On the Northern Coast of Spain, deep in Basque Country, lies the city of San Sebastian. This city has long been a destination for international tourists and Spaniards alike. It is known for many things, such as its beautiful sandy beaches with lovely chapels and mountains covered with vegetation. The region is also known for the Basque language, which exists with Catalan, Galician, and Castilian Spanish as one of the four co-official languages of Spain.
One thing that San Sebastian is definitely known for is its pinchos (or pintxos in Basque). The tradition of pinchos in San Sebastian is cause enough for some to dub it the culinary capital of Spain. But what are pinchos? Why are they so popular and renowned in San Sebastian?
Pinchos are small portions of dishes or smaller plates that can take the shape of many types of food from skewers of meat to freshly caught seafood. They are similar to tapas. Traditional pinchos are typically a little bit larger and are traditionally served on a slice of bread and skewered to hold it together.
When my friends and I went to San Sebastian, we decided to take advantage of all that this culinary wonderland had to offer, and went on a little pincho crawl. Our experience was definitely different, as we were in San Sebastian during Carnaval, and all the streets and pinchos spots were absolutely filled with people. Nonetheless, here is some of the research that we did and the plates that we tried.
This was the first place in San Sebastian that we went to on our pincho tour. It is a very small bar with limited seating, so it is best to go during a less busy time or with a smaller group. The most popular pinchos in Ganbara are croissants served with ham or salmon, sauteed mixed mushrooms, and fried white asparagus. Some of these dishes are only available when in season, so you may not find them during your visit.
At Borda Berri, we were able to find delicious pinchos at extremely reasonable prices. It had a more homey feel than Ganbara, with a blackboard behind the counter that read the pinchos they were serving that day. Our favorite pinchos were “kebab de costilla de cerdo,” which was a pork rib with kebab sauce, and the fish of the week served with pickled strawberries. Other popular dishes include “carrillera de ternera al vino tinto,” which is a slow-cooked beef cheek in red wine sauce, and “oreja de cerdo,” or pig’s ear.
La Cepa de Bernardo
La Cepa de Bernardo was the place to go for Jamon Iberico. This meat is a delicacy of Spain, as it comes from a cured leg of pork which gives it an unbeatable delicate flavor. They have many tostadas (toasts) with Jamon Iberico that are popular, but we decided to just go for a “ración” or a larger portion of Jamon Iberico.
The final destination that we hit up on our pinchos crawl of San Sebastian was Gandarias. This location is known for their “brochetas” or meat skewer pinchos. It was a great place to finish because it has a more relaxed atmosphere.
If you find yourself in San Sebastian, be sure to try out some (or all!) of these locations. I can promise you that any pinchos you may find in this lovely city cannot disappoint.
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Kai da Luz
My name is Kai da Luz and I am a current sophomore at Villanova University who is studying in Salamanca. I love to play volleyball and am a major foodie.