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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Places

Star-studded San Sebastian

Lying where the Urumea River meets the Bay of Biscay in Northern Spain, the small, elegant, seaside town of San Sebastián offers some of Europe’s most beautiful urban beaches, a picturesque and cobbled old town and a thriving food scene.

Just 25 miles from French border, San Sebastián is squarely located in Basque Country — its alternate,

Five of the best typical San Sebastián dishes   

Kokotxas: hake or cod throats al pil pil, a sauce of garlic, chilli, olive oil and fish stock that thickens as gelatine is released from the fish as it cooks.
Chipirones en su tinta; Cuttlefish cooked in its own ink.
Chuleta: Local pork chop
Gilda: a classic Basque skewer of of olive, salty anchovy and pickled pepper​
Anchoas saladas: Salted anchovies

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widely used name, is Donostia, and while Spanish is still the lingua franca, the Basque language is very much alive here.

In the food world, the city’s reputation is far larger than its small population would suggest. Per capita, it has the highest concentration of Michelin stars of any global city (16).

Its culinary revolution began in the 1970s, when two contemporary chefs, Juan Mari Arzak and Pedro Subijana, turned their attention to local gastronomic traditions and ingredients, creating a groundswell of interest in Basque cuisine and inspiring a new generation of chefs.

One of these is Andoni Luis Aduriz, a local chef who returned from working with Ferran Adrià at El Bulli to set up his double-Michelin star enterprise, Mugaritz, in 1998. Here, he gives his top recommendations for eating and drinking in the city. 

Pintxos                                                  

In Donostia (Basque for San Sebastián), you’ll find pintxos on the menu rather than tapas, which in their most simple format are served atop a slice of bread.

Casa Galicia

An unassuming frontage in the heart of the Old Town hides one of the city’s best pinxto bars. Speciality pintxos: Lacón, or shoulder of pork.

Kalea Zabaleta 28
casagaliciagipuzkoa.com

Bar Ricardo

Close the to surf beach Zurriola, this lively bar is a great place to watch a football match alongside locals. Speciality pintxos: Shrimp)

Kalea General Artetxe, 6

Bar Roberto

The Spanish passion for vermouth is best experienced at Roberto, which offers more than 20 varieties, served traditionally with lemon, orange zest and olives, alongside a range of garlic-tinged seafood pinxtos. Speciality pintxos: Marinated sardines with vermouth.

Kalea General Artetxe 2

A Fuego Negro

With its theatrical black interior, this new-wave Basque bar is a more contemporary entrant to the scene, featuring a pintxos tasting menu and its own cookbook. Speciality pintxos: olives with vermouth.

Kalea 31 de Agosto 31
afuegonegro.com

Casa Vallés

Specialising in the prized Iberian ham from Jabugo — which has its own Denominación de Origen — Casa Valles is everything you’d expect in a classic Spanish bar; warm wood-panelled walls, a groaning pinxto buffet and ageing hams hanging overhead. Speciality pintxos: Gilda – a Basque mixture of olive, anchovy and pickled pepper. 

Kalea de los Reyes Católicos 10
barvalles.com
 

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