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Guidebook for Donostia

Yosune

Guidebook for Donostia

Food Scene
When it opened in 2005, chef Juan Mari Hidalgo already had a Michelin star under his belt, and it shows. A favourite Pintxos bar in the Gros area offering some of the tastiest and most creative Pintxos in town, this airy modern bar has prices aimed at an older, well-heeled clientele. Their Morcilla ‘volcano’ is one of the dishes I crave most as soon as I set foot in San Sebastian. A house speciality made from black pudding, egg yolk & apple puree, it’s an explosion of bold, earthy and moreish flavours from the get go.
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Hidalgo 56
15 Paseo de Colón
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When it opened in 2005, chef Juan Mari Hidalgo already had a Michelin star under his belt, and it shows. A favourite Pintxos bar in the Gros area offering some of the tastiest and most creative Pintxos in town, this airy modern bar has prices aimed at an older, well-heeled clientele. Their Morcilla ‘volcano’ is one of the dishes I crave most as soon as I set foot in San Sebastian. A house speciality made from black pudding, egg yolk & apple puree, it’s an explosion of bold, earthy and moreish flavours from the get go.
Casa Senra is one of the Gros district’s most classic bars. A couple of streets back from the Zurriola surfing beach, this popular restaurant and pintxo bar in Gros has traditional beams, varnished trestle tables, kitsch paintings, and an enthusiastic following. Top-quality pintxos are served with big smiles, either cold from the counter or cooked to order. Make sure you order their signature baby squid dish (Txipiron plancha con pure castana). Chargrilled to smoky perfection and served with squid ink sauce, crispy squid ink and a sweet, earthy chestnut puree, it’s a stunning dish
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Bar Casa Senra
32 Calle de San Francisco
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Casa Senra is one of the Gros district’s most classic bars. A couple of streets back from the Zurriola surfing beach, this popular restaurant and pintxo bar in Gros has traditional beams, varnished trestle tables, kitsch paintings, and an enthusiastic following. Top-quality pintxos are served with big smiles, either cold from the counter or cooked to order. Make sure you order their signature baby squid dish (Txipiron plancha con pure castana). Chargrilled to smoky perfection and served with squid ink sauce, crispy squid ink and a sweet, earthy chestnut puree, it’s a stunning dish
This buzzing corner lot in the heart of Gros sports a modern, newly refurbished white counter-top and ample seating. Hand-sketched designs on the back wall and a friendly pictorial menu give a preview of the many hot and cold Pintxos on offer here. The star dish here is undoubtedly their Txalupa – a puff-pastry ‘boat’-shaped case topped with creamy mushrooms, shrimp and gratinated cheese. I also particularly love their Pintxos-sized serving of Fideua here. Typically a main course found in the Catalan and Valencian regions.
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Bergara
8 Calle del General Artetxe
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This buzzing corner lot in the heart of Gros sports a modern, newly refurbished white counter-top and ample seating. Hand-sketched designs on the back wall and a friendly pictorial menu give a preview of the many hot and cold Pintxos on offer here. The star dish here is undoubtedly their Txalupa – a puff-pastry ‘boat’-shaped case topped with creamy mushrooms, shrimp and gratinated cheese. I also particularly love their Pintxos-sized serving of Fideua here. Typically a main course found in the Catalan and Valencian regions.
Iñaki Gulín has kept a loyal following ever since he blazed a trail at La Cuchara de San Telmo. This opened 12 years ago at the back of the old coastal quarter as an innovative, nueva cocina place with a young spirit. Then, five years ago, he and fellow chef Marc Clua left La Cuchara to open Borda Berri a few streets away in this foodie labyrinth, keeping the rock'n'roll style yet turning out impeccable pintxos with a twist. The homely bar, its yellow walls hung with old photos, is professional yet laid-back, not an easy balance.
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Borda Berri
12 Fermin Calbeton Kalea
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Iñaki Gulín has kept a loyal following ever since he blazed a trail at La Cuchara de San Telmo. This opened 12 years ago at the back of the old coastal quarter as an innovative, nueva cocina place with a young spirit. Then, five years ago, he and fellow chef Marc Clua left La Cuchara to open Borda Berri a few streets away in this foodie labyrinth, keeping the rock'n'roll style yet turning out impeccable pintxos with a twist. The homely bar, its yellow walls hung with old photos, is professional yet laid-back, not an easy balance.
Award-winning Zeruko is one of the old town's most inventive pintxo haunts. The style is young, hip and playful, with mint-green walls, trestle tables and a bar laden with temptations. Aspic makes a comeback, enclosing diced vegetables and a soft-boiled egg, quickly heated beforehand, or wild mushrooms with foie gras mousse. Meticulously presented, though contrasts of textures and flavours sometimes go too far down the showy molecular route. Try the marmitako, a traditional Basque tuna and potato soup.
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Bar Zeruko
10 Calle Pescaderia
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Award-winning Zeruko is one of the old town's most inventive pintxo haunts. The style is young, hip and playful, with mint-green walls, trestle tables and a bar laden with temptations. Aspic makes a comeback, enclosing diced vegetables and a soft-boiled egg, quickly heated beforehand, or wild mushrooms with foie gras mousse. Meticulously presented, though contrasts of textures and flavours sometimes go too far down the showy molecular route. Try the marmitako, a traditional Basque tuna and potato soup.
Black walls and low-slung designer lamps create a theatrical penumbra that, as a result of international acclaim, hums with a cosmopolitan crowd. The new-wave pintxos are a touch molecular, without losing the plot. Real aficionados should go for the tasting menu of nine pintxos for €35 or 14 for €50 (drinks extra).
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A Fuego Negro
31 31 de Agosto Kalea
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Black walls and low-slung designer lamps create a theatrical penumbra that, as a result of international acclaim, hums with a cosmopolitan crowd. The new-wave pintxos are a touch molecular, without losing the plot. Real aficionados should go for the tasting menu of nine pintxos for €35 or 14 for €50 (drinks extra).
This cheerful bar is on Donostia's most elegant square, designed for bullfights centuries ago. In sunnier months, the arcaded plaza offers great people-watching, which Astelehana's tables takes full advantage of, but inside the jam-packed bar guests can watch a culinary spectacle in the open kitchen. There is a good choice of hot pintxos to order, all creative, though using archetypal ingredients, from miniature steak with caramelised onion and chips, to wafer-thin crepes enclosing prawns and pork, tuna taco or cylinders of beef cheeks. It attracts quite a lot of tourists but the quality is tip-top.
148 Gastroleku
1 Iñigo Kalea
This cheerful bar is on Donostia's most elegant square, designed for bullfights centuries ago. In sunnier months, the arcaded plaza offers great people-watching, which Astelehana's tables takes full advantage of, but inside the jam-packed bar guests can watch a culinary spectacle in the open kitchen. There is a good choice of hot pintxos to order, all creative, though using archetypal ingredients, from miniature steak with caramelised onion and chips, to wafer-thin crepes enclosing prawns and pork, tuna taco or cylinders of beef cheeks. It attracts quite a lot of tourists but the quality is tip-top.
On a popular road at the back of the old town next to an old favourite, La Cepa, La Viña does its own thing remarkably and unpretentiously. This welcoming, family-owned bar is the place for Spanish classics. There's nothing complicated, but it's all freshly made, reasonably priced and rapidly devoured by locals, so don't be late.
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La Viña
3 31 de Agosto Kalea
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On a popular road at the back of the old town next to an old favourite, La Cepa, La Viña does its own thing remarkably and unpretentiously. This welcoming, family-owned bar is the place for Spanish classics. There's nothing complicated, but it's all freshly made, reasonably priced and rapidly devoured by locals, so don't be late.
Opposite the baroque basilica of Santa Maria, this friendly modern gastro-bar attracts a young, groovy crowd. Basque wine or cider are the classic tipples, but Atari also mixes killer gin and tonics. Tables outside are gold-dust on a balmy summer's night, though the action inside is unstoppable.
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Atari Gastroleku
18 Calle Mayor
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Opposite the baroque basilica of Santa Maria, this friendly modern gastro-bar attracts a young, groovy crowd. Basque wine or cider are the classic tipples, but Atari also mixes killer gin and tonics. Tables outside are gold-dust on a balmy summer's night, though the action inside is unstoppable.
A pintxo bar lurks behind the modern, glassed-in dining area of La Txuleta on this little side-turning, so it remains a well-kept secret. The chef, Ander Esarte, started as a cook at 14 before climbing the gastro-ladder via Paris to reach this, his award-winning restaurant.
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Txuleta
2 Plaza de la Trinidad
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A pintxo bar lurks behind the modern, glassed-in dining area of La Txuleta on this little side-turning, so it remains a well-kept secret. The chef, Ander Esarte, started as a cook at 14 before climbing the gastro-ladder via Paris to reach this, his award-winning restaurant.
The spacious, well-designed Mil Catas was taken over last year by the team from tiny Bar Iraeta. Here you are in for a cholesterol treat: foie gras figures high on the menu, as do Iberian sausagemeats. Pan-fried foie gras topped with grated ewe's cheese on bread or in a reduction of dessert wine is delicious paired with a glass of fruity marina spumante, from Valencia. When you tire of the foie, mop up with a giant ham croqueta or a simple plate of freshly carved, velvety jamón ibérico.
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Mil Catas
55 Zabaleta Kalea
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The spacious, well-designed Mil Catas was taken over last year by the team from tiny Bar Iraeta. Here you are in for a cholesterol treat: foie gras figures high on the menu, as do Iberian sausagemeats. Pan-fried foie gras topped with grated ewe's cheese on bread or in a reduction of dessert wine is delicious paired with a glass of fruity marina spumante, from Valencia. When you tire of the foie, mop up with a giant ham croqueta or a simple plate of freshly carved, velvety jamón ibérico.
A short walk from our villa you will find the most famous restaurant of San Sebastian, ARZAK. At this family restaurant winds of innovation are blowing. Juan Mari was one of the founders of new Basque cuisine in 1977 and a 3 Michelin Stars since 1989: creativity and techno-cuisine as a revolutionary way of inviting the region to take pride of place on the plate. His daughter Elena accompanies him on this gourmet adventure, adding her sensitivity and rigour to the untameable spirit and creativity of Juan Mari.
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Arzak
273 Avenida del Alcalde José Elosegi
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A short walk from our villa you will find the most famous restaurant of San Sebastian, ARZAK. At this family restaurant winds of innovation are blowing. Juan Mari was one of the founders of new Basque cuisine in 1977 and a 3 Michelin Stars since 1989: creativity and techno-cuisine as a revolutionary way of inviting the region to take pride of place on the plate. His daughter Elena accompanies him on this gourmet adventure, adding her sensitivity and rigour to the untameable spirit and creativity of Juan Mari.
Zelai Txiki, a small family-owned restaurant, is perched atop the Eastern side of San Sebastián, with lovely views from the beautiful terrace. And on summer nights, looking out over the city is the perfect way to eat a dinner. What's not to love about their updates on traditional Basque cuisine? A prawn salad, but with pistachio crusted shrimp instead of cold gambas . A crunchy morcilla bite, made with puff pastry instead of being breaded and fried. And its fantastic wood-burning oven. Call a day in advance, and you can reserve a roasted sucklin pig or lamb. Crunchy exterior. Slow roasted. Tender. Showstopping when it arrives to the table...a must-do for meat lovers.
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Restaurante Zelai Txiki
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Zelai Txiki, a small family-owned restaurant, is perched atop the Eastern side of San Sebastián, with lovely views from the beautiful terrace. And on summer nights, looking out over the city is the perfect way to eat a dinner. What's not to love about their updates on traditional Basque cuisine? A prawn salad, but with pistachio crusted shrimp instead of cold gambas . A crunchy morcilla bite, made with puff pastry instead of being breaded and fried. And its fantastic wood-burning oven. Call a day in advance, and you can reserve a roasted sucklin pig or lamb. Crunchy exterior. Slow roasted. Tender. Showstopping when it arrives to the table...a must-do for meat lovers.
Saltxipi is one of the most traditional restaurants in Guipúzcoa. Although in its menu offers all kinds of chops and sirloins, the place is known for the fish and seafood. The Ortega Añorga clan moved from their ancestral cider-house in Usurbil to a big home in the outskirts of Gros with rough beams and darkened clay tiles. The food is both marvellous and marvellously simple: a fresh crab salad, perfect croquetas (crunch on the outside, creaminess within), hake kokotxas (chins) in green saucen. There's a lovely garden, an emphasis on the chargrill, to which Jon already magisterially applies chunks of hake, monkfish and T-bone steaks, but also cooks clams and kokotxas.
Restaurante Saltxipi
3 Calzada Vieja de Ategorrieta
Saltxipi is one of the most traditional restaurants in Guipúzcoa. Although in its menu offers all kinds of chops and sirloins, the place is known for the fish and seafood. The Ortega Añorga clan moved from their ancestral cider-house in Usurbil to a big home in the outskirts of Gros with rough beams and darkened clay tiles. The food is both marvellous and marvellously simple: a fresh crab salad, perfect croquetas (crunch on the outside, creaminess within), hake kokotxas (chins) in green saucen. There's a lovely garden, an emphasis on the chargrill, to which Jon already magisterially applies chunks of hake, monkfish and T-bone steaks, but also cooks clams and kokotxas.
It is not easy to find a spectacular location and cuisine combined in the same premises. But then we come across the Mirador de Ulia. The paths to San Sebastian and the Cantabrian Sea are unique and definitive; Rubén Trincado’s culinary talent is insatiable, unorthodox, and ebullient: Basque avant-garde cooking projected onto the scenery.
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Mirador de Ulía
193 Paseo de Ulia
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It is not easy to find a spectacular location and cuisine combined in the same premises. But then we come across the Mirador de Ulia. The paths to San Sebastian and the Cantabrian Sea are unique and definitive; Rubén Trincado’s culinary talent is insatiable, unorthodox, and ebullient: Basque avant-garde cooking projected onto the scenery.