Best San Sebastián Pintxos Tour: Eat Your Way Through Basque Country (2024)

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Article written by: Rebecca
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Join a San Sebastian pintxos tour to discover the best food in Basque Country. This guide shows you why you should take a tour – but also gives advice for a self-guided option.

We wanted to go to San Sebastián for two reasons: the food and the beach. Unfortunately, Lady Luck wasn’t smiling on us for the latter – it rained most of the time we were in San Sebastián, so beach action was out.

But that meant more time for food in San Sebastián – and everything exceeded our expectations.

San Sebastián is one of the world’s top culinary destinations, with several Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s famous for its pintxos (pronounced pinch-ohs), the Basque version of tapas.

The word pintxo means “skewer” and you’ll understand once you see piles of pintxos held together with a toothpick. But not all pintxos are served this way, and the word now refers to any small plate of food served in the Basque country.

In this guide to pintxos, I’m sharing how you can try as many of these tasty snacks as possible. I highly recommend taking a San Sebastian pintxos tour – but I also provide a list of my favourite pintxos bars if you’d prefer to do a self-guided tour.

A narrow cobblestone street lined with classic European buildings featuring iron balconies. Various signs and flags are displayed above the street, indicating bars and other businesses. Pedestrians are walking down the sidewalk, creating a sense of everyday life in this urban setting. This is San Sebastian, home of pintxos!
The Parte Vieja (Old Town) in San Sebastian

Self-guided or guided San Sebastian pintxos tour?

Bars line the gorgeous cobblestone streets of the Parte Vieja (the Old Town), happy people spilling out doors with a bite-sized delight in one hand, and a glass of wine or beer in the other.

Here is where you’ll find many of San Sebastian’s best pintxos bars – one of the best things to do in San Sebastian.

On our first night in San Sebastián searching for pintxos, however, we didn’t fare too well.

Finding ourselves in a new city, tired and hungry after a day of travelling, we launched ourselves into the first bar we saw in the Parte Vieja, sat ourselves down and then proceeded to look in amazement at the huge variety of food spread out across the bar.

The sound of English all around us pointed out the fact that we’d inadvertently stumbled into a touristy version of a pintxos bar, where the food was – while still tasty – slightly more generic with no real wow factor.

We tried several different pintxos, but left wondering what the hype around this city was all about.

A close-up of an assortment of pintxos, traditional Basque small snacks, arranged on white plates on a bar counter. They appear freshly prepared, with a variety of toppings, including meats and vegetables, served on slices of bread.

The best pintxos tour San Sebastián

Our second night in San Sebastián changed that.

I’d booked us on a San Sebastián pintxos tour with San Sebastián Food (now re-branded as Mimo Food with the same great staff), where we were introduced to a variety of gastronomic pleasures. It wasn’t the cheapest pinxtos tour I could find in San Sebastián, but it was well worth the money!

Eli, our guide, was a fantastic host, her infectious enthusiasm rubbing off on our group of nine and her passion for food clear in the way she described the different types of pintxos we consumed through the night.

One of the great things about pintxos – besides the fact that they’re damn delicious – is the social aspect of eating them. The Spanish hop from bar to bar, sampling each house specialty, usually coupled with a glass of txakoli or beer. People rarely sit, instead standing around the bar or barrels used as makeshift tables.

At every bar we visited, there were groups of four or five people, lots of laughter, and plenty of eating and drinking. Most of the time, we could barely make ourselves heard, such was the fun going on around us. This social aspect is what makes pintxos so uniquely Spanish.

A busy and vibrant bar with patrons gathered around the counter, engaged in conversation. The atmosphere seems lively and social, with illuminated menu boards and vintage style hanging lamps above.
A packed pintxos bar in San Sebastian

Eli took us first to a bar where we munched on prawns in a light vinegary dressing. Here we had our first taste of txakoli, the local white wine that’s slightly sparkling and very dry, light and refreshing. Txakoli is always poured from a height, and some of our group tried their hand at pouring it – with varying levels of success.

Next we moved on to Gandarias, famous for its solomillo (sirloin steak). My husband and I came back here two more times after our San Sebastián pintxos tour to savour this delicious steak, lightly seared and served on bread with green peppers.

A close view of a plate of pintxos featuring small slices of steak topped with green peppers, served on crusty bread. The arrangement is simple and appetising, highlighting the pintxos as a culinary attraction.
The delicious solomillo at Bar Gandarias

We sloshed through the rain to Bar Zeruko, a modern pintxos bar, where our group sat down for the first – and only – time on the tour.

There, we were served salted cod, which we seared briefly on our individual grills, the smoke from the charcoal giving the fish a lovely flavour. We ate the cod atop a cracker smothered with a creamy topping and washed it all down with a lettuce juice chaser served in a small test tube. Interesting and delicious. 

Update: Bar Zeruko is currently closed, and it’s not clear when or if it will re-open.

An artistic presentation of a single pintxo consisting of a skewered piece of seafood on a small round of bread, accented with a green sauce and a garnish, displayed on a wire stand with a minimalist design.
Salted cod cooked on our own baby grill

At Borda Berri the food was slightly more upscale – fine dining pintxos – including tender veal cheeks cooked in wine (which melted in our mouths), pork ribs, pig’s ear (the ear was delicious and crispy, with the fatty, fleshy part rich in flavour) and the tastiest risotto I’ve ever had.

We ended the night eating amazing Basque cheesecake downed with a glass of local port at La Viña, followed by gin and tonics at Atari Gastroleku.

A rustic baked Basque cheesecake, displayed in a round baking tin. The top is flaky, suggesting a light, crispy texture, and it is served directly from the oven.
Rich, creamy Basque cheesecake

Pintxos experts!

The next night, feeling much more confident, Matt and I ventured out to several different bars, tasting the specialties with a few too many glasses of txakoli.

Our final night in San Sebastián was a Monday night – not a good night to go out eating, as most places close.

There are so many more bars we didn’t get a chance to eat at, so we’ll definitely visit San Sebastián again – and hopefully this time without the rain.

An elaborate display of large prawns resting on a bed of thin, straw-like noodles. A small sign identifies the dish as "Langostino con pasta kataifi". The presentation is creative and visually striking, emphasising the gourmet aspect of the pintxos tour experience.
A delicious pintxo you can find in San Sebastian – prawns wrapped in crunchy noodles

San Sebastián pintxos tours

I highly recommend the San Sebastián pintxo tasting tour with Mimo. We took their evening tour, but they also have a lunch option.

Our guide, Eli, was amazing and shared so much with us about the food culture in Spain.

We loved Mimo Food so much we even took a wine tour to La Rioja with them. Mimo also offers pintxos cooking classes, wine tastings and other food tours in San Sebastian geared toward foodies.

As San Sebastián has grown in popularity, other San Sebastián pintxos tours have popped up.

This pintxos tour is run by Devour, a well-known Spain food tour company. It includes plenty of food, wine tastings and is capped at 8 people so it’s a real small-group experience.

This tour also gets great reviews and has a maximum of 8 people. During the evening tour you’ll sample enough pintxos to fill you up for dinner!

As always, read the reviews to choose the San Sebastián pintxos tour that’s right for you.

A close-up of an assortment of pintxos, traditional Basque small snacks, arranged on white plates on a bar counter. They appear freshly prepared, with a variety of toppings, including meats and vegetables, served on slices of bread.

Self-guided pintxos tour in San Sebastián

If you’d prefer not to do a San Sebastián pintxos tour, you can still eat your way through the best pintxos in San Sebastián on a self-guided tour.

These restaurants always top lists of the best pintxos bars in San Sebastián, so plan to visit a few – or all! – of these. Some are casual, some are fancier.

We visited many of these pintxos restaurants on our food tour or on our own, but some are places we need to try when we visit San Sebastián again!

I’ve also included a map below so you can plot out your own pintxos tour of San Sebastián.

Gandarias Calle 31 de Agosto, 23

La Viña Calle 31 de Agosto, 3

Borda Berri Calle Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 12

Sirimiri Gastroleku Calle Mayor, 4

Bodega Donostiarra Peña y Goñi Kalea, 13

Paco Bueno Calle Mayor, 6

Atari Gastroleku Calle Mayor, 18

El Tamboril Arrandegi Kalea, 2

Bar Ganbara Calle San Jerónimo, 21

Bar Txepetxa Calle Pescadería, 5

Hidalgo 56 Calle Paseo Colón, 15

Bar Bergara Calle General Artetxe, 8

Resaca Paseo Miraconcha, 22

La Mejillonera Calle del Puerto, 15

Tips for eating pintxos

  • Plan your pintxos tour – pintxos bars are usually well-known for doing one or two pintxos just right, so know where to go to get the best tortilla de patatas or croquetas
  • Pintxos are a social affair, so go with a group of friends – or make some new friends!
  • Get ready for crowds – the good pintxos bars are always packed. Be patient but be assertive when ordering
  • You eat pintxos standing up or around a bar table, so don’t worry too much about getting a table
  • Avoid Mondays, because many pintxos restaurants close on Mondays
  • If you’re not sure what to order, look around and see what other people are ordering
  • Even better, ask for recommendations – whether from the restaurant staff or Basque people around you
Large legs of ham hanging from the ceiling of a pintxos bar in San Sebastian. Each has a red cap at the bottom to catch liquid.

Wrap up: Pintxos tour San Sebastian

You can’t visit San Sebastian without trying pintxos. They’re part of the cultural fabric of this region of Spain and one of the many culinary highlights of the country.

Whether you choose to take a guided tour with a local who can show you hidden bars and share the history of pintxos or decide to tackle the pintxos bars on your own, you’re in for a delicious treat!

Did you find this article helpful? Consider buying me a coffee as a way to say thanks!

Would you do a San Sebastián pintxos tour or would you prefer a self-guided pintxos tour? And if you’ve got more recommendations for the best pintxos in San Sebastián, drop them in the comments below!

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Before you go… you might also like these Spain travel articles:


  • Book flights to and around Spain online with Skyscanner. I like this site because it shows me which dates are cheaper.
  • Find a great hotel in Spain. Check prices on and Expedia online.
  • For train travel, Omio should be your starting point for checking routes and booking tickets.
  • Check out the huge range of day tours throughout Spain on GetYourGuide or Viator. There’s something for everyone.
  • A copy of the Lonely Planet guide to Spain will be handy, along with a Spanish language phrasebook.
  • One thing I always purchase is travel insurance! Travel Insurance Master allows you to compare across multiple policy providers, while SafetyWing is great for long-term travellers and digital nomads.


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This post was published in July 2013, and updated in June 2019 and February 2024.


I'm a travel junkie who started dreaming about seeing the world from a very young age. I've visited more than 40 countries and have a Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management. A former expat, I've lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Argentina and the United States. I share travel resources, tips and stories based on my personal experiences, and my goal is to make travel planning just that bit easier.

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