San Sebastián, or Donostia as it’s known in Basque, is a smallish city of just under 200,000 people. It was once the summer retreat of Spanish royalty and it’s fine architecture and stunning beach promenade are reminders of that proud time.
It is a wealthy city with some fabulous clothing shops, but is probably best known for it’s cuisine. There are 2 fabulous dining choices to make: do we bar hop our way around the old centre and enjoy some of the best tapas in Spain, or do we choose one the Michelin-starred restaurants for a fine dining experience we will never forget?
What a dilemna…
For tapas, head to Constitution Square where the Council resides and head off down any of the gorgeous little pedestrianised streets that make up this small but potent collection of eateries.
The usual form is to hop from bar to bar, each one usually has its own speciality. IF in doubt watch the locals, but you enter, find a space, grab the pinxos ot tapas that you want, order a drink, and pay on your way out according to the number of drinks and toothpicks you’ve had. You collect the toothpick from each tapa and the waiter will count them plus your drinks and give you the tab. It’s an honesty system that works. I’ve never seen anyone caught cheating the system but I imagine the punishment is a dunking in the local port.
For sit-down dining, there’s plenty to offer. Spain currently has six three-star Michelin restaurants of which three are here in San Sebastian. Booking is essential, people travel from all over just to experience Arzark or Berasategi’s creations.
And there are plenty of options in between; the Basques love their food (and wine) and invest heavily, so there’s hundreds of choices for most budgets.
As a footnote, most kids love tapas. They can pick and choose as they want, and you’ll always find something they love. And when they’re done eating they can play safely in the street (no traffic) while you finish yours.