San Sebastián Seafood Recs

Heading to San Seabatian in May and need some recs for seafood @linus @J_L and anyone else that has any good spots.

I thinking I’m going to do Arzak for my obligatory Basque 3*.

Any recs for quality seafood on the mid to low end?

Elena Arzak is an incredible talent, and just about the nicest person you could ever hope to meet (her and my kids are about the same ages, and played together during our last visit to Arzak), so it really pains me to say this… But Arzak’s menu is suffering from a case of “3-Star Autopilot Syndrome”. Make no mistake: The execution from the kitchen remains great at Arzak (I dare even use the word ‘flawless’ to describe it), but the overall concept is feeling a bit tired, especially when even more superb stuff is going on just down the road at another 3-star, Akelarre. The difference is that I felt Chef Subijana’s cooking at Akelarre is still pushing that proverbial envelope. One truly gets the sense that there is no rest in his quest for nothing less than a spectacular experience for every diner at Aklearre.

Then you have Martin Berasategui and Azurmendi, each sporting 3 estrellas of their own, within earshot. Talk about an embarassment of riches. Oh and Asador Etxebarri (1-star, gads!) is about an hour away. OK, enough about the stars of Basque Country…

The quality control in the San Sebastian region, both in sourcing of ingredients and what the Basque chefs do with those ingredients, is unmatched anywhere else in my travels except for maybe Japan. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you it’s hard to wrong here with the seafood.

Heck, I’d just do pintxos crawls all day and night to get your fill of that incredible seafood. And as a wonderful resource, TodoPintxos does a fine job of taking all the hard work out of finding out what are the most current specialty highlights are featured at each bar.

Due to the overflow of the local Txakoli from my visits, I have forgotten most of what I ate and where I ate it. However, I do recall going to La Mejíllonera for the tasty mussels, Goiz Argi for the brochetas de gambas (shrimp skewers), and Bar Haizea for the canned seafood (which can get pricey though, at least for a pintxos bar).

Mercado de la Bretxa is a fun photo-op, but food-wise, skip it. And instead, do the pintxos crawl as only one can do in San Sebastian. Enjoy! Here are a few photos from various pintxos crawls:


wow, i’m flattered by the question, and sort of embarrassed to say it’s been ten years now since
i was there, so i can’t really be much help.
i can’t top jl’s advice, but i will say even then the general consensus was arzak was “over,” but the meal i had there was
incredible and shockingly reasonably priced for the quality. i still remember the pigeon and that egg and truffle thing in a plastic bag they do.
other than that, we pretty much stuck to tapas (edited. oops, pintxos) in the old town area. kinda tried to go where bourdain had been on one of his old programs, actually, having one or two things at each joint. ate as much bacalao as i could. amazing mushrooms. lots of tinto rosso, sidra and txakoli.
didn’t care much for the beer in spain.
sorry i can’t offer anything more specific. i’ll look around my computer and stuff and see if i wrote down any names.

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I’ve already been to Lasarte so didn’t want to do another one of his restaurants.

It was a tossup between Akelarre and Arzak. Guess I’ll have to try to switch to Akelarre.

Did some further research and got some recs from locals via my sister so looks like I’m adding Hermandad de Pescadores and Elkano to the list.

Thanks for the recs!

My favorite places were La Cepa, La Viña, and Bar Txukun, all cheap and casual.

Lanziego was a step up and had some really nice old Riojas.

Next time I’m there I’ll reserve at Rekondo. No idea about the food but the wine list is insane.

Etxebarri is worth the trip.

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Yes, the concierge also recommended Rekondo. The food looks a bit too gussied up but the wine list is world renowned so we’re going to try to fit it in for lunch.

We stopped in at Rekondo without a reservation and they said they couldn’t feed us but we were welcome to drink wine at the bar. (Just as well since we were on our way back from lunch at Etxebarri). Took me at least 20 minutes to decide, there were so many great old wines, many of them at considerably lower prices than other places would charge.

Were they mostly Spanish wines? How was the Burgundy selection?

Rekondo’s list includes stuff from all over the world. If it had been only Spanish it wouldn’t have taken me so long to decide. I think I finally settled on an old Rhône white, maybe a Chave Hermitage?

Nice choice. Rekondo it is.

It might have been a Beaucastel Roussanne Vieille Vignes. In any case, something I didn’t expect to find at all, let alone for maybe a third the auction price.

Looks like Akelerre is closed the entire time we are there so Arzak it is. Love the Spanish lifestyle, but there is a trade off.

Also booked are Elkano, Rekondo, and Hermandad de Pescadores.

Then back to Barcelona.

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Speaking of Spanish lifestyle, Basques don’t eat as late. Restaurants in San Sebastian were pretty much all closed by midnight.

Be that as it may, the first available lunch res was 1330 and the first available dinner reservation was 2030 for the above restaurants according to the concierge. About in line with the early tourist seatings in Barcelona.

If you’re not expecting places to be open late, then you won’t have a problem. We almost missed dinner one night after a very late lunch because we didn’t realize the Basque customs are different.

@Porthos and @J_L Thanks for this thread y’all! Going to the Basque country in June for my honeymoon! Finances unfortunately are not unlimited but I’m gonna try to snag a table at Akelarre and Asador Etxebarri. And then just do pintxos crawls… Does that sound like a reasonable enough plan?

Also, do you guys have any intel on the Lisbon and Porto scenes?

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Also, how are you guys booking these places? I’ve emailed a few restaurants…is it easier to use say an AMEX platinum concierge or something?


I just have the concierge do it. Also many of the places take res on their websites.

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Sounds easy enough. Thanks!

I made a reservation at Etxebarri by email.

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