It's no secret that San Sebastián is a foodie's paradise. With everything from rustic, down-home pintxos to world-class haute cuisine, it's safe to say that almost anything you devour here is sure to make your tastebuds happy. That being said, narrowing down the absolute best restaurants in San Sebastián can be a bit tricky due to the sheer quantity and quality of local bites. This guide will help you get started discovering all the gastronomic wonders this fabulous city has to offer.
Best Breakfast: Ambigú Estación
Whoever coined the phrase "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" must have said so after enjoying a nice, leisurely morning meal at Ambigú Estación. Using only the finest fresh, local ingredients, the team at this quirky café puts together an impressive array of brunch offerings. Think everything from traditional Spanish tostadas to sinfully delicious homemade cakes, with coffee or freshly squeezed juice to wash it all down.
As a bonus, this lovely spot has fallen in with the brunch trend that's sweeping Spain by storm. Swing by from Monday through Saturday to enjoy this delicious deal.
Best Traditional Pintxos: Ganbara
The best food in San Sebastián follows the same basic principles: fresh, high-quality, local (when possible) products combined in simple ways to create unforgettable flavors. That's exactly the philosophy that drives Ganbara, and it's this commitment to quality and authenticity that has kept this family-run bar running strong for more than 25 years.
In addition to serving a fabulous variety of traditional pintxos (tiny bites that are not unlike tapas, but native to the Basque Country), their friendly, welcoming service and cozy locale will help make anyone feel right at home.
Best Modern Pintxos: A Fuego Negro
Just as traditional pintxos have kept generations of locals going back to their favorite bars for years and years, the innovative, experimental side of local cuisine helps keeps things fresh and interesting. A Fuego Negro serves as a prime example of that.
This upbeat, quirky bar serves some of the most offbeat pintxos you'll find in San Sebastián (cod and cauliflower curry? Frozen corn and chocolate "sandwiches?" Why not?), all beautifully presented in a way that makes them look (almost) too good to eat. Dig in anyway — you won't regret it.
Best Fine Dining: Arzak
With a 18 total Michelin stars here in the city, it's safe to say that San Sebastián, objectively speaking, truly is home to some of the best food in the world. Three of those stars belong to Arzak, which began as a humble wine shop in the late 19th century and now regularly appears on lists of the best restaurants in the world.
Arzak's cuisine has traditional Basque roots, but takes a modern, avant-garde spin. Pair that with a wine from their fabulous collection (a cellar boasting 100,000 bottles) and you've got all the makings of a meal to remember.
Best Seafood: Txepetxa
Nobody likes anchovies. Or at least nobody thinks they do. Then they come to Txepetxa (pronounced "che-peh-cha"), where they're pleasantly surprised to find that they've been proven wrong about these salty little fish.
With more than 120 years of experience under their belt, this no-frills traditional bar serves up the best seafood pintxos in town. Their specialty: house-marinated anchovies, made according to a generations-old recipe that's singlehandedly responsible for converting many an anchovy-hater. Just don't forget to wash them down with a glass of crisp local txakoli wine.
Best for Families: La Viña
In general, pintxos bars are an excellent option for families dining out with young kids. No frills, no fuss, and kids will love being able to pick their own pintxos out from the colorful array on the bar. La Viña fits the bill perfectly, but with one delicious bonus: their iconic homemade cheesecake. Sweet, creamy, and oh-so-indulgent, it's the perfect way to cap off a meal for both kids and adults alike.
Note: La Viña is currently closed for renovations and is scheduled to reopen early April 2019.
Best for Date Night: Restaurante La Perla
Imagine enjoying fabulous food and wine with your special someone out on a gorgeous terrace with sweeping views of San Sebastián's iconic La Concha Beach. Sound too good to be true? It's not — at Restaurante La Perla, you can experience all that and more.
The upscale setting features three elegant terraces, each with a different offer ranging from stylish cocktails to sophisticated meals. Any one of them would make the perfect spot to enjoy some time with your partner as you experience a more intimate side of San Sebastián's gastro scene.
Best for Wine Lovers: El Bombín
A tiny hidden gem of a bar nestled around the corner from the cathedral, El Bombín may be easy to overlook at first. Those who do spot it and decide to check it out are rewarded with one of the best wine selections in San Sebastián at this cozy local favorite bursting with personality.
The wines available by the glass rotate monthly here, so there's always something new on offer. No matter which you order, you're sure to find a delicious bite to go with it — they also offer a short but respectable menu of pintxos and small plates. For the ultimate experience, sit out on the terrace and watch the world go by as you sip your wine.
Best Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurant: Km. 0
Located in the happening hipster Egia neighborhood, Km. 0 is a true farm-to-table paradise. Specializing exclusively in meatless and plant-based dishes, they take great care to use only fresh, organic, seasonal products to ensure the utmost quality. Even carnivores are sure to find something they'll enjoy among the colorful menu options, which are available to enjoy in-house or to go. Why not take your meal to Cristina Enea Park just across the street and enjoy a picnic?
Best Late-Night Dining: La Madame
Spain is famous for its late mealtimes and unrivaled nightlife scene, the two of which go hand-in-hand. If you get hungry while out on the town but prefer something more than just a greasy kebab, La Madame is the perfect spot. Open until 3 a.m. on weekends, this nighttime hotspot is a sleek cocktail bar, posh restaurant, and happening dance club all rolled into one: a one-stop shop for experiencing the best of San Sebastian's nightlife scene.