Tender sirloin steak bites, sautéed scallops with delicate and sweet flesh, fresh boquerones on a skewer, jamon iberico, octopus, and $3 dollar glasses of Spanish wine or a lager if you prefer, makes for what has to be the best, and pretty affordable happy hour, that you can enjoy anytime of day.  Pintxos (pronounced “Peen-Chos”), Basque for tapas, are the small bites you can find around the old town of San Sebastian, or “Donostia” as it’s known in Basque. An old town with narrow, cobblestone streets, set around the rim of a beautiful La Concha Bay on the northern coast of Spain.

Pincho Bars in the old town

Sitting there enjoying glasses of Spanish wine with my folks, we meandered from one Pintxo bar to the next.  There is really something for everyone, whether you like seafood or steak, and feel like hot or cold food. The friendly bartenders helped us navigate the system since this is my first time eating Pintxos.  If you’re ordering cold Pinchos, you pick a plate, and fill it with whatever you want.  Or, if you order hot food, and I recommend it, you order with them. They were all friendly and upbeat, and helped me out since my Spanish is a little rusty. In a small section of the old town alone, there are dozens of these places, which vary in decor and style from dark and intimate, to brightly lit and trendy, to the old-fashioned.

The Spanish Food Lifestyle

For me there is just something about eating and drinking in Spain that’s special.  Maybe it’s because they specialize in some of my favorite things, seafood and wine. I remember last year, at the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, walking through this crowded gourmet market, seeing people after work standing at the food stalls having a glass of wine, and snacking on jamon, and saying, “man i’d love to be able to do that after work.” But this town of San Sebastian has that as a general lifestyle it seems.

jamon iberico

A Perfect Place for a Perfect Day

The town itself is really scenic as well.  The focal point being the perfectly crescent-shaped bay with a sand beach with a long ocean promenade around it.  In the morning you can see people enjoying it with a run, or out on the water in a kayak.  Or, as I prefer, going for an open water swim from one end to the other.  I don’t know exactly how far of a swim that would be, but I would guess maybe 2k.  The people I saw out there had a wetsuits on, but it looks like a great way to start the day, and the water is pretty calm.