Romantic, picturesque and brimming with good food at every turn, San Sebastian is a place any foodie must visit at least one in their lifetime.
Built round the natural curve of La Concha bay, the city looks to the sea for its calming vista as the locals take their evening paseo, and also for the abundance of seafood that graces the restaurants and bars throughout the city.
This is a town for the food explorer, and whether you want to casually graze on the popular pintxos snacks offered at the lively bars in the tight little streets of the city centre, or sit down to a set course michelin-star meal, you will find it here.
La Perla is a seaside restaurant and bar adjoining a Thalassotherapy complex. Late afternoon on the aperitif terrace is a nice spot to sit and take in the view over a beer and some spicy patatas bravas made coloured up with the addition of purple sweet potato.
Located in the port of Donostia you will find many a seafood tavern-style restaurant just waiting to call in the tourists. Yes, the prices match the tourist traffic but it is a good place to wander along the port and pick a place to enjoy some locally caught seafood, particularly after hiking up Mount Urgill to Mota Castle for a stunning viewpoint.
We settled on La Rampa for a freshly cooked feast of seafood cooked in the Basque-style – tiny whole pan-fried red mullet, clams in green sauce and crab with a brandy sauce served in the shell, all served port-side on the marina.
The pintxos crawl started in the early evening as we meandered through narrow streets of the old town, stopping for a drink and to peruse and choose from the bars laden with colourful, tasty pintxos of all varieties. There is a lot of pride wrapped up in the pintxos that are served with the creativity of the cook and the freshness of the produce shining through in every bite. You will not leave hungry, but you will probably leave a little drunk after a few of those generous pours of Basque cider.
At the award-winning Restaurant Narru, the vibe is modern and innovative, with a seasonal produce driven menu of damn fine cooking. The Iberian Secret Pork is a cut of meat between the shoulder and the loin of acorn fed Iberian pigs. It is a thin cut that is layered with fat so it becomes extra crispy when cooked … OMG! The milk fed lamb couldn’t have been more than a few months old…it was so milky and tender, with such fine bones …and the crackling was delish. And the Chocolate, Olive Oil and Salt for dessert was elegant in its simplicity.
Also at Restaurant Narru, in the more casual bar area, we first tried Jamon Bellota Carrasco which is hands down the best Jamon I have ever tasted. Sweet, creamy and gently salted, it has fine marbling throughout the tender flesh and when sliced tissue thin, it just melts on your tongue, leaving a sweet lingering after flavour and makes you reach for more. No wonder the Spaniards are mad for it!
And after strolling, grazing and exploring, finishing off the day with a glass of Cava, overlooking the Playa De La Concha from the balcony of the Hotel Niza is a most romantic thing to do in this most romantic place…