Pintxo-hopping in Donostia

Going for pintxos is one of my favorite past times.  I’m a food lover and anytime I get the chance to eat quality food I’m all over it.  Luckily for me I live only 20 minutes from one of the best places to go for pintxos (Logrono in the La Rioja wine region is a close second favorite for me).

If you’ve never been for pintxos, let me give you the low-down.  It’s a bit like a bar crawl where you go from bar to bar trying a different pintxo and drink at each one.  The best way to go is with a group of friends or family but it’s even a great date night with your media naranja.  If you go with a group of friends, the most typical thing is to put what they call here a bote (a community pot of money that one person is in control of and will use that money to pay at each bar).  A normal bote would be about 10 euros per person.  That would probably get you about 3 pintxos and drinks in 3 different bars.

Most bars have a pintxo they are famous for but if not they will always have pintxos de la barra (pintxos that are on the bar to choose from) and most bars also now have pintxos de la carta (hot, freshly made pintxos that you can order from a menu written on the wall).  The pintxos de la carta will be a bit more expensive because they are more elaborate and have more expensive products.  The pintxos de la barra you can just take as you want and pay at the end.  Everything is on the “honor system” here although unfortunately with the recent surge in tourists many bars will ask you to pay in the moment if they believe you are an outsider.

With all that said, you ready to see what we had yesterday when we did some pintxo-hopping?  Here are some recommendations (and some of my favorite bars) if you’re planning a trip.

1st bar: Hidalgo 56 (Paseo Colon, 15)

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If you go: Any of the pintxos on the bar are a great choice as well as the extensive menu they have of pintxos to order.  This bar was awarded the 2012 Best Selection of Pintxos on the bar so they have plenty to choose from.  We ordered a pastel de pescado y gambas (fish and shrimp pastry) and a tostada con panceta, pimiento verde, queso de cabra y mermelada de tomate (toasted bread with pancetta, roasted green pepper, goat cheese and tomato jam) along with a small beer and glass of white wine.  Total price: 7.30 euros

2nd bar: Bar Txomin (Calle Zabaleta, 17)

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If you go: This bar had pintxo-pote (a pintxo special which includes a drink and a special pintxo that each bar prepares for a reduced price) going on so we had these tostadas with different toppings: one with spinach and mushrooms and the other hamburger meat and mushrooms and cheese along with a glass of white wine and a small beer.  They have pintxo-pote on Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:00-11:00 pm.  Total price: 4.00 euros

3rd bar: Goiz-Argi (Calle Fermin Calbeton, 4)

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If you go: This bar is famous for its brochetas de gambas (grilled shrimp brochettes).  They’re made in the moment and are served piping hot with a red and green pepper vinaigrette that is to die for.  They also have pintxos de la barra and specialize in seafood but order the shrimp.  Really…you’ll thank me.  We had 2 brochetas along with a glass of white wine and a small beer.  Total price: 6.50 euros

4th bar: Zeruko (Calle Arrandegia 10)

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If you go: This is one of my favorite pintxo bars in Donostia and has quickly become a favorite with locals and tourists alike.  They are well-known for their nueva cocina pintxos and some of the pintxos that they serve are truly impressive.  My 2 recommendations would be to go on a weekday because weekends are usually packed.  That way you can get a good idea of the pintxos they have to offer without having to fight a million other people for the bartender’s attention.  The other one being to order something off the menu.  Take a look around the bar and see what others are eating and if something catches your eye, ask them what it is.  More than likely they’ll be more than happy to let you know what’s good.  That’s how I discovered the pintxo above and it was delicious.  I had a grilled prawn wrapped in bacon with a multi-fruit compote and the hubby had a club sandwich from the bar along with a glass of wine and a small beer.  Total price: 8.50 euros

5th bar: La Mejillonera (Calle Puerto, 15)

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If you go: The thing to order here is mejillones (mussels) and they come served in various ways with sauces and garnishes.  However, I’m not the biggest fan of mussels so we always get una doble de patatas bravas (big chunks of fried potatoes served with a spicy sauce).  This place is always filled to the brim so it’s best to go on a weekday afternoon.  And if you’re searching for a glass of sangria this is the place to find it.  I normally wouldn’t recommend having sangria in these parts but the one they make it actually really good and cheap.  If sweet sangria isn’t your thing they have txakoli (a local white wine) by the glass and beer, of course.  Total price: 6.40 euros

Have you ever been pintxo-hopping in Donostia (or somewhere else)?  Do you like pintxos?  Do you have any favorite pintxo bars?  Interested in coming with me for a pintxo tour?!?!

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