Top foodie spots in San Sebastian
As the Michelin capital of the world San Sebastian is a spot that should be on every foodies list. But it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to eat and how to cram it all in.
So I’ve rounded up the best pintxo bars, as well as a guide of how to eat in San Sebastian. Once you get in the swing of it, it’s great fun!
First things first: the rule of pintxos is to bar hop and don’t stop! Have a few bites in each place before moving onto the next, that way you can tick off the long list of places you will inevitably have on your list.
The following few places were my absolute favs out of the many, many places we stopped in:
1. A Fuego Negro
A Fuego Negro has a Michelin plate for good cooking, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s a little different to all the other pintxo bars in San Sebastian, offering up very creative bites in a dimly lit, trendy interior, complete with DJ spinning the decks. There’s a small seated area at the back for customers wishing to try the great value €40 tasting menu, but you will need to book in advance. Instead I opted to arrive early, and grabbed a seat near the bar prior to the kitchen opening at 8pm. Just before 8pm, the bartender started yelling us over, our cue to order! Once the dishes are ready the tricky part begins – trying to understand and then remember the names of the dishes you have ordered! The food was simply amazing – the kobe mini burger is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
This place drew us in because of the constantly buzzing crowds, and I soon realized it’s a main stopping point on all the foodie tours of San Sebastian – and for good reason. A crammed display of cold pintxos greets you at the counter, and the rate they are being ordered there’s always fresh bites being topped up. But the best part is the huge blackboard with a long list of options to try (and helpfully written in Basque, Spanish, French and English), with most popular options at the top. If you are to eat one thing here, make it the Solomillo – a mini fillet steak pintxo topped with flaked salt. YUM.
3. Bodegon Alejandro
This Michelin recommended restaurant is a little hidden gem. Located in Old Town, with discreet signage, you could easily miss it rather than walking down the steps to a basement where the restaurant awaits you. Its beautifully and simply decorated with a very calm, relaxing atmosphere.
We ordered a la carte, as the tasting menu was (unsurprisingly for a town by the sea) predominantly fish, but this was definitely a winner for us. We got to enjoy the most interesting dishes from the tasting menu (slow baked eggs) but with a more meaty mains of hanger steak and long maturation Iberian pork, not to mention the creamiest mash potato I’ve ever had. With the amuse-bouche and tiny treats at the end of the meal, we enjoyed 5 courses in total and it really was exceptional.
A few tips to navigate the Pintxos scene!
Lastly, here’s a few tips to get the most of your time in the foodie capital, and to help navigate the slightly confusing pintxos scene:
Get involved! If you’re at a bustling bar, looking around unsure of what to do, chances are everyone will be getting served around you and the bartender won’t be slowing down for you! Speak up, get their attention and order away… If your English, this is bound to feel uncomfortable but you might need to be a little less polite than you normally are!
A little Spanish goes a long way. My Spanish isn’t too hot but I tried my best, and it was definitely appreciated. Note, that most menus are written in Basque, an entirely different language used in the region.
Order hot pintxos, this is where the really special stuff is. Pintxos on the counter can be great too (if replenished regularly) but the hot ones are made fresh to order, so in my opinion are tastier.
Keep moving! As I said before, the Spanish way is to stop for a drink and a bite before moving onto the next place. There’s so many places to eat, make the most of it and eat in more than one place at each meal time!
Busy is best. Goes without saying but anywhere that is heaving with people is bound to be good.
Enjoy San Sebastian and Bon Appetit!