San Sebastian is, without a doubt, Spain´s gastro-capital. The city offers many different ways to enjoy food. Before we go through the list of San Sebastian best restaurants, we will introduce briefly the gastronomy culture in San Sebastian and the Basque country in general.
During your visit to San Sebastian you will be able to enjoy high quality food in different versions.
Pintxos is the more affordable one. Pintxos, like tapas in the rest of Spain, imply bar hopping. Drinking and eating what is unique at each of the bars chosen for the day. Most bars in San Sebastian offer pintxos, but in some bars, in San Sebastian, you will be able to find the ultimate pintxo! Find out more in our San Sebastian pintxo guide.
The second option to enjoy food is a “Sociedad Gastronómica”. These societies are very different from 3 star Michelin restaurants. They represent however, the core of local gastronomy. They are private clubs, mostly for men, in which members are responsible for everything: fishing, hunting, purchasing food from the market, cooking…. And of course eating too. There are almost 800 sociedades gastronomicas only in Gipuzkoa (San Sebastian´s region).
There is one bad thing (or right, it depends on your side at the table!) about these private societies: they are private, and access is not opened to the public aside in some exceptions.
You can however, enjoy a friendly atmosphere which resembles the spirit of the societies at Cider houses.
These restaurants originated as places in which cider was produced, served from the barrel, and where people gathered to enjoy basic menus. Some of them have evolved into more formal restaurants, but you will most probably enjoy great atmosphere, simple but high-quality ingredients, and cider, lots of cider.
Michelin starred restaurants come next in our list of ways to enjoy food in San Sebastian, and they are the main focus of this article. They are the top of the ladder in quality, and, yes, your guess is correct, in price.
A young generation of chefs opened their minds to new concepts, ideas, and flavors. They used locally sourced ingredients (San Sebastian and all the surrounding region is full of fertile green valleys, and the Cantabrian sea brings everything else that is needed.
The name of Arzak is present in most people´s minds when they think of top quality gastronomy in Spain. Arzak initiated a revolution in the way Spanish gastronomy was to develop. Being from San Sebastian, his ideas and vision hit first in San Sebastian, but his influence had an important impact elsewhere in the country too