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Where to eat in San Sebastián, Spain’s glittering culinary destination

San Sebastián (or Donostia to the Basques), set on a wild stretch of the Atlantic coast, is known for its stunning beaches, arts celebrations, and vibrant fiestas. This has contributed to its title as the 2016 European Capital of Culture. However, with its Michelin-starred restaurants, pintxos (Basque-style tapas) bars, fresh food markets and gourmet shops, the northern Spanish city has also earned itself a global reputation as a glistening food destination, becoming an essential on the itineraries of travelling gourmands.

In fact, San Sebastián, renowned for its molecular Basque cuisine, holds one of the highest numbers of Michelin stars per square metre in the world — ahead of culinary giant Paris. For the uninitiated, Basque country boasts a rich culinary heritage, due to its fertile ground perfect for grains and vineyards, as well as expansive land for livestock breeding. Because of its varying landscapes, its cuisine combines elements of the mountains and the sea, with essentials ranging from first-class fish to wild mushrooms, as well as eggs and vegetables from family farms.

If you’re planning to experience Spain’s world-renowned gastronomy, San Sebastián is a city you shouldn’t miss — and deserves a few days on your itinerary. If you don’t know where to go, don’t fret. We’ve curated a list of the best restaurants you need to go to.

From a fine coastal seafood restaurant to one helmed by Spain’s most decorated chef, these are San Sebastián’s most prestigious dining establishments — led by Basque country’s celebrated chefs, at that.

How to get to San Sebastián: Emirates operates flights from Singapore to San Sebastián with two stopovers in Dubai and Madrid. 

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Mugaritz, a restaurant housed in a Basque farmhouse in a rolling countryside just a few miles outside San Sebastián, has established itself as Spain’s de facto cathedral of contemporary cuisine. The restaurant is helmed by Andoni Luis Aduriz, one of Spain’s pioneering chefs, who prepares highly personalised cuisine with the aim of rediscovering original flavours via innovative techniques — all presented in a unique, contemporary style.

The highlight of Mugaritz is the restaurant’s 24-course degustation menu, which is reinvented every year, so there’s always something new to experience.

Number of Michelin stars:


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Martín Berasategui

The most decorated chef in Spain (with a total of eight Michelin stars), Martín Berasategui is a name that needs no introduction. Neither does his eponymous restaurant, which is located just outside San Sebastián, overlooking the stunning mountainous region of Gipuzkoa.

Every foodie visiting the Basque country should indulge in the experience at the restaurant, which has been called a “gastronomic highlight” and a “masterpiece of Basque culinary [style]”. Its menu features exciting flavours and textures alongside flawless presentation, an adherence to the Basque molecular kitchen.

Number of Michelin stars: 3


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Housed in a ‘caserío’ (one of the region’s traditional dwellings) on the outskirts of San Sebastián, Zuberoa is a restaurant dedicated to traditional Basque cuisine. Here, head chef Hilario Arbelaitz turns raw materials such as cuttlefish, baby octopi and woodcock into dazzling dishes that have earned the restaurant its Michelin star.

Indulge in the tasting menu, which features a variety of flavours typical of the Basque country, from roasted scallops to stewed calf tongue cubes.

Number of Michelin stars: 1


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Arzak, a restaurant helmed by father-daughter duo Juan Mari Arzak and Elena Arzak, occupies a large house nestled on top of a hill. The restaurant specialises in New Basque cuisine, which has gained it a spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

The restaurant boasts an extensive offering which includes multiple tasting menus as well as an à la carte, with specialities such as the Red Space Egg with a skin of red peppers, pig trotters and mushrooms, as well as seabass served on top of a tablet computer with moving images of the sea.

Number of Michelin stars: 3


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Getaria, located between Bilbao and San Sebastián, is a pretty coastal town home to one of the finest seafood restaurants in Basque Country. Enter: Elkano, an unpretentious restaurant located in the middle of the small fishing village, bedecked with traditional decor, stone-tiled floor and net curtains. However, the spotlight truly shines on its cuisine, which focuses on flavour and ingredients.

Elkano offers fish of the highest standard — and is famed for its turbot, which is carefully selected and grilled whole over open-air charcoal grills, resulting in just the right amount of smokiness.

Number of Michelin stars: 1


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Boasting a magical location overlooking the Bay of Biscay, Akelarre is helmed by Pedro Subijana. The chef’s diligence and artistic capacity at the head of the kitchen have earned the restaurant, and his cuisine, a place among the international elite.

The “Akelarre classics” menu highlights some of the enduring favourites, ranging from cardoon main ribs with artichoke to whole-grain red mullet with fusili that has been flavoured with garlic, parsley and soy sauce.

Number of Michelin stars: 3


(Image credit: Cathy Chaplin

Dewi Nurjuwita
Senior Writer
Dewi Nurjuwita is a travel and design writer who can be found exploring the streets of foreign cities with passport in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
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