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Our Picks For The Best Restaurants in San Sebastian Without A Michelin Star

This blog post was originally posted on July 19, 2017 and was updated on October 28, 2020. 

The best restaurants in San Sebastian have everything from Michelin-starred elegance to century-old rustic charm.

Given the huge number of Michelin-star restaurants in San Sebastian, you can’t beat this city when it comes to quality. But the amazing thing about San Sebastian is the fact that you don’t need to shell out hundreds of euros to have a meal you’ll remember forever.

Here in Europe’s unofficial foodie capital, you can eat just as well in the internationally renowned restaurants as you can in the quaint, local gems. That’s why we love this city!

With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of the best restaurants in San Sebastian without a Michelin star. From no-frills pintxos bars to more upscale sit-down spots, you can’t go wrong with any of the eateries on this list.

RELATED: Where to Eat in San Sebastian: A Foodie Guide

The best restaurants in San Sebastian without a Michelin star

Txepetxa

This small traditional pintxos bar found in the Old Town may look a little rough and ready, but it’s particularly famous for one thing: anchovies.

There’s a huge variety of fish pintxos on offer at Txepetxa, from anchovies with apple compote to anchovies with papaya, sea urchins or peppers. All the celebrated Basque and Catalan chefs from Juan Mari Arzak to Ferran Adrià have eaten here and loved it, so you already know it’s one of the best restaurants in San Sebastian.

Insider’s tip: Order a glass of traditional Basque cider or txakoli to wash down those anchovies.

Anchovies on bread with blueberry jam
One of Txepetxa’s most prized pintxos: anchovies with blueberry jam. Sounds strange, yes—but we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Restaurante Saltxipi

Saltxipi is housed in a picturesque villa lying just outside the Gros neighborhood on the edge of San Sebastian. One of the best restaurants in San Sebastian for fine dining, this place may not have a Michelin star yet—but trust us, it’s well on its way.

This place specializes in spider crabs, so make this your first choice, though you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Saltxipi is an unmissable stop for foodies in San Sebastian, and the kind of place where any meal is sure to be memorable.

Insider’s tip: If seating there is available, sit in the beautiful green garden—it’s so quiet and peaceful you won’t even feel like you’re in the city anymore.

La Viña

This old-school pintxos bar and restaurant is located in the Old Town neighborhood of San Sebastian and has won awards for several of its creations: the cone of anchovy and cream cheese, the scrambled egg with wild mushrooms and the crunchy prawns with vegetables. But there’s one bite in particular that brings foodies from across the world on pilgrimages to La Viña, and that is its signature burnt cheesecake.

A perfect reason to save room for dessert if there ever was one, the creamy, caramelized cheesecake at La Viña has won the hearts and tastebuds of foodies the world over. The brainchild of owner Santiago Rivera, who dreamed it up when experimenting with new desserts to add to the menu in the 1970s, it’s since made waves around the globe. But in our book, La Viña’s original recipe is still the best, and well worth waiting in line for.

Though mainly known as a pintxos bar, La Viña also serves larger meals in its small dining room. If you’re still not convinced, the restaurant is particularly well known for its spider crabs and rare beef steak as well.

READ MORE: Behind the Bite: The Iconic San Sebastian Cheesecake (+ Recipe)

Plates of burnt Basque cheesecake
The legendary burnt cheesecake at La Viña.

Restaurante Ni Neu

With a name translating loosely to “Me, Myself,” Ni Neu is located in the Gros neighborhood right next to the Zurriola bridge.

A sleek and modern fine dining restaurant, this place gives you a true gastronomic experience, using cutting-edge cooking techniques. Their stunning tasting menu offers a great selection of dishes, all of which are excellent. Highlights include roasted hake in green sauce, bonito fish with avocado cream, and roasted lamb with egg and garlic confit.

Bodega Donostiarra

Despite its modern look, Bodega Donostiarra has been a favorite on the San Sebastian pintxos circuit since 1928.

Stylish pintxo bites are lined up along the bar, but this place is also famous for its succulent individual tortillas (Spanish omelets). With varieties including the classic potato, chorizo, bonito fish, ham or Roquefort cheese, this is the place to be if you want to expand your tortilla palate.

If you’re looking for something different, also on the menu are various types of morcilla (blood sausage) and pickled octopus. With so much variety paired with a cozy traditional feel, Donostorria is certainly one of the best restaurants in San Sebastian.

When searching for the best restaurants in San Sebastian, Donostorria is a must for it's deliciously gooey Spanish omelet
The Spanish omelet at Bodega Donostorria is one of their many standout dishes!

Borda Berri

This pintxos bar in Old Town San Sebastian may look cute and unassuming, but the food is absolutely first class.

At Borda Berri, you’ll dine on plates including Idiazabal cheese risotto (one of the best rice dishes in the city), pig’s ear with romesco sauce, or grilled octopus with quince paste—just to name a few. Reasonably priced and extremely tasty, Borda Berri is deservedly among the best restaurants in San Sebastian—Michelin star or not!

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4 Responses

  1. Dadly we have just dined in restaurant Sebastian down by the harbour in San sebastian. The waiter very definitely told us the days special was sole & it was €26.00 for two people. There are 5 of us. We decided to have two specials a salad & a bottle of local red wine. We got bread & water also. The bill was 177.90 …we are horrified. The waiter says it was turbot we ordered. One of our travelling companions is a fluent spanish speaker.
    We had such a wonderful experience to dste this is a dreadful dissapointment. We will spread the word through out our facebook contacts and social media. Two of us are Californians.
    What a shameful thing to do to tourists in your city.

    1. So sorry to hear about your experience, Margaret! What restaurant were you at? We hope you don’t judge the restaurants of the whole city by this one bad apple!

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