I’m asking everyone on our Basque tour this October to do some homework because on one evening, I’m going to let everyone loose in the Old Town of San Sebastian to do their own version of bar crawl aka tapas bar hopping or as it’s called in the Basque region, pintxos bar hopping.
For the record, pintxos are smaller versions of tapas and here’s how the bar crawl works, whether you’re in Logroño on Calle Laurel or in San Sebastian in the Old Quarter: a group of friends- try to keep it 4-6 so it’s a manageable number- start at one bar and they order a pintxo and a glass of wine. Each bar has its own pintxo speciality so check to see if there’s a chalkboard listing a specialty. Then one person in the group picks up the tab for that bar, and they all head to another and repeat the process. Someone else in the group picks up the tab for that bar. Continue the process until everyone is pooped. Usually everyone ends happy…and satiated!
So here’s the homework:
1) view the videos:
2) read up on the list of pintxos bars listed below. It’s by no means an exhaustive list but I culled what seems to be the names that keep reappearing on everyone’s list of top pintxos bars in San Sebastian. But remember: let’s not get too serious or ethereal; this is supposed to be FUN!
1. Goiz Argi
Calle de Fermín Calbetón 4
This is the place to go for seafood a la plancha. We had wonderful prawn skewers (brocheta de gambas), grilled squid (chipiron a la plancha), and pimientos di padron. They all pair great with Txakoli.
Calle Pescaderia 5
If the fish-shaped menu on the wall is any indication, this place is all anchovies, all the time. Try the Gilda, the first pintxos invented in San Sebastian and named for Rita Hayworth because again, she is tall and spicy. There is also the anchovy toast with blueberry jam. Have some sidra with the meal.
Calle Pescaderia 10 (right across from Txepetxa)
This is one of the modernist pintxos bars that incorporates some of the molecular gastronomy that the region is known for. ‘hoguera’ & costa de bogavante
4. Borda Berri
Fermin Calbeton 12
The #1 pintxos bar to try. Idiazabal and Hongos (sheep milk cheese and wild mushroom) Risotto is amazing. But glutards be warned: “risotto” in San Sebastian is made with orzo, not rice. The Veal Cheeks here are melt in your mouth amazing, as does the pulpo (octopus). Though less traditional in the north, they also served up a great Salmorejo — a creamy-style gazpacho.
Calle 31 de Agosto
Don’t miss the solomio . And do a little surf and turf by pairing it with the shrimp and chorizo brocheta. Pig nose/meat lovers. An amazing red wine here: Ribera del Duero (Krel).
Calle San Jeronimo 21
This is the place for seasonal specialties like the mushroom plate. It’s expensive, but worth it. You’ll never taste anything so pure and umami-laden. Tartlet of Txangurro(spidercrab).
7. La Viña
Calle Agosto, 31
Eating cheesecake in San Sebastian! But you’d be a fool to not grab a slice at La Vina. It’s very light and airy — a cross between a custard and a cheesecake. The tortilla ain’t half bad either if you want to return for lunch.
8. La Mejillonera
Calle del Puerto 15
This place is packed with locals. Don’t be shy and elbow your way to the counter. They offer every type of mussels and they are all delicious. Try the mejillones picantes, Patatas Bravas, and Calamares.
9. La Cuchara de San Telmo
Calle 31 de Agosto, 28
This place was on the New York Times list and also makes a mean veal cheek. The bacalao and bonito are also delicious. Like Borda Berri you can’t really go wrong with whatever is on the chalkboard. So get adventurous.
10. A Fuego Nero- new style pinxtos
11. Paco Bueno
12. Astari Gastroteka
13. Aloña Berri
UPDATE 11/04/2015: You can read all about our Basque food and wine tour in the articles below: