Just got home last night from a very special week in San Sebastian. My husband and I are food lovers and parents to two young children so this getaway was all about relaxation and eating well. I note that there are a lot of recent SS posts on here so I'll keep this pretty short.
San Sebastián really is a food lovers' dream. The juxtaposition between high end Michelin star dining and casual, lively pintxos bars (plus the surfer beach culture) makes this small city truly magical. We stayed at the lovely Villa Soro in Gros and had an unbelievable time using their complimentary bikes to explore the city.
Pintxos hopping in Parte Vieja is something to behold. And knowing in advance which pintxos bars are best and what specific dishes they're known for really makes the experience less overwhelming. Also, as others have mentioned, the best bites are ordered from the kitchen and I'd recommend mostly avoiding the cold pintxos left on the bar. Our three favorite spots were La Cuchara de San Telmo (everything we ate - foie, beef cheek, suckling pig, burrata and clam - was perfection; do prepare for crowds as it gets packed), Borda Berri (that veal cheek!) and Atari (also stop by their sister cocktail bar next door). We had a delicious grilled scallop at Zeruko, but were otherwise disappointed in this spot. I liked A Fuego Negro more than my husband but their service and atmosphere was kind of off-putting.
Beyond the pintxos bars, we had lovely dinners in town at both Zuberoa (1 Michelin star; beautiful, serene setting; classic Basque cuisine ) and Rekondo (incredible wine list; I loved my baked spider crab).
Unfortunately our lunch at Akelarre (3 Michelin stars) left much to be desired and was our least favorite food of the trip. Admittedly, neither of us likes molecular gastronomy particularly much but, even still, the room, service and food just felt off and outdated. It was not memorable save for the view.
For us, the absolute culinary highlight of our trip was Asador Extebarri in Axpe. The room and setting were beautiful and each bite of food tastier than the last. The ingredients sang and the delicate use of the grill was amazing. And that beef chop - I will dream of that for awhile! This was a life goal that I'm very happy to have achieved. (For NYers reading this, the entire experience oddly reminded us a bit of Blue Hill Stone Barns).