For me, Basque Country is the culinary capital of Spain. San Sebastian is the culinary capital of Basque country. San Sebastian with its pinchos and pintxosis is foodie's paradise. Even as early as 2005, San Sebastián had won the sobriquet of being the best place to eat in Europe.
For a city of a tiny local population, there are 34 Michelin Restaurants, probably the highest per capita of Michelin restaurants in the world. The advantage with San Sebastian is that gourmet food is very affordable. If you are looking for cheap eats, that is not an issue either. Ash Mair, the author of book My Basque Cuisine, has shared her pick of the very best of the Basque country's food that you must try when you are in San Sebastian.
For a tourist, the best way to understand and appreciate Basque food is to go on a Pintxos walking tour. I have no hesitation in recommending this food tour led by Gabriella Ranelli de Aguirre, a San Sebastián-based food and wine guide.
Basque country has always taken pride in their culture and food. In the 1970s and 1980s, when European royalty and Hollywood sirens started visiting San Sebastian, local chefs running small restaurants in Parte Vieja (old town) seized the opportunity and promoted “new Basque cuisine”. Slowly, their enthusiasm paid rich dividends turning San Sebastian and indeed all of Basque Country into a byword for outstanding food. Today San Sebastian is known as much for its Gastrotourism as it is for its beaches.
Go to the "old town" part of San Sebastian, near the La Concha beach, and try dishes and pintxos made with fish. The local specialty of San Sebastian region is seafood.
Merluza en salsa verde
Hake with green sauce. It is cooked in a clay pot and it is really good.
Kokotxa is the “meaty” part on the sides of the heads of the hake and cod, they can be found cooked in lots of simple ways with olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Try at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Kokotxa
The local Atlantic Horse Mackerel, Chicharro is typically cooked on the oven with anything, like tomatoes or potatoes.
Try this tuna stew made out of potatoes, onions, peppers and tomatoes - really typical of the Basque country.
Bacalao al Pil-Pil
This cod dish is more typical of Bizkaia (Bilbao region) than Gipuzkoa. It is slowly cooked in a clay pot. It is called “pil-pil” because of the sound it makes when being cooked!
Tortilla de bacalao
A cod omelette, it is made by scrambling eggs and mixing it with cod and then fried.
This is like a soup or purée made of leek and other vegetables (carrots, potatoes, garlic and onion), although it is mostly made with leek. Porrusalda itself means leek broth in the local Euskara language.
Only made on special occasions, Talos is a corn tortilla with various types of foods stuffed inside. It is eaten with with txistorra (thin chorizo) while drinking Txakoli wine.
Also made for special occasions, Pastel Vasco literally means Basque Cake. It is a cake full of almond or vanilla cream, or chocolate, along with preserved cherries.