The Best Sit-Down Meals in San Sebastián

Life can’t be all tapas, all the time. It’s a taller order to find the great sit-down restaurants in the pintxo paradise of San Sebastián, but here’s an insider’s guide.

56 Zubieta Kalea
Simple, skilled treatment of raw product is the hallmark of the cuisine at Narru. With a chef once named in the Wall Street Journal as a top young chef to watch in Europe, the food here is quite simply delicious. Stars are the tomato salad, the seafood rice dish of the day, the crema de queso for dessert, and the secreto ibérico, an incredibly juicy cut of pork.
Rodil Zeharkalea, 79, 20013 San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain
One of my favorite sit-down dining experiences in the city, Zelai Txiki has a couple things going for it. One is a gigantic terrace that overlooks the entire city. On a summer evening there are only a few places I would rather be. Call ahead to try one of Zelai Txiki’s specialties: whole suckling roasted pig or suckling lamb. These are roasted in a wood-burning oven and are an experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Euskal Herria Kalea, 3, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Astelena 1997, not to be confused with the pintxo bar Astelena, fills an important niche in San Sebastián dining. While seasonal vegetables are at best supporting actors and at worse nonexistent in many local restaurants, at Astelena they take a more central role. You can get the best the Basque soil has to offer—artichokes, peppers, cardoons—prepared from scratch and with a hand that knows how to season. They have a mean steak, too.
35 Calle San Bartolome
La Madame is one of the most forward-facing dining spots in San Sebastián. It’s one of the only place in the city where you can find well-executed fusion cuisine, with touches of American, Japanese, French and Basque cuisine and perhaps THE only that has a real cocktail program in place. It’s a dark, vibey spot. Call ahead for reservations and go hungry. Mondays are special menu days, each with a different theme.
Rekondo is a little hidden treasure of a restaurant, started by an aficionado of wine. A real aficionado. His varied collection means the restaurant has a wine list of hundreds of pages. These are wines critics dream about, at prices that are a fraction of the cost in other parts of the world. They are so well-priced, in fact, that the restaurant only allows bottles to be taken off the premises if they are opened. On the outskirts of town, it is rarely completely booked and has a spacious terrace that is absolutely perfect for having a bottle of wine at sunset.
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