A Taste of San Sebastían

by Eshé Brown

A guide of where and what to eat in San Sebastían, Spain

While many Brits head to the more popular Mediterranean coast of Spain or the Balearic Islands for sun, sea and sangria, there is a town nestled in the Basque region of the Northern coast that attracts those whose holidays have a different focus; food.

San Sebastían has always been top of my foodie bucket list, only Kyoto Japan has more Michelin starred restaurants per square mile, and for those of us with a more limited budget this region is the home of pintxos bars.

A local custom, now as popular with tourists as locals, pintxos are a kind of buffet experience with cold items laid out in a help yourself manner on the bar counter and hot items ordered. Like tapas, the idea is to graze on a variety of tantalising dishes, whilst consuming plenty of good local wine and catching up with friends. Pintxos are usually €2-€4 from the bar and €4-€6 from the kitchen and a glass of the house wine will set you back as little as €2.50.

As The 2016 European City of Culture, San Sebastían has a host of non-culinary delights to offer visitors, but to find out about them you’ll need to visit another site, as our five days in foodie heaven was all about the food. Occasionally we took a break from eating to lie on the beach where we used the time to talk about our last meal and plan the next.

Here are our ‘must visits’, ‘worth a trys’ and ‘ones to miss’:

1. Atari

Calle Mayor, 18, 20013 San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa, Spain

A traditional pintxos bar bustling with locals, playing great music with friendly and welcoming staff. Atari consistently served the best variety of pintxos and we returned several times.

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a MissAtari Gastroteka-San Sebastían Food Guide

2. Gandarias

31 de Agosto Kalea, 23, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

If you’re standing on the steps in front of Atari, to the left is another street with two more pintxos bars deserving a mention. The first is Gandarias, which also has a restaurant towards the back of the building. Here I highly recommended the kitchen tapas more so than the pintxos. The favourite here was the “vieiras” which means scallops in Spanish.

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a MissGandarias-San Sebastían Food Guide

3. Dakara

31 de Agosto Kalea, 27, Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Just metres from Gandarias and Atari, this hole in the wall spot can be easily missed. Make sure you don’t though, because if there’s one dish you must try in San Sebastían it’s the ‘Taco de Solomillo”. A fillet of veal steak topped with foie gras and a balsamic reduction. It melts in the mouth and sends a serious foodgasm to the tip of your tongue.

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a MissDakara-San Sebastían Food Guide

4. Bar Etxeberria

Iñigo Kalea, 8, 20003 Donstia – San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Gipuzkoa, Spain

A cosy locals-filled bar with kitsch décor and what feels like a limitless list of beers and ciders. The larger than life owner JuanJo feels like an uncle and his passion goes into everything he serves. Stop here for JuanJo’s signature drink – Vermouth as you’ve never had it before.

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a MissBar Etxeberria-San Sebastían Food Guide

5. Mirador de Ulia

Ulia Pasealekua, 193, 20013 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

1 of 16 Michelin starred restaurants in San Sebastían and a spot with unrivalled views. Service is second to none and the food a work of art. The main course of Duck with Glazed Apple, Almond Praline & Sunflower Seeds is my top recommendation along with the “Tocino de Cielo” dessert. Everything is edible, including the sweetie wrapping.

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a MissMirador de Ulia-San Sebastían Food Guide

6. Kokotxa

Calle del Campanario, 11, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain

Back to the “Parte Vieja” (old town) and nestled on a quiet street near the port is another Michelin starred wonder, worth parting with your euros for. Ideal for a long lunch as service takes its time, there’s the option to have either a tasting menu or pick from 1, 2 or 3 courses.  We ordered 2 main courses and 2 desserts, as well as a bottle of Cava and the bill came to €120. Considering a number of tastings came as standard, as well as our courses, and we left very full, this provided excellent value for money. Favourite dishes were the Venison Sirloin with Carrot and Parsley & Rye Sauce followed by the Baked Russet Apple Tar-Tin with White Chocolate Crumble and Moscatel (sweet wine).

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a MissKokotxa-San Sebastían Food Guide

7. Gogoko Goxuak

Andia Kalea, 11, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Recommended by our pension (guest house) owner is the café with no name… well actually, it does have a name, Gogoko Gouxuak – but surprisingly it’s nowhere to be found on the exterior, making it a difficult spot to find. Just head to the promenade of La Concha and it’s close-by. We returned here several times for a filling breakfast of toast with jam on freshly baked breads, incredible cakes and pastries and a wide range of teas – including proper English Breakfast. There’s also a good WiFi connection here if you need to get online.

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a MissGogoko Goxuak-San Sebastían Food Guide

8. Casa Vergara

Calle Mayor, 21, 20003 San Sebastián, Spain

An impressive looking place again in “Parte de Vieja” but on flavour it didn’t match up to other pintxos we tried in the area.

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a MissCasa Vergara-San Sebastían Food Guide

9. Beti-Jai

Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 22, 20003 San Sebastián-Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain

A flashier looking spot, with pintxos a plenty laid out precisely on the hand-carved wooden bar top. The highlight here was not the pintxos but the stunning dessert of Parma Violet Ice Cream with Raspberries, Chocolate & Edible Pansies.

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a MissBeti Jai-San Sebastían Food Guide


10. La Perla Tereza

Paseo de La Concha, Edificio La Perla, 20007 Donostia – San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain

If by the end of your San Sebestían trip you’ve had your fill of pintxos and rich foods, (believe me, it’s possible), head to La Perla Tereza, right on La Concha beach, where there are simpler foods and what might be much-needed salads. The food from the bar isn’t anything to write home about – with the patatas bravas particularly disappointing, but the chicken caesar salad was fine if a little stingy on the promised bacon and chicken. What really makes this place special is the view of the stunning La Concha beach. There’s a restaurant next door too that’s meant to be better – but we didn’t get chance to try it.

RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss

La Perla-San Sebastían Food Guide

And the ones we didn’t get to…

On our first night, we bumped into a local couple from the region who introduced us to the incredible “Taco de Solomillio’ at Dakara. They kindly wrote down an extensive list of ‘must-visit’ restaurants and pintxos bars in San Sebastían. Due to our limited stomach stretching abilities we couldn’t make it to all these spots, but if you’re visiting, I would recommend trying any of them out, as everywhere we went on this list impressed us. FYI – Those with an astrix against them are the favourites the couple recommended to us:

‘Parte Vieja’ – the old town


Gros – a 15-minute walk from the centre


Michelin starred restaurants

Have you been to San Sebastían and do you have a favourite bar or restaurant? Or have you just recently been and used this food guide? Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below. Thanks, Eshé

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