Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City’s Best Pintxo Bars
Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Old Town Gems Near the Buen Pastor Cathedral
San Sebastián's old town is centered around the impressive Buen Pastor Cathedral, with its soaring spires and neo-Gothic architecture. This area is packed with top-notch pintxo bars serving up delicious bites. Staying at one of the charming hotels nearby lets you immerse yourself in the city's culinary scene.
One delightful option is the Pension Bellas Artes, housed in an early 20th-century townhouse just a 5-minute walk from the cathedral. Its cozy rooms feature antique furnishings, and there's a peaceful interior courtyard to relax in. Grab your map and take a pintxo crawl through the winding alleys surrounding the pension.
Hit up La Cuchara de San Telmo, a rustic tavern serving innovative twists on classics like seared foie gras with apple jelly. Or try La Viña for its famous cheesecake paired with a glass of Txakoli white wine. Don't miss Bar Ganbara either, renowned for bacalao dishes like salt cod croquettes and grilled bacalao skewers.
After snacking your way through the old town's bars, head back to the Pension Bellas Artes' lounge for a nightcap by the fireplace. This family-run spot has a relaxed, welcoming vibe. The owners are happy to offer tips on the city's hidden gems.
Alternatively, book a room at the contemporary Hotel Niza. It's situated right on the main Plaza de la Constitución, overlooked by the cathedral's imposing spires. Grab a window table at its sleek restaurant for awesome views of the square below.
From here, it's an easy walk to time-honored establishments like Bar La Cepa. Belly up to the bar for pintxos like grilled mushrooms on toast and smoked salmon pincho. Or sit out on the terrace with a glass of Rioja, taking in the old town's charm.
Don't miss Casa Gandarias either. This traditional cider house has been operating since 1868. Its wood-paneled dining room serves stellar nibbles like seared scallops wrapped in bacon and grilled octopus. An extensive cider list pairs perfectly with the rich, flavorful dishes.
With the cathedral's bells chiming in the background, Hotel Niza lets you soak up San Sebastián's old world ambience. Its central location means the city's top pintxo destinations are just steps away.
What else is in this post?
- Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Old Town Gems Near the Buen Pastor Cathedral
- Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Seafood and Txakoli Wine Pairings in Gros
- Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Pintxo Hopping Along Calle 31 de Agosto
- Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Best Bacalao Treats in Parte Vieja
- Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Top Cider Houses in the Antiguo Neighborhood
- Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Go Local at Plaza de la Constitución
- Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Late Night Nibbles Near La Zurriola Beach
Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Seafood and Txakoli Wine Pairings in Gros
Across the Urumea River from the old town lies the lively Gros neighborhood, known for its concentration of stellar seafood restaurants and pintxo bars. This area boasts a more modern, youthful vibe compared to the cobblestoned alleys of Parte Vieja. It's also home to many of the city's top Txakoli producers. These light, zesty white wines pair impeccably with the neighborhood's bounty of fresh seafood.
Txakoli hails from the Basque Country and neighboring Cantabria region along Spain's northern coast. The Dominio de Berzal winery right in San Sebastián's Antiguo neighborhood offers guided tours and tastings. Try their Txakoli made with the indigenous Hondarribi Zuri grape. Its crisp palate of green apple, lemon-lime, and briny minerality complements shellfish beautifully.
For the ultimate seafood and Txakoli experience, snag a table at La Rampa. Chef Maria Jose San Roman sources the freshest catch from the Bay of Biscay for her inventive dishes. Start with the tuna tartare on yuzu gel, the citrus notes singing with Txakoli. Move on to the decadent Bixigu crab gratin with béchamel foam. The crab's sweet succulence against the wine's acidity is sublime.
At Kaia Kaipe, the Txakoli selections are paired with small plates like fried anchovies, grilled squid, and smoked salmon pincho. Sit out on the terrace and watch surfers catch waves at Zurriola Beach right across the way. The athletic endeavor inspires thirst, making the Txakoli go down easy.
After a day at the beach, head to Restaurante Alberto. This Gros mainstay opens at 7:30pm for dinner, with guests lining up early to snag seats. Their pillowy tortilla de patatas and grilled razor clams are pintxo perfection. Wash it all down with a glass of crisp, dry Txakoli.
Stay at the sleek, design-forward Hotel Arrizul Congress to soak up Gros' laidback ambiance. From here, it's a quick jaunt down to the beach or the lively bars and restaurants of Calle San Martzial. Start your evening with sunset stroll along the promenade, then make your way to La Rampa or Kaia Kaipe for dinner.
Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Pintxo Hopping Along Calle 31 de Agosto
As its name implies, Calle 31 de Agosto is the hub of pintxo hopping on the 31st of August during Semana Grande, San Sebastián's famous festival celebrating Basque culture. But it's worth a visit any time of year to indulge in the city's bite-sized delicacies. Lined with historic taverns and sleek new-wave pintxo bars, this atmospheric street dishes up inventive creations.
Start your crawl at Zeruko, a Michelin-starred laboratory of molecular gastronomy. Foie gras lollipops, cod fritters with squid ink, and smoked eel topped with apple gel thrill the taste buds. Don't miss their signature smoked salmon "ice cream" - creamy fish mousse dolloped onto crispy rice paper cones.
Next door at Haizea, the theatrical service matches the food. Watch the chefs flame sear pintxos right at your table, delivering plates with a flourish. Their tuna tartare on yuzu marshmallow and grilled scallops on truffle puree are mind-blowing.
For a more traditional ambiance, duck into time-honored establishments like Bar Martinez or Borda Berri. Belly up to the bar for bacalao al pil pil, the tender salted cod swimming in garlic-chili oil. And don't leave without trying Gilda pintxos - salty anchovies and sweet red peppers speared on toothpicks.
At Xarma Cocktail Bar & Pintxos, molecular magic fuses with mixology. Their foie gras bonbons conceal liquid centers of gin or whiskey. And the smoked salmon tacos are ideal pairings with craft cocktails like the Lychee 75 fizz.
Further west along the street, Bar Ganbara draws crowds with grilled bacalao skewers and fried morcilla sausage with PX sherry glaze. Their extensive wine list lets you sample Txakolis and Riberas by the glass.
Once you've had your fill of pintxos, finish off with something sweet at Casa Urola. This restaurant occupies a townhouse dating back to the 1870s. Their wood-paneled tavern room offers decadent treats like cheesecake with quince jelly and apple tart with cinnamon ice cream. Sitting beneath the original moldings savoring dessert, you'll feel transported back in time.
Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Best Bacalao Treats in Parte Vieja
San Sebastián's old town, known as Parte Vieja, is a food lover's paradise. Its medieval alleys are dotted with traditional Basque taverns and innovative new-wave pintxo bars, all dishing up scrumptious bites. But the undisputed king is bacalao - salt cod, rehydrated and prepared in endless tempting ways. From croquettes to skewered grilled filets, old town newcomers and veterans alike craft melt-in-your-mouth bacalao delicacies.
No discussion of bacalao in the old town would be complete without mentioning La Cuchara de San Telmo. This cozy hideaway with antique tile floors and exposed wood beams serves some of the city's best. Their bacalao al pil pil sees the tender fish flakes swimming in a gazpacho-like emulsion punctuated with garlic and Guindilla chili peppers. It's the ultimate Basque flavor combination.
Nearby Bar Martinez is another mandatory stop for flawless bacalao pintxos. Belly up to the standing-only bar and watch the chef pan fry morsels to order. Perfectly crispy on the outside, delicate and moist inside, the fritters are placed atop crostini and dressed with a drizzle of grassy olive oil. Washed down with a crisp glass of Txakoli wine, it's a heavenly bite.
At Borda Berri, opt for their grilled bacalao skewers - tender cubes threaded onto wood sticks, seasoned beautifully, then cooked over hot coals for a touch of smoke. The contrast of the flaky fish with the charred edges is sublime. Pair it with a glass of their house Rioja for a match made in heaven.
Just across the river in Gros, Kaia Kaipe also makes a mean grilled bacalao pintxos. Theirs are served open-faced on grilled bread, the smoky fish contrasting with the crunch of the toast. Enjoy it on their terrace overlooking Zurriola Beach for the ultimate in seaside snacking.
And while already mentioned for its inventive molecular morsels, Haizea in the old town deserves another nod for its bacalao bonbons - crispy-fried fritters concealing an interior of creamy salt cod mousse. They encapsulate the classic flavor combination in a whole new whimsical presentation.
Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Top Cider Houses in the Antiguo Neighborhood
San Sebastián's Antiguo neighborhood may not be as old as Parte Vieja, but it still retains plenty of historic charm. This district is home to some of the city's best cider houses, keeping the traditional sidrerías of the Basque Country alive. These atmospheric taverns serve house-made cider, pouring from bottles held high overhead into low-held glasses for proper aeration. Hearty regional dishes like salt cod omelets, grilled steak, and Idiazabal cheese pair perfectly with the dry, funky cider.
No cider house crawl is complete without a stop at Zapiain. This family-run spot occupies a charming 16th century building, with exposed stone walls and ceiling beams setting the rustic mood. Take a seat at one of the long communal tables and watch the server dexterously pour cider from nearly horizontal bottles. The technique oxygenates the cider for optimal flavor. Fresh, dry, and pleasantly sour, it cuts right through rich dishes like their bacalao al pil pil. Don't leave without trying a porrón of cider too. Pouring from the traditional glass pitcher right into your mouth takes some skill!
Nearby, Txuletón is famed for its namesake inspiration - giant grilled t-bone steaks. Watching the muscular cuts sizzle over the open fireplace will make your mouth water. Their beef comes from grass-fed Latxa and Rubia Gallega cattle, succulent and full of flavor. The charred crust gives way to tender, rose-hued meat. A pour of crisp cider cleanses the palate perfectly with each juicy bite.
Finally, round out your crawl at Xarma Cocktail Bar & Pintxos. While better known for molecular gastronomy, they also offer an extensive cider menu. Try something funky and dry like the Isastegi Izagirre, or sample a drier French style like Domaine Dupont. The ciders pair creatively with chef's selections like hake fish tacos and foie gras bonbons. It's a delicious fusion of Basque tradition and modern ambition.
Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Go Local at Plaza de la Constitución
Plaza de la Constitución lies at the heart of San Sebastián's old town. This grand square provides front-row seats to the spectacle of pintxo culture unfolding across Parte Vieja's bars and restaurants. Belly up to the counter and rub shoulders with locals as you sample authentic flavors. The plaza also hosts a bustling market, bringing fresh regional ingredients to the city's talented chefs. Going local here taps you right into the city's culinary soul.
Several storied establishments ring the plaza, upholding tradition in their cozy, wood-beamed dining rooms. Casa Senra first opened its doors in 1912, known for peerless croquetas. Their salt cod fritters encapsulate all the flavors of the sea in crispy-fried packages of joy. At La Cuchara de San Telmo, snag a spot at the standing-only bar to watch chefs construct pintxos with deft precision. The cloud-like whipped salt cod mousse known as bacalao espuma disappears as quickly as it's plated.
The Plaza de la Constitución also plays host to a daily market. Chat with vendors and sample their wares for a true taste of place. Bittor Arguinzoniz sources prized Perigord truffles from the countryside. Shaved over a slice of tortilla or Idiazabal cheese, their earthy pungency sings. Look for Garcia de la Navarra as well. This butcher cures incredible acorn-fed Jamón Ibérico, the free-range pigs' rich diet lending incredible complex flavor. Pair a few velvety slivers with local wine or cider and you'll be hooked.
Thursday through Saturday, a handful of pintxo bars join the market vendors in the plaza. Snack on grilled shrimp skewers from Kaiazpilota as shoppers peruse colorful stalls piled high with produce. Jabier Gartzia plates innovative bites like smoked salmon tacos and foie bonbons at Xarma, attracting a youthful crowd.
As evening sets in, grab a table outside at Café Iruna to soak up the ambiance. Patrons crowd the terrace to sip wine, beer, and coffee as street musicians serenade. Order a shareable tortilla or raciones of Idiazabal cheese and chorizo before dessert. Their ricotta cheesecake with berry coulis makes for a delightful nightcap. Plaza de la Constitución provides an ideal vantage point on San Sebastián life passing by.
Taste Your Way Through San Sebastián: The Top Hotels Near the City's Best Pintxo Bars - Late Night Nibbles Near La Zurriola Beach
As the sun dips below the horizon, San Sebastián locals don't head home - they head to the pintxo bars. The city comes alive after dark, with restaurants, taverns, and bars packed until the wee hours. Nowhere encapsulates this late-night energy more than the streets surrounding La Zurriola Beach in the Gros district. Hip crowds keep the party going as DJ beats and live music spill out of doorways. And this being Spain, hunger strikes around midnight, sending revelers in search of sustenance. Luckily, Zurriola offers plenty of options for late-night noshing.
The walkable streets east of the beach see the most action after hours. Calle Fermín Calbetón bustles with festive dining terraces, live flamenco music pulling in passersby. Kick off your pintxo crawl at La Rampa, where chef María José San Román's menu takes a creative spin on regional classics. Her tuna tartare on yuzu gel and spider crab gratin sing with bright, punchy flavors meant to keep you energized all night long. Meanwhile at Restaurante Alberto, guests patiently queue for seats even post-midnight. Tuck into their famed tortilla, golden and pillow-soft, before moving on.
As crowds thin out, intimate wine bars like Antzokia and Mil Catas become ideal spots for conversation over vino. Mil Catas in particular provides reprieve for your feet, with plush armchairs and soft lighting lending a lounge vibe. Choose from over a thousand bottles on their list as you nibble on smoked cod croquettes and other late-night pintxo favorites. Further inland, San Marcial Street and its offshoots host youthful pintxo-hoppers and university students. The illuminated blue archways create almost a tunnel effect, amplifying the lively echoes of laughter. Bars like Aiola leave their doors wide open with DJs spinning as patrons snack and mingle on the sidewalk. Their rainbow of craft cocktails pair perfectly with contemporary bites like foie gras lollipops and shrimp tacos. Just make sure to pace yourself with lots of water in between - you'll want to stay awake to savor every last morsel.