: Bar Sport, Fermin Calbeton, 10
What: Mushroom crepe
We gradually worked our way through the crowd to the front of the bar to grab one of these - a crepe stuffed with mushrooms. The foie comes recommended here as well.
Where: Cuchara de San Telmo
This was one of the constantly recommended spots, we discovered. There are two things to look out for on the menu - the amazing canelloni and the suckling pig - available in large and pintxos size depending on how greedy you're feeling. It's usually very busy in the evening but head along for lunch if you fancy something a little more sedate.
Where: Meson Martin, Calle María Guerrero, 26
What: Montadito de foie
You'll see that foie gras is a very big thing in the bars of San Sebastian and we know it's not for everyone. But this is one of the most recommended places for foie in the city - and also try the excellent trainera here (prawns on bread).
Where: Atari, 18 Calle Mayor
What: Salt cod pintxos
We also loved the foie dish here, and highly recommended are the tuna pintxos as are the gilda (anchovies). There's lots of outside space here, and there are some very handy steps across the street to perch and people watch.
Where: A Fuego Negro, 31 de Agosto Kalea
What: Bacon "coffee" and sweetbreads
This was actually our first stop in San Sebastian, where we were still getting our bearings on the ordering. But useful hints about the menu can be taken from the illustrations on the wall. Lots were heading for the wagyu sliders here, but the bacon "coffee" with sweetbreads for dipping in it was a true winner for us - one of the best dishes of the trip.
Where: Matalauva, Luises Obreros Plaza, 1
What: Carpaccio of Iberian presa with rocket and parmesan
Across the river again, this tiny bar was recommended by our hotel chef, Martin, as somewhere locals would prefer to go. The menu is tiny and there's plenty of interesting wines to try here too. We perched up at one three stools at the bar, but there's a decent amount of tables and chairs outside.
Where: La Cepa, 31 de Agosto Kalea
What: Leche Frita
Right next door to La Vina. Yes, this translates as "fried milk" but doesn't fried custard sound WAY better? Get one each, you won't want to share.
And even more...
We DID try but we couldn't make it to every restaurant - not least because a couple of key places were closed because they were on holiday. But of the places we missed - here are some more recommendations from Instagram and Twitter.
at Gandarias Jatetxea for a couple of cheeky solomillo. First one is only to inhale; second to enjoy. Just saying. 🤤🍖🤤🍖🤤🍖🤤🍖🤤🍖🤤🍖🤤🍖🤤🍖🤤 . . . . . #eatfamous #insiderfood #foodandwine #eatmunchies #eeeeeats #buzzfeast #forkyea #foodie #bestfoodworld #lovefood #feedfeed @thefeedfeed #lefooding @lefooding #delicious #epicurious #eattheworld #cheatday #cheatmeal #fravourites #eater #fwx #foodie #pintxos #eattheworld #steak #beef #meat #yum #sansebastiantourism #spain @sansebastiantourism @spain
Where: Gandarias Jatetxea, 31 de Agosto Kalea
Also try: Gama con Bacon
Another thanks to KS whose list really helped us plan our trip. We meant to get here - and looks like we missed out on this solomillo - essentially rare sirloin on bread.
Where: Bar Nestor
This was top of our list - but alas they were closed on our visit. Bar Nestor is probably best known for its steak and tomato salad - aka the only things on the menu. And they ARE impressive and you should have those too. But it's the Tortilla which is the real deal. They only make two a day and you have to get there early to get your name down on the list. We're assured it is very well worth it.
What: Ceps with egg yolk and foie.
Both the bar and restaurant here come very highly rated - Jose Pizarro himself ordered us to go but it was closed, darn it, when we went. If you're not up for mushrooms with foie then order the hake throats which are also a speciality.
Where: La Cueva, Trinitate Plaza
What: Mushrooms (and also try the kidneys)
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