some really good advice here, i have been all over spain and by far, basque food is my fave...old town Donostia is best for pintxos crawling, omg....i dream about this food...my suggestion..hit as many as you can, look for the ones that are packed with locals...you just can't go wrong here..i'm jealous..you'll have a great time.. (hopefully you are renting a car...gotta take a drive thru the countryside and up to Biarritz :D
Just left San Sebastian. Wish I could say I tried all the places mentioned on this thread but didn't have enough time :(
Of the places I did check out, here are the ones that were standouts (listed with my own bastardizing description of the pintxos that i loved most)
Cucharra de San Telmo: black squid ink risotto!
Txepetxa: any of the antxoas!
La Cepa: rice-filled blood sausage! pork loin cordon bleu!
Tamboril: all their fried stuff!
Astelena: fancy cod with onion confit!
Bergara: risotto with sauteed foie!
Mil Catas: sauteed foie! grilled octopus in awesome sauce! baked goat cheese!
also, don't wanna be a hater but i thought mejillonera was gross. anyone else feel the same?
lastly, i hadn't yet seen a mention here about Mil Catas in Gros. it was the 2009 pintxo champ of GIPUZKOA and certainly has upheld its title well. if you're in town you must go!
La Cepa - liked the scrambled eggs with mushroom, jamon with melon, Gilda (we actually ended up here a lot since they're open daily and it was an easy fall back when San Telmo and Ganbara were closed)
Alona Berri - tasting menu but favorites were "delights of Ulia," baby squid in "sea balance," foie gras with red onion and green tea, steak, torrija (Spanish "french toast"). Overall felt it was a bit below expectations, though.
La Cuchara de San Telmo - foie with apple jelly, risotto (used orzo), "goat cheese stuffed vegetables" (more like warm round of cheese with carmelized top)
Ganbara - chistorra sausage in puff pastry, served hot right out of the oven, baby croissants with jamon (again, watch the oven and the man doing the slicing!)
El Patio de Ramuntxo - seared foie gras on toast, grilled razor clams, considerably more upscale/modern than other spots, seemed to have a large menu
Garbola - shark pintxo (was OK, definitely worth trying to say you've eaten shark), pistachio croquetta, interesting but I think Ramuntxo and Hidalgo were better
Hidalgo 56 - Blood sausage "volcano" with egg yolk and apple (amazing), also seemed to have a large & creative menu, sadly didn't get to try more items
Senra - large variety of croquettas, they have a very large menu, but we were unfortunately very full at this point
HIGHLY recommend heading over to Gros for one night. Not quite as scenic but far less crowded and lots of places doing creative things. We only did one night in Gros and were kicking ourselves for not walking over the bridge earlier.
I was just there 3 weeks ago...You cant miss: bar Txepetxa (best Anchovy pintxos), Gambara (fullon Pintxos bar). Also Cuchara de Sant Telmo is a must. If you want a bit more modern Pintxos, I also tried a FUEGO NEGRO which was ok...
You can read about it in my blog:
Enjoy you will love San Sebastian
Basic glossary for a pintxos crawl in the Basque Country:
How to pronounce "pintxo" (Basque tapa) = peen-cho
How to pronounce "zurito" (small glass of beer)= thu-ri-toh
How to pronounce "txikito" (small glass of wine)= chi-kee-toh
How to pronounce "la cuenta, por favor" (the bill, please) = lah kwen-tah pohr fah-bohr
How to pronounce "donde están los servicios, por favor? (where is the toilet room, please?) = dohn-deh ehs-tahn lohs sehr-bee-thiohs, pohr fah-bohr?
Pintxos in San Sebastian are not "authentic" Spanish tapas. They are just --unmissable-- "Basque pintxos". Tapas is a "generic name" in Spain. Many restaurants, in touristy areas, call "tapas" to menu dishes. Do not forget this: REAL TAPAS CONSIST OF FINGER FOOD TO EAT STANDING AT THE COUNTER. You'll find 'aperitivos' --small tapas for free on mid-day-- in some traditional bars of Madrid, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca... The biggest tapas for free are got in Eastern Andalusia: provinces of Jaén, Granada and Almería. Tapas are not very popular in Barcelona.
Remember this: "tapas restaurants" are often tourist traps.
I second Phil's website but find the following link works better and is in English:
But in order to order the recommended dish, you have to go back to the Spanish site to find the name in Spanish.
I would also add Astela on Constitution Square to the list.
Try this site, the route guide works in English, but the bar guide only works in Basque/Spanish (http://www.todopintxos.com/home/home.php). Also search the board, lots of ideas. Tapas are difficult to miss in SS, lots of choice from the traditional to the avant-garde - all are authentic.