What are Pintxos and why you should try them
Chances are that you might be familiar with the Spanish word “Tapa”. It has been successfully exported internationally and restaurants all over the world are nowadays offering them. If you like them, or the idea of them, you should give Pintxos a try.
What is a Pintxo?
Pintxos are delicatessen cuisine distilled into a bite-sized dish that will only cost you a couple of euros. The name itself is a reference to the toothpick that held the original one in place and that you will still often find in many of the modern creations. That original one, by the way, is called a Gilda: pickled pepper, olive and anchovy. Many bars still serve it, and that is partly the spirit of Pintxos: they combine traditional food styles with all kinds of innovative cooking, and you will find these creations side by side in bars all across the city. Even if you don’t find Tapas in San Sebastian, you should’t be dissapointed. Give Pintxos a Try!
Best Pintxo bars
But to speak about Pintxo bars and not to mention the Old Town would be a mistake. The site of the old fortified city that got destroyed then rebuilt as we see it today, holds a remarkable concentration of bars and restaurants, and all of them offer the visitor an excellent selection of Pintxos.
The reason for this is simple: it allows for a very specific kind of bar crawl where you pop into a bar for a drink and a couple of Pintxos then move to the next one, rinse and repeat into a gastronomic Nirvana. When you first enter a Pintxo bar in San Sebastian, you will find a trove of options stacked on the counter for your delight. If you are a newcomer, it might be hard to choose, for which we have a tips: pay attention to what the locals order and you will never go wrong with each bar’s special. In fact, many locals’ favorite routes are built around these specialty Pintxos!
Speaking of bar routes, choosing the bars themselves is no easy feat! Bars are a mainstay of the Basque culture and thus they are a common sight in any street. The Old Town, however, spots an incredible amount of them! When you walk among the old buildings you will see - and smell! - appealing trays of Pintxos left and right, no matter which street you choose to walk on. Randomly choosing bars is an exciting way to go about it, but if you prefer some guidance, we offer you a list with the best Pintxo bars in San Sebastian.
Calle Bermingham, 17
Calle Bermingham, 3
Mercado San Martin
Pintxo Pote - a Basque version of happy hour - is a weekly event in which participating bars offer a free pintxo when you buy a drink. The usual day for pintxo pote is Thursday, but in some bars do it on Wednesday or other days to avoid competition. Pintxo pote started as an anticrisis measure almost a decade ago but quickly became a popular part of the Basque culture. Some bars offer specific pintxos during pintxo pote nights, others include a whole selection or cook some specials. It is an excellent opportunity to eat out for cheap, meet with friends or mingle with strangers… this is if full bars and crowded streets do not scare you.