Sunday, May 28, 2023

Street Food: Pintxos in the Basque Country, Spain

The Basque Country is not a very popular place for street food. Why? Because they have Pintxos to make up for it. A pintxo is a slice of bread with a small portion of food on top. It differs from a tapa because it is larger in size and it has to be ordered and paid for, whereas most tapas are complementary with your drink.

 Nonetheless, the pintxos scene has escalated to a very high gastronomic level. What used to be just food on a piece of bread is now small portions of traditional dishes. Most pintxos bar will have a huge variety of pintxos already prepared for you at the bar but also a menu with a list of hot pintxos that can be ordered and prepared for you at the moment.

Barra de Pintxos, San Sebastián, Basque Country Source: Desirée Piña

Basically, Pintxos are a mini version of a dish for you to taste. Which is great because there is space in your belly to try all different types of traditional dishes. If you ever find yourself in the Basque Country you HAVE to go on a pintxos tour. It’s the perfect way to try different local dishes in just one afternoon.

basquestreet2 1
Barra de Pintxos, San Sebastián, Basque Country
            Source: Desirée Piña

Pintxos bars usually have a huge variety of pintxos just chilling at the bar. Grab a plate, serve yourself as much as you want, pay and eat!

If you really want to indulge yourself on Basque delicacies, try  having a look at the menu and ordering hot pintxos that are cooked right at that moment.


Gilda, traditional Basque pintxo 
Anchovies, Olives and guindilla peppers
      Source: Desirée Piña 

Now, grab your squad, head bar hoping and try all the different varieties of Pintxos available in the Basque Country!

Pintxo de Txangurro, San Sebastián, Basque Country
    Source: Desirée Piña

Here is a small guide of the best Pintxos bar in San Sebastián, capital city of Guipúzkoa and home to many Michelin star restaurants.

Pastel de Pescado
Pastel de Pescado, Restaurante Kukuarri, San Sebastián, Basque Country
Fish Cake
Source: Desirée Piña

Head to La Cuchara de San Telmo, a very small and narrowed bar that fills up pretty quick. This bar is one of the oldest in town and home to various of the best  Basque cuisines. This bar gets packed quickly ( so, get there early) and it could be hard to order and find a place to eat. But its all worth it!  It doesn’t have pre made pintxos in the bar, like most others, and you have to order all the pintxos which will be made to order.

Everything here is amazing but you must have the Cochinillo (slow cooked suckling pig), Foie plantxa (duck liver), and the Carrilleras al Vino Tinto beef cheeks in wine sauce.

Source: Desirée Piña

Heading downwards on the 31 de Agosto street, just a few steps after La Cuchara de San Telmo you can find Restaurante Gandarias, one of the oldest and well known restaurant sin San Sebastián. Here you can indulge a nice Basque meal at the restaurant, taste their delicious pintxos at the bar or order some hot pintxos on their menu. You can have a nice drink of Txakolí with a Gilda. Their Pintxo de Txangurro (king crab), is a must. And do not forget to order the  pintxo de txuleta (grilled aged piece of steak on a bread) and some of their  famous brochetas or skewers.

On the same street you can find A Fuego Negro, a more modern and lively bar that takes pintxos to a whole other level. Their cuisine is a little less traditional, a bit more expensive but also, more avant garde. You must try the Black Rabas, Olives with Vermouth and Bonito-watermelon tartare. The mini Kober burger is a yummy classic as well!

Head to Atari for some delicious pintxos that will be awaiting for you at the bar. For some extra hearty and hot food order some yummy fried calamari and patatas bravas to share with your mates. The charred octopus is to die for.

Head to its sister bar, Sirmiri, next door for some international (fusion) pintxos and delicious cocktails. Their vegetarian croquetas are unique and flavourful. Don’t forget to order the steak tartare and the Pan Bao. If you are travelling in a pack do not hesitate to share their home made Nachos.

For fancier pintxos head to  Casa Urola and try the pintxo de  viera or scallop or the grilled octopus. This bar is known for using high quality and seasonal ingredients. Meaning, that the menu usually changes within the seasons. Do not forget to share the local, seasonal  mushrooms!

 Setas de temporada
Setas de temporada, Casa Urola, San Sebastían, Basque Country
                                                                        Source: Desirée Piña

Mendaur, is known for its wide variety of pre made pintxos but do not hesitate to order the Tako Talo, a sort of soft Taco filled with fried Begiundi (big calamari) and alioli.

If you want get out of old town for a while, head to the city center to Bar Zazpi and try the  oxtail ravioli, beef cheeks, and the fried artichokes with Romescu sauce.

Pintxo de Rabo de Toro y Foie, Bar Zazpi, San Sebastián, Basque Country
Source: Desirée Piña

We can’t end this article without some sweet desserts. Head to La Viña, for the best oven baked Cheesecake you will ever have. NO JOKE!

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Desirée Piña
Desirée Piña
Dominican - Italian living in Spain Foodie 27 years old • Born and raised in the Dominican Republic of Dominican father and Italian mother. • Have been living in Spain for 10 years • Culinary School student in Escuela de Cocina Luis Irizar, San Sebastián, Spain • Chef in Training • Digital nomad and vivid traveller • Freelancer • Last name is Piña, which means Pineapple in Spanish.


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