How to do San Sebastian Pintxo Bars Right

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Is there anything better than a tapas bar in Spain? If so I haven’t found it. Although these bite-sized bar snacks can be found throughout the country, the best can arguably be found at San Sebastian pintxo bars. This, I already knew. I’ve been to Basque country before and thoroughly enjoyed the food but it wasn’t until my most recent trip that I fully appreciated San Sebastian pintxo bars.

Here’s why:

Know Some Spanish

The first thing we found with doing San Sebastian pintxo bars right is to know a little Spanish. In particular:

  • Cerdo (Pork)
  • Pollo (Chicken)
  • Carne de res (Beef)
  • Pato (Duck)
  • Pescado (Fish)
  • Camarón (Shrimp)
  • Verduras (Vegetables)
  • Caliente (Hot)
  • Cerveza (Beer)
  • Vino tinto/blanco (Wine red/white)

We had it pretty good as we were visiting the San Sebastian pintxo bars with a friend who speaks Spanish. If you are not as lucky knowing these basic eating terms are key to getting you the best in what San Sebastian pintxo bars have to offer. This brings me to the next point:

Order items not on the bar

Although it is easy (and fun) to just point and try items on display at the San Sebastian pintxo bars, ordering items not on the bar is where it’s at. At every San Sebastian pintxo bar you’ll find the standard Croquetas, Tortillas, and various tasty items on bread to grab and eat. What makes San Sebastian pintxo bars great are the many items that are not on display. I’m talking foie gras, risotto, beef tongue, crepes, and veal cheeks. Also, don’t forget to get a plate of freshly sliced Jamón ibérico!

San Sebastian Pintxo bars

San Sebastian Pintxo bars

San Sebastian Pintxo bars

San Sebastian Pintxo bars

San Sebastian Pintxo bars

Let the bartender work

Another tip we picked up while at the San Sebastian pintxo bars is to enjoy the food, drinks, company, and atmosphere. In other words, let the bartender do the work. Instead of trying to pay-as-you-go just enjoy your time and ask for “la cuenta” at the end. Most San Sebastian pintxo bars are very crowded so no sense in spending your time trying to flag down the bartender, or worrying about pairing the perfect Spanish wine with your meal. Let someone do that for you.

Eat. Drink. Enjoy.

Pay attention to the crowds

Lastly, what we found with enjoying San Sebastian pintxo bars to the fullest was taking note of the crowds. If a particular bar was packed it was for a reason. Quality, cost, an atmosphere play a part and don’t Basque people know it. Also, take note on what others are ordering. If something looks good and you are curious just ask. San Sebastian pintxo bars are bars after all and everyone there is for a good time.

San Sebastian Pintxo bars

Get some rest

Lastly on this doing San Sebastian pintxo right list is getting some rest. As I pointed out in my 3 days in San Sebastian post, the lifestyle that revolves around eating, drinking, then eating and drinking some more is exhausting. Siestas are key and thankfully we had a cozy and convenient place rejuvenate at –  The Hotel Parma.

San Sebastian Pintxo bars

Rest up. Doing San Sebastian pintxo bars right is hard work! 


What say you?
Thoughts on San Sebastian Pintxo bars?
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For more reviews from Europe and beyond see HERE.


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