James and I honeymooned in San Sebastian in Basque country, Spain, which many believe is the food capital of the world and I may just agree with them there. It has access to the best well-stocked larder from the seafood straight out of the Bay of Biscay and fresh produce from the surrounding green, rolling hills so it is no wonder nine of its restaurants boast Michelin stars, making it the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita in the world. It is safe to say that we didn’t go hungry whilst we were with so many different tapas or ‘pintxos’ as they are known there to choose from, all washed down with really good red wine or vino tinto. I think what struck me about the cuisine was that it was a tale of two halves; they were very progressive with their flavour pairings and daring sweet and savoury combinations and on the other hand, their traditional pintxos were still so popular and not worth messing about with. They make the most of being a coastal city, we ate a lot of seafood and fish and squid ink seemed to factor in a lot of dishes too.
We had a very relaxed seven days in San Sebastian, enjoying the slow pace of life and days on the beach, but you could easily do it in a long weekend and I have put together a list of some of our recommended places to visit so I hope this guide helps you.
As it was our honeymoon, we dug deep and really treated ourselves for lunch at Arzak. It was probably the best meal both of us have ever eaten in our lives with impeccable service. What pleased me even more is the head chef is Elena Arzak and she came out to talk to us after our meal which made it really special. I will let the photographs speak for themselves.
This was probably my favourite place that we ate at (Arzak aside). There is no choice of what you eat if you choose to dine in like we did, the only food on offer is their very exciting tasting menu. This place took mixing sweet and savoury to another level with some of our favourite dishes being cherry meringue toast with mackerel tartar, crispy jellyfish with a citrus foam and olive, grapefruit and sherry granita. Forgive the red lighting, there were lots of neon lights for decor!
Isla de Santa Clara
You must pop on a boat or swim across the bay to the enchanting little island of Santa Clara. It is completely isolated and you can walk the periphery in about 15 minutes with locals only coming across to swim, relax, eat and drink. There is only one little shack that you can buy food from and don’t be put off from its slightly touristy image, we had the best paella here. Eat your big bowl of paella in the sunshine by the shore and forget where you are for a moment, a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
I loved the interior design of this restaurant with highly glossed wooden tables and paint-stripped rowing boats suspended from the ceiling. Again, if you decide to sit in and eat at this restaurant, they recommend you try their tasting menu. We weren’t so keen on the squid ink pudding which was basically like squid ink blancmange but everything else was super tasty.
This place is definitely more contemporary than your pintxos bars. A very trendy outlet that does really good Mexican food if you are up for something different one evening.
We stayed in a Air B&B while we were in San Sebastian and as it happened, Luis, our host did a food tour around Old Town. This was a fantastic evening and we had a great laugh with the people who also signed up for the tour too. Luis is a local so his recommendations were spot on, plus he was quite a character! We did this on our second night we were there so it was invaluable to help us navigate our way round for the upcoming days showing us where to go and where to avoid. A couple of highlights were:
- Ganbora – famous for mushroom dishes – you must try the fried mushrooms with egg yolk.
- Atari Gastrokteka – Always heaving with people and famous for ox cheeks.
Expensive but do the best cocktails with a view of the bay in the city. Definitely go at sunset.
The best G&Ts!