Day 6: Culinary tourism in San Sebastian

pulpo, Spanish wine, foodie

As I mentioned previously, San Sebastian is one of Spain’s culinary paradises. So on our 6th day, we decided to make the most of it and just get lost in the streets of Donosti, do some shopping (the biggest Zara in Spain is here) and eat to our heart’s content. Discover the culinary tourism in San Sebastian and be prepared to gain a few kg!

Breakfast (desayuno)

Pretty much any little bar in Spain, as sketchy or slightly old fashioned as it may seem, will offer a great and cheap breakfast, especially in he Basque Country where from early in their morning their bar is full of delicious pintxos. Traditional breakfast is pantumaca (toasted bread, olive oil and blended fresh tomato), croissants and coffee. The Spanish usually prefer a savoury breakfast, but you can also go the opposite direction and relish in churros and hot chocolate!

Churros y Chocolate
Churros y Chocolate

Lunch (comida)

One place had caught our attention every time we went past: it was in the old quarter, on a street full of bars, but this one stood out because it not only looked great but smelled incredible and was called Ubarrechena. We also noticed paella (not at all typical from this area) which we were craving. The lunch menu initially seemed a little pricey at €19 since in Spain you can usually get one for €10, but we decided to give it a go anyway. And boy was it worth every penny!!

The menú del día (lunch menu) included:

  • First course
  • Second course
  • Dessert
  • Drink

Portions were generous too, and we were amazed when we ordered a glass of wine each (included in the menu) and received a bottle! Man I love Spain!

I’d 100% recommend what we got (for 2 people):

  • First course: the salmorejo cordobés (basically the better cousin to gazpacho) & for fish lovers the fish soup
  • Second course: the chipirones a la plancha (grilled squid) & the paella
  • Dessert: cheescake & chocolate vulcano
  • Drink: txacolí! (their local white wine)

Just in case you weren’t convinced…

salmorejo
salmorejo
Txipirones
Txipirones
paella
paella
cheese cake
cheese cake

Dinner (cena):

Just a few minutes away from where we had lunch is another exquisite little restaurant that we discovered by mistake as I was hunting for grilled squid, called El Caserío. The place itself looks adorable: very small and quaint, all wooden on the inside, nice and intimate with literally around 6 small tables.

The waiters were all lovely and the food was delicious. You can taste some great seafood such as pulpo a la gallega (octopus), txipirones a la plancha (grilled squid in a lemon sauce), several types of fish sourced locally, etc.

I was baffled when on the menu I could not see the price of a bottle, and a glass was around €6-7, up until I realised that that was in fact the price for a whole bottle! Again, one of the many reasons I love Spain! A whole bottle of wine, in a restaurant, for €6, and it tastes great. They also do one hell of an Irish coffee, best one I’ve had!

Travel Tip: after an Irish coffee in Spain, I’d avoid driving!

El Caserio, pulpo a la gallega
El Caserio – pulpo a la gallega

Irish coffee

Pintxo Pote

If instead you don’t feel like going to a restaurant and want something with more of a young, street vibe, ever since the crisis hit Spain in 2008 or so, they have started doing something genius in San Sebastian: El Pintxo Pote. Every Thursday, in different barrios from 7pm till around 11 or midnight dozens of bars have this special offer where you can get a drink and a pintxo for €1 or €2 (depending on the neighbourhood). We went to El Gros, where it was €2 and you could get some quite ornate pintxos, so worth it!

You end up absolutely stuffed and a lot tipsier than you imagined, after all if you want the free food you need the booze and vice versa 🙂

This blog mentions a proper Pintxo Pote route which looks like a lot of fun: http://invisibleimages.co.uk/the-best-pintxo-pote-route-in-san-sebastian/

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