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7 Reasons Why San Sebastián Is the Food Capital of the Planet

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

A breathtaking view of San Sebastián.
San Sebastián's Beauty

San Sebastián, or Donostia as the locals affectionately call it, is nestled on the picturesque north coast of Spain. While its stunning landscapes and vibrant culture attract travellers from all over the world, it has earned a special reputation as the unrivalled food capital of the planet. In this article, we'll delve into why this Basque gem is a must-visit for food enthusiasts and explorers alike.

1. A Galaxy of Michelin Stars

San Sebastián boasts one of the highest concentrations of Michelin stars per square metre anywhere on Earth. The crown jewel in this culinary constellation is the Martín Berasategui restaurant, which proudly holds three Michelin stars. This accolade places it in the esteemed company of Kyoto, Japan, leaving Paris and New York trailing far behind.

Martín Berasategui restaurant exterior
Michelin Stars Galore

2. The Triple Crown

San Sebastián is home to a trio of restaurants that have achieved the coveted three Michelin stars. Akelarre, Arzak, and Martín Berasategui have secured their place in the upper echelons of the gastronomic world, an honour that few establishments can claim.

Akelarre, Arzak, and Martín Berasategui chefs
The Triple Crown Achievers

3. The Bounty of the Sea

Nestled along the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastián is blessed with an abundant supply of fresh seafood. The local cuisine proudly showcases dishes like bacalao al pil pil, where cod is fried to crispy perfection in olive oil, and percebes (goose barnacles) that tantalize the taste buds. Squid in its own ink and kokotxas (a stew made with cod or hake cheeks) are among other maritime delights.

A plate of bacalao al pil pil.
Seafood Bounty of San Sebastián

4. Pintxos Paradise

San Sebastián's unique style of tapas, known as pintxos, is a culinary phenomenon. These bite-sized delights consist of small pieces of bread adorned with an array of ingredients, from Spanish ham and prawns to cheese and wild mushroom croquettes. Pintxos bars line the city's streets, each offering a delightful twist on this Basque tradition.

A variety of pintxos on a bar counter.
Pintxos Paradise in the Streets

5. Dining at the Pinnacle

Mugaritz, located just 20 minutes from the city centre, consistently ranks among the world's top restaurants. Holding two Michelin stars and earning the eighth spot on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2019, it offers an avant-garde dining experience that comprises around 20 meticulously crafted courses.

 Exquisite dish from Mugaritz.
Dining at Mugaritz

6. A Social Feast

In the Basque Country, dining isn't just about sustenance; it's a way of socialising. San Sebastián epitomises this spirit, where gathering with friends and family often involves reserving a table at a restaurant, cooking at home, or sharing pintxos in lively bars.

 Friends sharing pintxos in a bar.
Social Feasting Tradition

7. The Market Magic

San Sebastián's food markets, such as San Martín and La Bretxa, showcase fresh, high-quality produce sourced locally. From beans to guindilla peppers, Txakolí de Getaria wines to Idiazábal cheese, these markets are the lifeblood of the city's culinary scene, supplying ingredients to its top-rated restaurants.

Fresh produce at San Martín market.
Old Fish Market, San Sebastian, Spain

Sweet Surprises

While savoury dishes take centre stage, San Sebastián has delightful desserts waiting to be discovered. Pastel vasco, resembling a tart with spongy pastry enveloping vanilla or almond cream (sometimes with cherries), and pantxineta, a puff pastry filled with custard and topped with almonds, are among the sweet treats you can savour.

San Sebastian Pintxos & Wine Tour

To fully experience the culinary wonders of San Sebastián, consider embarking on the Pintxos & Wine Tour. Ranked among the top 10 food tours globally, it promises an insider's guide to finding the freshest and most exciting pintxos in the city's Old Town. Local Basque guides lead the way, ensuring you savour the best of this culinary paradise.

Group on a Pintxos & Wine Tour.
Pintxos & Wine Tour

Recommended Restaurants

For those seeking exceptional dining experiences, San Sebastián offers a plethora of options:

2 Michelin Star Restaurants

Amelia – By Paulo Airaudo – Located at the Hotel Boutique Villa Favorita with an open-plan kitchen.

Mugaritz – A consistent presence on the world's best restaurants list since 2006, according to Restaurant Magazine.

3 Michelin Star Restaurants

Arzak – Established in 1897, offering creative cuisine. Elena Arzak, the head chef, was awarded the title of the best female chef in the world.

Akelarre – Overlooking the sea, it boasts three menus, one traditional and two innovative.

Martín Berasategui – The chef has earned an astounding 12 Michelin stars to date.

Recommended by Locals

Bodegon Alejandro – Seasonal tasting menus with game or fish dishes paired with wine, in a trendy, low-lit venue.

Ganbara – Long-standing restaurant serving small plates & mains in a relaxed space with a wine cellar.

Txepetxa – Since 1925 this tavern showcases anchovy snacks & sandwiches in a convivial atmosphere.

La Cuchara de San Telmo - Recommended authentic restaurant in San Sebastián famous for their Cochinillo and Pintxos.

San Sebastián's culinary prowess is undeniable, making it a destination that beckons food lovers from across the globe. From its abundance of Michelin starred restaurants to the captivating pintxos culture and fresh seafood delicacies, this city embodies the true essence of gastronomic excellence.

Ready to embark on a culinary adventure in San Sebastián, the Food Capital of the Planet? Don't miss out on this extraordinary experience! Contact us now to explore our exclusive tour packages and start planning your dream trip. Indulge in Michelin-starred dining, savour delicious pintxos, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of this gastronomic paradise. Your unforgettable journey awaits – get in touch today and let's make your San Sebastián getaway a reality

Contact us now to explore our exclusive tour packages and begin planning your dream trip. Indulge in Michelin-starred cuisine, savour delicious pintxos, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of this gastronomic paradise. Your unforgettable journey awaits – get in touch today, and let's make your San Sebastián getaway a reality


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