Best Places to Eat in San Sebastian- the gastronomic hub of the Basque Country
Undoubtedly one of the great attractions to visiting San Sebastian and the Basque Country is eating out. This picturesque region of Spain is well known and respected for it's high quality gastronomy and where some of the best restaurants can be found.
There are more Michelin Starred Restaurants in San Sebastian per square mile than in any other plcae on the planet!
Basque cuisine ( Cocina Vasca ) is influenced by the abundance of produce from the sea on one side and the fertile Ebro valley on the other, it is renowned for it's quality of fish and seafood, cured meats and vegetables.
Here are some of the best places to eat in San Sebastian, the top 10 Michellin Starred restaurants as well the best places to head too if your looking for fantastic tapas.
In the late 70's Basque chefs where influenced by the Nouvelle Cuisine of France when they created the New Basque Cuisine ( nueva cocina Vasca ), proud of it's foundations but solidly Basque in substance with dishes becoming lighter and more rustic. Michelin starred Chef Juan Mari Arzak was probably the founding father of this culinary revolution, he runs the renowned Restaurant Arzak aided by his daughter Helena, also a chef of much appraise in her own right.
Throughout the old city and surrounding areas you can enjoy dining out in countless eateries, Pintxo bars and Sidrerias, from luxury to budget, its all available in San Sebastian.
Some of the most well known local dishes include Marmitako ( a tuna fish stew ), Bacalao a la Vasca ( salt cod with tomatoes ), Txangurro ( hot Spider crab ) and Percebes ( goose neck barnicles ).
Although tapas, where invented in Sevilla in Andalucia they where perfected in San Sebastian and a walk around the old part of town, is a good place to enjoy them. Here each bar is bursting with tapas and they look and taste amazing.
A tapa crawl ( Tikiteo) allows you to enjoy as many small plates as you want in different bars which is not only a tasty culinary experience but great fun as well. Get Your Guide organise a gourmet pintxo tour which includes a 2 hour guided tour to some of the top tapas bars in San Sebastian plus 4 gourmet pintxos chosen by the experts, each one is accompanied by a different wine.
Best Michelin Starred Restaurants San Sebastian
They say half the reason people travel is for the food, and when dining out in San Sebastian, the travel is most definitely well worth it. This famous city in northern Spain is a gastronomic paradise, with more Michelin starred restaurants per square mile than any other in Spain and possibly Europe. Here you will find a wide array of culinary gems that reflects the wonderful people, region and the exquisite culture of this ancient city.
- Restaurant Arzak ***
- Akelarre ***
- Martin Berasategui ***
- Mugaritz **
- Alameda *
- Amelia *
- Elkano *
- Eme Be Garrote *
- Kokotxa *
- Mirador de Ulia *
- Zuberoa *
Restaurant Arzak ***
Juan Mari and his Daughter Elena run the world renowned Arzak Restaurant, one of the finest restaurants in Spain.
Eating out at the Restaurant Arzak is crucial to try at least once. Chef Arzak and his daughter are masters at the best new Basque cooking – nueva cocina vasca.
Easily scoring 3 Michelin stars, Arzak is quite exclusive though and you will need to make a reservation months or longer in advance. Clients can choose from a very large assembly of foods and tastes as prepared by one of the best chefs in Europe.
» Avda. Alcalde Jose Elosegui, 273 – Tel: 943278465.
Restaurant Akelare ***
Akelare, which is situated in the Igueldo district of San Sebastian, offers amazing views of the surrounding countryside and over the Cantabrian sea.
It is one the most prestigious restaurants in the Basque Region which includes an excellent wine bodega and their very own vegetable and herb garden.
The seats near the windows are highly sought after although perhaps a more intimate space is in one of the three dining rooms inside.
Dishes at Restaurant Akelera are meticulously prepared with the menu changing frequently. A popular dining option is the “Menú de Degustación” a special menu consisting of the chefs latest dishes prepared with the freshest season produce.
» Paseo Padre Orkola, 56 – Tel: 94-321-2052
Restaurant Martín Berastegui ***
Martin Berastegui is one of the great Spanish chefs with no less than 7 Michelin stars to his name. For fine dining and a unique dining experience a visit to his famous restaurant is a must.
This innovative chef uses local ingredients to the full, signature dishes include such delights as crayfish over an aniseed sea-bed and coral mayonnaise, grilled hake loin, coconut, red curry and liquid and crunchy razor-shells and lightly marinated oyster with iced cucumber slush and K5, and spicy apple.
Booking a table well in advance is a must to avoid disappointment.
» Loidi Kalea 4. 20160 Lasarte-Oria (Gipuzkoa). Tel: 943366471.
The Restaurant Mugaritz is known as one of the worlds most creative restaurants. Head Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz is the owner and head chef, he learned his trade under a number of top chefs including Ferran Adria.
There is not a set conventional menu as such, rather Andoni and his brigade prepare creative and astonishing dishes based on the seasonal availability and the tastes of their clientele.
Restaurant Mugaritz has lead a culinary revolution with some quite outstanding offerings, try the 24 dish menu which will test your taste buds on so many levels, not to mention the stunning visual sepctacle of the food served.
» Aldura Aldea, 20. 20100 Errenteria. Tel: 943 522 455.
The Alameda is a family run restaurant run by the Txapartegi brothers who are the grandchildren of it's creator. Alameda has boasted a Michelin star continuoulsy for over 20 years.
Brother Mikel is responsabile for the dining room whilst head chefs Gorka and Kepa aptly run the kitchen. Their moto is that at least 80% of the fresh ingredients must come from within a radius of 25m.
Basque Nouvelle cuisine of the highest standard is on offer at the Restaurant Alameda using only the best of freshest ingredients such as fresh anchovy, baby squid, local mushroom and Iberian Dewlap.
» Mirasoroeta Kalea 1,20280 Hondarribia. Tel: 943 64 27 89
Restaurant Amelia is located in the beautiful Romantic District of San Sebastian just a short walk from the Buen Pasto Cathedral.
A modern eatery which sits just 22 diners at a time, serving quality tasting menus which showcase the local gastronomy to perfection creating an unforgettable and unique dining experience.
Head chef Paulo Airaudo is from Argentina and the only foreign chef in San Sebastian to currently hold a Michelin Star. He learned his trade in legendary restaurants including Arzak and the Fat Duck, amongst others. Chef Paulo uses seasonal and sustainable raw materials as well as a range of forgotten products.
» Calle Prim 34, 20006, San Sebastian. Tel: 943 84 56 47.
The Elkano opened in 1964 by Pedro Arregui and his wife Maria Jose Artano under the watchful eye of Pedro's mother and mentor Joxepa. Restaurant Elkano is located in the picturesque costal town of Getaria, some 25 kilometres from the centre of San Sebastian.
Here you will find fish and seafood dishes of the highest quality and mostly cooked over charcoal grills on the front patio. The smells of cooking seafood is simply one of the best to test your gastronomic senses.
» Herrerieta Kalea, 2, 20808 Getaria, Gipuzkoa. Tel: 943 14 00 24
Eme De Garotte *
eMe de Garotte is the brand new restaurant of world renowned chef Martin Berasategui. It is located in the Ibaeta district of the city in an old cider house, the Basque architecture is characterised by its contemporary Basque-Scandinavian style. A
s with any restaurant owned by Martin Berasategui you are guaranteed a unique and special dining experience at the eMe de Garotte, with outsanding food made from the freshed local ingredients.
Try the great tasting menu, at €95 Euros per person, you will be treated to such delights as Fennel Beads in Risotto, Oxtail Risotto with a Parmesan Foam, Grilled Hake with Iberian Carpaccion and a delicious Sirloin Steak with a Truffle Potatoe Cream.
» Camino de Igara, 33 - 20018 Donostia Gipuzkoa. Telf 943 227
The Kokotxa Restaurant is located in the Romantic District of San Sebastian next to the Basicila of Saint Mary. Head chef Dani Lopez is one of San Sebastians finest and he runs the Kokotxa with his wife and Maitre'D, Estela Velasco.
The restaurant has a capacity for 30 dinners plus a saught after chefs table. You will be treated to some of the best food you will find anyhere in the Basque Country.
Chef Dani uses only the freshest local seasonal ingredients, he has an incredible pallet so be prepared for a unique dining experience.
» Calle del Campanario, 11, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastian. Tel: 943 42 19 04
Mirador de Ulia *
The Mirador de Ulia is locted in the Gross district of the city and enjoys the most amazing views over San Sebastian and along the Atlantic coastline. The Mirador de Ulia was opened back in 1966 by renowned chef Faustina Zaldua.
The decor is modern, bright and minimalistic although here its all about the spectacular views from the surround patio windows.
There are various menus to choose with top dishes including, Lackard Duck, Tataki of Aged Beef, Monk Fish Over Charcoal and Salted Prawns with Fruit Drops.
» Paseo de Ulía, 193, 20013 - San Sebastián. Tel: 943 272 707
San Sebastian is the home of the Pintxo
San Sebastian has the best tapas in the whole world, and this has something to do with the long ingrained cultural culinary leaning of the people here. Tapas, or pintxos as they are called in the greater Spanish Basque Country, have given this seaside city the unofficial title of the European food Mecca.
Indeed these finger foods, canapes, and snacks are served with almost every meal and in certain instances even given out for free with some meals. They have given the city and the Basque region the highest number of Michelin starred restaurants compared to any region in the world. These restaurants and the indigenous tapas bars form the building block of San Sebastian’s world-recognised foodie culture. Some of the best tapas spots in this coastal paradise are.
Although tapas where said to be invented in Sevilla in Andalucia they where probably perfected in San Sebastian and a walk around the old part of town is a great place to enjoy them. Here each bar is bursting with tapas and they are well prepared, imaginative and delicate, not to mention super tasty. Pintxos are generally enjoyed together with a glass of wine or a small beer, and the Spanish tradition is to enjoy a pintxo in one bar and move on to the next.
A lot of people will substitute dining out on a main meal for Pintxos. A Tapa Crawl ( Tikiteo) allows you to enjoy as many plates as you want in the most amount of different bars and restaurants, subsequently enjoying a more varied culinary experience.
Enjoy a tapas Crawl in the Old Town
There is nothing more enjoyable than going from pitxo bar to another, eating one taps in each, that way you get to taste a lot of different types of tapa in one evenings night out. Here is a map of the old-town where you will find lots of Pitxo bars in one place.
Top 10 Tapas Bars in San Sebastian
- A Fuego Negro
- Bar Txepetxa
- Borda Berri
- La Cepa Bar
- Anastosia Berri
- Bodegon Alejandro
- Casa Nicolasia
- La Murrala
- Juanito Kojua
A Fuego Negro
San Sebastian restaurants mostly take place in wooden bars carrying a cozily traditional look. The A Fuego Negro however, which literally translates to “Black Fire,” is designed with a more modern look of black and concrete. Younger tourists will enjoy the hip-hop music playing as they taste pintxos served with modern flair.
» Nº, 31 de Agosto Kalea, 31, 20003 San Sebastián-Donostia. Tel: 650 13 53 73.
The first tapas based eatery is Bar Txepetxa, which is located in the old part of the city in Calle Pescaderia, 5. This is one of the most popular tapas bars in San Sebastian opened its doors in 1973 and has been on the received end of many gastronomic awards over the years. They serve some of the best home made pintxos prepared with love and dedication . You can enjoy a large variety of local ingredients including crabs, octopus, anchovies , mussels and shrimp. All of these are served with a flair that wets the appetite the minute you walk enter the bar whilst enjoying the artistic display of its famous patrons from the past.
» 20003 San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa. Tel: 943 42 22 27
Located in Fermin Calbetton 12, the Borda Berri is famous for its Veal Cheeks, Idiazabal and Hongos. Their pintxos have also been lauded as some of the best in the area. If you’re a fan of meat dishes then Borda Berri is for you. Speciality dishes include local bread beef rib eye and amazingly succulent spare ribs. Other delicacies include risotto and bomba rice with squid. Although the available space is a bit small, patrons flock to the Borda Berri thanks to their delicious food.
» Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 12, 20003 Donostia, Bizkaia. Tel: 34 943 43 03 42.
La Cepa Bar
Bar La Cepa is a fine local culinary institution famous for serving up the finest Spanish cured Jabugo, known for its unique taste and quality. Other typical dishes on offer include, Galician pulpo, meat balls, home made sausages. La Cepa Bar offer a fine wine collection from the best wineries in the Rioja and Ribera del Duero. This unique eatery has been operating for more than 70 years and are highly recommended by the locals. With more than half a decade in the business, La Cepa has managed to perfect their pintxos and serve them in sizes obviously larger than other bars.
» Calle 31 de Agosto Kalea, 7. Tel: 943 42 63 94.
Restaurant Anastosia Berri is a hidden gem and easy to miss so make sure you find it as it is well worth the effort. This is a fine family run establishment serving excellent local dishes within a well thought out menu. The restaurant has recently been refurbished with blue flecked walls, high ceilings and decorative chairs and although the room feels upmarket it is actually a quite relaxed. The website is only in Spanish at the moment but well worth a look at the incredible dishes on offer.
» Calle Easo, 19, San Sebastián-Guipúzcoa. Tel: 94-342-6320
This traditional restaurant has recently been refurbished and a general overall face-lift, and the result is a pleasant, modernised eatery that doesn’t forget its Basque roots or its long standing reputation for excellence. The chef at the Restaurant Bodega Alejando prepares a dish fo the day, well worth trying or just go with his signature dish of cod a la vasca, which is always delicate and full of flavour. They also offer a Menu de Gustacion made up of two sumptuous dishes. Excellent quality desserts are also on offer.
» Fermín Calbetón, 4, San Sebastián. Tel: 94-342-7158
The Restaurant Casa Nicolasa is one of the most emblematic establishments in Donostia. The Gran Chef Jose Juan Castillo offers a large amount of high quality dishes whilst every need of his clientele is superbly attended to in the very agreeable atmosphere of the Restaurant. Amongst the many excellent dishes on offer we would recommend the puréed cod and mixed vegetables or the monk fish steaks on a bed of creamed asparagus and saffron.
» Calle Aldamar, 4,1º, Donostia-San Sebastian, 20003 – Tel: 943421762.
Dining at the Restaurant La Muralla allows you to truly indulge yourself in good wholesome local fair prepared in a traditional manner with an innovative twist. It also offers a large and varied sweet menu. Despite the discrete look to the establishment it has an agreeable ambience that makes La Muralla a very interesting gastronomic destination for all food lovers. Signature dishes include mushroom and fungi ravioli with foie-gras cream, sliced squid with its black ink sauce and roast Iberian ‘secret’ (a pork cut) with mango cream and crunchy toasted potatoes.
» Calle Embeltrán, 3, Donostia-San Sebastian, 20003 – Tlf: 943433508.
The inspirational food prepared at Restaurant Lanziego is a fusion of traditional and the tendencies of the Nuevo Cocina Vasca. These ideas are perfectly joined with such exquisite dishes such as Deep fried monk fish on a bed of stock and mushroom juice and the Bass with peppers. The also offer a large selection of home made sweets.
» Calle triunfo, 3, Donostia-San Sebastian, 20007. Tlf: 943462384.
The Restaurant Juanito Kojua is situated in the old part of San Sebastian and has been warmly decorated in a rustic style. Reportedly the oldest restaurant in San Sebastian it is undoubtedly one of the most consolidated gastronomic establishments in San Sebastian , efficiently managed by a family that over the years has earned a loyal and fixed client base. You will find all kinds of typical local dishes and super fresh fish and seafood. Signature dishes include crab a la Donostiarra, clams and line caught groper.
» Calle Portu, 14, Donostia-San Sebastian, 20003. Tlf: 943420180.
Goiz Argi Tapas
A small bar located at Calle de Fermin Calbeton 4, Goiz Argi also specialises in seafood, specifically their shrimp skewers or brocheta de gambas. They also offer octopus and what is known locally as breakfast wine. It’s a fairly small bar though so get there early as it is starting to attract more and more visitors, it is favoured by the locals as well.
» Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 4, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa – Tel: 943 42 52 04.
Other Gastronomic Must Do’s in San Sebastian
Photo By Alexa Clark – Flickr
Try The Best Tortilla in Spain
Bar Nestor is located in the Old Town of San Sebastian and is the holey grail when it comes to Spanish Omelettes.
Owner Nestor Morais serves up his legendary tortilla each day, preparing just two a day, one for midday and the other for the evening. If you are thinking of calling by his bar on the off chance to try some, forget it. You will need to call be the bar beforehand to reserve your slice, no phone orders are taken. Its well worth it though as Nestor creates arguably the best tortilla in Spain, cooked with local Padron peppers, potatoes and caramelised onions. The tortilla has a slight crust with an ever so slightly runny inside. At Bar Nestor they also serve up some of the best steak in town.
Photo by Tatterdemalion99 – Flickr
One of the most popular local drink by far is the delicious cider. Made from fermented apples only it is much smoother then cider from around Europe with no added preservatives, sugars or gas.
The Cider experience is a must try at one of the many quant cider houses around San Sebastian. The pouring technique is where the fun is, a bottle is held high above the head as the drink is poured into glass, a technique which gives the cider a few bubbles. Not to mention its great fun to watch.
There are lots of cider houses ( Sidrerias ) to choose from around the city, a pick of the best for quality and atmosphere include Intxaurrondo Sidreria, Sidreria Beharri and on of our personal favorites, the Sidreria Lizeaga
Eat a Txuleta – T-Bone Steak
Photo by Gastro Genuino - Flickr
The preparation, provenance, cooking and eating of the delicious Txuleta is taken to a whole new level in San Sebastian.
For a real treat though, head off to Casa Julian, arguably the best steak house in the region. The family run Restaurant Casa Julian is located in Calle de Santa Klara, 6 in the town of Tolosa, about 30 minutes drive from San Sebastian.
Aptly run by Matías Gorrochategui and his two sons, this is where other Michelin star chefs come to hang out. Matias took over the bar in 1954 from a friend on the promise that he kept the décor the same as it was, it has remained unchanged since. Blackened walls and dusty bottles adorn the interior with the center piece being a charcoal oven which is the heart and soul of the restaurant.
Most restaurants will use the T-Bone from beef aged around 3 years old, not Casa Julian, their Txuletas ( Chuletons ) come from milk cows around 7 years old, a reason perhaps why their steaks are considered some of the best in the world.
Tours & Excursions
Recommended accommodation San Sebastian
For a luxury stay the Maria Cristina a Luxury Collection Hotel is a must place to stay. The hotel enjoys an ideal location in the cities centre surrounded by local bars and restaurants. There are 136 luxury rooms at the Maria Cristina, each providing all the essentials to ensure a comfortable stay. Honeymoon suites are also available. Reviewer Rating: 9.2
The superb 4 star Hotel Villa Soro offers outstanding 4 star accommodation in a tranquil setting just a few minutes drive or a 20 minute walk to the city center. Villa Soro offers first class amenities such as a nearby golf course, limousine service, free bicycle rental and a variety of breakfast options. The hotel is a short walk from one the cities top restaurants, Arzak. Reviewer Rating: 9.4
The popular 1 star Pension Del Mar is located in the city centre within the Gros District. The guest house offers 6 modern and bright rooms, filled with a variety of amenities to ensure a comfortable stay. It is situated n the heart of San Sebastian’s entertainment district with restaurants, cafés and nightlife on the doorstep. Reviewer Rating: 10.0