As the unofficial yet undisputed foodie capital of Europe, it’s no surprise that San Sebastian is home to every kind of grocery store under the sun.
Yes, you could just pop into any chain supermarket and find whatever it is you need and then some. But where’s the fun in that? Throughout southern Europe, specialty grocery stores and market halls have formed the heart and soul of local communities for centuries, and things are no different here in San Sebastian. Skip the big box stores—this complete guide to grocery stores in San Sebastian will show you where to find everything you need, exactly where the locals buy it.
Without a doubt, much of San Sebastian’s strong gastronomic culture is shaped by its food markets. Think about it: many of the stalls have been proudly run by the same family for generations, selling the freshest, highest quality products available (which, more often than not, are locally sourced as well).
As a result, many San Sebastian residents have built a special relationship with their favorite vendors over the years, and the sense of community that food markets provide is undeniable. Even if you’re just visiting, chances are the vendors at your local food market will treat you like one of their faithful customers that’s been coming back time and time again for decades.
How to shop at food markets in San Sebastian
- Once you’ve found a stall that looks promising, take a numbered ticket and wait your turn. As you wait, keep an eye out for what local shoppers are ordering from that particular stall—it’s likely that vendor’s specialty.
- If your number is called and you’re still unsure what to buy, don’t be afraid to ask!
- Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables tend to be sold seasonally in Spain.
- Stick around after shopping to enjoy a quick bite or cup of coffee at one of the market bars—it’s the best part of the whole experience.
Top food markets in San Sebastian
- Mercado de la Bretxa: San Sebastian’s oldest and most traditional market. A favorite among everyone from adorable Spanish grandmas to chefs at one of the myriad Michelin restaurants in San Sebastian.
- Mercado de San Martín: A sleek, modern gourmet foodie paradise bursting with contemporary flair. Home to the ever-popular Gastropote taking place every Thursday nights, which combines live music, pintxos and wine at unbeatable prices.
Delis & gourmet grocery stores
The history and tradition of food shopping in San Sebastian doesn’t remain within the walls of a busy marketplace. Throughout the city, you’ll find plenty of equally fabulous gourmet shops and delis, which stock everything from colorful canned goods to nutty idiazabal cheese to the holy grail of Spanish food: acorn-fed Iberian ham.
Just like the market stalls, these places often boast a proud legacy that stretches back for generations. Many local delis often look the same as they did decades ago and offer plenty of old-school charm, while others have been updated with a fresher, more contemporary look.
How to shop at delis and gourmet grocery stores
- While some delis may use a numbered ticket system similar to that found at food markets, oftentimes you’ll just have to ask “Quién es el último?” to find out who’s the last person in line. Once that person has taken their turn, you’re up.
- Remember to order in kilos. If you’re from the US or another country that doesn’t use the metric system, a kilo is equal to about 2.2 pounds.
Top delis and gourmet grocery stores in San Sebastian
- Zapore Jai: Home to the finest hand-cut Iberian ham in the city, along with plenty of other gourmet goodies. Unsurprisingly, a favorite stop on our Ultimate Pintxos & Wine Tour.
- Aitor Lasa: Proudly run by a local husband and wife team, this lovely little shop specializes in local cheeses, mushrooms and other Basque delicacies.
Vegan grocery, organic grocery, & whole food stores
A generation ago, trying to find vegan or organic grocery stores in San Sebastian would have proven next to impossible. Luckily, things are changing, and these sustainably focused shops are springing up alongside the neighborhood classics that have been there for years. Whether you consciously follow a plant-based or organic diet or just want to pick up something that’s good for you and the environment, here’s where to find the products that suit your needs.
Top vegan, organic, & whole food grocery stores in San Sebastian
- Ekodenda Hodeiertz: As one of the oldest and most replete grocery stores in San Sebastian of its kind, this place stocks everything from fresh, organic food products to sustainably made clothes, cosmetics, home goods and more.
- Organic 49: A local reference for organic grocery shopping that boasts more than 200 square meters of sustainable products.
Ready to take a deep dive into San Sebastian’s foodie culture? Join us on our Ultimate Pintxos & Wine Tour, where you’ll learn how to eat like a local and enjoy every bite here in Europe’s top foodie city!
Yes, there are plenty of pintxos and wine, but you’ll also get to step into the gourmet shops and bars that aren’t on most tourists’ radar, learn the story behind every bite, and learn from an expert local guide who knows San Sebastian and its cuisine like the back of their hand. We hope you’re hungry!
Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.