Basque country, also known as Euskadi, is an autonomous region in Northern Spain (and part of France) that prides itself on being the gastronomical capital of the world. While there are plenty of beautiful towns in Basque Country, San Sebastián is the heart and soul of the cuisine scene, specifically the Pinxtos in San Sebastián!

Basque cooking is known for the simplicity of the ingredients and the complexities of its tastes. The Basque weren’t influenced or invaded by the Moors so there were no outside spices brought into the area, hence the food relies on simple seasonings and very fresh produce, meats, and fish.

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What is a Pintxo?

While it’s known as the destination with the highest concentration of Michelin-stars per capita in the world, some of its finest food can be found at its Pintxos bars (pronounced “pincho”). Pintxos are the Basque version of tapas, small, bite-sized snacks, typically eaten in bars around northern Spain and Basque country. Pintxos aren’t just a part of Basque Country, they’re imbedded in Basque culture. There is a strong socializing component to Pintxos that make it a cornerstone of Basque culture.

There are hundreds of Pintxos bars around San Sebastián and it can be intimidating to choose which establishments to dine at. While people travel to Dublin to bar hop, they travel to San Sebastián to Pinxto bar hop! We tasted our way through the city of San Sebastián for three days straight and it was the most divine way to experience a city.


The squid and kimchi at Mendaur Berria

How to Order Pintxos

Pintxos bars litter the streets of San Sebastián. Crowds gather at high tables on the inside of the bars and in the streets of the old city. Some Pintxos bars offer seating, but the best ones are standing room only, which makes for great socializing! When you walk into the bar, there will be dozens of dishes out on the bar, filled with cold foods. The hot foods are usually on a chalkboard and have to be ordered through a bartender or waiter/waitress.

There are two main ways to order. The first way is the “tourist” way. This is where you take a plate and grab Pintxos from the bar. The second “local” way is to order directly from the restaurant staff at the bar.


Enjoying a Txakoli and Pintxo outside

We preferred ordering directly from the bar because we were able to learn about the specialties of the specific restaurant and the food came out extremely fresh. You can also order your drink directly from the bar – usually a Txakoli (a sparkling white wine). You can then eat at the bar or head outside to enjoy your pintxos on the streets of San Sebastián. When you’re done with your food, drop your napkin on the floor. Seriously…just drop it. It’s customary.

  • Step 1: Get a spot at the bar
  • Step 2: Ask the bartender / waiter what he or she recommends
  • Step 3: Order food from the bartender / waiter
  • Step 4: Ask the bartender / waiter what drink would pair well with it
  • Step 5: Enjoy your food and beverage at the bar or outside at a table.
  • Step 6: Drop your napkin on the ground.
  • Step 7: Try not to stuff yourself at one place because there will be other pintxo bars in your near future!

Inside at the bar at Ganbara

Pintxo Tour San Sebastian

Because there are so many delicious places to eat in San Sebastián, we highly recommend enlisting the professionals at Mimo Food Tours. Our tour guide, Lourdes, took us on a gastronomical journey through the pintxos bars in old city and we learned so much about the history, the culture, and the cuisine. It was one of the best tours we’ve ever taken and we’ve been on all the tours. The tour visits six pintxo bars and each stop has food and a glass of wine included. We highly recommend booking this tour in the beginning of your trip so that you can get a lay of the land, the history, and of course – to learn about the best pintxo bars!


Dining at one of the favorite pintxo bars of the late, great Anthony Bourdain

San Sebastián Guide to Pinxtos

There are dozens of delicious pinxtos bars in San Sebastián and we only scratched the surface of this epicurean city. Here are our choices for the best Pinxtos in San Sebastian:

(Important thing to know: Most Pintxo bars close around 3 pm and reopen at 8 pm for siesta.)

Mendaur Berria: We went to this place three times in three days. It’s just that good! Plus, it’s open nearly all day (no siesta time!)


  • Txakoli Wine
  • Truffled rice
  • Squid with kimchi sauce
  • Fresh Squid

Casa Urola: Located in the old city, this delicious pintxo bar was a favorite of the late, great Anthony Bourdain.


  • Scallops
  • Mushrooms with egg yolk
  • Ham croquettes
  • Hake chins (if you’re feeling daring)
  • Cascarela Verdejo wine

Atari: This place has both pintxos and larger dishes. You can sit down at tables inside or stand outside.


  • Sirloin
  • Octopus
  • Tinto de Verano wine

Ganbara: This used to be a locals bar, but since Anthony Bourdain visited, the tourists did too. It’s still worth a visit in our opinion plus it’s a great place to meet travelers!


  • Fresh Mushrooms with egg yolk
  • Jamon and cheese on a croissant
  • Anchovies

Sirimiri: This place is all about the jamón (ham), baby!


  • Acorn fed Jámon
  • Tomato salad with burrata cheese
  • Slow cooked lamb
  • Grilled Duck
  • Viñestral wine


A Fuego Negro: Hip, dark, and eclectically decorated, A Fuego Negro has an amazing vibe, especially later in the evening.


  • Mini Wagyu Beef Burger (TRUST us)
  • Quail
  • Eggplant Tartar
  • Grenache wine

Goiz Argi: Unassuming from the outside, but absolutely delicious pintxos await you inside!


  • Prawn skewer
  • Fried peppers
  • Txakoli wine

La Cuchara de San Telmo: Locals spot – off the main path.


  • Blood Sausage

The octopus at Atari


Fresh squid is a favorite in the Basque region


The view of Old City San Sebastián


Happy Roamers

Michelin Star Dining in San Sebastián

If you want to step outside of the pintxo zone and eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant, we highly recommend making these reservations in advance. While we were in San Sebastián, we ate at Ezcaray by Francis Paniego, the pop-up restaurant at the Maria Cristina Hotel. This pop-up restaurant was created by an esteemed two Michelin-starred chef and it was absolutely delicious.


Enjoying the tasting menu at the Ezcaray pop-up restaurant at the Maria Cristina Hotel