From Bordeaux we travelled to San Sebastián (or Donostia as it is known locally) for three nights, two of which were booked with dinners at Mugaritz and Arzak (separate posts coming shortly). We were initially planning on going to Madrid, but I thought I’d see how easy it was to get a booking at these two restaurants and decide what to do from there. The booking process at each was pretty simple – fill in an online form and wait 24-48 hours for a response! No having to log on to a website at a certain time and hope it doesn’t crash as you’re competing against countless others for the same booking! Refreshing.
Although the weather wasn’t as warm as we’d hoped it would be, San Sebastián was lovely. Our experience was that there are two things to do in San Sebastián – eat or go to the beach. Given swimming was out of the question, we ate *ridiculous* amounts of food for three days. We stayed at Pension Aida and the staff were extremely lovely and helpful. It was conveniently located to many of the pintxos bars I’d saved into Google Maps.
We ate at Mugaritz on our first night, and at Arzak on our third. Pintxos from various bars made up the rest of the meals. In San Sebastián it’s typical to head out at about 8.30 for dinner, and pintxos crawl – a few here and a few there until you’ve had enough! At each place you’ll find the bar lined with pintxos – ask for a plate if you want to choose from those items, or ask for a menu if you want stuff that is made to order. As enticing as some of the food on the bar is, stick to ordering off the menu if you can; you’ve got no idea how long some of the food has been sitting there for.
Given how many pintxos we ate, and how many places we ate at, below is just a small selection, with a list of recommended places further down.
We ate things like sashimi of tuna with ginger, tomato and jam piparra (well, D did anyway) …
… freshly sliced chorizo (it came with some bread) …
… and crab with salmon and caviar.
Not to mention, we (I) drank a fair bit of the local cider, called sidra. Ask for a glass and watch as they pour it from a height to aerate it, and then pay about (on average) one euro for a glass. Not bad!
One of the ‘experimental’ pintxos bars we went to was A Fuego Negro where we stayed for more than just a few things because the food was pretty damn good, and different to what we’d already been eating. I guess you could say we had the equivalent of a three course meal. Special mention goes to the fried chicken – I don’t know what it was crumbed in, but it was deliciously crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside and came with a CD of tunes to take away with us! A CD you say – who listens to them anymore?!? It’s actually quite nice to put it on every now and again and be transported back to San Sebastián.
Dessert wasn’t really a thing at pintxos bars, much to my disappointment. They had a couple at A Feugo Negro and we tried both. I LOVED the concept and behind ‘A child crying’; shame the actual dessert was a bit meh.
Favourite pintxos bars (in no particular order):
- A Feugo Negro, Calle del Treinta y Uno de Agosto, 31
- Atari Gastroteka, Calle Mayor, 18
- Hidalgo 56, Paseo de Colón, 15
- Bar Casa Senra, Calle de San Francisco, 32
- Andra Mari, Zabaleta Kalea, 42
Pintxos bars on the list for next time:
- Ganbara, San Jeronimo Kalea, 19
- Bar Astelena, Calle Iñigo, 1
- La Cepa, 31 de Agosto Kalea, 7
- La Viña, Calle del Treinta y Uno de Agosto, 3
- La Cuchara de San Telmo, Calle del Treinta y Uno de Agosto, 28