One pintxo in San Sebastian, Spain changed my entire travel itinerary. A pintxo for only 3€ and a glass of wine for 1€, I found myself in a foodie’s dream and decided to stay. I went to San Sebastian for beach time and not only did I get that but also enjoyed the most delicious meals I had been craving, and they are affordable too! Pintxos, pronounced “peen-chos”, are like tapas only from the Basque country and range from 2€ to 3€ each. They are beautifully decorated and very photogenic 🙂

“If I got a dollar for every time someone asked me for my favorite pintxos bar, I’d be a billionaire.” – overheard on the public bus

There are SO MANY pintxos bars in the old town area so a lot of people opt to go on a pintxos bar crawl in an attempt to taste the best of the best and have a guide organize it for them. We met a group that had gone on the tour and they said that it was worth the 110€ given you really do eat and drink as much as it is worth, but they said at the end they were stuffed. They also verified what we were thinking, which was that there are a variety of pintxos ranging from great to seriously incredible! Given our limited time, we wanted to focus on the seriously incredible pintxos and my sister and I wanted to go at our own pace. We decided to narrow down our list based on a few blogs we read in advance as well as local suggestions.  We arrived in San Sebastian hungry and curious and left totally satisfied. Based on our experiences, below are my Top 3 Pintxo Bar Recommendations:

  1. Bar Zeruko – Order the salt cod ‘bacaloa’ (or ‘hoguera’). It’s the house specialty and is a delicious sliced smoked cod that you cook yourself. Afterwards, you chase it down with a parsley liquid shot. This was our absolute favorite pinxto bar, everything we ordered was mouth watering delicious.
  2. Goiz-Argi – Order the #1, the brochetta gambo! My sister and I had four and knew we had to try other things, but it was just so damn good we couldn’t resist. Be sure to dunk each piece of bread into the sauce and wipe your plate clean ~ yum!
  3. Bar Sport – Order the cheese croquette. It is covered in mango sauce that will leave you wanting more. Don’t be misled by the name of this bar, it has a similar ambiance to the others and the dishes are to die for!

Be warned, like the rest of Spain, the restaurants don’t open till around 8 PM every night. Therefore, make sure you make the most of your lunch as everything shuts down around 4 PM. Once the clock strikes 8, you can eat and drink literally anywhere in old town, you can find bars that are jam packed or have more of a relaxed evening if you go earlier in the evening. Overall though these bars get fairly crowded, so you’ll get used to elbowing your way through to make an order, its all part of the experience! Also among the lively vibes and crowds forming lines in and out of the pintxos bars, there are boutique shops in almost every other building. So in between eating and drinking, you can shop for affordable wear!

Have you ever been to San Sebastian? Which are your favorite pintxos bars and what would you recommend for newbies to do and see? Please feel free to share in comments.