Travel - Something for the weekend

You've probably heard a lot about San Sebastian and how any self-respecting food lover just has to make the trip there. But with so many restaurants and bars to try, how do you choose?  Here are our tips for the best of the best in San Sebastian, with a special shout-out here to Sabor's Nieves Barragan and food Instagrammer @ks_ate_here, both of who gave us amazing lists which helped to power the first of our three weekends here.

 

Gandarias

steak

Where: 31 de Agosto Kalea

What: Solmomillo (at the bar); Old aged T-Bone steak (in the restaurant)

One of the most popular pintxo places in town (Anthony Bourdain covered it in his show so it's always packed with Americans) the bar and restaurant here are both worth trying. At the bar what you're after is the solomillo - the best bit of steak on bread you're ever likely to try. Continue that meat theme through at the restaurant where the aged T-bone is amazing. But we also loved the scrambled eggs with garlic and shrimps dish too.

 

Bar Antonio

antoniobar

Where: Calle Bergara 3

What: Tortilla (but also the crayfish ravioli)

Looks like nothing from the outside, but the pintxos here are first class. You could do the whole queueing thing at Bar Nestor for tortilla, or just come here instead.

 

Borda Berri

bordaberri

Where: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 12

What: "Kebab” de Costilla de Credo and the Idiazabal risotto

Yes it says kebab, but it's actually going to be the best ribs you ever had. And if you're suffering from one too many beers the night before, then the risotto here, made with the local Idiazabal cheese, is the ultimate comfort food.

 

Ganbara

ganbara

Where: San Jeronimo Kalea, 19

What: The seasonal mushrooms with egg

One of the most Instagrammed dishes in San Sebastian, Ganbara's simple plate of cepes and other seasonal mushroom served with an egg yolk is worth braving the crush at the bar here for.

 

La Vina

cheesecake

Where: 31 de Agosto Kalea

What: Cheesecake

As you walk into La Vina, you'll see these straight-from-the-oven cheesecakes piled up on the bar. A single portion is easily enough for one, and it's pleasingly gooey on the inside too. 

 

Goiz-Argi

prawnsonbread

Where: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 4

What: Prawn brochette

Another spot where you can spot the special because it's what everyone is ordering. Because of course prawns are improved with that amazing topping. The Marijuli (padron pepper, salmon and anchovy) is also recommended. 

 

Bar Narrika

calamari

Where: Narrica Kalea, 16

What: Calamari

Narrika might be better known for its huge Autonomo Sandwich - which you can see in all its glory here - but we did love this calamari pintxo. It looks very simple, but that calamari was perfectly cooked. 

 

Bergara Bar

Bergere

Where: Calle del General Artetxe, 8

What: Txalupa - mushrooms, langoustines, cheese gratin

Cheesy, prawny, mushroomy gratin on bread. What's not to like?

 

Gerald's Bar

Salt Cod

What: Salt Cod

Where: Iparragirre Kalea, 13

While most of the tapas places are in the old town, it really is worth making the trip across the river to check out some of the places away from the main drag. The main menu at Gerald's Bar looked great if you wanted to sit down, and we adored these salt cod bites (and they do excellent devilled eggs too). 

 

Bar Sport

crepe

Where: Fermin Calbeton, 10

What: Mushroom crepe

We gradually worked our way through the crowd to the front of the bar to grab one of these - a crepe stuffed with mushrooms. The foie comes recommended here as well. 

 

Cuchara de San Telmo

canneloni santelmo

Where: Santa Korda Kalea, 4

What: Canneloni

This was one of the constantly recommended spots, we discovered. There are two things to look out for on the menu - the amazing canelloni and the suckling pig - available in large and pintxos size depending on how greedy you're feeling. It's usually very busy in the evening but head along for lunch if you fancy something a little more sedate. 

 

Meson Martin

foie

 Where: Calle María Guerrero, 26

 What: Montadito de foie

You'll see that foie gras is a very big thing in the bars of San Sebastian and we know it's not for everyone. But this is one of the most recommended places for foie in the city - and also try the excellent trainera here (prawns on bread).

 

Atari

ataricod

Where: 18 Calle Mayor

What: Salt cod pintxos

We also loved the foie dish here, and highly recommended are the tuna pintxos as are the gilda (anchovies). There's lots of outside space here, and there are some very handy steps across the street to perch and people watch.

 

A Fuego Negro

Bacon Coffee

Where: 31 de Agosto Kalea

What: Bacon "coffee" and sweetbreads

This was actually our first stop in San Sebastian, where we were still getting our bearings on the ordering. But useful hints about the menu can be taken from the illustrations on the wall. Lots were heading for the wagyu sliders here, but the bacon "coffee" with sweetbreads for dipping in it was a true winner for us - one of the best dishes of the trip.

 

Matalauva

charcuterie matalauva

Where: Luises Obreros Plaza, 1

What: Carpaccio of Iberian presa with rocket and parmesan

Across the river again, this tiny bar was recommended by our hotel chef, Martin, as somewhere locals would prefer to go. The menu is tiny and there's plenty of interesting wines to try here too. We perched up at one three stools at the bar, but there's a decent amount of tables and chairs outside.

 

La Cepa

La Cepa

Where: 31 de Agosto Kalea

What: Leche Frita 

Right next door to La Vina.  Yes, this translates as "fried milk" but doesn't fried custard sound WAY better? Get one each, you won't want to share. 

 

Arnoldo

arnoldo

Where: Garibai Kalea, 2

What: Pedro Ximénez and raisin ice-cream

A San Sebastian institution since 1935, the homemade ice-creams at this heladaria are super and they even deliver to the beach in summer.

 

Bar Nestor

nestortomatoes

What: Tortilla/ tomato salad 

On our first AND third visits, this was closed so be aware that they do head off on their hold from time to time. In theory, the main thing to get here is the tortilla. They only make two a day and you have to get there early to get your name down on the list. We're assured it is very well worth it, but we missed out on our visit. But if you miss the list too, it's still worth visiting for the very best tomato salad in the entire world. We'd go back there in a flash for that. The steak they serve is amazing too (the main menu is just tomatoes, padron peppers and steak), but absolutely do not miss out on those tomatoes.  

 

More on San Sebastian and Bilbao

Where to stay: Which hotels to book if you're heading to San Sebastian

Getting there: Best way to fly to San Sebastian and where to stay

Test Driving Azurmendi: Trying World's 50 Best restaurant Azurmendi in Bilbao

 

 

 

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