Pintxos? Sounds weird and not edible in any kind of way, right? Well, you should be surprised to find out that this strange-sounding word describes one of the most delicious and mouth-watering little snacks that you will have every tried. “Pintxos” is the Basque word for “spike” and they are eaten, big surprise, in the Basque country in northern Spain. “Spike” does not describe the form, nor the preparation method of the dish, this name has been assigned because of the way all parts of the snack are held together: by a toothpick or skewer – a spike! What’s held together by the toothpick are usually a toasted slice of baguette with toppings like fish, stuffed peppers, croquettes, tortilla de patata, anchovy or other delicious bites combined. But the spikes also have another important function: since pintxos are self-serve, this is the way the bartender can count how many snacks you have had. The toothpicks sometimes even differ in size or color to differentiate between prices.
Since pintxos are rather small, you have the opportunity to try many different kinds and wander from bar to bar to taste all of the specialties. Pintxos have, in fact, a strong socializing component: they are eaten in taverns and bars while chatting or hanging out with friends or relatives and are an important part of Basque culture and society. Although the similarities to normal Spanish tapas are striking, the essential difference is that pintxos are eaten individually, while tapas are usually made up of a portion of food to be shared. Txikito, Basque rosé wine goes great with pintxos, as well as cider.
So what’s the best place to try these delicious socialize-enforcing snacks? Without a doubt, San Sebastián is the place to go. This is where some of the most elaborate pintxos can be tasted and the old historical part of the city is studded with an insane amount of bars and taverns that serve the famous bites. Every bar is compelled to put something special and unique on the table, which is why you can literally find any type of pintxo in this city. From incredibly sophisticated and made up of only the priciest ingredients to a cheap yet filling pintxo with tortilla, there is something for every taste and budget. Although known for its designer chefs and Michelin star restaurants, this Basque city serves a variety of these exquisite tapas-like morsels that might really be just as good, only that they are so much more affordable! San Sebastian’s society literally revolves around these tiny dishes of meat, fish, beans, omelet or anything else that might be in season. This is especially noticeable by the fact that the city’s old town, Parte Vieja, has the biggest bar and restaurant density in the entire world!
If you are ready to try some of these terrific snacks, some of the best bars to try pintxos are the Taberna Juanxo in the old area, whose pintxos are more than reasonably priced, La Cuchara de San Telmo, Bar Ganbara, home to wild mushrooms, La Cepa, a Jabugo ham temple, Bar Txepetxa, spezialized in anchovies, or Aloña Berri, a little more upscale but known for prize-winning pintxo creations.
Come and take a look at our apartments in San Sebastián and the chances of you being just around the corner of a pintxos bar are incredibly high!