Travel Food | San Sebastian’s Culinary Delights

After a couple of days sporting white & red with all the drunk teenagers in Europe followed by a ridiculously early morning wake up call and three whole minutes of bull running hysteria, it was time for a change of scenery. Jen & I hopped the next bus to beachy San Sebastian on the Atlantic coast, hoping its culinary reputation would hold up better than Pamplona’s rep for authentic cultural festivities did.

Yummy tarts

San Sebastian is known as one of the best culinary destinations in Europe, if not in the world. Once we found a pension to sleep in (leaving that to the last minute during the Festival of San Fermin is a no-no), we set off to see if it was true. Meandering through the charming town, we came upon a bakery window full of treats. It already felt like heaven to me.

Chocolate dipped croissants

To my great delight, Basques are notorious food snobs.  Ingredients are always fresh, bought at the market that very morning and whipped up by an exacting chef that evening. The cheeses and hams are so varied and rich, you could be onboard paying more than 3 Euros a piece per pinxto. Here in Basque country, tapas are called pintxos. And they’ll change your life if you let them.

Pinxtos on display

San Sebastian is home to many Michelin starred restaurants, but I didn’t visit one. I was too busy gorging myself at the dozens of tapas joints in the Old City.

In San Sebastian pubs and bars, dozens of assorted pintxos are displayed on la barra. You’ll ask the bartender for a plate and load up on what you want. In some bars, the food is cooked to order and in others, they’ll serve up what you point out – but the method doesn’t matter. It’s all yummy!

Overwhelmed? Get one of each!

Pastries, tarts & custards

While having my little travel meltdown in San Sebastian (more about that later), I spent every night hopping from pub to pub with various friends, commiserating over delicious pintxos. I also discovered a very special drink at my favorite joint, a mix of lemonade and red wine. Sounds crazy, right? Trust me. The Basques know what they’re doing.


So dinner is taken care of every night with the availability of meticulously crafted, tasty pintxos, but what about breakfast? It’s churros y chocolate, baby. Jen & I found some of these perfectly deep fried delights at a shabby diner in Old Town. Dip them in melty chocolate and you can just cash in your chips. This is as good as food gets!

*I decided not to share names of the various restaurants, because honestly, you can’t go wrong. Just walk out the door of your pension and pop into the first place you see with pinxtos. You won’t be sorry!

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  • November 09, 2011

    Oh, that food all looks fabulous. Trying new and delicious local foods is one of my favorite things to do when I travel.

    • November 09, 2011

      Me too! One of the best parts of traveling =)

  • November 09, 2011

    I wish we made it up there now.. Definately next time!!! Those tarts are making me drool a little..

    • November 10, 2011

      SO yummy! Kinda missing Spain… and you guys!

  • November 10, 2011

    I think I ate with you there a few times!!

    • November 10, 2011

      There was one place I loved the most – the one with the lemonade sangria… but I can’t remember the name. Let’s go back in the spring!

  • November 10, 2011

    Oh Angie, you’ve made me hungry! 😛

  • November 10, 2011

    YUM! San Sebastian is the perfect rest or pause — whether you go after or before San Fermin!

    • November 12, 2011

      I definitely liked it better than Pamplona, if I’m honest. I can’t even remember what I ate during San Fermin… I was just trying to get out alive =)

  • November 11, 2011

    I want to eat EVERYTHING here.

  • November 12, 2011

    Now I’m hungry!!!!

  • November 13, 2011

    Oh that all looks so good! Yes please, one of each!

  • December 05, 2011

    Can’t decide, have one of everything – that’s our motto, too! 🙂 Love it, and yes, I am starving now, too!

  • March 21, 2012

    Nice ONE ANGIE!
    Very well put, I must say! I its great to see that FINALLY someone has the full experience with pintxos vs tapas! I have to love “Don Osti” (San Sebsatian) life style. BEautiful surroundings (extremely GREEN don’t you think?) . amazing food (a bit expensive, but if you work there , you can more or less afford it), surf & mountain!
    Are you thinking of going to Andalucia? Granada maybe,? you could get a taste of real FREE tapas with your bear. (A great option if you’re on a tight budget) Dont forget to visit the ALHAMBRA too, it’s a “take a picture per step” type of place.

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