When going out for pintxos in San Sebastian, the sheer variety can be overwhelming!
Between the mouthwatering choices visible on the bar to the dozens of made-to-order options on the blackboard, how can you possibly decide? Going out for pintxos in San Sebastian is a true art form that locals have perfected. The number one rule, of course, is to not spend too much time at any one place. After all, each pintxos bar has their own specialty, so you shouldn’t fill up too much at one place or another! Here are our top picks for the best pintxos in San Sebastian and where to find them so you can be sure to have a fantastic pintxos crawl.
1. Mejillones tigres
San Sebastian’s prime coastal location gives it a long maritime history, and seafood is extremely prevalent in its fantastic cuisine. Some of our favorite pintxos in San Sebastian incorporate the region’s incredible seafood, such as mejillones tigres (“tiger mussels”). As you might guess from the name, what makes these mussels stand out is their spicy tomato-based sauce.
Try them at: La Mejillonera (Calle del Puerto, 15)
2. Carrillera de ternera
Eating pintxos in San Sebastian is all about trying new things! It might not have ever occurred to you to try carrillera de ternera (beef cheek), but we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The tender meat is cooked to perfection in red wine and practically melts in your mouth. It’s truly earned its reputation as one of the best pintxos in San Sebastian!
Try it at: La Cuchara de San Telmo (31 de Agosto Kalea, 28)
3. Risotto de idiazabal
Risotto is a classic, but we bet you’ve never had it like this before! First of all, in San Sebastian, it’s made with orzo pasta rather than rice. Second, you’ll often find it covered in a creamy idiazabal cheese sauce. This sheeps’ milk cheese, very typical of the Basque Country, has a buttery, smoky flavor that makes an exquisite sauce. Throw in some perfectly grilled mushrooms and you’ve got one of the best (vegetarian-friendly!) pintxos in San Sebastian.
Try it at: Borda Berri (Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 12)
The best pintxos in San Sebastian get right down to the root of Basque cuisine: simple ingredients put together in imaginative ways. The classic Gilda pintxo is exactly that. It’s nothing more than an olive, an anchovy and a spicy guindilla pepper skewered together, but the flavor combination is unbeatable. It’s one of the spiciest pintxos in San Sebastian, so be sure to have a glass of cider or txakoli on hand to wash it down!
Try it at: Anywhere! The Gilda is one of the oldest pintxos in the city and can be found at bars all across San Sebastian.
5. Mini burgers
We know what you’re thinking: “Why would I go all the way to San Sebastian to eat a hamburger?” However, one of the most popular pintxos in San Sebastian are little bite-sized burgers! Made with high-quality kobe beef and served on a colorful bun (it gets its red color from tomato!), you’ll want to order more than one!
Try them at: A Fuego Negro (31 de Agosto Kalea, 31)
6. Smoked bacalao
Bacalao, or salted cod, is a favorite all over Spain. However, San Sebastian takes this popular dish to a whole new level. One of the most unique pintxos in San Sebastian is smoked bacalao, brought to you on a mini grill and smoked over charcoal before your eyes! Everything about this dish is unforgettable, from the one-of-a-kind presentation to the outstanding flavor.
Try it at: Bar Zeruko (Arrandegi Kalea, 10)
Spain is home to some seriously incredible grilled meats, but no place does it quite like the Basque Country! Solomillo, or beef sirloin, expertly grilled to perfection, is one of the simplest yet most delicious tapas in San Sebastian.
Try it at: Gandarias (31 de Agosto Kalea, 23)
8. Brochetas de gambas
As you might have noticed, San Sebastian does some pretty spectacular seafood. One of the best examples of this is the classic brocheta de gambas (shrimp skewer). Freshly caught shrimp are seasoned to perfection with garlic and just a little bit of spice. Then, they’re speared onto skewers and ready to gobble down!
Try them at: Goiz Argi (Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 4)
Yes, anchovies are delicious! Here in San Sebastian, the best boquerones come from the nearby town of Getaria. Caught fresh from the Cantabrian Sea, cured in vinegar and served with rich roasted garlic, these are seriously incredible. If you weren’t an anchovy fan before, we promise you’ll become one after trying these fantastic pintxos in San Sebastian!
Try them at: La Espiga (San Martzial Kalea, 48)
Something sweet to round out our list of the best pintxos in San Sebastian! After a successful pintxos crawl, treat yourself to something sweet. The local version of cheesecake is soft, fluffy, and just sweet enough to be sinfully delicious without making you feel like you’ve got a cavity coming on. It’s the perfect pick-me-up to cap off your night!
Try it at: La Viña (31 de Agosto Kalea, 3)
Join us for the best pintxos in San Sebastian on our Ultimate Pintxos & Wine Tour! Throughout this fun-filled evening, you’ll eat your way across 6 of the best family-run pintxos bars in the historic center. In addition to devouring the best bites in town, you’ll learn just what makes San Sebastian the best foodie city in Europe! 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.