Paradise In the Heart of Basque Country
Food, oh the food! Quite possibly the best food in all of Europe. It’s what San Sebastián does. From Anthony Bourdain’s field notes:
San Sebastián and the surrounding region has more outrageously good restaurants per square mile than just about anywhere in Europe. Even the bad restaurants are good. … You almost can’t lose in San Sebastián. The Basque can’t seem to help but make good food from great ingredients.
And of course, he’s right. San Sebastián is full of Michelin star restaurants, but that’s not with this blog is about. The best food we had the entire trip was in San Sebastián and it cost about 1/4 of the price it would cost in the States. They are known for their pintxos (they are not called tapas here). My guess is that you can’t possibly go wrong at any restaurant.
Where to Eat
Pintxos at Bar Zeruko
Calle Pescaderia, 10, 20003
Starting the trip off with my favorite meal. Of the whole trip. They were very knowledgeable about gluten allergies, let me know what I could eat, and what they could adapt for me. We sat in the restaurant part, but they also have a more traditional style pintxo section. We ordered: octopus, lamb, razor clams, and steak (served with homemade ketchup and pickles!).
Whatever you do, get the octopus. Trust me! I’m usually not a fan. In fact, I avoid it like the plague. But I vowed to try something new this trip and so I did. And it was the best bite of food I had the entire trip. Quite possibly ever.
Pintxos at Gandarias
31 de Agosto Kalea, 23, 20003
They actually advertise that they have a gluten free menu - and they do! It was INSANELY packed here, but it’s all apart of the fun. Squish your way up to the bar and start grabbing items (if you don’t have a gluten allergy). If you do have a gluten allergy, let the bar tender know and they’ll hook you up with your very own menu. The blistered shisito peppers are a must! Next time we go, I’ll just ask the bartender to give me their three best gluten free small plates. Everything looks amazing!
Txikiteo (How to bar hop)
First, order Txakoli (chick-ol-i). It’s a bubbly white wine poured from height to aerate the wine (bartenders tend to have fun pouring this!). If you’re not into wine, most bars also serve local craft beers. Second, don’t fill up in one spot. Order one or two things per person, per bar. The entire idea is to hop from bar to bar. Order one drink, a few bites, then move to the next one (all the while freeing up the place you’re occupying for the next patron - however, don’t rush yourself!). If you get to a place and there is nowhere to sit, don’t worry - you’ll see plenty of people standing outside the bar with food and drink in hand. It’s just the way it goes! The bars are in the old town, so you’ll get to soak in plenty of old beauty while you’re enjoying some of the best food you’ve ever had.
While you’re there, head up to Monte Igueldo. The views are breathtaking. They turned it into a little amusement park - kinda weird - but our daughter got a kick out of it and we enjoyed the views. So it’s a win-win.
We only got to spend two nights here. As we were leaving, my husband and I both said we wanted to come back and spend more time. I know we only touched the surface on the culture and we’ll definitely be back. We loved walking around and checking everything out. The beaches were packed. The streets were full of people just enjoying life. And of course, we found a playground! Always, always find the playground when traveling with a toddler, even when it’s raining (which it did rain).
If we do it again - which I hope we do - we’ll stay longer. Probably closer to a week. It’s one of the cities you can easily relax, but still feel like you’re exploring. Very Nice-esq in that way. What a lovely city.
Holga | Lomography Film