Spain is well known for its hearty and delicious national dishes, but no holiday destination is better regarded for its incredible cuisine than the Basque seaside city of San Sebastián. One of the specialties of the region is pintxos, which is the Basque version of tapas. These small mouthfuls are once tasted, never forgotten. Just like tapas, there are a wide range of different pintxos dishes that you can choose between, and you can find these dishes in every restaurant, cafe and bar across the city.
The beauty of pintxos is that it doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, it is often the most unassuming bars that serve the best pintxos dishes!
To help you on your next culinary adventure in San Sebastián, here is a list of some of the best pintxos dishes that you should definitely order at least once:
La Gilda might be an acquired taste, but it is widely considered to be the first pintxos dish created in the city of San Sebastián, making it an essential dish to try during your time in the city. So what is La Gilda? Well, it’s a simple dish comprising of a pickled anchovy, green olives and a pickled pepper, usually served skewered together on a cocktail stick. Vinegary and unusual, la gilda is an unusual flavour package, but it is one that the residents of San Sebastian are wild about: this is one of the most popular types of pintxos with locals in the city.
When it comes to meat dishes, Spain is best known for the wide array of rich and varied dishes they can create with pork. In San Sebastian, however, it is beef that is the star of the show. Txuleta, a grilled steak made from aged, grass-fed beef, is one of the best examples of this. Tender, rich in flavour and truly delicious, this dish pairs best with the local cider, which is why the best examples can be found in the region’s cider houses. Outside of cider house season you don’t have to miss out: head to Bar Las Gandarias (Calle 31 de Agosto, 23) where you can find this delicious beef tenderloin no matter what the time of year.
Fresh Foie Gras
You might think of foie gras as a French dish, but this rich and controversial plate is just as popular in the Basque country. It can be eaten either grilled or in its traditional pate form, and the best versions are cooked fresh, rather than pre-packaged or processed. This is a rich dish, so a little goes a long way. Serve seared and then topped with a little salt alongside a sweet jam or chutney to provide balance to its richness.
What would any form of tapas be without cheese? And Idiazabal Cheese is perhaps one of the most distinctive cheeses in Spain! It is a locally produced sheep’s cheese that is incredibly popular both in San Sebastian and beyond. Historically, this cheese was kept in the dwellings of the local farmers to cure, and would smoke slowly as a result of the family fire and to this day it is still produced with the same distinctive and smokey flavour. If you’re a big fan of cheese then you can enjoy Idiazabal cheese as a dish on its own, or you can also find a wide range of other pintxos dishes that use it as a core ingredient.
As a seaside city, it should come as no surprise that San Sebastian offers some of the best seafood in Spain, and the mussels here really are one of the stand-out dishes offered. All of the mussels you will find in San Sebastian have been caught in local waters, and the dish is given its own distinctive flavour by each chef that works with them. This is another dish that is complimented perfectly by the locally produced Basque cider, for a flavour sensation that you won’t be able to forget.
Finally, if you’re ready to indulge your sweet tooth then you should visit La Vina (Calle 31 de Agosto, 3) for one of their famous and iconic cheesecakes. These cheesecakes aren’t just known throughout San Sebastian but also throughout Spain, as they were voted the best cheeseckes in the country. The portions here are generous, with each cake being designed for sharing, but if you want to enjoy the whole cake to yourself then we won’t judge: they really are too good to share! Indulge your sweet tooth further by pairing your cheesecake with a glass of sweet, locally-produced sherry for the perfect way to end any meal.
Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Perhaps you like the idea of submerging yourself into the traditional Spanish lifestyle and eating or cooking Spanish recipes every day? Whatever your dream, we can help. Why not get in touch with our team of local property experts today, to find out more about how we can help you.