Where to eat in San Sebastián: a city of pintxos and Michelin-starred restaurants
The Basque Country is synonymous with culture, tradition and good food and has long been recognised for its simple, tasty traditional recipes. In recent years, Basque gastronomy has incorporated new forms of preparation, aromas and combinations resulting from the region’s development and innovation in every sense.
But while it’s true that the three provinces offer a vast and exquisite range of possibilities, you can’t travel to the coast without stopping off at one of the renowned gastronomic capitals of the world: San Sebastián. Today, we accompany you in exploring the variety and harmonious mix of tradition and modernity that characterises this city’s gastronomy. Something to do with the fact that they celebrate their fiestas dressed as chefs, perhaps?
Where to eat cheaply in San Sebastián
We begin this route through San Sebastián (or Donostia) with the best options if you want to eat cheaply and enjoy a delicious menu sitting down.
The Ikaitz Restaurant is located in the centre of the city, in the heart of the Gros neighbourhood. A cosy space with a service highly valued by visitors, specialising in traditional Basque cuisine. They offer a menu of the day from Wednesday to Friday for € 22 and, should you be travelling in a group with friends or family, there are four different menus from which to choose. An unbeatable option for sampling local produce most creatively.
On the other side of the Urumea, on the La Concha beachfront, you’ll find one of the most emblematic restaurants in the city, the La Espiga bar. Frequented for its pintxo bar, it also offers “traditional” quality portions and dishes that don’t hurt your pocket.
And we mustn’t forget to mention a cider house menu in our recommendations for places to eat cheaply in San Sebastián. Throughout the year, the Intxaurrondo cider house, located in Alto de Miracruz, offers a traditional menu that typically consists of cod omelette, ribeye, fried cod and sausage accompanied by the legendary dessert based on cheese, quince and walnuts. All washed down with cider direct from their “kupelas” – a taste of tradition and authenticity.
Where to eat pintxos in San Sebastián
If the city of San Sebastián is famous for anything, it’s for pintxos. In recent years, chefs have varied the ways in which they prepare, present and cook these famous snacks, from preparing portions of potato omelette to offering authentic delicacies, thus turning them into one of the Basque region’s greatest tourist attractions.
On this route through the best-known bars in San Sebastián, you mustn’t miss a visit to the La Espiga bar (yes, we already mentioned it), on Calle San Marcial 48, in front of La Concha. A classic, and where some of the locals claim these little delicacies originated. In a menu packed with different options, the “chorrera” is the most requested pintxo: egg, cheese and ham in a wrap … try it and let us know what you think!
Continuing the walk to the Old Town, we make a mandatory stop in Ganbara, on Calle San Jerónimo, 19. A small traditional bar that will make it very difficult for you to choose between so many possibilities. Our recommendation: any elaboration with mushrooms or its famous crab tart.
We continue walking through the streets of the Old Town until we come to the Zeruko bar in Pescadería, 10. An overwhelming bar where you will recognise the mixture of tradition and new forms of expression and creativity. Their speciality is “la hoguera” or “the bonfire”, a hot clay pot on which they will serve you a portion of cod that you can cook to your liking – an unusual option that’s full of flavour.
Finally, the well-known Gandarias bar, an essential destination for the most refined palates. Among its wide selection of pintxos, the kidney skewer or salad stand out, although any option will be notable thanks to the high quality and treatment of the products.
Restaurants in the old part of San Sebastián
If by chance you find yourself visiting the Old Town of San Sebastián and it’s time to eat, take note of these two essentials.
The Nestor Bar is one of the most recommended, at 11, Calle Pescadería. As well as their pintxos, they offer a menu consisting of tomato salad, Gernika peppers, cutlets, cheeses, and Iberian products. The star dish? The potato omelette.
You’ll find another option at 18, Calle Mayor. As well as serving some of the best signature pintxos in San Sebastián, the Atari restaurant offers a menu full of quality local products. Desserts and sweet wines complete a selection that will surprise you with their incredible value for money.
Restaurants with a Michelin star
Donosti is also synonymous with quality. As well as in the pintxos bars, the evolution of Basque cuisine is also reflected in the most exclusive restaurants. In a country of high-level chefs, San Sebastián stands out as one of the cities in the world with the most Michelin stars per square metre, 18 to be exact. Among its 11 most awarded restaurants, we accompany you to discover the most highly regarded.
Chef Pedro Subijana is at the helm of the Akelarre restaurant, at the top of Mount Igueldo. Famous worldwide, a very thoughtful concept prevails in his cuisine, in which seasonal products are the main protagonists.
On the other side of the city, near the Intxaurrondo neighbourhood, Juan Mari Arzak is the fourth generation since 1897 to be in charge of the Arzak restaurant. A creative and avant-garde signature cuisine with which to experience the Basque essence through totally disruptive dishes.
Finally, we finished the route of the stars on the outskirts of San Sebastián together with Martín Berasategui. Its cuisine, defined as light, imaginative and fresh, has captivated the palate of countless diners. Among his creations, highlights are the famous “Trufa” with fermented mushrooms and collard greens or the hake kokotxas with pil-pil. Whatever your choice, you will discover the essence of this Basque cuisine.
After a gastronomic day in the city, the Libere hostel in San Sebastian Líbere is an ideal place to stay. A quality space where you can exchange experiences with other travellers. Located in the Antiguo neighbourhood, it’s located between the Ondarreta and La Concha beaches, an exceptional location to enjoy the area’s shops, pintxos and the best tourist attractions, including the Peine del Viento and the Miramar Palace. If you prefer, you can also enjoy the hostel’s facilities and entertainment services such as movies, board games or bike rental. You decide how to live the Líbere experience.