San Sebastian Has the Best Pintxos or Pinchos in Spain:
Having travelled from Madrid up north to Burgos, Santander and Bilbao, we saw and sampled many pinchos (Spain’s famous fingerfood) along the way. But nothing quite prepared us for the vast number of pintxos (Basque for pinchos or tapas) bars and restaurants in San Sebastian. San Sebastian it seems is the best when it comes to pintxos or pinchos in Spain.
Lunch in San Sebastian
We arrived in San Sebastian at 2:00 p.m, just in time for lunch. Our guide told us to go into any of the bars and we can some pintxos. Three pieces each is more than enough for lunch she said.
As we strolled around the Old Town, we saw bar after bar with their bar top literally covered with platters of pintxos. Just around Calle Mayor and Calle 31 de Agosto, there were so many eateries to choose from and, with no recommendation from our guide, deciding on one was a dilemma?
Near the top of Calle Mayor, we saw one of the other Spanish guides taking some people into Casa Alcalde. If it was good enough for the Spanish guide, it was good enough for us so we followed suit. The stacks of pintxos on the bar counter were very welcoming and so we stopped here for lunch.
Pintxos at Casa Alcalde
For people who are in San Sebastian for only a brief visit, dining on pintxos is the way to go. You don’t have to order your food, you just take a plate and pick the pintxos that you fancy. You can also have hot pintxos which we did. We selected a plate of mushroom and prawns and the order was sent to the kitchen to be cooked. Once you’ve selected your platter of pintxos, you find a place to sit and have your food. Some may prefer to stand at the bar and nibble on the food.There was a large variety of pintxos at Casa Alcalde and even when we discounted the meat dishes (we don’t eat meat), there were plenty of these delicious-looking pintxos to choose from. Naturally, we didn’t limit ourselves to three a piece.
Wine from the Basque Country
The recommended drink to have here was Txakoli (or chacoli in Catalan), a white wine produced in the Basque Country. It is slightly sparkling, very dry white wine with high acidity and low alcohol. The bar-tender puts on quite a performance when pouring out a glass.
You can choose to pay for your pintxos before eating or after your meal. If you choose to pay after, remember to keep the little sticks as this is how the cashier knows how much to charge you. Our shared pintxos, including a mushroom and prawn proxetta, a glass of Txakoli and one espresso came to a total of only €15.9.
Casa Alcalde was bustling with activity, and every now and then you’d hear a loud cry from the barman. I found out that when he receives a tip, he usually gives out this loud cry – just to add a bit of local colour. To find out if it is true, I left a tip when I paid the bill and there came the cry!
With so many bars and restaurants in the Old Town alone, it is no wonder that San Sebastian has a reputation as a food lover’s destination. Unfortunately for us, we only had time for one meal and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
See more photos of San Sebastian pintxos at Travelsignposts photo gallery HERE.
Map of San Sebastian Old Town: