1. Stand-out ingredients Anchovies, goose barnacles, baby peas, white asparagus; the menu at Casa Urola reads like a greatest hits of seasonal local produce. Under the deft control of chef Pablo Loureiro, and making the most its charcoal grill, the restaurant focuses on updating traditional Basque dishes.
2. Drinks on the terrace A midday vermouth is a Spanish weekend ritual, and Bar Txurrut’s picturesque terrace is the best spot for enjoying one. Try artisan vermouth, doctored with a touch of bitters and a dash of Amaro, shaken and strained into a chilled glass. (Plaza De La Constitución, 9; 00 34 943 42 91 81)
3. Best ice cream Taking a stroll along the Boulevard while eating an ice cream is an obligatory summer evening tradition in San Sebastián. Various ice cream shops line the shaded avenue, but Oiartzun stands out for its artisanal, made-from-scratch flavours like torrija and New York cheesecake.
4. Insider know-how Basque culture is nothing if not mysterious, and it can take an outsider years to crack some of the culture’s culinary secrets. Instead, take a shortcut by booking a pintxo trail or cooking class with tour company San Sebastián Food.
5. Cocktails with a view The latest addition to the San Sebastián night scene, Gu is a restaurant and nightclub set in a striking building designed as the city’s yacht club in 1929. Go for sundowners – try the Gu Mule (vodka, ginger beer, green tea, and lime).
6. Sunset supper Call Zelai Txiki the day before to reserve the suckling pig and suckling lamb, served straight from the wood-burning oven and carved tableside. Or, if you prefer something less flamboyant, try the homemade charcuterie, then hake with clams, and finish with melon soup and coconut ice cream.
7. Perfect pintxos Borda Berri in the Old Town makes all its pintxos to order. The menu’s perfectly executed takes on traditional dishes change regularly, but piquillo peppers stuffed with beef cheek and the grilled octopus are perennial favourites. (Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 12; 00 34 943 43 03 42)
8. Stellar dining San Sebastián shines with Michelin stars, and the brightest in the constellation is Mugaritz. Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz’s insatiable appetite for pushing limits and unwavering loyalty to local ingredients and traditions results in a show-stopping tasting menu, with dishes like trompe l’oeil olives and beer, or perfect pork under autumn ‘leaves’.
How to do it: Return flights from Gatwick to Biarritz cost from £80 return (easyJet.com). Buses from here direct to San Sebastián cost €13 return and take around 45 minutes (pesa.net). Double rooms at new boutique hotel Okako cost from €130, room only (okakohotel.com). For more information: sansebastianturismo.com
Written by Marti Buckley Kilpatrick
First published July 2015
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