If you’re looking for a spot to have a drink and eat good, honest food, you’ve come to the right place.
San Sebastian has something for everyone, culinarily speaking. There are, of course, the Michelin-starred eateries that draw diners from all over the globe, as well as plenty of equally excellent restaurants that don’t have the coveted star. While we love treating ourselves to an indulgent meal at one of these places every once in a while, on a normal night out you can usually find us at one of the city’s hundreds of pintxos bars. The best, in our book, are the historic establishments teeming with character that have been around for generations. Sound good? We’ve narrowed it down to just a few of our favorite historical bars in San Sebastian—try to hit them all on your next pintxos crawl!
Love cheesecake? So do we. You’ll almost certainly find us at La Viña to get our fix. This San Sebastian classic has been home to the best cheesecake in the city, as well as a fixture on the local pintxos scene, since opening its doors in 1959. The Rivera family, who have owned the establishment ever since, takes great pride in every dish—prepared completely from scratch using only the finest ingredients—as well as in their first-rate customer service. Come for the famous cheesecake, stay for the nearly 60 years of history that will make you feel like part of the family.
Address: Calle 31 de Agosto, 3
Bar La Espiga
Bar La Espiga aims to be more than just your everyday pintxos bar. Founded in 1928 and run by the same family ever since, they carry their status as a local institution with great pride. Just around the corner from La Concha beach (as well as the iconic Hotel de Londres), it’s no wonder that their fresh seafood is the star of the show. However, everything on the menu is prepared lovingly from time-honored recipes beloved by generations of San Sebastian locals. Tuck into a home-cooked meal at one of the best historical bars in San Sebastian and you’ll understand what it means to live the good life.
Address: San Martzial Kalea, 48
In a city full of elegant, high-end cuisine, the old-fashioned, no-frills bars can truly be hidden gems. Bodega Donostiarra, a 90-year-old wine bar with a bit of a French bistro flair, constantly draws crowds across the Zurriola bridge from the Old Town and into Gros for good reason. Their jamón and other cured meats are second to none, and they create a respectable selection of unique homemade pintxos as well. Everything pairs beautifully with one of the many spectacular wines from their bodega, which highlights Spanish wines with a special focus on those from the north. With good food, good wine and so much character, it’s no wonder this place has been one of the best historical bars in San Sebastian since 1928.
Address: Peña y Goñi Kalea, 13
Bar La Cepa
With more than 70 years of history awaiting you behind its dark wooden doors, Bar La Cepa serves up some of the best traditional pintxos in the city. With jamón legs dangling from the ceiling and a long bar piled high with pintxos, it’s clear from the moment you arrive that traditional food made from simple ingredients takes center stage here. The rustic interior and simple food offerings are pleasantly reminiscent of a time gone by. The family-run place takes great pride in their status as one of the best historical bars in San Sebastian. It has managed to capture the hearts (and stomachs!) of even the most die-hard modern foodies.
Address: Calle 31 de Agosto, 9
We’ve heard it time and time again: “I don’t like anchovies!” Fair enough—the people saying that are usually strangers to the wonderful world of Spanish anchovies. If that quote sounds familiar, we challenge you to give the little guys a chance, preferably at Txepetxa. At this mythical local institution, anchovies take on new life in a variety of tasty pintxos made from recipes passed down through three generations. If you’re still not convinced, the bar’s awards and renown in the international press speak for themselves. All we’re saying is that you’ll never again claim to not like anchovies after trying them at one of the best historical bars in San Sebastian.
Address: Calle Pescadería, 5
Craving anchovies already? Join us at Txepetxa on our Ultimate Pintxos & Wine Tour! This exclusive foodie experience will take you into many of our favorite historical bars in San Sebastian. You’ll take a closer look at how food has shaped the history and culture of this Basque city. Come discover why we’re proud to call ourselves the unofficial foodie capital of Europe!
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.