Basque food: Pintxos tour in San Sebastian

San Sebastian, or Donostia for the Basques, is one of the most famous foodie cities in one of the top culinary regions in the world. With its Michelin-starred restaurants and amazing pintxos bars, it’s easy to be spoiled by the food choices you encounter here. San Sebastian is simply full of good eats.

The best pintxos bars in San Sebastian are a buffet of colors and smells. Here you can find fresh seafood, creamy cheeses, and some perfectly pickled bites. And that doesn’t even count the hot items that come straight from the kitchen. With such a fabulous selection, it’s hard to know where to start.

BASQUE CUISINE

Basque food is one of a kind. In fact, the Basque Country ranks 2nd to Catalonia in the number of Michelin Star restaurants in Spain. The recipes are wide and varied.

Basque cuisine is steeped in traditions. It’s made from diverse, local ingredients, from the rich variety of fish coming from the Cantabrian Sea, to the inland fertile farms and mountains. Basque food is the sum of all the region’s parts. The use of seasonal products is definitely one of the ingredients behind the success of Basque cuisine.

If you’d like to go for a full and fun dining experience, we recommend warming up with a few Pinxtos before heading to a sit-down restaurant. Basque cuisine will not disappoint you!

Basque food: pintxos in San Sebastian, Spain

DONOSTIA FOODS: TASTE THE SAN SEBASTIAN PINTXOS

San Sebastián kitchens have earned the respect of the most discerning palates of the world for its multi-faceted, traditional cuisine. The city has produced countless top chefs and kitchens, which made the city a top destination for food lovers.

Pintxos is what San Sebastián has become famous for, but the city stores many other culinary treasures. Bacalao al pil pil (Basque-style cod with Pil Pil sauce), txangurro (stuffed spider crab), pipaarras (pickled chillies), Tolosa beans (small black beans), and kokotoxas (cod cheeks) are just some of the specialties waiting to be savored.

There are also phenomenal desserts and the traditional alcoholic beverages of Txakoli and Basque cider to perfectly wrap up a five-star meal.

Pintxos: Simple yet sophisticated

The concept of pintxos is simple: Pintxos are small pieces of bread with food on top. They got their name because traditionally, the food and bread were attached with a stick (called a pintxo). But nowadays they don’t necessarily have to be on bread or have a stick.

Bellying up to a pintxo bar for the first time can be intimidating, especially in high season. So, going there with an expert guide can make your life easier. You can also look around and check what the locals are eating.

The name “pintxos”comes from the Spanish verb “pinchar” meaning to poke or stab

Basque food: pintxos in San Sebastian, Spain

PINTXOS IN SAN SEBASTIAN: HOW TO EAT LIKE A LOCAL

One of the foodie treasures in San Sebastián is its famous pintxos: culinary bites passing from the original slice of bread piled with food, to tiny miniature haute cuisine creations. Going for pintxos in Donostia is a way to learn about the culture here. You’ll enjoy laughs and conversation as you stay on the move, visit busy bars and have a great time.

There are two ways of eating pintxos:

  • Like a tourist: stack a plate with a heap of pintxos at the first bar you see.

  • Like a local: order one or two specialties, eat them while you sip a glass of Txakoli (the local lightly sparkling white wine) and move onto another bar.

Pintxos in San Sebastián are all about passion, flavor and character.
Basque food: pintxos in San Sebastian, Spain

SAN SEBASTIAN WINERY

Pairing a traditional meal with a traditional drink is not an option, it’s an obligation. Can you think of a better way to savor the full taste of the Basque cuisine than by having a glass of locally made Txakoli or Basque cider?

Txakoli is a sophisticated spritzy white wine with fruity notes and it is best paired with fish and seafood, though it does also make a fantastic aperitif.

Basque food: San Sebastian Winery, Spain
Basque food: pintxos in San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian is a pioneer in the development of table, sparkling and dessert wines from hybrid and muscadine grapes. Vintage-dated varietals such as Stover and Blanc Du Bois are produced here and marketed along with blended and sparkling wines from native Muscadine grapes. Port and Cream Sherry dessert wines are also produced by and sold under the San Sebastian brand.

These labels have won many awards for excellence in winemaking. Besides, every year more than 100,000 people are expected to visit the winery’s extensive tasting room and wine shop and San Sebastian Winery has a production of over 80,000 cases (that’s over 960,000 bottles!).

SAN SEBASTIAN CHEESECAKE

With this amazing San Sebastian cheesecake, also known as a Basque burnt cheesecake, you´ll taste a lighter, quick baked crustless version of a New York cheesecake. With its dark golden and caramelized top, this cheesecake will surely impress you!

This modern Spanish dessert originates from Spanish Restaurant La Viña in San Sebastian in northern Spain. Chef Santiago Rivera developed the original recipe a few decades ago, and now it seems that everyone wants a slice!

This cheesecake is characterized by a burnt top that’s achieved by baking at a high temperature. This effectively caramelizes the top while keeping the inside creamy and custardy.

Some bakers also caramelize the crust, while others prefer a crust extremely burnt, such that it creates an umami flavor and a custard center that flows out like molten chocolate when sliced.

Basque Food: Pastel Vasco "CheeseCake"

If you want to try the San Sebastian cheesecake, there is only one rule: forget everything you know about a cheesecake.

TAKE THE BEST PINTXOS TOUR (SAN SEBASTIAN)

Basque food: pintxos in San Sebastian, Spain

In the Spanish Basque country, food is more than an ailment. It is an art form, a social affair, a complete sensory experience, and above all: a way of life.

The north of Spain may be famous for its rich gastronomy, but pintxos are celebrated because they deserve to. There’s something for all tastes: big, small, hot, cold, seafood, and more. While it’s hard to say which are the best, there’s no shortage of places to sample this miniature haute cuisine.

Moreover, at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for visiting the city’s best bars and restaurants with someone who knows this iconic foodie destination like the back of their hand. So, come and devour San Sebastian with a local food expert!

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