Our San Sebastian Food Diary
San Sebastian was built for food lovers. I started writing this entry with cherry-stained fingers, following a late lunch of freshly baked bread topped with tomatoes. I took a break to facilitate the afternoon’s dose of gelato, opting for dark chocolate and Sevillian orange. My laptop did not reopen for the rest of the holiday, obstructed by outings for fresh garlicky prawns and grilled octopus. You get the delicious picture.
If you’re curious about Europe’s mecca for food, you can stop stroking your chin. San Sebastian and the surrounding regions are home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. There is a smorgasbord of top-notch pintxo bars and artisan delis. You cannot turn a corner without seeing something else to sample, however full you might already be. Prepare yourselves for a multi-coursed post, and I make no apologies if this makes you hungry.
Mornings in San Sebastian started late, with a side of coffee, always. Sakona is probably the best place in town, recommended by several locals who we asked. To the delight of my coffee-obsessed in-laws and husband, it was a mere four minutes from our Air BnB in Donostia. You could find us perched up against the high bars most mornings, flat whites in tulip mugs with a slice of ginger loaf. The boys demolished the salmon on toast when they could - it sold out quickly most mornings. Another favourite was Koh Tao, brimming with locals and their bubbas in the early hours. Memories of my goblet replete with iced-coffee appeared like a mirage during London’s recent 33 degree heat.
Lunch happened several times during the day, at multiple intervals. The at-home variety always started with a loaf of Haga Handia (like a French baguette) from Galparsoro. It is best served with lashings of unsalted butter and wedges of cheese. Fresh tomatoes drizzled with salt and olive oil and slices of avocado were accompanied by plates of chorizo and jamón. Plump cherries and juicy peaches were dessert Part I, followed by pastries and other delights from Pasteleria Oiartzun. Je suis desolée, France, but their coffee eclairs were just as good as yours. May I also please highly recommend their ice-cream. More than once.
The area is famous for pinxto bars, and there is no shortage to choose from. There is shortage, however, of space at the bar. For a couple of the top-rated spots in town, we arrived at opening time due to failed attempts the day prior jostling with experienced experts for a spot. The clear winner amongst our little crew and most of the city is La Cuchara San Telmo. Jury’s out on what is their best dish as it was all incredible. Grilled octopus, beef cheek and suckling pig were all top contenders.
Paco Bueno was another hit, open-shirted locals with honed elbows guzzling prawns one hundred ways. The deep-fried prawns were going faster than they were being cooked, with the stacked plates empty and just about licked clean. The place has a tempered charm to it, toothpicks and crumpled receipts littering the floor with children winning places on grandpa's shoulders for prime pintxo eating conditions. Borda Berri was our other favourite, and one of the oldest establishments in town. Go for the tuna-stuffed tomato, I guarantee it won’t touch sides.
Lunch tended to morph into dinner, and some nights we dashed across to Loaf for an order of their take-out pizzas before joining the lively scenes down at Donostia beach for an evening night-cap. Loom Bar mid-week seemed to be a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike.
We will definitely be returning to this part of the world, so let me know if I missed anything!
With Love, Kate
(P.S You can read about what we got up to during our stay in San Sebastian here)