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pintxos report, san sebastian

First of, thanks everyone for their helpful posts! www.todopintxos.com is great for recommendations and maps. Note that google maps is in spanish, but most of the street signs are in basque. Also some of the recommended tapas are no longer offered.

In no particular order: (also I do not like foie, or seafood, so I know I missed out on some great places and some great dishes

)

Borda Berri
This was my favorite place. The owner branched from La Cuchara. The have absolutely amazing beef cheeks, the best out of all I tried (and I ordered it every time I saw it on a menu). Also their risotto (actually pasta, not rice) is really good. Goat cheese with a caramelized something and cherry sauce is amazing. Everything I've had here has been awesome. Also a good place to share plates with friends.

Zeruko
A very "molecular" place. The food is innovative, small, pretty. A lot of the dish is inedible and just for looks. Known for La Hoguera - salt cod that you smoke yourself. This is not the type of place you can share with friends, and a little pricey. Worth going to for molecular gastronomy, you can try a few things for under 20 euro - where else in the world can you do that?

Paco Bueno
Scampi - gambas (prawns / shrimp) deep fried almost tempura style. These are absolutely crispy, perfectly deep fried. They also do calamari. Really cheap.

A Fuego Negro
A more modern take on tapas, not molecular like Zeruko but I like this place a lot. I tried a caesar salad and the cheese was finely shaven and melted on my tongue almost like flakes of chocolate, I've never had anything like that. The makobe burger is a bite sized kobe burger. They serve dove but I thought it was a little well done. The ros bif wasn't very memorable. The risotto was very good. They have an english menu if you ask for it

La Mejillonera
Known for their patatas bravas. Good place to fill up on cheap beer and bravas before you go on to nicer places.

La Cuchara de San Telmo
Really great risotto, the beef cheeks were good. A friend that is living here didn't like the place, says he ordered a rib and it was full of fat Maybe this place is a little overrated, but still a classic.

Astelena
Also a favorite, also one of the few places open on sunday and monday. They do pretty decent beef cheeks, not as good as border berri. The solomillo a la plancha (mini steak) was really great. Grilled duck also great. Risotto was okay. Crepes are great. DO NOT ORDER morro, after tasting it (disgusting) I found out it was snout

Atari
Good for wines and ciders (ask the bartender to show you how to pour the cider if you order a bottle, it makes a huge difference) they have a nice steak to share.

Cider
I had a lot of fun at a cider house. At this time of the year, there aren't that many open. I previously thought cider from the bottle doesn't taste that good, but cider fresh from the tap is vastly different. It's a very fun experience, we were the only table of foreigners, the old men are obviously pros at catching the cider and will give you a few tips. The food is so-so (where we went, a set menu of salad, bacalao, steak, cheese with quince jam, and tejas and nuts) but a really good unique time. I came back almost sick from the amount of food and cider in me!

I miss it already!

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  1. Thanks for the report. I will be in San Se in September on a Monday/Tuesday. Am trying to figure out where to eat on Monday night. Do you know if any of these are open on Mondays?

    7 Replies
    1. re: farmersdaughter

      Monday must be the worst day for pintxo-tasting in San Se. I've been researching for months and trying to gather info for our upcoming visit. La Cuchara de San Telmo and A Fuego Negro are definitely closed on Mondays.

      La Cepa is open daily but it's not of the same calibre as the 2 above, so I'm told.

      If you are not particularly keen on the actual crawl, you could book a tasting menu on Tuesday at A Fuego Negro by sending an email to Jan (on their website). That way, you'll be sure to taste some of the best.

      http://www.afuegonegro.com/

      1. re: Aleta

        Thanks Aleta. You confirmed my fears. We'll just have to figure something out, not sure what yet since we can't alter the days we are in San Se. We're driving to San Se from Barcelona on Monday morning. Perhaps we'll stop somewhere along the way for a big lunch and then just nosh at La Cepa that evening. Definitely want to visit San Telmo and Fuego Negro, perhaps on Tuesday or Wednesday.

        1. re: farmersdaughter

          Why not just put a list of places together, head out and see what's open? It's not like the Parte Vieja is very large. You can easily walk from one end to the other in a few minutes. So go for a walk and see what looks good. That's what pintxo hopping is all about.

          1. re: farmersdaughter

            I agree with SnackHappy. Don't fetch too much. I've been to San Sebastian on a Monday night and there is enough places opened in Parte Vieja to satisfy most tastes.

            1. re: PBSF

              Does this apply to Sunday evenings as well? Or is that a better day than Monday?

              Edit: PBSF a belated thank you for your help with my reservation at Pierre Gagnaire at the end of last year. I did post a report afterwards but I'd created a new username to avoid my girlfriend finding out so perhaps people didn't link the two.

              1. re: ManInTransit

                Sunday, especially midday is quite lively in the Parte Vieja, and most places stay open at night. I found more places opened than Monday nights.
                I hope you enjoyed your meal at Pierre Gagnaire; he is enormously talented, generous and unique.

            2. re: farmersdaughter

              Amiebd has just returned and made some useful comments about Monday pintxo bars.
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/775182

        2. What is the price-per-pintxo like? Are these all open-bar style? I've only pintxo'd in Barcelona, were running around 1.50euro per pintxo last summer.

          6 Replies
          1. re: fame da lupo

            Similar pintxos (little skewers, bit size food on bread, pieces, etc) as those served in Barcelona are similar in price, maybe, a little cheaper. There are much more variety in San Sebastian, including more complicated items. Those will cost more.

            1. re: fame da lupo

              More expensive. For cold tapas on the bar, where you just grab one, around 1.5-2 euro. For hot tapas, around 3.5 euro but these are normally of a size to share

              1. re: dilemmalyn

                When do all the restaurants close for the season, if they even do? I'm planning to go towards end of September/ beginning of October of this year?

                1. re: singtown10

                  San Sé is a city that functions all year round. There is no closing of season. Individual restos make their own decision re when to take their vacation, which is not compliant to a uniform vacation period.

                  1. re: singtown10

                    Hello singtown10,
                    I'm not sure about the other restaurants, but i know that Akelare is definitely closed the first two weeks of October, I'll be in San Se during that time and really wanted to go there...
                    I do know though that Martin Berasategui, Mugaritz and Arzak are open, so is Etxebarri.

                    1. re: Luna2308

                      Muchos Gracias ! I will plan accordingly then as I really want to eat at Akelare.

              2. Do you recall the name of the cider house? I'm hoping to visit one on my trip to San Se in a few weeks. I realize it's out of season, but seems too fun to miss if there is are a few still open.

                Thanks!