The charming coastal town of San Sebastian is slowly gaining attention among food aficionados. Touted Spain’s culinary capital, San Sebastian is the place to be if one is looking to enjoy both the seaside setting and fine food helmed by talented chefs. Whether it's about its ubiquitous pintxo bars, Michelin-starred restaurants, or gourmet food shop, the food here is a serious thing. The city is known for claiming the highest number of Michelin stars per square meter compared to big cities like Paris and New York. Michelin star is one of the most reputed rating systems in the world, and we know it takes a lot of effort for a restaurant to get a Michelin star.
Thanks to its location at the Bay of Biscay, many restaurants here sourced their ingredients locally especially fresh fish, shellfish, and many other delicacies. Just like in Paris, people socializing over food is an integral part of the culture, and the same is with the locals in San Sebastian. Eating together with family and friends, especially at the pintxo (Basque-style tapas) bars is a way to bond together. And if one is planning to visit San Sebastian, then get ready to go on an ultimate culinary experience with us.
Typical Dishes To Try In San Sebastian
Baby Squid In Their Ink
Baby Squid in their ink is one of the most iconic dishes to try when visiting San Sebastian. This traditional dish is made with fresh squid, olive oil, onion, garlic, and tomatoes. The black texture of the dish is not only mysterious but also delicious. But those who are not keen on trying this unique dish can instead opt for Txipirón plancha which is grilled baby squid flavored with parsley, garlic sauce, and balsamic vinegar.
Yearning to tuck into some of the best anchovies in San Sebastian, then head to the pintxo bars and relish a plat of this delicious seafood which has been cured in salt for six to eight months before being packed in oil or pickled in the local vinegar. Most of the time these anchovies are held together on a small skewer with other ingredients such as the local pickled peppers, and green olives. The dish can be paired with the local sparkling white wine (txakoli).
Talo Con Chistorra
Another local dish to try is the Talo Con Christorra at the markets or in any pintxo bar. Talo is a soft corn tortilla identical to that found in Mexico, but with a Basque twist. The tortilla is usually accompanied by the local sausage which is called chistorra. The dish is especially eaten during St Thomas Day ( día de Santo Tomás), which happens during the Christmas holiday season in the Basque Country.
One of the traditional pastries to try in San Sebastian is undoubtedly the Pastel Vasco which is also known as Gâteau Basque in the northern Basque region of France. The pastry is created with layers of a wheat flour-based cake, which is a butter-sugar dough, and it is filled with vanilla pastry cream. The pastry harks back to the 18th century in the town of Cambo-Les- Bains.
Pintxo Bars In San Sebastian
One cannot travel to San Sebastian without trying the scrumptious pintxos, which are Basque-style tapas created with small pieces of bread and are accompanied by lip-smacking ingredients such as anchovies, cheese, prawns, Spanish ham, or even mushrooms. Simply hop to the pintxo bars one after another before lunch or dinner, and relish the popular tapas with a glass of wine.
- Cost: There are different varieties of pintxos. They normally cost between one and three Euros.
Michelin-Starred Restaurants In San Sebastian
Akelarre San Sebastian
This Three-Michelin starred restaurant is perched on the hill of Monte Iguedo offering a sweeping view of the valleys and the azure Cantabrian Sea. The restaurant is helmed by the talented chef Pedro Subijana who has years of experience in creating delicious dishes with fresh ingredients. The property also has a hotel, a spa, and a new bar with large terraces. This place is suitable for a romantic dining experience. Our recommended dish is the sautéed fresh foie gras with “salt flakes and grain pepper”, which can be paired with a glass of wine.
- Address: Padre Orkolaga Ibilbidea, 56, 20008 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
- Opening Hours: 1:00 p.m - 2:30 p.m; 8:30 p.m - 9:30 p.m
- Cost: Starting from $250 per person
Arzak is another three-starred restaurant worth visiting. Helmed by Juan Marin Arzak, the restaurant was first orchestrated by the grandparents of the chef, who offered stews and traditional Basque food. Then in 1966, it was the turn of Juan Mari to take over the family business and transformed it into a gourmet restaurant. The restaurant got its third Michelin star in 1989 and still retains it.
- Address: Avenida Alcalde José Elosegi 273, Donostia / San Sebastián, 20015, Spain
- Opening Hours: 1:15 p.m - 3:15 p.m ; 8:45 p.m - 11:00 p.m
- Cost: As from $265 per person