Eating my way around San Sebastian has been a bucket list item for me for a while, so I was super excited when Katie, Kirsten and I managed to combine it with a trip to France we were doing. I don’t think you can really go wrong with anything you eat in this town; from pintxos bars to 3-star Michelin restaurants, there’s something for everyone.
Here I’m focusing on the many pintxos bars and what we ate. Situated in the old town, all of the bars are super close together, so it’s easy to jump from one to another. My top tip is just to order a couple of dishes to share at each one, that way you can fit more in!
This is a modern gastro pub, with an outdoor seating area in front of a lovely church, which is perfect for late afternoon food and drinks, whilst people watching. At Atari you will be served at your table and can order food from a menu. This is a good pintxos bar to start with because it has a mix of modern and traditional dishes. We chose an octopus burger and some chilli con carne, which we washed down with some sparkling wine. Because this bar is a little less traditional, the prices are also a bit steeper than many of the other bars.
Gandarias was one of my favourite pintxos bars because of the atmosphere, it has more of a local pub feel. Here, you order and pick your pintxos yourself from the bar. You can see everything laid out and can also ask the staff what each one is. We opted for bacalou with caramelised onion served on bread, a slice of jamon bocadillo and a fried pepper stuffed with crab. It was at Gandarias that we had our first taste of txakoli, which became a frequent drink choice of ours. Txakoli is a local, lightly sparkling wine that I found very easy to drink! Being a more traditional pintxos bar the prices were much cheaper, and I enjoyed the food a lot. There are not many seats here, so grab a drink and a few bites to eat, and huddle around one of the high tables to enjoy your chosen selection.
Another local pintxos bar, which I would recommend for lunch or a quick bite because it doesn’t have as warm and cosy of a feel as Gandarias, due to it being quite bright inside. Again, you can pick from the bar and there are indoor seats and tables, with more of a restaurant feel than a bar one. This time we tried gilda, which is a local delicacy of peppers, anchovies and olives, as well as a croquette and more txakoli! Bar Martinez had the most lovely staff and very affordable food and drinks!
A Fuego Negro
We spent a lot of time in this one! A Fuego Negro has a good local and modern mix, with a definite bar vibe and fantastic atmosphere. Here you order food at the bar from a menu and there are a mix of indoor seats (high stools or low tables) to choose from. For the quality of the food and the setting, I felt it was reasonably priced, even though it wasn’t the cheapest. We shared the mackobe burger, vegetable tempura and tomato mussels. The vegetable tempura is huge, so make sure you’re hungry, or there are lots of you! The mackobe burger has to be up there as one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It was so good, it was the only pintxos I ordered twice during our bar crawl. For this meaty meal, we chose red wine to drink and once again the staff were brilliant.
This is a local eatery, with more of a restaurant feel because of the table seating and bright ambience. You can pick your pintxos from the bar or order from their specials list. We ordered the grilled fois gras, which was one of my highlights because it completely melted in my mouth and was so salty and delicious. We also picked, sea urchin and jamon & cheese with caramelised onion on bread, from the bar.
La Vina is where you come when you’re ready for something sweet. Depending on the time of year you might want to visit for breakfast before the famous cheesecake sells out! You might not be in the mood for cheesecake for breakfast, but you’ll quickly come around after your first bite – it’s so soft and yummy! One slice won’t be enough, and the prices are reasonable enough to purchase a couple of slices.
I really enjoyed sitting in Txuleta during the day because it was filled with locals at lunch time and had a very nice, chilled out vibe. It feels like a local pub, with ordering taking place at the bar, and bar and table seating. Txuleta is the thing to have here, which is steak, and the tomato salad was also fantastic. The jamon tostas went down a treat with Katie, so much so we ordered a second! Again, the prices are pretty good here; depending on what version of txuleta you order, depends on how much you’ll pay.
Ganbara was one pintxos bar I was seriously excited to visit because I had seen it recommended by famous chef, David Chang. It’s clearly popular because it was really busy, but we managed to get a small table area outside, where we could pop our txakoli and pintxos on; there’s also standing room inside. Here you can see all the pintxos laid out on the bar and can choose from what you see or order specials from the bar. The battered white asparagus is a must try and we picked up a mini croissant too. The downstairs restaurant also gets rave reviews!
There’s only standing room in Tamboril, so it’s good to pop in to for a quick bite. It’s relatively cheap, with a local feel. We enjoyed prawn tempura and garlic mushrooms. Both were brilliant, but make sure you’re happy to be smelling of garlic for a while before indulging in this dish!
Txeptetxa didn’t have a huge offering when we visited, but there are plenty of anchovy variations to choose from. Anchovies topped with peppers was my personal favourite! We also tried some lentil fois gras here, which was also very tasty. There wasn’t a huge amount of atmosphere when we visited, but the food was good and perfect for a lunchtime stop, with a glass of txakoli.
La Cuchara San Telmo
This pintxos bar is known for being one of the first of its kind. It has more of a restaurant feel than some of the bars, but still with a local vibe. We found a table outside where we ordered food with our waiter. The prices are reasonable for the size of the dishes. This time we opted for an ox cheek dish, fois gras and a cheese platter. Idiazabal is a local sheep cheese, which is definitely worth sampling whilst in San Sebastian.
Our last stop of our 2-day tour was to grab a slice of tortilla. Txalupa is ideal for picking pintxos from a local bar and wolfing down some yummy food. The tortilla was super soft, with plenty of flavour and it was also really cheap!
Extra: Bar Nestor is where I wanted to visit for tomato salad and tortilla, but because of the season it was closed.