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Saturday, 18 November 2017

San Sebastián Pintxos Bar Crawl Part 2.

This is a companion piece to my San Sebastián Pintxos Bar Crawl post from our last trip back in May. We return in October for a last minute trip, meeting up with friends who've not been here before. I am determined to show them as many pintxos bars as we can handle and some new ones (for us) too. We drive from Bilbao airport to San Sebastián, not always the easiest of cities to drive in, with an impossible tangle of one way streets. Finally rid of the car, we walk to our cheaper Pension Irune (only €60) in the narrow streets of the old town, past bronzed surfers coming off the beach as the sun sets on a clear blue sky. We're on our own on the first night, so we head off to Casa Urola which is about a minute away from our pension. We're here for the pintxos bar downstairs not the Michelin star restaurant upstairs (which looks good though). We order taco chuleta (photo below) foie, scallop ajo blanco and truffled egg ravioli. We enjoyed it so much we return with our friends and eat it all again over the next few days. 
A little further down the same road Mendaur Berria didn't look too promising early on in the evening. With a giant TV showing football and few people in, we decided to give it a go anyway. I'm so glad we did. The food is very good. We have sea urchin, a superb truffled rice & foie (pictured below), hake, 'falso risotto' and crab. Again we return here and eat pretty much the same when our friends arrive.
A few drinks into the night, we wander into Beti Jai Berria as it's there. It's a small modern bar with a few bar top pintxos which we sample a few of although I can't for the life of me remember what they were as we're pissed and off piste now, the night disappears down the rabbit hole.
The following day with our friends, we head for a favourite La Cuchara de San Telmo but as it's temporarily shut for a refurb we instead go to sister bar Borda Berri. 
The pintxos here are excellent as always, we sample the carrilleras (beef cheeks), tako de atun rojo (tuna) and a heavenly risotto (pictured below). 
Note, we have a dog with us too (Rufus pictured above) and none of the bars here batted an eyelid to letting him in including Borda Berri. He got a taste for foie dipped bread.
As I said in the last guide, the best thing really is to have a rough idea of where you're going but then the joy is always to leave that behind after the drinks start flowing and you start to wander around aimlessly. In our case, we often head for the corner for drinks around Atari, A Fuego Negro and Sirimi. We finish the night off with some cream cheese ice cream at Atari and a cocktail or two over looking the church outside Sirimi.

Heading over to the Gros area the following evening, we stop off again at Kata 4 for oysters and black squid croquetas. We also enjoy Bar Bergara again, especially their beautiful array of pastry based pintxos, Txalupa; mushrooms & prawns,  Udaberri; courgette & crayfish tart and the anchovy tortilla.
A new one for us this time is Gure Txoko which is buzzing on Friday evening, with a younger crowd maybe. The food is all good yet again, we sample the bao crab roll and various croquetas all superior to the standard hit and miss affairs you get in most Spanish bars.
The following lunchtime, Zapzi was a revelation. In the shopping area near to Ibai, we all agreed this was our absolute favourite of the weekend. We stood outside eating, drinking and laughing all afternoon. Is there a better way of spending the day? Starting off with 3 or 4 dishes, inevitably we had to reorder they were so good; txuleta pintxo (very good), crab ravioli, "green rice", oxtail ravioli, bacalao, foie, truffle egg and ham, cod, spider crab and turbot. The staff were notably friendly here too.
After a few hours I was expecting a large bill but it was only €67 between four of us. Remarkable value for such lovely food.
That evening we pop into Ganbara as it's just a few doors down from our pension. It was just opening, so we sample some of the pintxos from the attractive bar top display. They are very good although not cheap. We had some lovely mushroom tarts straight from the oven.
On the road that leads down to the harbour, there's a new place called BareBare  
It's a large modern bar with an attractive bartop display, jamón hanging and meat maturing in cold storage displays. I seem to recall a large fish tank of lobsters too. We have a few bits from the bartop and some squid in black ink and rice.
Saturday night is often madly busy of course, so we had booked in at Zeruko.
I had booked via twitter DM and there seemed to be a bit of confusion with our booking but we settled at the back on a table for six (we've no idea if this is actually our table or not). They've taken a bit of a step back from the mad creations of a few years ago and it's better for it. We have "La hoguera" again (smoked cod on it's own little grill), kokotxa (cod cheeks) langostinos and some beautiful scallops. 
We head back to A Fuego Negro for more drinks and into the night...
We're already planning our next trip. 

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