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San Sebastian

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We walked to the end of the La Concha beach in San Sebastian and stumbled upon these "Wind Combs" by Eduardo Chillida. Not only are they placed in an amazing setting, but their installation was truly a feat of engineering.
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Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 12, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
"Aquí, Se Guisa" is the motto at Borda Berri, one of the Old Town's best pintxo bars. The star of every pintxo is a braised critter: beef, octopus, rabbit, you name it. There's no pintxos on the bar at this spot, but don't let that keep you from...
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46, 31 de Agosto Kalea, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Santa María del Coro is San Sebastián's token beautiful European church. It has the quiet, sunlit beauty that one comes to expect in European churches. It also is the site of several of the city's unique celebrations, organ concerts, and the...
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Okendo Kalea, 1, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Let's say you only have a day or two in San Sebastián and no time to research your trip. Who you gonna call? Jon Warren and his team at San Sebastián Food. They offer shortcuts to the heart of the San Sebastián food scene, and the truth is, they...
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Calle Mayor, 18, 20013 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
Everyone knows a pintxo hop is a must-do in San Sebastián. What everyone doesn't know is that Atari Gastroteka, located in the shadows of the old town's beautiful Santa Maria church, is the perfect last stop on the tour. Their artisan foie is...
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San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain
When someone tells me they're traveling to Spain and looking for recommendations, San Sebastian (Donostia, in Basque) is my first thought for city destinations in the northern part of the country. It's charming, beautiful, and steeped in history....
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Calle de Ijentea, 2, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Turning down that last gin-tonic has its benefits. The Old Part of San Sebastián is at its most peaceful in the morning. Head to Pastelería Oyarzun, grab a hot piece of what the locals call "brioche," but is actually a croissant with raisins, off...
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Zurriola Ibilbidea, s/n, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Zurriola beach is slightly off the radar, or at least as much off the radar as one of a city's three beaches can be. The only tourists that typically venture over are of the surfing persuasion, and sitting to watch the sunset on the wall that...
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Salamanca Pasealekua, 3, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Be Bop is a staple in the San Sebastián night scene. If you are with a diverse group and uncertain how to reconcile their tastes, take them to Be Bop. Be Bop plays a wide range of music, from Michael Jackson to The Band to Bruno Mars. Drinks are...
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Sanchez Toca Kalea, 1, 20006 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Pokhara, located in the center of the city, has one of the best ambiences around. The quintessential European café, with a touch of Paris and a touch of Spain, it attracts a younger, hip crowd. Don't expect food beyond the obligatory croissants...
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Santa Korda Kalea, 4, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
At La Cuchara de San Telmo, on the corner of the plaza Valle Lersundi in San Sebastian, the specialties were hot pintxos, quickly prepared to order--from the menu or the specials board, or by pointing to what your neighbor was eating. This was one...
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De Igeldo Ibilbidea, 187, 20008 Donostia, Guipúzcoa, Spain
It was raining when we arrived in Donostia-San Sebastian, but the skies cleared on our second day, and we rode the funicular railway up Mount Igueldo to take in the view back on the city, La Concha Bay, and the empty beach. The "low" travel season...
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Zurríola Hiribidea, 24, 20002 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Gipuzkoa, Spain
San Sebastián, for many, is a surf town. Pukas is your one-stop shop for everything from surf lessons, bikinis, gear, and cool souvenirs with a local twist, like their trademark 'Surfing the Basque Country' t-shirts.
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Euskal Herria Kalea, 7, 20003 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
January 20. The favorite day of residents of San Sebastián. A day that nearly always portends cold, rain, and discomfort. It's the Day of San Sebastián, also known as the Tamborrada. Imagine an entire town turning up at the main square at...
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Mount Ulia, 20013, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Most visitors never cross the river from the Old Part, and the vast majority overlook what has to be one of the most beautiful hikes from here to California. At the edge of Gros, a trail heads up some stairs (at the end of Calle San Francisco) and...
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Plaza Zuloaga, 1, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Museo San Telmo is a must-see for any art or culture-phile during a visit to San Sebastián. The newly renovated museum's architecture alone makes for fascinating viewing, and there are sections on Basque anthropology as well as revolving...
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Kalea Isla de Santa Clara, 2, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
From May to August, a ferry runs from the port of San Sebastián to the island that sits serenely in the middle of the Concha Bay. The island is quiet, isolated, and empty. There is a café on the island with a mysterious timetable, and a lighthouse...
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Bretxa Plaza, 3, 20003 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
La Bretxa shopping center houses the usual trappings of a modern-day shopping mall, but below ground one can find the city's largest and best market for the fruits of the sea. Cold, wet and crowded, this is the spot where you will find both...
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Calle de Nagusia, 96, 20115 Astigarraga, Guipúzcoa, Spain
December to May is cider season in the Basque Country. Basque cider is quite different (drier, more bitter) than its American and English counterparts. The real magic in Basque cider, however, happens when it is consumed. Groups of friends head in...
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Zabaleta Kalea, 6, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
La Gintonería, in the less-traversed neighborhood of Gros, could very well be the best gin-tonic in San Sebastián. With two shelves laden with premium and hard-to-find gins, it's a gintonaholic's dream. They have a selection of premium tonics and...
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Aldura Gunea Aldea, 20, 20100 Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, Spain
$$$$
Molecular and sustainable Basque cuisine at 2-Michelin starred restaurant Mugaritz. Modern farm house, garden, and sheep frolicking about make the ethereal setting one-of-a-kind.
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Malkorbe Kalea, 5, 20808 Getaria, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Arriving to Getaria can be done by bus, but one of the most unforgettable parts of visiting this village is approaching (or exiting) it by the sidewalk that winds along the sea. Depending on the time of year, you will have endless views of a calm...
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Argentinar Errepublika, 2, 20004 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
Victoria Eugenia is a double-edged sword. A beautiful, red-velvet-swathed theater occupies the aboveground section of this building. Offerings feature biggish names in music, Broadway adaptations, and classical performances. Meanwhile, after...
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Av. de Zurriola, 1, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
San Sebastián's monument to modernity, the Kursaal, sits perched on the seashore, cutting boldly into the skyline. The Kursaal is the spot for the biggest get-togethers in town, from the Film Festival to Gastronomika. It also hosts concerts,...
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Kontxa Pasealekua Edificio de La Perla Donostia Gipuzkoa ES 20007, Kontxa Pasealekua, 20007 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
What could make a spa with all the typical trappings of luxury even better? Wall-to-wall windows overlooking La Concha bay, that's what. La Perla does not disappoint, and it's a great way to spend those finicky winter days when visiting San...
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Iñigo Kalea, 8, 20003 Donstia - San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Gipuzkoa, Spain
On a cold Sunday late morning, when the first pangs of hunger are starting to hit, nothing tastes better than a glass of vermouth. Straight up vermouth is an aperitif of choice, especially on weekends, in San Sebastián. Bar Etxebarria serves up...
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Gipuzkoa Plaza, 10, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Let's be honest...how many of us have actually enjoyed chestnuts roasted by an open fire? The beginning of winter is marked by the arrival of chestnuts to the Plaza de Gipuzkoa. They're sold from a tiny hut in each corner of the square. What...
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Plaza de Carlos Blasco Imaz, 1, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
The Aquarium was so lovely that my 16-year-old granddaughter, Caitlin, was unable to maintain the attitude of feigned boredom that plagued us last summer in San Sebastian. Oh, the joys of travel with a teenager!
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Urgull, 20003 San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain
August, 2010. 9:30pm I was taken with how the setting sun shocked a small cluster of buildings as the mountains behind brushed up against a cloudy roof. Looking across the bay where we tried to locate the spot where we had been sunbathing until...
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Constitución Plaza, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
The Constitution Square (Plaza de la Constitución) is the very heart of the Old Part of San Sebastián. The biggest celebrations take place here: the Tamborrada, Santo Tomás, you name the party, and it probably starts here. Built in 1817, the...
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Gran Vía Kalea, Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Incredible gastronomic experience that stretched over my weekend in San Sebastian. Great food and even better company. Pool your euros together and weave through the pintxo bars with a few hungry friends.
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Calle de Ijentea, 1, 20003 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
Alderdi Eder is the name of the tree-lined plaza near San Sebastián's town hall. Grab a bench, most of which are fairly private when the trees are green, and watch the peaceful bay. Take a ride on the recently-restored carousel for a more active...
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Portua, 20120 Hernani, Guipúzcoa, Spain
The port of Donosti is a great place to stroll, and there are several restaurants lining it to stop for a coffee or some freshly caught fish. The 400 moorings are permanently occupied by everything from small yachts to dinghies. Watch carefully...
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San Vicente Kalea, 3, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Gipuzkoa, Spain
San Vicente church is the 'other' church in the Old Part of Donosti. The original San Vicente was probably a Roman style church, built at the end of the 7th century. The current church was built between 1489 and 1574 after burning down, under the...
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264 Route des Plages, 64500 Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France
If you've ever been to--or have seen photographs of--San Sebastian during the summer, you know that the perfectly crescent-shaped white-sand beach in this Basque seaside town never looks like this. It would be packed with sunbathers cheek by jowl....
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Gernikako Arbola Pasealekua, 8, 20006 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Botanika is one of San Sebastián's best local spots to just BE. Especially if you consider yourself slightly hip, ride a fixed gear, are a NOLA-phile, or enjoy café food with a vegetarian bent. The private garden overlooks the river that runs...
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Guipuzkoa Plaza, 14, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Bideluze hits all the right notes. There's nothing artisan or hoity-toity about it. Just a good, comfortable Irish pub style vibe, with pintxos that are big enough to qualify as sandwiches and a kitchen open all day long. Mornings in Bideluze are...
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Bermingham Kalea, 1, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Entering this cafe is like stepping through a time warp to America. Highlights are the flavored coffees (donut latte! muffin cappuccino!) and the croissants. They're made by hand behind a glass window all day long. In a land of mediocre puff...
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Kontxa Pasealekua, S/N, 20007 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Café de La Concha is a perfectly satisfactory café for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. However, what it does really well is sit smack dab in the middle of La Concha Beach. This means there is no place more picturesque to take a morning coffee than...
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Bengoetxea Kalea, 2, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
This is the neighborhood spot for the entire town of San Sebastián under the age of 40. Whether it's an 8 o'clock shot of espresso, a mid-morning toast with tomato and olive oil, or a beer at 7pm, this place is always hopping with people. It's the...
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Andia Kalea, 11, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
People dream of European bakeries, lining the city streets, emitting delicious smells day in and day out. However, the truth is, in Spain a good bakery can be hard to find. Gogoko Goxuak is the newest addition to San Sebastián's café scene. They...
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Zabaleta Kalea, 55, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
La Guinda is quite unassuming, but its baked goods are among the city's best. They have a selection of typically "American" items, such as carrot cake, as well as alfajores, the Argentinian sweet. Their lunch menu is decent and decently priced,...
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Soraluze Kalea, 1 bajo, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Café Artess is one of the city's best people-watching spots. It's spacious, with high ceilings, and locals flock there to play cards in the afternoon. It also has ample outdoor seating that looks out onto an agreeable plaza. A wide selection of...
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Okendo Kalea, 1, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
San Sebastián, or Donostia in the Basque language, is a Belle Époque resort town built around the Bay of La Concha. Stroll the cobblestone Old Town streets in search of cozy shops, the city’s oldest church (San Vicente) and celebrated restaurants...
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San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Musika Parkean is a wildly popular, one-of-a-kind experience in this coastal town. Once a month, from April to September, one of San Sebastián's green areas is the site of a free concert, with beautiful views and interesting food options to match....
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Erregina Erregeordea kalea, 2, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Where can I see live music? This question comes up a lot with visitors, and the answer is, not many places. Altxerri Jazz Club, underneath Altxerri Galeria, is one of the only spots in town that has consistent (and consistently decent) live music...
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Alameda del Blvd., 26 - 1º izquierda, 20003 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
One of the cornerstones of the Basque dining tradition is the gastronomic society. It is a private club whose 'clubhouse' typically consists of a kitchen and a huge dining room. Members bring raw product and join together to cook dinner, eat, and...
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c/ pescadería, 5, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
When Christopher Hall reported his "57 Small Bites of Spain" story about tapas in four Spanish cities, he visited Bar Txepetxa in San Sebastian's old quarter. We brought the December/January 2010 issue of AFAR with us and shared it with the pintxo...
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Calle Mayor, 6, 20003 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
This is a classic of the Old Part. The VIP here are the tempura-fried shrimp, which fly out of the kitchen at an astonishing rate. No frills and no nonsense, it's a great local spot.
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Calle Pescaderia, 10, 20003 Donostia, Bizkaia, Spain
Expect creative riffs on the classic pintxo at this ultra-modern spot. Everything from the colors to the flavor combinations are unique and draw in crowds from the street. Not everyone is a fan of their style—for instance, the old guard who remain...
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Arrandegi Kalea, 11, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
In Spain, the word tortilla refers to a thin omelet, and in San Sebastián the Best Tortilla is a title that everyone loves to argue about. It is indisputable that one of the city's most delicious is that of Bar Nestor. It's a masterpiece that is...
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San Jeronimo Kalea, 19, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Ganbara has two big cons. One, it's expensive. Raciones of mushrooms, for example, run you around 20 euros. Two, it's been discovered (twice over) and is on even the under-informed tourist's pintxo list. That said, and considering that perhaps...
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Narrika Kalea, 4, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
171 years crafting hats is a long time. The family behind Casa Ponsol are maestros of adorning heads, although they have since branched out into men's fashion as well. The Basque beret is ubiquitous, and if you find yourself pining for one this is...
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BAJO, Prim Kalea, 16, 20006 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Vinos Ezeiza is a store of a dying breed. A knowledgeable owner stands among dusty wine bottles, able to answer any question you might have about his collection. Headed out to a fiesta? Bring your wineskin and fill it by volume. Buying Rioja wine...
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Narrika Kalea, 8, 20003 San Sebastián-Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Perhaps it's because of airline restrictions, but I'm willing to bet that you never thought of a knife as a great take-home from vacation. Stop in Cuchillería Colmenero and that will change. They have knives with beautiful hand-carved wooden...
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Getaria Kalea, 14, 20005 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
A truly great store is one that makes you desire things that you didn't know you wanted. Almacenes Arenzana achieves this, but lucky for the shopper, they happen to sell extremely useful items. Cork, cords, burlap, fabric, ropes, all by the...
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Zabaleta Kalea, 43, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
While Vintage Closet isn't technically an old store, this boutique carries a fascinating mix of vintage clothing and clothing that wishes it were vintage. It's a rarity in Donosti, a city that leans more toward Zara than second-hand. Off the...
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C/ Fermín Calbetón 9, 20003 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
If you're in San Sebastián to eat, chances are you'll be wanting to eat Pimientos de Gernika and Guisantes Lágrimas long after your trip is over. Semillas Elosegui is a classic stop in the Old Part of San Sebastián, and they have seeds for all of...
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Plaza de Bilbao, 2, 20005 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
Donosti Librería is the bookstore that movies are made of. In the family for 40 years, the shop's beautiful art nouveau façade hides a calming interior. Walls are stacked with books, handpicked by the owners, and the overall atmosphere is the...
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De la Brecha Enparantza, 2, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Want to know what's in season? Wonder past La Bretxa in the Old Part of San Sebastián and glance at the stalls of the local farmers that sell their produce every day on the side of the building. You might glimpse leeks, porcini, peppers, squash,...
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De Felipe IV Hiribidea, 5, 20011 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Hungry? Hungover? Broke? This bar in the back part of town masquerades as just another pintxo spot, but half of the menu is filled with authentic Colombian food. The bandeja de país (frijoles, avocado, fried egg, sausage, chicharron, rice, and...
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Zabaleta Kalea, 17, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Bar Diz is nothing more and nothing less than a great neighborhood pintxo bar. Open at just the right times, with friendly service and a range of hot pintxos as well as larger portions and sandwiches, it hits the spot. They also have one of Gros's...
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Aldamar Kalea, 1, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
If authenticity is what you're searching for, look no further than Rekalde Taberna. It's an Old Town spot without Old Town prices, with a menu that is tailored toward the younger Basque patriots (typical food mixed with vegan and vegetarian...
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Paseo de José Miguel Barandiarán, 8, 20013 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Campero's special flat sandwich bread and their proximity to the surfer side of San Sebastián's hippest beach have made it a local staple. Fast, easy, and pretty delicious, it's a great place to grab a beach picnic lunch.
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Calle de Embeltrán, 6, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
The bocadillo is an art form. Crusty bread encloses fillings of your choice: usually tortilla española or thinly sliced cured meats. It's also a patriotic symbol and staple of daily life. What else would you carry to the Real Sociedad soccer game?...
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Boulevard Zumardia, 14, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Va Bene has a couple things going for it. They know how to cook a beef hamburger patty, leaving it reddish on the inside. They have an endless variety of sandwiches, numbered on their simple menus. My favorite is number 13, two patties with bacon,...
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San Jeronimo Kalea, 3, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
The menú del día is a uniquely Spanish tradition. Who in the rest of the world has time to sit for two hours and drink wine, consume multiple courses, all in the normal workday? If you want to experience a traditional menú del día, food that is...
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Landare, 20159 Zizurkil, Guipúzcoa, Spain
Vegetarianism and veganism are still regarded as slightly crazy around these parts, but there are a handful of places that cater to the meat-free. Landare is the one with the most varied, generous helpings. It's best to reserve, as this restaurant...