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Mar 28, 2010 05:17 PM

San Sebastian

I will be spending a few days in San Sebastian this May. Could anyone make suggestions as to restaurants/ tapas bars that I should not miss?

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  1. Ther is a lot of information already on this board. Just do a search for "San Sebastian". Then come back with more specific questions, and ALWAYS specify your budget.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rrems

      To be honest, I don't have many parameters so I will search the board. I am travelling with a friend and we are open to many different experiences. Budget is not an issue on this trip.

      1. re: chefmama2

        Since budget is not an issue, I would try to squeeze as many of the top restaurants as possible. SS is the place to do it. There are lots of good restaurants in Barcelona, but not like in SS. If you like cutting-edge cuisine, Akelare is not to be missed. For tapas, just walk around the old town and peek into the popular spots and see what looks appetizing.

    2. I like "Tamboril" (Pescaderia 2) for xampi (champignon) and pimiento relleno de carne o bacalao (red pepper stuffed with mince or codfish); "Txapetxe" (Pescaderia 5) is a mecca for anchovies; "Goiz Argi" (Fermin Calbeton 4) specializes in brocheta de gambas (shrimp brochette).

      A useful guide:

      1. My fave pintxos bar:
        - Astelena on corner of Plaza Constitución
        - Cuchara De San Telmo, 31 de Agosto
        both in the old town

        8 Replies
        1. re: Parigi

          Thanks, these sound great. I think we will keep things on the more simple side because afterwards we head to Barcelona and I might try some "serious" dining experiences.

          1. re: chefmama2

            "afterwards we head to Barcelona and I might try some "serious" dining experiences"

            As much as I love the pintxos bars that I had recommended in San Sé, hands down I consider the more serious eating town of the two to be San Sé and not Barcelona.

            1. re: Parigi

              I agree entirely.
              The serious dining is in and around San Sebastian.
              To be fair, the original question also 'mentioned' restaurants. I'd start with Akelare.

              1. re: Parigi

                I agree with Parigi SS is a serious food capital with lots of top class restaurants, three 3* Michelin places, and a few 1* (unfortunately Mugaritz is closed due to a fire so no 2*), on a per capita basis it probably has more world class restaurants than anywhere else in the world. Best bet is to pick on top class SS restaurant and compare and contrast to Barcelona: modern Catalan vs. modern Basque cuisine. Top notch modern Basque food is probably as influential for other chefs around the world as modern catalan food (including Adria) so it really shouldn't be missed.

                I also think the Tapas are better in SS, they are definitely in a more concentrated area, and whilst there are lots of tourists they don't overwhelm the bars. There are over 80 bars I think in both the old and new town so lots of choice. Here is a link to a site with some maps and suggested tours, it has bar reviews but that part of the site seems broken:

                1. re: PhilD

                  "Here is a link to a site with some maps and suggested tours, it has bar reviews but that part of the site seems broken:"

                  Muchas gracias, Phil. We spent last weekend staying just on the other side of the border, in Ciboure, and we took the train to spend an afternoon in San Sé. We followed the pintxo crawl map for the old town and had a blast. It was big rugby day Biarritz-Wales. The Biarritz fans adopted us - we were the only, I repeat only, persons on the train down from St Jean de Luz not dressed in red and white. They totally indoctrinated us and just about tattooed us: "Biarritz Kicks Ass".
                  First I wondered if all those seniors dressed in white with red scarves were going to a Troisième Age San Fermin !
                  You have to love those not-so-young aficionados, hopping on and off trains, running to the old town for their poteo run before going to the stadium. They told us what to order in each bar. What stood out: pulpo with cabbage + foie + croquetas with beef cheek in San Telmo, chipis and frog legs at Astelana, pimiento relleno in Tamboril, stuff I couldn't even name at Gambara, but where I made a lot of friends in the toilette.
                  (Saw about 6 Welsh fans. In which pintxos bars did THEY hang out, I wonder…)

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Sounds like a great day, and a great match. The Ospreys (the Welsh team) lost by only one point. Have you tried the bars in the new town? A bit less tourist orientated and some interesting specialisms.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      "Have you tried the bars in the new town?"

                      Toldya we were kidnapped to the Parte Vieja. Will try next time.

            2. re: Parigi

              ssssshhhhhhhhhhhhh! Don't tell everyone! ;-)

              Cuchara de San Telmo was one of my favorites, too. I went every night when I was in town. It's a little hard to find, but worth seeking out. 31 de Agosto is filled with tapas bars. The fun is in the hopping from place to place, tasting all the way.

            3. I will be in San Sebastian 20-23 June, 2010 and am looking for someone interested in taking a cooking class with Apparently it is cheaper per person with more people. Please let me know if anyone will be there at that time and would like to share the cost.

              1 Reply
              1. re: StevenB

                Hi StevenB!

                Did you manage to find a cooking class while in San Seb?

              2. I know chefmama2's question was a long time ago, but in case people search for San Sebastian pintxos places in the future, I do want to add my favorites. I spent many evenings at Astelana, partly because of the quality and variety of the food and partly because the atmosphere and location (on the main square) are great. It has been a year since I've been there, but items that I remember are the small portion of risotto, the foie gras ravioli (those two things are off the board, not on display), and the filled crepes (which are on display and are great, but heavy... you can have them the first time, but I didn't keep going back for those). I loved Goiz Argi on Fermin Calbeton. I highly recommend their brochettes de gambas, the balon de carne (amazing!!!), and the morcilla. At Zeruko on Pescaderia, ask for the bacalao that won the award. It's more like an amuse bouche at a high-end restaurant. There's another place a couple of doors from there that I liked quite a bit also, but I can't remember the name.