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5 Gastro Essentials in San Sebastián

You would be hard put not to fall in love with San Sebastián and its people, its streets, its beaches. And, if you happen to be a foodie, there’s no way you could resist its charms. Their meticulous sourcing of local produce is tangible, they handle meat and fish like nobody else and they boast an irresistible culture of pintxos.

Being a city with good food and an amazing culinary array ingrained in its DNA, it’s always useful to have a list of favourites handy when embarking on an escape to the capital of Guipúzcoa. Here, then, is our top five:

The Best Pintxos… at Zazpi
That’s what we say, from experience, backed up by them twice having won the Guipúzcoa pintxos champions award. In the kitchen, young chef Paul Arrillaga shows his craftsmanship over the fires. Spirited and with a clear idea of what he wants, he turns out creative offerings without masking the quality product. Zazpi has the advantage of not being located in the much-trumpeted “Parte Vieja” (Old Town), while their tables and bar counter are filled each day with bites that will leave a smile on your face. Their latest award-winning pintxo is asparagus with egg yolk and asparagus heart. Other dishes that come highly recommended are the txipis (squid-ink calamari), vichyssoise with foie gras and caviar, stewed pig’s ear and glazed cheek of pork.

The Best Txuleta… at Casa Urola
A historic restaurant in San Sebastián’s Parte Vieja which never fails to please. Revamped traditional cuisine and top-notch product crafted by chef Pablo Loureiro Rodil, who pampers the seasonal fare and runs a grillroom which is unique in the city. Their awesome txuleta (pork chops) are rivalled by such great dishes as sauteed country beans, potato froth, codfish flakes and olive oil, tempered oyster in Iberian cheek of pork, cream of cauliflower, prawn soup and lemon zest oil, and hake fillet with cheek of hake and clams.

The Best Omelette… at Nestor
One at 1 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. – two omelettes a day for the lucky ones who sign on to Nestor’s “delivery list” (not reservation list), which opens an hour in advance. It is well worth the treasure hunt to be able to sink your teeth into an omelette like nothing you might have tried before. They have just enough onion, pepper and potato to allow the egg to jiggle and fall juicily onto the plate.

The Best Cheesecake… at La Viña
A classic – La Viña’s cheesecake, the “sweet pintxo” to mark the final flourish of a pintxo-hopping morning. We’ve tried it and can safely say it lives up to its reputation. Golden-brown on the outside, smooth and creamy on the inside; you really must taste it if you regard yourself as a genuine cheesecake lover. And, speaking of cheesecakes, be lenient on yourself and head some 10 kilometres out of San Sebastián to one of the leading restaurants in the area, Zuberoa, in Oiartzun – their cheesecake is simply divine!

The Best Cocktails… A Dry María Cristina
We wind up our tour of surefire San Sebastián offerings with the best drink in town. Bearing the seal of Javier de las Muelas and served up in an amazing setting, the cocktails at Dry are a true experience. Martinis, classic-style mixes and avant-garde creations await you in their legendary María Cristina. The perfect excuse to set foot in this historic hotel and swoon in the unique atmosphere.

Book your Vueling to San Sebastián and gear up to explore the gastro side of Guipúzcoa’s capital.

Text by Silvia Artaza of Gastronomistas.com

Photos by Silvia Artaza and establishments


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