Pintxos Crawl in the Old Quarters of San Sebastian, Spain
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Ah, San Sebastian, a Spanish city with a unique, close-to-nature, and urbanized culture. Where the La Concha Bay is forever blue, and the streets are lively and bright… But aside from its picturesque sceneries, this city is also known for Pintxos Crawl to experience its gastronomic delights.
After appreciating the various tourist spots in the center of the old town of San Sebastian in the first part of our walking tour, we moved on to my favorite part of all tours: food crawl time! It was time for us to treat our palates with the delectable bites the city is known for—the Pintxos.
Pintxos are central to the local social life of San Sebastian. What makes this Basque-style canapé unique to the area is that it is skewered with a toothpick on a piece of bread, is eaten individually, and is best enjoyed with wine and a group of happy friends. Although they are served in nearly all food stalls and shops in San Sebastian, there are some bars that are specifically made for pintxos and hanging out.
Our tour guide, Eskerne, is a pintxo lover herself, and as a self-confessed foodie, she made sure to bring our group to the very finest pintxo bars that we never could have discovered by ourselves. She also did us the favor of ordering the best kind of drink that accompanied each type of pintxo from each bar, choosing from cider, Txakoli or Basque white wine, and red wine, among others.
So without further ado, here is the list of pintxo bars whose delightful, savory canapés we partook in during our pintxos crawling activity:
This pintxo bar is located 100 meters from the Bay of La Concha, so its menu, which featured a variety of fish dishes, was very fitting. We opted for the Shrimp Brochette which was simply divine. The blending of the flavors of chopped onions, red pepper, green pepper, and bacon are to die for. We also tried Octopus, which I recommend to anyone who isn’t a fan of octopus yet (prepare to be converted).
Alongside our seafood-y meals were flavorful green chilies with rock salt. Eskerne paired everything with Cider since she said that it usually goes well with seafood. She was right. What I was surprised about was that their typical cider from the region was very nice and refreshing.
Aside from dining, we met Bernardo, the owner of the bar. He was a friendly person and was genuinely passionate about his business.
Address: Portu Kalea, 7, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Phone: +34 943 42 20 55
Somewhere in Calle de San Jeronimo lies a 25-year old pintxo bar called Restaurante Ganbara, which has been making some of the finest pintxos in town. It has been making some of the finest, indeed, that it has grabbed the attention of the French-based Michelin Guide this year.
The restaurant had an old-fashioned façade but its interior was very fancy. It is one of the pricier pintxo bars that we went to, but everything they served us was absolutely delicious. We tried some of their Crab Tartlets and Fried White Asparagus with Mayonnaise.
The Tartlets had an amazing, pasty consistency which complemented the subtle flavor of the shredded crab. The Fried White Asparagus were perfectly crispy. To cap off all the amazing texture and flavors, Ezkerne ordered us a Txakoli, or the local variety of white wine known for its dry, sparkling, high acidity and low alcohol content.
Address: San Jeronimo Kalea, 19, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Phone: +34 943 42 25 75
We enjoyed the more traditional side of San Sebastian pintxos in Bar Martinez, a quaint, rustic place that had a really cozy atmosphere. Per the advice of our pintxos expert tour guide, we ordered Pimiento de Piquillo, Salmon with Anchovy and Onions, and Fried Artichoke with Ham.
I especially enjoyed my helping of Pimiento de Piquillo, which burst with the flavors of the sweetness of red pepper, the mild saltiness of tuna, and the tang of onion, gherkin, and mustard. The crisp of the toasted bread where these beautiful bits of food were skewered onto, and the aroma of olive oil with it, sent me to foodie heaven in a bite.
Address: Abuztuaren Hogei ta Hamaikako Kalea, 13, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Hours: 11AM–3:30PM, 7–11PM
Phone: +34 943 42 49 65
La Vina in Calle 31 de Agosto was our fourth stop, and we were already quite full so we just ordered desserts.
Aside from its traditional pintxos, La Vina is best known for its Tarta de Queso, or homemade cheesecake. I inevitably gave it a try, and… I was sent to foodie heaven yet again! It was one of the best cheesecakes I have ever gobbled up in my entire life. No exaggeration here. I mean it. It was light and fluffy and the caramelized edge made me forget my name. The only thing I regret is that I could not take in any more due to my satiety.
It was a shame that we were not able to try their pintxos, but we were able to try their heaven-sent cheesecake. It was the perfect place for ending our pintxos bar hopping.
Address: Calle Treinta Y Uno de Agosto, 3 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián, 20003, Spain
Phone: +34 943 42 74 95
And so, as we rested our very happy bellies, our pintxos crawl finally came to its end. We were only able to visit 4 bars and only ate pintxos in the first three, but trust me, it will more than you can handle. There are no set rules in pintxos crawling, but as a rule of thumb, you could visit at least four bars and try at least two pintxos and a drink. Certain drinks go well with certain kinds of pintxos but if you’re the stick-to-one kind of person then that is also fine.
Pintxos are served either cold or warm, and whichever you choose would be your preference. Most of the bars we visited displayed the cold pintxos on the bars, and those of us who wanted a hot pintxo called on the waiters. Pintxos are bite-sized and are oh-so-easy to eat, but don’t forget how many you have eaten because you only pay after eating.
While in San Sebastian, you can also enjoy pintxos crawling either by yourself or by having a culinary tour guide like what we did. I highly recommend Eskerne Falcon of Discover San Sebastian. She’s a fun companion and she’s ready to bring you to the best Pintxo Bars in the City. You can contact her via mobile +34 635 759 961, or via e-mail at [email protected]. You may also visit their official website www.discoversansebastian.com for more information.
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This Spain Street Photography and Food Tour was made possible by Spain Tourism Board, Turkish Airlines, Madrid Tourism, Visit Barcelona, La Rioja Tourism, Donostia San Sebastian Tourism and Convention Bureau and Turismo Bilbao.
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