The Top 10 Pinxtos in San Sebastian Spain
I spent 18 days in Spain this past may. This meant lots of food and drink thus San Sebastián was a must. We did five days in the beautiful seaside town and ate as good as I ever have without stopping in at any of the Michelin spots. I got nothing against the Fat French Tireman and even had reservations for two places but we canceled them for the love of pinxtos. These are small bites that cost anywhere from 1-5 Euros and can come prepared and ready to eat or made to order. The idea is to eat a few from one spot while enjoying a drink or two and then moving on to the next place for more of the same. Spaniards know how to eat and the Basque region there takes their food as serious as anyone in Europe. The hot pinxtos tend to be better but you'll be hard pressed to taste a bad one. Unfortunately it would take months to upload and copy and paste all the pictures from the entire trip but I'll share important tidbits here and there. Feel free to check my complete San Sebastián report
with almost everything we ate and please enjoy this tip listage that I'm sharing here today. No doubt about it San Sebastian was the highlight as far as food goes of the four stops we made traveling thru Spain (Madrid, Seville, San Sebastián, Barcelona). So without further ado my top ten pinxtos I ate while in San Sebastián.
Donostia - (considered by many to be the best place to eat in the world)
________________________________________________________________________________10) Battered Prawns from Tamboril
In a word: Satisfying
Notes: I munched on these while we bar hopped during the Real Madrid vs Athletico Champions League Final. They're fried to order and come with three prawns inside the airy almost dessert like dough. They were the perfect snack paired with a beer and are one of the favorites of the locals and also
________________________________________________________________________________9) Arroz Del Dia from Atari
In a word: Comforting
Notes: This hopping spot by the church in Olde Towne was packed on each of our visits. They have pinxtos on the bar as well as hot ones made to order. You can also get half and full portion plates and they make a handful of different gin and tonics and have a nice patio with outdoor seating along one side. The rice of the day can be ordered as a pinxto or full serving and whichever one you choose it will really hit the spot. On this day they had a deep chicken broth with crisped up jamon and roasted cherry tomatoes on top. Due to the fact it was raining and only about 50 degrees out this really hit the spot.
________________________________________________________________________________8) Txangurro (Rock Crab) from Ganbara
In a word: Savory
Notes: On our first night in town we had a pinxtos tour of the Olde Towne area booked and this was one of a few stops from it with an item that made my list. Our tour guide Eli (pronounced Elly) was fantastic and brought us here for their signature pinxto which is basically a Basque version of a crab cake. We found ourselves stopping in for one, amongst hordes of other people, on more than one occasion. I'd encourage everyone visiting to take the tour with San Sebastian Food
as there's so many stops in town that they switch it up often and you eat and drink the price of the ticket while getting a locals scoop of what to order, not just at the places you visit but also the spots you pass. Not to mention the different people from around the globe you'll meet on the tour.
________________________________________________________________________________7) Stuffed Asparagus from Bar Iturrioz
In a word: Delectable
Notes: The specialty of the house at this bar located amongst the shopping center is this pinxto made with white asparagus wrapped in jamon and cheese thats then coated in batter and fried to order. I tried not to eat too many of the same things knowing I could always come back but I had three of these in one sitting and talked myself out of getting a fourth. It's been hard going back to normal stuff like onion rings.
________________________________________________________________________________6) Sirloin Steak (Solomillo) from Gandarias
In a word: Juicy
Notes: Another stop from the food tour where they did special things with beef and mushrooms. Nothing fancy here just sirloin steak grilled to a perfect rare that gets topped with a roasted pimento pepper and some chunky sea salt on top a piece of bread. You need to eat this one fast because the bread can only hold up to so much of the juice seeping out of the meat. There would be multiple stops for this.
________________________________________________________________________________5) La Hoguera (The Bonfire) at Zeruko
In a word: Fun
Notes: This gastronomic pinxto bar took my breath away. The selection process was insanely overwhelming. They had literally 100's of selections that extended from one end of the bar to the other. This is another example of why you need to get on the food tour and not only enjoy the selections they serve you but also ask them what else is good at each of the spots you visit. In the case of Bar Zeruko it's all good. However one must get is this magnificent setup called 'the Bonfire'. It comes served on a small casserole topped with a metallic grid. Below is a piece of charcoal with some rosemary atop it. You grill the piece of half smoked cod to your liking and put it on the bread that comes with a tasty creamy onion and parsley sauce. To finish you shoot the asparagus juice in the test tube. A delicious and also very engaging pinxto.
________________________________________________________________________________4) Prawn with Bacon Skewer at Goiz Argi
In a word: Addicting
Notes: Yet another one of the spots Eli and the San Sebastian Food
tour brought us too this was actually our first stop of the trip and ended up being our most visited bar by far. The prawn skewer with bacon topped with an amazing hot (in temp) salsa like concoction was literally lick your fingers good. We must of been in here for one or two on at least six occasions.
________________________________________________________________________________3) Duck Confit Ravioli from La Cuchara De San Telmo
In a word: Marvelous
Notes: Truth be told any of the things I ate at this place could of made this list but I chose to only include one pinxto from each spot. This was my favorite place to eat and I went thru most of the menu on my three visits. Check da ole blog
to see all of it but the major highlight was probably this duck confit ravioli that was just brilliant. Everything is made to order here and most of the pinxtos which come listed on a chalkboard are around $4/5 Euros. I thought it was a steal, hell the whole town is as far as these pinxto bars go. The ladies in the kitchen need a Michelin sign on their wall. I'll be back here on day one of my return to town.
________________________________________________________________________________2) Urola from Casa Urola
In a word: Refreshing
Notes: This place was a close second as far as my favorite places to eat goes. It doubles as a sit-down restaurant and we were tempted to go upstairs but the items on offer downstairs were just to damn good to pass up. They have a selection of ready to eat options as well as some hot ones and specials for the day on a chalkboard. I actually ordered this accidentally when thinking their scallop pinxto (Vieira) was the 'Urola' which is the first one listed. As good as the scallop in cream option is I was glad to be wrong. Described as "cuchara de salpicón de bogavante fresco" on the menu this was the best damn lobster salad you'll ever take a bite of.
________________________________________________________________________________1) Foie Gras ala Plancha from Bar Alex
In a word: Grand
Notes: Located the opposite way of the main shopping and bar hopping district (San Sebastian is pretty small) was this locally loved bar. All of these places were great but the service here was top notch and came with a laughing smile each time I returned for this plate. The foie gras ala plancha with a salsa de cebolla y naranja and pecans was something that made me want to stop in each morning before doing anything else after my first time trying it. If I could eat this everyday I'd die a young and happy man.
________________________________________________________________________________Bonus Tip: Daytip to Getaria
When doing some research on where to eat out I came across a little article about this fishing village where many people say the best seafood restaurants in the world reside at. San Sebastian is and was a fishing community at heart but there aren't a ton of seafood centric spots in town. With it's growth some fisherman have moved elsewhere along the coast. One of these spots is the pretty little town of Getaria. It's only about a 40 minute bus-ride from the heart of San Sebastian and the only reason it's over 20 minutes is because of all the stops in the other towns it makes on the way up. It's also got a couple different beaches open to the public and a big surfing community as well as a nice business strip in the center of town right where the bus drops you off at.
Beautiful Waterfront Community
When you start trekking down the street where all the action is taking place you notice that all the restaurants have charcoal grills with fish on them. There must be 10+ spots doing this and at first it looked as though our luck wasn't going to be good because most of the restaurants were telling us they were "Completo" aka booked.
Wonderful Smells from all overTaberna Politena
I managed to speak in broken Spanish to the bartender at this place pictured below which caught our eye due to the fact it was packed and the grillman was busy. I explained we wanted some pescado asado and we were sitting outside at the free for all tables. They were extra helpful and happy to have us in despite the fact lunch service would be ending and everyone would be clearing out within a half hour.
Locals Spot in Getaria
I started off with a couple pinxtos from the bar upon ordering our drinks. I asked for this fish sliver one I saw as well as their "especialidad de la casa" and was given one with a mushroom wrapped in jamon that was deep fried. Fantastic.
Pinxtos to Start
The friendly waitress who knew decent English helped us order by explaining if we got the menu of the day we'd save a few dollars. It was your choice of grilled fish along with an appetizer, we chose grilled prawns, and also a desert choice and even a glass of wine. Cheap as most things made in China this was also one of the best meals of the entire Spain trip. The gambas were so good we had to order more. We also had to have more bread to soak up all the juices they were releasing and I'll remember that piece of fish for a long time.
Whole Grilled Fish
Read more about this trip HERE