You are what you eat & drink

What’s a Pintxo?

Well, according to Wikipedia, it’s a small snack usually served in a bar. They are particularly popular in Spain and the Basque Country. You can follow the link to find out more, quite fascinating.

I had never heard of  ‘pintxo bars’ before I read this…

The best experimental pintxo bars in San Sebastián

San Sebastián’s famous pintxo bars serve fantastic food for a few euros – and now there’s a new generation of more experimental places to try, says the author of Real Tapas

Experimental pintxo at A Fuego Negro in San Sebastián

Last week, acclaimed Basque chefs Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena, owners the famous Arzak restaurant in San Sebastián, opened Ametsa, their long awaited London outpost. Several notches down the price scale, in Donostia-San Sebastián itself, you can sample bite-size versions, cocina en miniatura or pintxos, the refined Basque version of tapas. Here is a selection of the top avant garde and experimental pintxo bars, plus a couple of classics thrown in.

Borda Berri

Iñaki Gulín has kept a loyal following ever since he blazed a trail at La Cuchara de San Telmo. This opened 12 years ago at the back of the old coastal quarter as an innovative, nueva cocina place with a young spirit. Then, five years ago, he and fellow chef Marc Clua left La Cuchara to open Borda Berri a few streets away in this foodie labyrinth, keeping the rock’n’roll style yet turning out impeccable pintxos with a twist. The homely bar, its yellow walls hung with old photos, is professional yet laid-back, not an easy balance. The pintxos are chalked up on a board and cooked to order: an unctuous risotto of mushrooms and idiazabal (a Basque cheese), garlic soup with pig’s ear, braised veal cheeks in wine or a bacalao (salt cod) taco. This is top, earthy Basque fare and not to be missed.

Bar Zeruko

Award-winning Zeruko is one of the old town’s most inventive pintxo haunts. The style is young, hip and playful, with mint-green walls, trestle tables and a bar laden with temptations. Aspic makes a comeback, enclosing diced vegetables and a soft-boiled egg, quickly heated beforehand, or wild mushrooms with foie gras mousse. Meticulously presented, though contrasts of textures and flavours sometimes go too far down the showy molecular route. Try the marmitako, a traditional Basque tuna and potato soup.

Read more bar reviews with photos

Read more bar reviews with photos

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