San Sebastian is one of the key tourist destinations in the Basque area of North East Spain. Called Donostia in the Basque language, it sits on the Bay of Biscay just twelve miles from the French border.
The original Old Town is a compact area which was contained by city walls until 1863. After their demolition San Sebastian steadily expanded and continues to do so, with some parts having been built as recently as the year 2000. Probably the best way to explore its various districts, and also to get out into the surrounding area, is to hire a car in San Sebastian.
Every year San Sebastian hosts a major international film festival and it’s also joint European City of Culture for 2016, along with Wroclaw in Poland. But it’s perhaps most famous for its gastronomy which is based around classic Basque cuisine. This concentration of restaurants has been awarded with more Michelin stars per capita of population than any other city except Kyoto in Japan.
There’s a real profusion of restaurants serving “pintxos” – the Basque version of tapas – so many in fact that many keen gastronomes organise their own mini tours taking in as many different places as time allows. To save you the time of organising your own tour, we’ve picked five of the most distinctive pintxos you’ll find, along with a suggestion about a great place to taste each one, all of which are in the Old Town of San Sebastian.
Head for La Cuchara de San Telmo, where you can dine al fresco on a sunny terrace at one of the most popular and highly regarded pintxos restaurants in San Sebastian.
Foie with apple compote is one of the region’s specialities. A disc of rich paté is served on a bed of apple compote that cuts perfectly through the richness of the foie.
La Cepa has always been well-known for hams that are cured on the premises, and gavilla is a delicious kind of croquette containing cured ham, cheese and creamy béchamel sauce.
Beef is the most common kind of cattle in the Basque Country, and this means that some of Spain’s very best steak is produced there. For a tantalising taste of just how great first class steak can be, the restaurant Gandarias serves it simply with a thin strip of green pepper on a small piece of bread.
Ganbara is a near neighbour of Gandarias and offers a delicious range of seafood pintxos. A great example of this is the spider crab tartlet whose delicate flavours and flaky pastry make it the perfect canapé.
Seafood makes another appearance in this speciality from Tamboril, on Plaza de la Constitución. A small red pepper is stuffed with cod and fried in batter to create an exquisite bite-sized treat.
Of course these are just five suggestions from the many hundreds of mouth-watering treats that await you in San Sebastian. So have fun exploring all the many options on offer while we wish you “¡que aproveche!”.