The way to eat "pintxos" in San Sebastián is enter a bar, order a drink at the bar, and ask for a plate. The "pintxos" are displayed along the bar, each one with a toothpick stuck in it. Take the ones you want and leave the toothpick in the plate. To pay, give the plate to the waiter and he'll tally how many "pintxos" you've eaten according to the number of toothpicks he counts. If the "pintxo" is hot, ask the waiter to serve it. In some places they prefer to serve you the "pintxos" themselves, but don't worry. When you ask for a plate, they'll let you know.
It's typical to order "txacolí" (Basque white wine) or "zuritos" (beer on tap served in a small glass) to drink.
These are the best "pintxo" bars in the Old City along with their specialities. We recommend trying a couple places today and leaving the others for lunch or dinner tomorrow.
- Gandarias (C/ 31 de Agosto 23): Amazing "pintxos" bar. Their most famous "pintxo" is the Txistorra (spicy sausage) puff pastry (2.20€).
- La Cuchara de San Telmo (Plaza Valle Lersundi, corner of Santa Corda): They only serve hot "pintxos", which you order at the bar along with your drinks. The best: "foie con compota de manzana" (foie gras with apple compote, 3.30€) and "rissotto cremoso de queso de cabra" (creamy goat cheese rissotto, 2.80€).
- La Cepa (C/ 31 de Agosto 7): Their specialty is ham; so any "pintxo" involving it is outstanding. You definitely don't want to miss their "croquetas de jamón" (ham croquettes), the "pimientos rellenos de carne" (meat-stuffed peppers), the "gavilla" (loin taco with Emmental cheese and ham covered with bechamel sauce and breaded), and the "ensaladilla rusa" (Russian salad). "Pintxos" 1.90€, "txacolí" 1.40€, "zurito" 1.20€. Order everything at the bar.
- Bar Néstor (C/ Arrandegi 11): very famous Spanish omelete (tortilla de patata). They only cook 2 omelets per day, one for lunch (13h) and one for dinner (20h). But it is so demanded that you have to go one hour in advance to reserve your portion (12h-19h). If you feel like sitting down and eating here, the steak (chuleta) is just amazing (about 32€ a 700gr piece) and the tomato salad (5-8€) tastes awesome. They just have one table (table 19) but it is quite impossible to have a seat unless you go out of standar Spanish lunch and dinner times (go before 13h or before 20h).
- Goiz Argi (C/ Fermín Calbetón 4): Their hot "pintxos" are probably the best in town. Order the "brocheta de gambas" (shrimp brochette, 2€), the "bola de carne con pimiento" (meatball with peppers, 1.50€) and the "Mari Juli" (pepper, salmon and smoked anchovy, 2€).
- Egosari (C/ Fermin Calbetón 15): Famous for their "rape" monkfish brochette (3€), which you order at the bar.
- Tamboril (C/ Pescadería 2, next to Plaza de la Constitución). Very famous for their "pimiento relleno de bacalao" (codfish-stuffed pepper) "pintxo" and their "champis" (mushrooms). Order everything at the bar.