Pintxos Crawl

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2009 at 10:56 am

San Sebastian has more three-star Michelin restaurants per capita than any other city in the world.  It is a food lover’s dream town.  There is little else to do in San Sebastian other than eat incredibly well, go to the beach, and promenade.  (It feels like a more intimate French Riviera.)  I remember hearing it proposed that, because so many great chefs have flocked to this culinary capital, the standard of cuisine has filtered down to even the most plebian spots.  In exploring pintxos, the Basque equivalent of tapas, at bars across town, there is truth to this supposition.

 Calle Fermin Calbeton Pintxo spread

A pintxos crawl is like a pub crawl.  In my opinion, it’s even better because it focuses on the food.  Many of the bars are concentrated in San Sebastian’s compact Parte Vieja (Old Town) so it’s easy to go from one to the next, casually picking up a single beautiful pintxo (and probably a vino, sangria or cerveza) at each.  People mostly stand around the bar or at high tables; some places don’t have any chairs at all.  As at Haizea, it’s customary to toss napkins down so floors are cluttered by early evening.  All attention is on the pintxos which are laid out on platters like little single-serving works of art.  The cold creations are ready to eat; those designed to be hot are thrown on the grill or into the fryer before serving.  Most cost between 2 to 3 euros.

Pintxo Pintxo

Pintxo Pintxo

Pintxo Pintxo

Pintxo Pintxo

This is a fabulous list of places that Pili, who runs Pension Balerdi, recommended to me for pintxos:

Astelena (Euskal Herria 3)

Bar Tamboril (Calle Pescaderia 2)

Goiz Arei (Calle Fermín Calbetón 4)

Iturrioz (Calle de San Martín 30)

Haizea (Calle Aldamar 8)

Hika Mika (Calle de Etxaide 4)

While I loved “crawling” from one bar to the next, my two favorite places were definitely Haizea (see previous entry) and Astelena.  Astelena plated the most remarkable hot pinxtos, both delicious and stunning.

Pinxto Pinxto

Pinxto Dessert Pintxo




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