Top San Sebastian Food + Drink

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Waterfront San Sebastian

Kursaal Congress Centre and Auditorium represents San Sebastián's contrast between new and old.

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11. Gandarias

This bar is tucked away by an Old Town San Sebastian basilica. A wood bar hosts an array of pre-made pintxos, tiles sport a diamond pattern, T-bones dry-age in a dedicated case, lobsters linger in an aquarium, and Joselito hams hang from the ceiling. The Gandaria family no longer runs the bar, but a commitment to quality persists. Begin with Tabla de Ibericos, a platter of Salchíchón, Chorizo, Lomo, Jamon, all produced using prized black-hoofed, acorn-fed hogs. Solomillo is another top bite consisting of seared sirloin on toast with green pepper and Maldon sea salt. Brocheta Gambas con Bacon “Joselito” is also a crowd pleaser, with bacon, onion, green pepper, red pepper, oil and vinegar, all sandwiched between two shrimp.

MUST ORDER: Brocheta Gambas con Bacon “Joselito,” Solomillo, Tabla de Ibericos

Coffee San Sebastian

12. The Loaf

Barista Javier Garcia, a four-time Spanish Barista Champion and fourth at the 2011 World Barista Championship in Bogota, helms San Sebastian’s best coffee bar, which resides in this modern bakery-cafe. He’s a partner in Right Side Coffee Roasters, so of course that’s what he brews. Victoria Ardurino’s Black Eagle espresso machine joins various hand-brewers. He’s a thoughtful coffee pro, so espresso comes with a sidecar of ginger water. An exhibition kitchen produces several different breads and pastries, some French, others American style. Flaky croissants are baked with Elle e Vire Beuerre extra dry butter. Scones flavors vary depending on the day, but they sport consistently crisp crusts and soft cores. A bistro in the basement runs Wednesday – Sunday from 1pm – 11 pm and features wood tables, black wall with geometric shapes, and rotating menu that could include Hunanese pork belly soup, cauliflower and potato hash with Ezkurtxerri sausage and piquillo, or pancakes with bacon and rum caramel.

MUST ORDER: Almond Blondie, Banana Bread, Coffee, Croissant, Pain au Chocolat, Scone

Macarons France

13. Maison Adam

Maison Adam is located on a square in Saint-Jean-de-Luz named for Louis XIV, which makes sense considering this Basque Country institution has been making macarons the same way since 1660 and first created the legendary sweet to honor France’s King. Now, the bakery sports a black awning and is fronted by strings of local pimenton peppers. These macarons won’t be recognizable to fans of Parisian macarons. These almond cookies, crisp outside, with good give, aren’t sandwiches, don’t contain cream and certainly don’t come in candy colors. Maison Adam has dozens of other baked goods, and another notable item is the pastel vasco, a dense tart filled with either pastry cream or local cherries.

MUST ORDER: Macaron, Pastel Vasco

Pastry San Sebastian

14. Otaegui

Otaegui’s original marble fronted bakery has been an Old Town fixture since 1886, but I opted for their second branch, a more modern cafe with seating by the cathedral at Plaza del Buen Pastor. Pantxineta is their signature item, a puff pastry cake with chewy base, flaky crust, cream filling and crushed almond topping that’s available by the wheel or slice. Pastel Vasco and chocolate sardines, sold in tins, are also popular. Around the holidays, Otaegui sells slabs of turron and carbon de azucar, black sugar chunks that resemble coal and are given to “bad” Christian children on the January 6 Epiphany.

MUST ORDER: Pantxineta, Pastel Vasco

Gourmet Shop San Sebastian

15. Pantori [CLOSED]

Xabier de la Masa, who also owns The Loaf, teamed with Maite, Jaime and Miguel on this gourmet shop with bright red awning and encouragement to “Go Local.” Pantori has a sizable online presence, and their Old Town outpost features distinctly Spanish products sourced from more than 200 culinary artisans, including wines, beers, jams, conserved seafood. I enjoyed Zen Gourmet piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, and a raw sheep’s milk cheese from Valladolid, matured for 15 months. This is a great place to grab a snack or souvenir.

MUST ORDER: Craft Beer, Valladolid Cheese, Zen Gourmet Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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Guias de San Sebastian

Next time you come to San Sebastian, we will show you different bars that never posted in written guides!!! Promised.

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