Pinchos, pinchos & more pinchos (San Sebastián style)

by Karisa

Now before we get to my pick of the best pinchos bars in San Sebastián… there are some things you’d need to know before tackling a pinchos experience in this city:

  1. In summer, these bars, especially the popular ones, get super busy.  Like a jam-packed tin of sardines busy.
  2. Be prepared to really just be standing at the bar while eating.  If you’re a solo traveller, I would advise using the “jersey technique” to secure a spot.  Basically it involves you strategically placing a jersey or jacket if you do happen to find a quiet little gap somewhere away from the bustling bar, leaving you free to go up & place your order (which is done at the bar).
  3. They mostly do have English versions of their menus.  So ask for one if like me, your Spanish isn’t that great.
  4. Some bars also do full size servings of their pinchos dishes, so just make sure what portion size you’re ordering.  Pinchos sizing is usually a small bite.  But that way you can try a variety of things, which is really what you want to be doing.

Right, with that out of the way…  these 3 would be my recommendation if you ever find yourself in this foodie city (AND the awesome thing is, they’re actually all conveniently situated just a few steps from each other).  So let’s go:

  • A Fuego Negro (address: Calle 31 de Agosto, 31):
    afuegonegro1 afuegonegro2Hands down best mini burger I’ve ever had, like EVER.  On the menu it’s called “Makobe with txips” and it costs 3.9 euros.  The chips are actually banana crisps.  How cool does that sound?
    The other two dishes I tried (and they actually looked quite similar on the plate) was the ballesta fish (3.5 euros) and the pickled pork (also 3.5 euros).  Both were amazing.  All round pinchos happiness here…  it’s worth waiting around for a gap, that I guarantee you.
  • Gandarias (address: 31 de Agosto Kalea, 23):
    gandarias1 gandarias2They have ready-made items on the bar, or you can order from the menu.  I did the latter and tried a selection of their croquettes – codfish, wild mushroom & Iberian cured ham (1.6 euros each).  All very tasty on their own.  But 3 together was a bit rich.  So I don’t advise doing that.  Just pick one, maybe two.
    I also had the grilled foie gras (2.35 euros) which was very interesting and the grilled beef sirloin (2.45 euros) which was my absolute favourite.
    The duck breast brochette however (that’s the kebab looking item above) I felt was a bit dry and disappointing for the 4 euro plus price tag.  So wouldn’t recommend that one.  But everything else was great and the pricing is good enough to allow you to try a whole host of things.
  • La Cuchara de San Telmo (address: Calle del Treinta y Uno de Agosto, 28):
    lacuchara1 lacuchara2This would be the place to go for really unique and interesting dishes.  I can’t remember the exact prices for the pinchos I tried – but it was around the 3 – 6 euro mark.
    I went for their top seller – the veal cheeks (top pic above) – well I actually didn’t realise that was what I was eating.  I just asked the barman what he would recommend and he said something like “vishicks” (his English wasn’t very good).  Me not wanting to go “huh? what?”, was like “ah yeah, that sounds good”.  I don’t even normally eat veal because of the whole baby cow thing.  And now I ate its baby cheeks!!??  I’m going straight to hell for that one.  But DAMN it was good…
    The other two dishes I went for was the creamy orzo risotto and the foie gras with apple compote.  Both dishes gave me the “hmm, not sure this is my thing” feeling at first bite.  Just because they’re kinda strange.  But by the 3rd bite, I was sold.
    Their dishes tend to push your comfort zone limits a bit.  But that’s what I liked about the place.  You don’t want to travel all the way across the world to have something you can have back at home, right?  Right.

If you head closer to the beachfront, the focus is more on different seafood options.  I didn’t get around to really exploring those pinchos bars.  So that’ll have to wait for a return visit.  But I was quite happy with what I found in these 3 listed above and I left San Sebastián feeling like regular size dishes are going to be soooo boring in comparison now. 🙂

If you’ve ever been to San Sebastián and found a great pinchos bar that’s not mentioned here, drop me a mail, or leave a comment below and share the love.

Next up: Madrid baby!


1 comment Mar 12, 2014 - 8:45 am

You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation but I find
this topic to be actually something which I think I might never understand.
It kind of feels too complex and very huge for me.
I am having a look ahead in your next publish, I’ll attempt
to get the cling of it!


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