San Sebastian – Night 4 – Pintxos Hopping

After recovering from my truly Mugaritz epic meal, I was somehow hungry again so seemed like a good idea to do some pintxos hopping back in the Old Town. This time I gave up the futility of trying to find parking and opted to walk there instead. I needed the exercise anyway.

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The wind had died down a bit so the walk turned out to be very pleasant and after the trek across the bridge, I soon arrived in the Old Town, which unlike my last trip, was bustling with people.

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I had asked around for some recommendations for spots that are more for locals versus the tourists. I got multiple replies to check out La Cucharra de San Telmo so that was my first stop. A fairly small bar that had helped kick off the pinxtos revolution 20 years ago. A mix of traditional and modern, all of the pinxtos are made to order – no toothpicks here.

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I had enough experience now in crowded pinxtos bars so look for a corner and force my way into a small space – this one was a bit of challenge but eventually I prevailed. It was their 20th anniversary which featured a special menu of pinxtos throughout the years. I selected the braised veal cheeks in a red wine sauce and hummus, which was apparently their first major pintxos when they launched. Along with that, given I was in a cheeky mode (sorry), I also went with the pork cheeks with chicharon and a quince sauce.

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Both were superb but the quince sauce with the rich pork cheeks was the real standout. After I remarked to the server how good it was, he said that was his favorite item on the menu. A great start to my bar hopping.

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Next up was a return to the world famous Gandaras, which had been a bit too crowded when I tried to go there Weds. It was still pretty rammed but this time I was able to at least get an order in amongst the masses. Known for its game meat offerings, I chose the duck brochette. At only 5 Euros, I assumed it would be a small bite-sized dish. I was wrong.

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Instead, it was a pretty huge plate of perfectly cooked Margret duck pieces with a thick rich red wine reduction for the sauce. It was fantastic but after finishing, I started to hit the wall hard. Still, I wanted to try at least one more pintxos and went out in search of a lighter offering, perhaps a salmon one?

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I ended up at another local tip, Gastrolexu, which featured a younger, hipper crowd than the traditional pintxos bar. I did in fact find a great salmon option but in my post duck stupor, forgot to take a picture. Trust me, it was delicious.

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I was done with food but had passed an intriguing looking cider bar earlier and though that would make a nice night cap. The cider was made locally and had a very ornate way of pouring it, which I sadly mistimed with my camera but trust me, it was a cool method. The bracing mixture of slightly sour with the alcohol punch turned out to be just what I needed to end the evening and soon after I paid the 1 Euro – yep – for the cider, I headed out into the cold windy weather and staggered my way home.

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