The Basque Country is one of the best places to eat and Donosti is one of the best representatives of this haute cuisine so representative of our country. Here and its surroundings are some of the best restaurants in the world such as Arzak, Akelarre, Mugaritz… with several Michelin stars.
In addition to the restaurants, we have to highlight the pintxo bars, traditional bars but with very elaborate tapas that will surely catch your attention. In some of these bars, the tapas have reached such a point of elaboration that they look more like miniature haute cuisine dishes.
Below we show you a pintxo route through the Old Part of San Sebastian, the heart of San Sebastian’s cuisine, although if you really want to enjoy this experience to the fullest, our recommendation is that you hire a Pintxos tour with a professional who will explain everything about this exciting world and take you by the hand through the best places in the city.
We recommend: Gourmet Pintxo Tour
In this article, we take a tour around the best pintxo bars in San Sebastian’s old town
Although it is run by a Catalan (Marc Clua), the Borda Berri is one of the traditional bars of the Parte Vieja.
Here we definitely recommend you to try some of their rice pintxos: Rice bomba with baby squid, risotto with idiazábal cheese, spiced pork ribs or their famous veal cheek.
Address: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 12, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa
La Cuchara de San Telmo
It is a small bar run by young people that is always full of people. Its entrance is very narrow with an elongated bar where it is usually hard to find a place to stand. If you manage to get in and make room we recommend you try the cannelloni or the foie with apple compote or the veal cheeks in red wine.
In this bar you will not find cold pintxos, as all they serve are freshly prepared pintxos and hot portions.
Address: Santa Korda Kalea, 4, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa
It is a classic opened in 1984 and that has survived today thanks to the second generation of the family.
In it you will find simple pintxos but very well elaborated and traditional, with raw materials of the best quality. The chistorra puff pastry is one of our favorite pintxos as well as the tartlet of txangurro.
Address: San Jeronimo Kalea, 21, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa
Like the Gambara, this is another traditional and familiar bar in the Old Part. It has been in operation for almost 50 years and continues to be a success among those who visit it. Here you can’t miss their sirloin pintxo or their shrimp or kidney brochette.
At the bar you can also find a wide variety of pintxos to choose from.
Address: 31 de Agosto Kalea, 23, 20003 Donostia
It is a good option to finish your tour of typical pintxos. Here you can try their famous cheesecake, one of the best you have ever tasted and which is imitated all over the world.
But in addition to its cheesecake, in its bar you will find a great assortment of classic pintxos from San Sebastian and other hot ones like the mushroom scrambled eggs.
Address: 1 de Agosto Kalea, 3, 20003 Donostia
It is a bar that began its journey of the pintxos in San Sebastian in 1942 and today is still at full capacity.
In the “Martinez” you can find traditional pintxos, highlighting especially the cold pintxos of the bar as its famous gilda, the pintxos with egg or the traditional fish cake. As you can see, all pintxos of bar but that nowadays continue triumphing.
Address: 31 de Agosto Kalea, 13, 20003 Donostia
On our website we have already told you about the Urola Restaurant, but in addition, in its lower part, the one that overlooks the street, it also has a bar where you can taste its extraordinary cuisine.
In its menu of pintxos we can find a wide variety of options although this varies depending on the season in which we are. The fresh tuna burger or the potato and pine nuts foam are finger-licking good.
Address: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 20, 20003 Donostia
It is a very small and somewhat uncomfortable bar but it is worth a visit. It is uncomfortable because it is always full, as you will see it recommended in almost every travel guide.
Mari Juli and her husband retired a few years ago, transferring the bar to other people, but even so they have managed to keep the essence of the place preserving the traditional pintxos that made them triumph, such as the brochette with prawns, the tartlet with mushrooms or the famous “Marijuli”.
Address: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 4, 20003 Donostia, San Sebastian.
This is a very different bar from the others. Here you will find very simple pintxos but always fresh and freshly prepared. It is an old bar and has none of the glamour that you will find in other bars recommended in practically all the guides of the city, but it is one of the most visited by the local people who live here.
Its battered squid and prawns are famous, and at a price that has nothing to do with the rest of the haute cuisine pintxos you’ll find in the area.
Address: C. Mayor, 6, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián
The traditional Beti jai was remodeled a few years ago and now we can find a design bar with more minimalist pintxos. It is one of the most frequented of the old part, especially by tourists because of the prices as it appears in numerous guides. The prices are a bit high but as we say they are elaborate pintxos.
You will find a great variety of tapas, both cold at the bar and to order from the kitchen.
Address: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 22, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa
If you like tomato with flavor, like the ones from before… you have to try the tomato from the Nestor bar to start with.
Then, if after having a few pintxos in the other bars we have recommended you are still hungry, don’t forget to try the chuleta from bar Nestor. That said, the chop is not a pintxo, it will be a good steak that you can share among the group of people that you go. Both the tomato and the chop will be the best you have ever tasted.
It is also famous for its tortilla de pata, although it is true that it usually runs out as soon as it comes out, as many people are waiting for it to come out.
The bar is quite small, so there is not much space to be.
Address: Arrandegi Kalea, 11, 20003 Donostia
Another bar with a great cuisine that we can find in the old part of San Sebastian is the Zazpi. Formerly it was located in the center of San Sebastian, but now we can find it in the Plaza Zuloaga, in the museum of San Telmo, as it is the museum’s own bar.
The place stands out for its restaurant but it is also possible to taste pintxos of its miniature cuisine in the bar itself. It has a nice covered terrace outside, which can be used if the weather is nice.
Address: Plaza Zuloaga, 1, 20003 Donostia, Spain.
To take into account when you go for pintxos in the old part of San Sebastian
If you visit San Sebastian we strongly recommend you to go out for pintxos one day. It will be one of the most curious and rewarding activities you can do in the city although you should keep in mind the following: Going for pintxos is not cheap. In addition, to the cost of the pintxos you will have to add the price of the drink. Bearing in mind that the normal thing is to move around different bars to try a variety of places, in the end the drinks will be equally numerous.
In San Sebastian, and less in the old part of the city, no bar will give you a pintxo or tapa with your drink. Unlike in other cities, drinks and pintxos are always included in the price. Many of the tapas are very elaborate and are real miniature dishes, so traditionally here everything is always paid for separately.
Although the old town is the typical place to go for pintxos, you can also find great bars in the neighborhood of Gros or Antiguo, for example.
If you have booked your hotel in San Sebastian near the old town, it is a very handy resource to dine on pintxos in this area and vary every day to try as many bars as possible. In any guidebook you look at it will be one of the recommended experiences.
We recommend you our San Sebastian Pintxos tour. The easiest way to discover the best pintxos bars with our expert guide.