San Sebastián in Basque Country can lay claim to having the world’s highest density of gourmet stars per square meter! And then there are the hundreds of pintxo bars offering delights for the palate. Here are my tips for a pintxo tour:
San Sebastián (or Donostia in Basque) with 16 Michelin stars has the world’s highest concentration of gourmet stars. Click here for our gourmet tips in the Basque Country.
But the pintxos (pronounced ‘pintchos’) also make every gourmand’s heart beat faster.
They are the emblematic Basque cuisine and an important part of Basque culinary culture.
Pinchos are a type of Basque-style Spanish tapas: toasted slices of bread (mostly baguettes) on which a variety of different fixings are artfully and ingeniously arranged – spanning the gamut from Spanish ham to shrimp and anchovies to cheese, chorizo, or fried eggs.
As a rule, they are held together by toothpicks. Actually, ‘pintxos’ translates from Basque as ‘skewer’ hence the name.
The stand-out classic among pintxos is the spicy ‘Gilda‘, an allusion to a 1946 Hollywood film classic of the same name starring the sex-symbol Rita Hayworth, in which she does a hot single-glove striptease. The recipe pays homage to the actress with Spanish roots with a combination of hot peppers, olives, and anchovies.
In the town, you can get these tasty tidbits on practically every corner. San Sebastián is quite simply the heart of Basque pintxo country.
Particularly the Old Town, called the Casco Viejo, practically crawls with watering holes on whose bars these snacks are artfully piled high.
A number of pintxos qualify as true works of creative culinary art.
Pintxos tour of San Sebastián’s Old Town
We book our gourmet pintxos tour online via GetYourGuide.
Our tour guide, Begogna, knowledgeably shepherds us through the Old Town of San Sebastián.
We stroll from one bar to the next – just like the Basques do. They indulge in only one or two pintxos per bar. And a little glass of wine, of course (Txakoli or Rioja) or a ‘zurito’ (small beer) to wash them down. And on to the next bar they go….
By the way, you help yourself to the little delicacies from the bar. Only the warm varieties require ordering from the bar man.
A pintxo costs from 2 to 4 euro. The libations are extra, costing roughly the same per each serving.
The GetYourGuide gourmet tour includes four pintxos and four glasses of wine per person.
Sure, we could have done it less expensively on our own. And we might have chosen different pintxo bars from among the more than 200 in the San Sebastián Old Town.
That said, our tour guide Begogna being a native she can tell a story about each pintxo or bar, so that in the end we found the tour to have been a success worth the price.
On the Internet, it is possible to find tours that let you taste six pintxos. That would have been too much for us; we found that four were plenty to fill us up.
And four glasses of wine will do it for me any time….
We booked the 7 p.m tour, which, in Spain, is quite early, but this is our recommendation for you, too.
That’s because scheduling the tour a scant two hours later means you’ll run into clusters of people bellying up to the bars. Making your way through in the often narrow bars then turns practically into a hurdle race.
Keep in mind that some pintxo bars are closed on Mondays.