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Diego Prado

As chef and lecturer at the Basque Culinary Centre in San Sebastián, Chilean born Chef Diego Prado is an expert on Basque cuisine and the dishes that have made this beachside resort town one of the world’s most popular culinary destinations. Here he shares his secrets to the best pintxo bars in town, what to order, his favourite local restaurants and what you shouldn’t leave San Sebastian without eating.

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Where To Find San Sebastian’s Best Pintxos (And What To Order)

To truly experience San Sebastian, you must go on a pintxo bar tour of the city. This a very traditional experience where you visit at least five different places eating one or two dishes at each location, always standing, and of course always with a drink! Surprisingly, there are very few good pintxo bars in San Sebastian, but if you follow my guide, and are open to trying some unfamiliar dishes, I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Bar Goiz-Argi and eat Pintxo de Rinon (Fried Kidney pintxo) and Pintxo de Gambas (Shrimp pintxo)

Borda Berri and eat Callos de bacalao (Cod`s bladder), Oreja de cerdo (Pig?s Ears), Pulpo con membrillo (Octopus with uince), Carrillera (Beef Cheek)

Txepetxa and eat Anchoas Jardinera (fresh pickle anchovies), Anchoas Txangurro (fresch pickle Anchovies)

Cuchara de San Telmo has a lot of delicious things to try depending on the produce that is available that day. But these two dishes are a must: carrillera (beef cheek), manitas de cerdo (pig trotters) and oreja (pig’s ear)

La Vina and eat tarta de queso (this is really a must in San Sebastian: it’s the best cheesecake in the universe), boquerones (pickled fish), anchoa frita (fried anchovies) and ensaladilla rusa (like a traditional Russian salad).

If You Only Visit One Restaurant

If you only have time to visit one restaurant, make it Ganbara. This is the perfect place to get a true San Sebastion experience. It uses extremely seasonal products to make traditional dishes like pintxos or txuleta. Be sure to order the artichokes with foie gras, wild mushrooms and egg yolk, tuna carpaccio and txuleta.

The Great Basque Steak

Bar Nestor is the best place to eat a traditional txuleta (Basque beef steak). It’s better to be there at 7pm to get a chair in the bar. The only table it has is always booked. Of course you must eat the txuleta here: pair it with ensalada de tomate (tomatoe salad) and piparras (fried peppers).

A Bustling Restaurant With Traditional Dishes

Bodega Donostiarra is a popular restaurant that’s always full at lunch time. Thankfully the kitchen is always open, so my tip would be to go between 4pm and 7pm when you’re sure to get a table. Order the tortilla de patata (potato omellette), ensalada de morros (pig’s lips salad), morcilla con arroz (rice and blood sausage), ensalada de tomate (tomatoe salad), pintxo de pulpo y gambas (a big skewer of octopus and shrimp) and torrija: a very traditional Spanish dish similar to French toast with ice-cream.

Where Those In-The-Know Are Eating

One of my favourite restaurants is Gerald`s Bar. This is an extremely good restaurant that only locals really know about. It’s not traditional Basque food, but the kitchen uses amazing local products in a very simple and clever way to create delicious food. Honestly, I eat here at least once a week.

The Best Bread In San Sebastian

The Loaf is a well-known bakery among locals. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast, a great sandwich and a good coffee before heading to the beach for a beach: Zurriola Beach is right in front of the bakery. It has the best bread in San Sebastian, a good selection of beer and makes amazing pizza after 7pm.

Seafood In Nearby Getaria

Another spot worth visiting, and also very close to San Sebastian, is a town called Getaria. There is an amazing fish restaurant here called Txoko Getaria that is well-known for its whole charcoal-grilled fish: always ask for the freshest fish they, simply grilled. Go with a friend because the portions are always big, and remember to book in advance.

The Best Fish Restaurant In The World

One Michelin-starred restaurant Elkano is – in my opinion – the most amazing fish restaurant in the world. Go for a big lunch or dinner.

For A True Local Experience, Head To A Cider House

Take the time to visit my home town Astigarraga which is only a five-minute drive from San Sebastian – or 15 minutes by bus – and go to cider house Petritegi Sagardotegia. This is a classic local experience where you go with friends to have a great time in a fun ambiance, get drunk and eat from a simple menu with dishes like cod tortilla, txuleta, fried cod and for dessert sweet quince, walnuts and Idiazabal cheese. It’s important to book.

Guide last updated August 2019

Our guides are fact-checked and updated every three months. Read more here.

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