Pintxos – Gastronomy in Miniature
Nothing encompasses Basque Culture more than its cuisine, the pintxo is the quintessential representation of the region’s best cuisine in miniature.
Ir de Potes: Bar Hopping in San Sebastian
No visit to the Basque Country is complete without sampling some of the local food culture, and pintxos are the perfect place to start.These small bites to eat are named after the toothpick generally used to “pinch” the food together. Placed on top of the bars or ordered from the daily menu, the small portions or plates are popular to share with friends over a drink. Locals will usually visit a selection of their favourite spots – hopping from bar to bar socializing, eating and enjoying good company. The ambiance of San Sebastian’s beautiful old town and scenic coastline enhance the experience, making this one of the best places in the world to enjoy great cuisine just like a local.
The pintxo itself is ever changing — influenced by trends, it constantly innovates and reinvents itself – every bar and restaurant has its own specialty from the classics like tortilla de patata (Spanish potato omelette) accompanied by a slice of crusty baguette, grilled mushrooms, or anchovies, olives, tuna and peppers on a toothpick; to more elaborate renditions of foie gras, grilled prawns or beef cheeks in red wine reduction. Imagination, creativity and quality ingredients create a diverse banquet of flavors and textures that await you. Many visitors are overwhelmed with the choices offered, where to begin, what to choose and when to finish. Explore the streets and soak in the experience.
Neighborhood of Gros
Next to the Zurriola beach and the Kursaal Convention Center is the Gros neighbourhood where you will find a selection of great bars. Classics to look for include, Bergara (General Arteche, 8), the best seller is the tartar de foie; Aloña Berri (Birminghan, 24), or Patio de Ramuntxo (Peña y Goñi, 10) which has great wines. For daring palates, el Garbola (Paseo de Colón, 11) uses exotic ingredients like shark, kangaroo and sea urchin, they also make great mojitos and caipirinhas; also check out, El Lagar (Zabaleta, 55), Zurriola Marítimo (Zurriola, 41) or Mil Catas (Zabaleta, 55), for the award winning pintxo Luma gorri con helado de ajo blanco y azafrán (Chicken with garlic and saffron ice cream).
The Old Quarter, called “lo viejo” by the locals is the holy grail of pintxos for both locals and tourists a-like. On the weekends this bustling area of cobble stone streets, bars and restaurants is a treasure trove of gastronomic delights. Don’t rush through it, take your time and let yourself enjoy the experience as you wind through the streets accompanied by a txakoli, sidra or caña (draft beer) at each pintxo stop. There is an endless selection of choices but a few favorites include “Tamboril” (Pescadería, 2) for the mushrooms, “Martínez” (31 de agosto, 13) for seafood pintxos, “A Fuego Negro” (31 de agosto, 31) for kobe beef sliders, ceviche with pomegranate or foie merendola. To die for brochettes can be found at “Goiz-Argi” (Fermín Calbetón, 4), anchovies with crab stuffing and the best place for anchovy lovers “Txepetxa” (Pescadería, 5), “Ganbara” (San Jerónimo, 21), seafood pintxos at “Bernardo Etxea” (Puerto, 7) or the tasty mini-sandwiches at “Txuleta” (31 de agosto, 40). Other worthwhile stops include award winning, “Café Bar SM”, located in the San Martin Market, “Casa Vergarda” (Nagusia, 21) and “Zeruko” (Pescadería, 10) where the cannelloni of sweet wine and mushroom foie gras with crisp Idaizabal cheese is a mouth watering choice.
Enjoy Shopping around San Sebastian.