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Our 10 Favorite Markets & Restaurants in Madrid

La Tragantúa Restaurants in Madrid
Madrid, more than almost any other city in Spain, is a gastronomic hub. There is a huge variety of restaurants in Madrid, including many that cater to dietary restrictions and others that offer international cuisine, fusion food, and health-conscious options.

The city is home to 17 Michelin-star restaurants, but there's great food everywhere. So here's your guide to a variety of restaurants you shouldn't miss—including places offering extra chances to dive into Spanish history and culture.

Restaurants & Markets

We'll kick off the list with some of our favorite places for a fabulous meal.

La Finca de Susana

Hours: 1–11:30 p.m. (Sunday–Wednesday), 1 p.m.–12 a.m. (Thursday–Saturday)

Address: Calle del Príncipe, 10

This stylish spot offers traditional Madrileño cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. Bright, delicious pastas and a to-die-for Caprese salad make a perfect addition to the other Spanish fare on the menu. Don't miss the broad selection of house-made desserts.

Pointer Madrid

Pointer Madrid Restaurants in Madrid

Hours:

  • 1–4 p.m. (Mondays)
  • 1–5:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Tuesdays)
  • 1 p.m.–1 a.m. (Wednesdays)
  • 1 p.m.–2 a.m. (Thursdays)
  • 1 p.m.–2:30 a.m. (Friday–Saturday)
  • 1 p.m.–6:30 p.m. (Sunday)

Address: Calle del Marqués de la Ensenada, 16

Under the direction of Chef Cesar Galán, Pointer Madrid is one of the most exciting fine-dining restaurants in Madrid. Pointer offers its own take on some of Spain's most iconic dishes, from risotto negro (risotto in squid ink) to perfectly grilled steaks. The restaurant's luxurious digs are perfect for a romantic dinner.

Make a reservation here.

La Tragantúa

Hours: 1:30–4:30, 9–11:30 p.m. (Monday–Friday), 1:30–4:30 p.m., 9 p.m.–12 a.m. (Saturday), 1:30–4:30 p.m. (Sunday)

Address: Calle de la Verónica, 3–4

La Tragantúa, like many Spanish restaurants, has a rotating menú del día at lunchtime, offering a series of courses that include the freshest food possible. But based on the incredible merluza (hake), pasta, and paella dishes I had during my visit, I have little doubt that anything La Tragantúa serves up will be of the utmost quality. Highly recommended. 

Mercado de San Antón

Mercado de San Antón Chueca Madrid
Mercado de San Antón Chueca Madrid

Hours: 10 a.m.–12 a.m. daily

Address: Calle del Príncipe, 10

Located at the heart of Madrid's energetic Chueca neighborhood, the San Antón Market offers a slew of fresh foods and produce, as well as a variety of trendy spots to sit and have a tapa and glass of wine. Have a snack here, or a full dinner in the rooftop bar.

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Celicioso

Hours: 9 a.m.–10 p.m. daily

Address: Calle del Barquillo, 19

It's not easy to find gluten-free and vegetarian food in Spain. But it's not just the wealth of healthy, alternative options that makes Celicioso so worth a visit. Every sandwich, salad, and homemade juice is crafted with the utmost care and incredibly fresh. There's even a broad selection of gluten-free baked goods. Try the macaroons!

Mercado de San Miguel 

Mercado de San Miguel Madrid Markets

Hours: 10 a.m.–12 a.m. (Sunday–Thursday), 10 a.m.–1 a.m. (Friday–Saturday)

Address: Plaza de San Miguel

This centrally located market opens early and stays open late, meaning that at any time of day, it's the perfect place to try a broad range of Spanish foods. Try some delicious Iberian ham at the Carnicería Raza Nostra, sample Spanish cheeses and olives, or pick from a huge variety of freshly crafted tapas. If you find yourself stopping by the Mercado de San Miguel more than once during your stay in Madrid — you're not alone! 

Traveling to Madrid?

Whether you're staying for a day, a week, or a month, don't miss our definitive guide to all things Madrid.

Nigiri

Nigiri Japanese food Madrid sushi

Hours: 12–11:30 p.m. (Sunday–Thursday); 12 p.m.–1 a.m. (Friday–Saturday)

Address: Calle de Fuencarral, 91; Calle de la Princesa, 1

In the mood for something different? Nigiri offers fresh, quick sushi and other Japanese fare. If you don't have much time in Madrid, it's a great, centrally located option so you can stay on the go. And if you've had your fill of Spanish food, there's no better city than Madrid to discover alternative options.

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Snacks & Desserts

Madrid is an incredible city to explore on foot — but you'll need some fuel along the way. Try one of these delicious stops. 

Helados Patagonia Artesanal

Hours: 1 p.m.–12:30 a.m. (Sunday–Thursday), 1 p.m.–1 a.m. (Friday), 12 p.m.–1 a.m. (Saturday)

Address: Calle del Dr Cortezo, 9

This may be one of the most delicious — and unique — ice cream shops in Europe. Try the artisanal strawberry ice cream, and you'll have no doubt it's made entirely from freshly picked strawberries; the same goes for every flavor they offer. But don't hesitate to try some of their wilder flavors, including the blue cheese ice cream, which is surprisingly one of the most delicious they offer. Tomato ice cream is also on the menu. Helados Patagonia is an absolute can't-miss. 

Pastelería Mallorca

Bakery Madrid Sandwiches

Hours: 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily 

Address: Calle Serrano, 6

There aren't many places to eat in Retiro Park, so I'd highly recommend picking up some small sandwiches and pastries at the Pastelería Mallorca before diving in. Retiro is a gorgeous city park and well worth exploring, and the Mallorca's delicious small jamón ibérico sandwiches, fresh juices, and other delicious Spanish foods make for the perfect fuel. 

La Chocolatería San Ginés 

Churrería San Ginés churros Madrid

Hours: Open 24/7 daily  

Address: Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5

This establishment, famous for its chocolate and churros, is at the heart of Madrid. It's also featured in some iconic Spanish literature, like the play Luces de Bohemia (Bohemian Lights) by Ramón del Valle-Inclán. The diner-style atmosphere is equally charming at breakfast time and late at night — and equally delicious.

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22 Authentic Spanish Foods You Need to Try

Spain has become known the world over as a top destination for foodies. San Sebastian, famous for its elaborately styled, pint-sized bites called pintxos, is home to one of the most elite gastronomy universities in Europe. In Andalusia, you'll get a free tapa with every drink (though you can also find tapas in Barcelona and throughout Spain). And perhaps most famous of all Spanish foods is jamón, exquisitely cured ham that's like nothing you've ever eaten. 

But I have to admit something. The first time I went to Spain, I thought the food was pretty disappointing. The problem was, I didn't know how or what to order. I didn't know, for instance, that in places like San Sebastian, every bar (the name for a casual restaurant) has its own specialty, so you need to know what to ask for. I didn't know about the menú del día, where you'll get two courses, a drink, and a dessert—usually at lunch time—for a single price.

This list is designed to solve that very problem for you. I've taken many more trips to Spain since, and have fallen in love with the food. There's truly nowhere in the world that can match the freshness, flavor, and creativity of food in Spain. Here's what you absolutely must eat during your trip. 

Jamón (Ham)

I've never liked ham—not the pasty lunchmeat variety, not the big roasted and honey hams people buy for holidays in the United States. But this isn't ham. This is jamón.

Anywhere in Spain, you're likely to see patas de jamón (ham legs) hanging from the ceilings of restaurants. Jamón is cured for months or even years before it reaches your plate. It's less greasy (and so much better) than prosciutto, and there's a stunning variety of types and flavors—far more than I can go into here. Just as with wine, becoming a connoisseur of jamón takes time, but here are a few pointers to get you started.

The most common terms you'll see are jamón serrano and jamón ibérico. The former comes from a type of hybrid pig, distinct from the Iberian pig. Jamón serrano will be cheaper, but it won't have the same complex flavor as jamón ibérico.  

Pata negra, or black-hoofed, jamón is considered to offer the best flavor. And for the highest quality, look for jamón ibérico de bellota. It's fed exclusively on acorns and the flavor is next to none. 

Paella

Spanish paella pan Spain
Spanish paella is traditionally cooked in huge, specialized pans. This helping serves 300 people. | Photo by Erin L. McCoy

When you see this classic dish at a celebration or festival, it might be served from pans as wide as a small car. Paella is a rice dish seasoned with saffron and rosemary, and usually served with beans and a variety of seafood, including shrimp, calamari, and mussels. Valencian paella has chicken rather than seafood. It's well worth your while to try both. 

Migas

Migas translates to crumbs, and that's exactly what this dish is. Traditionally served for breakfast, migas consists of day-old bread soaked in water, paprika, garlic, and olive oil (also a Spanish staple). 

The ingredients mixed in with your migas vary regionally. In Extremadura, they might add pork ribs and spinach, while in Aragon they might mix in bacon and chorizo. While there's no word for "comfort food" in Spanish, this is comfort food at its best. 

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Croquetas

Croqueta croquette Spain snack food
The croqueta is one of Spain's most delicious traditional snacks. | Photo by Erin L. McCoy

As with migas, croquetas started out as a practical way to make use of food scraps and leftovers. Traditionally filled with béchamel and jamón, this deep-fried delight can be found all over Spain—and with a huge variety of fillings. 

Chains like Croqueta y Presumida offer vegetarian options like mushroom or goat cheese and raisins, as well as gastronomic delights such as chipirón en su tinta (squid in its own ink). You can even get them in the grocery store and take them home to fry them yourself (though, speaking from experience, this is harder than you think).  

Pintxos & Tapas

Tapas may be the most famous Spanish dish you'll hear about on your travels. Traditionally some small snack served on a piece of bread, they're called "tapas" ("tops") because they were used to cover the mouths of glasses to keep flies and bugs from getting in. Appropriately, then, in most of Andalusia, you'll get a free tapa with every drink. It's a great way to get a free dinner while you barhop.

Pintxos are in many ways similar to tapas. They're small, bite-sized snacks eaten as you move from bar to bar, especially at dinner time. However, this northern take on the tapa tends to be much more elaborate. Chefs take pride in the delicious and frankly beautiful concoctions they can come up with. Pintxos are not to be missed, wherever you can find them. 

The 10 Best Pintxos in San Sebastian

Everything you need to know about pintxos and where to find them. 

Merluza (Hake)

Merluza hake fish Spanish cuisine
Merluza in pumpkin cream topped with beet foam from the Restaurante Carmela in Granada, Spain. | Photo by Erin L. McCoy

Let's get one thing out of the way first: just about every corner of Spain guarantees some of the best seafood you'll ever eat. From mussels to monkfish, octopus to 3+ kinds of squid, you'll find the freshest catches straight from the sea even as far inland as Granada or Madrid

But merluza, by golly, is the best. When I first looked it up in my Spanish-English dictionary it translated to "hake"—something I had never heard of. It's a type of fish whose various species can be found all over the world, though are less common along the coasts of North America. 

This white fish is fresh, light, flaky, and some of the juiciest fish I've ever had.  I get it wherever and whenever I can when I'm in Spain. And somehow, just about every restaurant I've been to prepares it well. This is either a testament to the incredible cooking talents of the Spanish, or to the fish itself.

Ponche segoviano

This scrumptious dessert is typical of Segovia and not to be missed whenever you're nearby. This dense cake is made with flour, eggs, and sugar and covered with a layer of marzapan, an almond-based sweet typical of Spain, especially of Toledo. The treat was popularized by Frutos García Martín in the 1920s.  

Segovia: A Fairytale City

Segovia is home to the castle that inspired Cinderella's palace and a 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct. Here's everything you need to know for your visit. 

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Salmorejo and Gazpacho

Spain is known for serving up not one, but two cold soups—and it stands to reason why. In the scorching summers of Andalusia, gazpacho and salmorejo offer up the perfect relief from the heat. Families will even bring them along in thermoses on beach days.

Gazpacho is the more famous of the two, and contains a blend of olive oil (Spanish-grown and -made, of course), vinegar, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, garlic, and onion. Salmorejo, though, is just as delicious (if not better) and offers up a less acidic alternative. 

Chorizo, Txistorra, and Other Local Sausages

Local sausages are a specialty throughout Spain, especially in the north. Try as many varieties as you can while you're visiting, including the delicately spiced chorizo and txistorra (alternatively spelled "chistorra").

You can grab one of the latter wrapped in a talo (we'll get to what those are in a minute) during Semana Grande, San Sebastian's biggest festival of the year. If you can, find a plate with txistorra marinated in sidra (cider), which is typical of Basque Country, the same region from which the sausage originates. It's an incredibly flavorful combination, and can be found in bars throughout the northeast.

Other options include longaniza (similar to a hot dog in some cases) and arbiello, typical of Aragón.

Talos txistorra Semana Grande Basque
Talos with txistorra (a local sausage) are the most delicious treat of Semana Grande. | Photo by Erin L. McCoy

Talos are not unlike the traditional corn tortillas found in Mexico, but they're in fact a food typical to Basque Country that comes out a little thicker and more sturdy than a Mexican tortilla. They're cooked on warm metal burners and eaten with a variety of toppings, from savory regional sausages to chocolate. 

At Semana Grande, the biggest annual festival in the jewel of Basque Country, San Sebastian, there's a stand selling talos every year. You can even see people making them by hand.

Morcilla 

When I recommend morcilla to people, I usually suggest they try a bite before I tell them what it is. Since I don't have that luxury here, I'll simply insist that morcilla (a type of blood sausage—there, I said it) is the first thing I order on any menu. It's spiced, savory, and complex.

The variety of morcilla from Burgos comes packed with onions, rice, and lots of deliciousness. Types of morcilla that you find in more southern areas such as Extremadura or La Mancha are more creamy, with onions rather than rice, and perhaps more similar to the UK's black pudding. Some types even include pine nuts and almonds. With all that variety to explore, no wonder I order it wherever I go. 

Bacalao

More than almost any other Spanish foods, bacalao (salted cod) tells a story. As one of the first fishes to be salted for preservation, it was also one of the first types of seafood that people who lived in inland Europe had access to, greatly improving nutrition and health throughout Spain and broader Europe.

The fish was tracked far and wide by Basque sailors, who are believed by some to have reached the Americas (especially what is now Canada) around 500 years before Columbus.

Today, bacalao is a delicacy of Basque and Spanish chefs, who seek to bring out its unique, fresh, and subtle flavor through a variety of fascinating techniques.

If you'd like to learn more about how bacalao, in fact, has changed world history in more ways than one, I highly recommend reading The Basque History of the World or Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World—both incredible and fascinating books by Mark Kurlansky.

The Top 10 Places to Eat in Madrid

Whether you're looking for a quick snack, a bustling market, or fine dining choices, our list of favorite spots has it all.

Escalivada

Escalivada is a traditional Catalan salad of grilled vegetables. It's shown above with romescu sauce, a Catalan concoction similar to aioli, at Jai Ca restaurant in the Barceloneta neighborhood of Barcelona.

This neighborhood is also famous for being the home of round, deep-fried, croqueta-like snacks known as "bombas." Make sure to pick up both of these local treats while you're there. 

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Churros

Churros can be found throughout much of the Spanish-speaking world, and there are a million varieties — just as there are a million opinions about which style is best. Americans may be most familiar with churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar. You won't find the cinnamon here but you may just find the sugar coating. Make sure to order dipping chocolate, which is an essential component but usually won't come with your churros automatically. 

If you're in Madrid, churros at the Chocolatería de San Ginés is a must. It's a century old and has even been featured in some iconic Spanish literature, such as the play Luces de Bohemia (Bohemian Lights) by esteemed early–20th-century novelist, poet, and dramaturg Ramón del Valle-Inclán. 

Cochinillo

Cochinillo Segovia Spain roast pork
Cochinillo is a traditional dish of Segovia, Spain. | Courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/blogestudio

It may not be pretty, but it sure is delicious. Cochinillo asado, or roast suckling pig, is typical of Castille and especially of Segovia, where many restaurants feature it proudly on their menu.

To learn where to eat the most authentic cochinillo, check out our city guide to Segovia. If you dare to try to cook it yourself, check out this cochinillo recipe from Epicurus

Pulpo (Octopus)

Octopus Sirimiri San Sebastian
Pulpo con mojo verde y frambuesa (octopus with garlic sauce and raspberry) at Sirimiri. | Photo by Erin L. McCoy

If you've had octopus before and found it rubbery and bland, I get that. But if you haven't had it in Spain, try it again. 

For some miraculous reason, you can find beautifully cooked octopus, or pulpo, everywhere in Spain. Perhaps because so much of the food here is as fresh as possible, perhaps because it's so often lightly dusted with local paprika and sauteed in local olive oil, the pulpo in Spain is a good addition to every dish from a pintxo to a paella. 

Caldos & Guisos (Broths & Stews)

Found especially in the north, stews and broths filled with hearty alubias beans and other local legumes alongside sausages, meats, and vegetables make for a hearty and comforting food. If you're in the south, you might be sweating too much to eat one of these, unless it's wintertime. But take the opportunity to eat one if you can. Just make sure to come hungry—you'll leave ready for a very long nap next to the fire.

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carcamusa

Carcamusa is a stew-like dish typical of Toledo. It's a tomato-based sauce filled with pork and vegetables, and it's another perfect comfort food for chillier days. Toledans are particularly proud of this dish and it's a must-have during your visit. Luckily, Toledo has enough hills that you should be able to walk off the post-carcamusa sleepiness pretty quickly.

While you're in Toledo, don't miss the marzipan, either. This sweet almond confectionary is a local specialty, and there are shops everywhere. The almonds, of course, are grown in Spain.

Spanish Cheese

It would be an absolute shame to visit Spain without stopping by at least one market. (Particularly enchanting are the small-town affairs with all-local producers.) And it would be a shame to visit a Spanish market without sampling—and subsequently buying huge blocks of—one of the most delicious of all Spanish foods: local cheese.

Asturias and Basque Country are particularly known for their varieties of blue cheese, which can range from mild to incredibly pungent (for the bold). Cow's, sheep's, and goat's cheese are all on wide display throughout the country, and if you're lucky, the market vendor will actually be able to point out the nearby mountain where he makes it. 

The most famous of Spanish foods: the Tortilla

If you love Mexican food (and who doesn't), you may think you have an idea of what a tortilla is. Throw that out the window when you visit Spain. The typical tortilla here is an inch-thick concoction of eggs and potatoes. It's a simple dish and a fundamental part of Spanish cuisine. You'll find it at almost every bar, and you can even find it served on a sandwich.

The tortilla is a great option for vegetarians visiting Spain. If you're looking for something even simpler, try the tortilla francesa, which lacks the potatoes. Why is it called the "French tortilla," as the translation reads? The story goes that during the siege of Cadiz and San Fernando by Spain in 1810, people suffered hunger and weren't able to acquire potatoes—so had to make their tortillas in a different way.

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No trip to Spain is complete without enjoying the incredible breadth of Spanish cuisine. The food is locally sourced, fabulously fresh, and made with pride. There's no better place to travel for foodies. 

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12 Fabulous Tapas Bars in Barcelona

Travel food guide extraordinaire and Instagram phenom Lauren Cunningham shares her favorite spots in Barcelona.
For travelers in Spain, the food tends to revolve around tapas: small plates and bites served to diners alongside drinks like vermouth, wine, and gin. But navigating this brave new world of delicious new foods can be tricky.

So, for starters, what is a tapa? Tapas are small, bite-sized foods, usually served on bread, that can be eaten as a snack or as a whole meal. Spaniards tend to eat lighter dinners than lunches, so if during your visit to Barcelona, you move from tapa bar to tapa bar, trying each one’s specialty alongside una caña (a small beer) or Catalonia-grown cava (sparkling wine), you’ll find plenty of locals doing the same thing.

There are a variety of tapas bars in Barcelona, from those that are upscale, to those that focus on pintxos (a Basque version of the tapa), and even those that make their own champagne. How can you choose which ones to visit? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of my favorites for every occasion.

Cervecería Catalana

For those days when tipping back a cold one sounds great.

La Pepita

For when you’re tired after a day of Gaudi sightseeing. Visit.

Jai-Ca

For when you’re craving classic tapas—or three orders of Patatas Bravas. Visit.

Tickets

For when you’re in the mood to treat yourself (at one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants). Visit.

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Ciudad Condal

For when you’re out late. Visit.

Quimet y Quimet

For when you’re looking for something unique. Visit.

El Xampanyet

For when a wine bar will hit the spot (especially if they’re serving housemade champagne).

Lamber

For when you need a bite after the Picasso Museum. Visit.

Maitea Taberna

For when you’re exploring Basque culinary traditions, like pintxos—an even more elaborate version of the tapa. Visit.

La Cova Fumada

For when you want to feel like a local. Visit.

Bar Canete

For when you want quality Catalonian food after your day meandering around La Rambla. Visit.

Casa Lolea

For when your thirst for sangria leads you to a modern take on tapas. Visit.   

And, to round out our list to a baker's dozen ... 

Sensi

For when something a little on the Italian side sounds good. Visit.

Planning your next trip to Barcelona? Check out the latest flight prices:

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The 10 Best Pintxo Spots in San Sebastian

Imagine a world where plates upon plates of gastronomic beauty line the bars of every local joint you walk into, where bread and toothpicks are tools of artistry, and rare international delicacies are available in the most casual of settings. Now, welcome to a place where this is not only a reality, but the norm: San Sebastian, Spain, the global capital of pintxos.

Known as the city with the most Michelin stars per capita in Europe, this culinary wonderland is the perfect destination for foodies. It’s home to the pintxo—a small plate of food usually served hors d'oeuvre-style on a toothpick.

The way that locals eat pintxos—and the method that we’d highly recommend—is to visit each bar only to eat its specialty. Have just one or two pintxos at any one establishment before moving on. It’s a great way to see the town—pintxo by pintxo, cider by cider—while sampling only the best.

Take a look at just 10 of our favorite pintxo bars.

Atari Gastroteka

Atari San Sebastian Pintxos
Pintxos line the counter at Atari Gastroteka in San Sebastian. | Photo by Anna Spivak
Specialities: Carrillera (beef cheek), pintxos

Address: Calle Mayor, 18, 20013 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain

Price Point: $$

Atari is located on the Parte Vieja’s bustling Calle Mayor. This wrap-around corner joint takes elevated bar food to a whole new level. The carrillera, or beef cheek, is a specialty at Atari. It is tender, flavorful, and served with creamy mashed potatoes. Did I mention this was bar food?

A Fuego Negro

Specialities: Sliders, fried chicken

Address: 31 de Agosto Kalea, 31

Price Point: $$$$

Around the corner from Atari, A Fuego Negro is another pintxo bar serving up some seriously swoon-worthy cuisine. The fried chicken comes in a KFC-style bucket and is every bit as crispy and satisfying as fried chicken can be. The buey (ox) slider is a juicy, flavor-packed bite, as well.

Sirimiri Gastroleku

Specialities: Txipirones (baby squid), croquetas, lamb

Address: Calle Mayor, 18

Price Point: $$$$

I promise to move away from Calle Mayor after Sirimiri … although you can probably see how difficult it is not to fall in love with every bar or restaurant in the Parte Vieja.

Sirimiri’s intoxicating atmosphere is the perfect pair to its mouthwatering food and drink. The baby-squid croquetas, a specialty I didn’t know I needed in my life, are filled with squid cooked in its own ink. Now, stick with me here: the inside is black, but I promise it’s worth it. Just don’t skimp on the napkins.

Make sure you also try the croquetas de seta e idiazabal (croquettes with mushrooms and idiazabal cheese, a local speciality), the cordero (lamb—absolutely stunning), and pulpo con mojo verde y frambuesa (octopus with garlic sauce and, yes, raspberry).

Ganbara

Mushrooms at Ganbara San Sebastian
Fresh, seasonal mushrooms at Ganbara. | Photo by Anna Spivak

Specialities: Seasonal mushrooms with egg yolk, white asparagus

Address: San Jeronimo Kalea, 19

Price Point: $$$$

The bliss that is an afternoon lunch at Ganbara is hardly comparable to any other casual-dining experience. With a broad entrance featuring a view out onto the street, you can people-watch as you enjoy your perfectly sautéed, savory selection of mushrooms (traditionally served with an egg yolk that you mix in yourself) and a huge piece of white asparagus, baked to perfection.

La Cuchara de San Telmo

Specialties: Foie gras, mushroom risotto

Address: Santa Korda Kalea, 4

Price Point: $$$$

Tucked away in a little alley called Santa Korda, la Cuchara de San Telmo is thronged with locals and tourists from open to close. Their extensive pintxo and entree menu is impressive to say the least. Their foie gras and mushroom risotto, however, are the breakout stars. If you’re lucky enough to snag a seat towards the back of the bar, you can even peek into their open kitchen.

Beti Jai Berria

Specialties: Croquetas, but everything is great

Address: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 22

Price Point: $$$$

Beti Jai’s massive, cube-shaped croquetas may be, quite simply, the planet’s best. Try the classic jamón (containing a mixture of ham and bechamel) but don’t be afraid to sample some of their other fillings, which vary daily.

The place is immaculate, and every pintxo you see will be tantalizing, so it may be hard to choose. We recommend taking the opportunity to try morcilla, a Spanish blood sausage. You’ll probably find the Burgos-style morcilla here, which contains rice, perhaps topped with a roasted red pepper or a quail’s egg.

Drinka

Specialties: Calamari, patatas bravas

Address: Matia Kalea, 50

Price Point: $$$$

While the Parte Vieja has the highest concentration of pintxo bars in close proximity, there are tons of incredible bars and restaurants scattered all over San Sebastian. On the other side of Playa de la Concha, just past Miramar Palace, is a street called Matia Kalea. This residential area, called Antiguo, is swimming with incredible cuisine and local charm. The city even closes Matia Kalea to cars on most weekends so pedestrians have free range.

Drinka is a relatively new eatery serving up classically Basque pintxos and dishes with a modern twist. Their calamari is crispy, tender, and delicious, and their patatas bravas (with different dipping sauces) are not to be missed.

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Garai Taberna

Specialties: Burgers, lentils

Address: Juan de Garai Kalea, 2

Price Point: $$$$

Just off of Matia Kalea is a little gem called Garai Taberna. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this little basement dive bar serves up incredible home cooking for a very reasonable price.

Their lunch special (which usually changes daily) consists of two choices for a starter, entree, and dessert. Their burger was seasoned to perfection and the heaping bowl of lentils we had was enough to feed an entire household—which is probably the extremely friendly staff’s goal, as they treat their customers like family.

Bordaberri

Specialties: Cheese risotto

Address: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 12

Price Point: $$$

One of the specialties this quiet corner is famous for is its risotto. In this dish, idiazabal, a cheese typical of the Basque and Navarra regions, is the star of the show. It’s the ultimate comfort food. And FYI, if you ever run into an idiazabal croqueta, eat it immediately.

Bordaberri idiazabal risotto San Sebastian
Bordaberri's famous idiazabal risotto. | Photo by Erin L. McCoy

Casa Gandarias

Specialties: Solomillo, goat cheese and jam pintxos

Address: 31 de Agosto Kalea, 23

Price Point: $$$$

The specialty here is the solomillo, or sirloin, pintxo. This may sound simple enough—a small, perfectly cooked cut of steak with a sprinkling of sea salt and a roasted green pepper perched on top. But you will find yourself coming here again, and again, and again. This is not a pintxo you’ll find on the bar, so it comes straight from the kitchen, hot and freshly made. It may prove one of the best cuts of steak you’ve ever eaten. I know, I know, we’ve already used a lot of superlatives—but when it comes to gastronomy, San Sebastian is simply a superlative place.

 

Erin L. McCoy contributed to this article.

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