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Pintxos: What, Where, How? Your Guide to Experiencing San Sebastián's Famous Pintxos

Including a List of the 10 Best Pintxos Bars in San Sebastián in 2024


You cannot visit San Sebastián - and several other places in the Basque Country - without trying some of their famous pintxos.

Pintxos are small portions the size of a snack, usually served in bars. They differ from the traditional Spanish tapas in that they are ordered separately from the drinks (while tapas are often served free when you order a drink).

Pintxos originated in the Basque Country, and there is no better place to try them than in San Sebastián. They are one of the typical dishes you must try when visiting the city.

In this article, we will review our favorite bars so you can create your own pintxos route through the city.

Although pintxos are served throughout the city (and the Basque Country), the most traditional (and best) bars are found in the old town of San Sebastián.

If you want to hear more about pintxos, you can book a guided pintxos tour in San Sebastián through Spain is More

Before we dive into our favorite pintxos bars in the city, there are a few things you should know about pintxos.

Prepare for a bit of chaos

Pintxos bars in the old town can be very crowded, especially if you visit San Sebastián in the summer or on a weekend when a major event is taking place.

It is worth being prepared that you may not be able to get into all the pintxos bars you want, or accept that you may have to wait in some places. To be honest, it is part of the fun!

The only alternative to this is to go out for pintxos on a quieter weekday or early in the afternoon. But remember, the chaos is part of the charm!

Check the menus

Although all pintxos on the bar counter look spectacular and tantalize your taste buds, our best advice is to check the menu boards in a pintxos bar.

Some of the best pintxos are warm and made to order, so they are not presented on the bar counter.

Most pintxos bars have translations on the boards in English or menus in English, so there is no excuse. And if you are in doubt, you can always ask!

Order at the bar

Unlike most bars and restaurants in Spain, where you are served food at the table, in pintxos bars you have to order yourself at the bar.

When you enter a pintxos bar, grab a table (or a spot to stand), take a good look around, and decide what you want before making your way to the bar.

If you order cold pintxos, you will be served immediately. But if you order warm pintxos or something that needs to be prepared in the kitchen, you will have to wait or come back to the bar when it is ready.

A tab is typically opened, and you pay at the end.


This blog features examples from the Spain is More guidebook, which all our guests receive before their trip to Spain. If you visit San Sebastián or the Basque coast, the guide will provide extensive information about the region. We share our vast experience of Northern Spain so you can have the best possible vacation.


The bars we believe are the best pintxos bars in San Sebastián

Although there are many bars serving pintxos in San Sebastián, we have selected some of our favorites.

La Cuchara de San Telmo

Santa Korda Kalea, 4, 20003

We start with the pintxos bar that should be on every visitor's itinerary in San Sebastián.

La Cuchara de San Telmo can be very crowded (for a good reason), so it is worth going early if you can. It is normal to have a queue, especially because it is not the largest bar.

But even if you have to wait, we promise it is worth it. The bar has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most popular pintxos spots in the city.

The menu changes regularly, and unlike most pintxos bars, almost everything is made to order.

Although everything is good, we would recommend:

  • Cochinillo (Pork)
  • Carrillera de ternera (Beef cheeks)
  • Pulpo a la parrilla (Grilled octopus)


Arrandegi Kalea, 5, 20003

In the heart of the old town, on Arrandegi street, lies Bar Txepetxa. This pintxos bar is famous for its anchovy sandwiches (anchoas).

They are mainly prepared to order with different marinades and toppings.

If you do not like anchovies, this might not be your bar. However, they also make good sandwiches and have basics like croquettes, etc.


C. Alcalde, 4, 20003

If you are looking for a more sophisticated pintxos experience, Sirimiri might be the place for you.

It is more of a cocktail bar than a traditional pintxos experience, and there is a dining area if you want to secure a place in advance.

The bar and pintxos are presented in a more contemporary way, but they are still authentic and taste delicious.

Bacon Bao is a winner for us. And while you are there, it would be rude not to try a cocktail (or two).

Borda Berri

Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 12, 20003

This lively pintxos bar is one of the most traditional Basque bars in San Sebastián. Traditional means both rustic decor and menu.

The place has a certain charm that attracts locals and tourists alike all year round.

The menu is written on the board hanging above the bar, and it changes regularly with the seasons. If the ribs (costillas) are available, they are 100% worth trying!


C. de San Jerónimo, 21, 20003

Ganbara must be on this list as it is one of the best places in the city to try one of San Sebastián's most famous dishes: txangurro a la donostiarra!

Txangurro is a type of crab from the Bay of Biscay. The Donostiarra-style crab is usually stuffed, seasoned, and baked in its own shell.

The pintxos version is served as a tartlet that not only looks impressive but also tastes amazing!

Besides this classic, we would recommend sautéed mushrooms with egg and shrimp.

Bar Néstor

Arrandegi Kalea, 11, 20003

Although it is not technically a pintxos bar, Bar Néstor cannot be missed from our list because it is simply one of the best places to eat in the city.

The bar is famous for two things: its meat and its tortilla.

Their tortilla is almost impossible to get in San Sebastián. It is so in demand that the bar only produces two a day (one at 1:00 PM and one at 8:00 PM). To get a piece, you have to go to the bar and sign up on the waiting list.

Luckily, the meat is easier to get. You can reserve a table at the bar (it is worth doing as the space is very limited), and you will be presented with raw meat to choose from.


31 de Agosto Kalea, 23, 20003

If you are looking for a place that serves traditional Basque food and is a bit easier to get into, Gandarias is your spot.

They have a wide variety of pintxos, from the classics to portions of Iberian ham.

If you want a more traditional dining experience, there is also a dining room where you can order à la carte. Otherwise, there is plenty of space outside to enjoy a drink and some pintxos.

Bar Martínez

31 de Agosto Kalea, 13, 20003

Located on 31 de Agosto street, Bar Martínez has a long history on this famous street in Donostia. It opened its doors in May 1942 and is still one of the most popular places in the old town.

Despite its history, the bar fuses tradition with modern gastronomy, brimming with quality and flavor.

The red pepper filled with bonito (El pimiento rojo relleno de bonito) and Chatka pintxos (crab) are some of their standout dishes.

Besides the cold pintxos on the bar counter, do not forget to try the warm board dishes made to order.

La Viña

31 de Agosto Kalea, 3, 20003

We finish with perhaps one of the most famous bars in San Sebastián, which is the perfect place to end any pintxos route.

A few doors down from Bar Martínez, La Viña has gained worldwide recognition for the quality of its cheesecake. It has even received praise from ABC and the New York Times. Celebrities like Woody Allen have even made an effort to taste it here.

The publicity speaks for itself, and it is worth trying if you can get a slice.

Besides their world-famous dessert, they also offer a varied selection of cold and warm pintxos that are just as good.