Our Essential Guide to Pinchos in San Sebastian
The traditional “pintxos crawl,” moving from bar to bar: tasting, drinking and socializing is nowhere more prevalent as a way of life than in San Sebastian, where pintxos are ingrained in the city’s culinary history. These ´pintxos´consist of small bite size tapas, usually ‘spiked’ with a skewer or toothpick, often onto a piece of bread. As a result of the evolution of these wonderful creations by some of Spain´s top chefs, San Sebastian is currently the world’s most exciting culinary destination, and whats more, it holds more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else.
Being confronted with thousands of small delectable pintxos at your fingertips with your school Spanish feeling a little rusty can be somewhat daunting. One option to ensure you don´t miss out on some of San Sebastian´s finest pintxos is to be taken on a bespoke tour of the city´s top food and watering holes with one of our expert local guides. Each pintxos bar has a signature dish and there´s a high chance that it’s not on display- your guide can ask the bartender about any specialty pintxos, usually prepared to order and this will often end up being your most delicious option at the bar!
Here are some of our top tips for when you go!
1) Ask for a plate. Most pintxos bars are self service. Select your own tapas by hand and show the bartender your plate; you will be charged accordingly. Most top pintxos to cost between €1.00 and €3.00 each.
2) Order a drink. Traditionally, pintxos and txakoli (pronounced Chak-o-LEE) – a slightly sparkling Basque dry white wine – go hand in hand. When txakoli is poured, it’s a dramatic event. The bottle is held from a height, creating an impressive two foot stream into a tall glass. This helps to aerate the wine, creating more bubbles.
3) Don’t be put off by all the napkins on the floor, they’re supposed to be there. Drop your own napkin when you’re finished and hand your empty plate and glass to the bartender.
Here are some of our favourite places to experience the Basque pintxo at its best:
Bar Zeruko (C/Pescadería 10)- Forget the usual, classical stuff you would find in other bars in this area a stop off here guarantees some of the most creative, original ( and delicious) tapas in the city
La Cuchara de San Telmo(C/31 de Agosto 28) – be prepared to push your way to the front and don´t expect to find a seat but we can assure you the food is worth it- all cooked to order every time. We recommend the delicious fresh grilled specialties!
Bar Nestor (C/ Arrandegi Kalea 11) A great place to try some of the more traditional Basque pinchos such as tortilla, jamon iberico and tomato salad. Don´t leave without trying the “Chuleta” – the steak speciality. We promise you won´t have tried anything quite so delicious.
Borda Berri ( C/ Fermin Calbeton 12) Deserves its spot as one of the best rated pincho bars in the city as well as one of the cheapest. All food is hot and made to order from an extensive menu. Must trys include- octopus stuffed ravioli and pigs ear with Romesco.
Taking a bespoke pintxos tour through San Sebastian is one of those necessary, unforgettable, culinary experiences of a lifetime- it can be enjoyed independently or as part of a Gourmand Breaks Luxury Tour.