For this visit to San Sebastian in early December, we concentrated on pintxos rather than sit down meals. We started our pintxo tour in the Parte Viejo (old town). We always prefer hot pintxos as they are made to order. There is not a problem with the pintxos on the bar but you may eat too much bread!
We tend to have no more than two pintxos and a glass of wine or beer per bar, so as, not to be too full, to early. The best time to go to the pintxo bars is 8.30 pm - 10.30 pm.
We stayed in the Hotel Niza, set opposite Playa de La Concha.
which has wonderful views from the bedroom balcony.
We then strolled along the promanade and made our way to the old town
Our first stop is always,
BAR PACO BUENO
Calle Mayor, 6, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián
This old school, social club-style bar, is big on boxing and rugby. Run by owner Paco Bueno (who was a boxer) and his sons. The speciality is deep fried-gambas (wait for them to come up hot)
31 de Agosto Kalea, 23, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián
More excellent old-style pintxos are served in this always buzzing bar. We had the house special, solomillo and pimientos. There is also a restaurant where the must-have is, vaca vieja txuleton (old cow rib-eye steak). You must try the house red, the excellent Marques Vitoria (€1.70 a glass).
LA CUCHARA DE SAN TELMO
31 de Agosto Kalea 28, 20003 Corr de San Telmo, Donostia-San Sebastián
This bar is in a side alleyway off of Calle de 31 Augusto. Where you will not see any cold pintxos set out on the bar, all the pintxos here are hot (made to order) and you order from the blackboard menu behind the bar. We had the foie, salteado compota manzana (foie gras sauteed with apple sauce)
and cochinillo (suckling pig, which is not always advertised, so you may have to ask for it).
San Jerónimo Kalea 19, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián
Famous for its seasonal specialities, like, the barra setas plancha (mushroom plate with egg yolk). It's expensive but worth it. You'll never taste anything so pure and umami-laden.
Arrandegi Kalea 5, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián
When you walk into this traditional bar and see all the retro, ceramic anchovy pintxos, displayed on the bar, you may have second thoughts. Don‘t. All the anchovy/boquerone pintxos here are made to order. You pick from the variety of toppings shown on the fish-shaped menu boards at the back of the bar.
We had our favourite. crema de centollo (anchovy toast with cream of spider crab)
but others, like foie y compota manzana (anchovy toast with foie gras and apple puree) and the famous La Gilda are also excellent. Always drink Txakoli with these pintxos.
Arrandegi Kalea 11, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián
This bar is famous for its single tortilla of 16 servings and you must book in advance. Also delicious, is the tomato salad and its legendary txuleta (old cow T-Bone steak). Being on a pintxo tour, the txuleta, would have been too much, so we only had the tomatoes and peppers and a glass of red wine.
Fermín Calbetón Kalea 10, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián
True to its name, this bar is particularly popular during sporting events but it offers some beautifully assembled pintxos throughout the week. Popular with the locals and with its rustic interior, Bar Sport represents a traditional Basque eating experience, brought to perfection by its delicious wines and sangria. We had the hot pintxos of foie
Bar Sport is open a little later than most bars.
Fermín Calbetón Kalea 12, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián
Here, we had the kebabs (yes, it says kebab but it's actually going to be one of the best ribs you have ever had)
and risotto, glutards be warned, risotto in San Sebastián is made with orzo (pasta) and not rice.
The days’ specials are quickly wiped off the menu board.
BAR LA VIÑA
31 de Agosto Kalea, 3, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián
For dessert, we always arrive here. it is said, they serve the best tarta de queso (cheesecake) in the world here. It is slightly different from other cheesecakes, as it's fluffy and lighter. It is creamy but not too heavy. They sell a lot of them and you should definitely try it (you get two slices in one portion).
The other pintxos are tasty, but it’s the cheesecake we always come for.
SIRIMIRI ATARI GASTROTEKA
Calle Mayor 18, 20013 Donostia-San Sebastián
We finished the evening at this buzzy and lively bar. Good food but we were only here for the cocktails and GnT’s.
The next day, we tried a few pintxos in the newer part of town.
Easo Kalea, 9, 20006 Donostia-San Sebastián
A tiny bar that does one thing excellently, patatas al ajillo (garlic potatoes) The best in town.
San Martzial Kalea 7, 2005 Donostia-San Sebastián
In a town of excellent pintxo bars, the food was especially good and great value. We started off with a cana,
we then had txuleta pintxo
and arroz temporada with truffles
carrillera (pork cheeks)
and ravioli. The staff were really friendly and helpful.
Bergara Kalea 3, 20005 Donostia-San Sebastián
The hongos del pais con yema de huevo y foie (porcini mushrooms with egg & foie gras) is worth going for, alone. Athough we've had similar dishes elsewhere, we went traditional with the txistorra
with a glass of verdejo. It's a couple of blocks from the old town, but well worth the trip.
We then crossed the river to the Gros area and playa de Zurrioa.
To an old favourite
BAR RESTAURANTE HIDALGO 56
Paseo colón, 15, 20002 Donostia-San Sebastián
To have the incredible volcán de morcilla (a cone of blood sausage with an egg yolk perched on top, studded with raisins and accompanied by a swipe of apple compote) that you will find here.
We also had, an excellent salmon tartar and a wonderful torrijas (a type of Basque bread pudding).
Quite a few pintxo bars close for summer holidays, around the last week in June and the first week in July also on Sundays/Mondays. They are also very busy, if there is a festival (ie film, jazz etc) in town, so take that into consideration when booking.
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