San Sebastián, Spain

In July 2022, we spent 3 nights in San Sebastián. We stayed at Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra which was clean, comfortable, and in the perfect location. We spent most of our time in San Sebastián eating, drinking, and taking siestas, as one does when visiting the food capital of the planet!

Activities

Walk along the beach and throughout the old town

Day trip to Biarritz: Biarritz is a beach town in France that is a 45 minute drive from San Sebastián. It is beautiful and Jessie claims she had the best crepe of her life there!

Pintxos Tour with Luis: We did a Secret Gastronomic Society & Pintxo Tour with a local named Luis and it was THE BEST!! The tour started in a wine cellar where we were introduced to Txakoli. This type of wine is very acidic, so Luis recommends not drinking it in excess and instead having a small glass of it to start an evening. Little did we know that this would be the first of many glasses of Txakoli that we would have during our stay in San Sebastián.

After having a glass of Txakoli, it was time to start our pintxos tour. The first stop was La Cuchara de San Telmo, where we had octopus with cauliflower purée and blood pudding. The experience was bonkers – we walked into an insanely tight and narrow bar, Luis chatted in Basque with the guy behind the counter, and within minutes we had our pintxos and a glass of wine. We honestly didn’t know what exactly we were eating, but as soon as we took our first bite, we were in heaven.

Our next stop was Borda Berri, where we had cod with cucumber and slow-cooked pork cheek. Once again, we walked in, Luis did his thing, and in no time we had our pintxos and wine!

Our final pintxo bar with Luis was Casa Vergara, where we had cod with pil-pil sauce. At this pintxo bar, we spent time chatting with Luis and learning more about him and his interest and love for food. Turns out, in his now retired life, Luis and his wife travel the world to write about all that they eat and drink. In fact, Luis was recently in NYC and visited many restaurants just minutes from our apartment in SoHo! Luis mentioned that early in his career he was so focused on going to famous and expensive restaurants which was a great experience, but now he is focused on finding unique, hole-in-the-wall spots. We became instant friends with Luis and really want to and plan to keep in touch with him!

After the three pintxo bars, Luis took us to his gastronomic society. Gastronomic societies play an enormously important part in San Sebastián’s social life. Here, members meet in a club complete with a kitchen for lunch or dinner, either with other members of the society or with their families and/or friends. When you go to a gastronomic society in San Sebastián (which you can only do on invitation by a member), the cooking is usually done by 2 or 3 of the diners who bring along their own food. During our experience, Luis cooked green peppers alongside some cheese and bread. He also served us local IPA beers and Basque-style cider. Now, THIS, was an absolutely incredible and unique experience!

Hike: Knowing that we would be drinking and eating a lot, we made sure to book a guided hike during our stay in San Sebastián. We really loved the hike and our guide, Borja! The views were stunning and one thing that really stood out were how many hydrangeas were just growing in the wild throughout the forest and along the trail. We finished our hike by taking a small boat across the bay for a light lunch.

Food

Akelarre: Wow! Words cannot describe how amazing this meal was! At the helm of Akelarre for most of its existence, Chef Pedro Subijana, has earned three Michelin stars and established the restaurant as one of the world’s best.

After our delicious meal, we went outside and enjoyed more drinks and the views for many hours! Whether or not you choose to eat at the three Michelin star restaurant, we highly recommend going to Akelarre to enjoy a drink while looking at the breathtaking views.

Martín Berasategui Restaurant: This was another three Michelin star restaurant that we went to while in San Sebastián. The chef, Martín, was born in San Sebastián and spent his early years training to be a chef in Spain and in France. He is known as the Spanish chef with the most Michelin stars in Spain, twelve in all, and the third top chef in the world. In 1993, together with his wife Oneka Arregui, he opened up the Martín Berasategui Restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, just 7 km from San Sebastián. Six months after the inauguration, he got the first Michelin Star, three years later he received the second one, and in the 2002 Guide he was awarded the highest rating of the emblematic guide, three. All of this to say, we had our last dinner in San Sebastián here and it was quite the meal and experience!!

Bar Nestor: Yes there are famous Michelin star restaurants in San Sebastián, but also there are a variety of incredibly delicious, casual, hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Bar Nestor is located in the old town among many pintxo bars. We had absolutely amazing steak, tomatoes, and green peppers! The best part about our meal at Bar Nestor was that the chef came out to us with a few steak options and asked us which one we preferred!

Ganbara: Everyone we know who has visited San Sebastián was adamant that we go to Ganbara and order the famous mushroom dish. This pintxo bar is a favorite of the legendary Basque chef Juan Mari Arzak, and is therefore a much-loved spot in San Sebastian’s charming old town. That being said, it is also very touristy and over-priced compared to the other pintxo bars. All in all, we had some delicious pintxos here and the mushroom dish was good, but it wasn’t as amazing as many made it out to be.

Old Town Coffee: Luis, our local foodie, recommended this for a morning coffee. We walked here one morning and enjoyed coffee and a cinnamon roll.

La Viña: Similar to Ganbara and the mushroom dish, La Viña and its burnt cheesecake came highly recommended. Melanie and Jessie don’t even like cheesecake, so they had little-to-no expectations. That being said, we still, of course, had to go and check it out! We ordered a fish cake (as suggested by Luis, our local foodie) and we ordered a slice of burnt cheesecake…and it was GREAT! Jessie and Melanie couldn’t stop taking bite after bite of the cheesecake.

La Cuchara de San Telmo: We discovered this spot on our Pintxo Tour with Luis during our first night in San Sebastián. We loved it so much that we went back a few days later for another round of pintxos!

We loved our time in San Sebastián! We plan to go back sometime soon and spend way more than just 3 nights there!

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