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The Michelin Guide to San Sebastián

  • Published 25 July 2018

A bite-sized version of the Spanish superpowers Barcelona and Madrid, the coastal city of San Sebastián (also known as Donostia) is framed by picturesque sandy beaches, elegant art nouveau buildings and beautifully manicured parks that will provide each guest with unforgettable memories from start to finish. Although its stunning landscape is truly divine, the main event in San Sebastián has to be its infamous dining scene and with more Michelin stars per capita than any other city in the world bar Kyoto in Japan, this quaint Spanish district is nothing less than a culinary superstar. Here, expect to find so much more than Spanish tapas – although the pintxos are utterly decadent – offering the likes of fresh oysters paired with sparkling wine at a beachfront café and delectable masterpieces curated at the city’s top Michelin-starred restaurants. The city values gourmet cuisine so much that the only McDonald’s was quickly redeveloped as a mall due to the disgust of the locals! San Sebastián is an undoubted staple in the itinerary of foodies so what better way to taste the internationally renowned cuisine than a visit to the gastronomic capital? Our handy guide has everything you need to know about the Basque country’s best eateries – you’ll be dining on the stars in no time! 

Kokotxa

If there’s was just one reason to visit San Sebastián, this would be it. Headed up by genius chef Dani López, Kokotxa has massively contributed to the elevation of Spanish cuisine to Michelin star standard and each visitor would only describe a meal here as a heavenly experience. The restaurant is located in the heart of San Sebastián’s Old Town, adjacent to the picturesque Basilica of Santa Maria and La Concha beach for the most romantic setting you could possibly ask for. Now, let’s get down to business – the food. Kokotxa offers two delicious menus; Market which serves nine courses and Tasting with 14 courses. Each dish is a result of an incorporation of international flavours and the legendary Dani López retains his Spanish heritage at heart in order to balance a myriad of tastes, delivering a meal with a certain simplicity but one visitors surely won’t forget. Oh, and even the name of the restaurant is something special as Kokotxa refers to a traditional Basque dish of fish prepared in a rich green sauce. Remember, reservations here are a must as it’s one of the city’s most famous restaurants with visitors coming from far and wide to indulge on the delicious fare. 

Opening times: Tuesday to Friday – 1:30pm to 3:30pm and 8:30pm to 10:45pm and Saturday – 1:45pm to 3:30pm and 8:30pm to 10:45pm 
 

If there’s was just one reason to visit San Sebastián, this would be it. Headed up by genius chef Dani López, Kokotxa has massively contributed to the elevation of Spanish cuisine to Michelin star standard and each visitor would only describe a meal here as a heavenly experience. The restaurant is located in the heart of San Sebastián’s Old Town, adjacent to the picturesque Basilica of Santa Maria and La Concha beach for the most romantic setting you could possibly ask for. Now, let’s get down to business – the food. Kokotxa offers two delicious menus; Market which serves nine courses and Tasting with 14 courses. Each dish is a result of an incorporation of international flavours and the legendary Dani López retains his Spanish heritage at heart in order to balance a myriad of tastes, delivering a meal with a certain simplicity but one visitors surely won’t forget. Oh, and even the name of the restaurant is something special as Kokotxa refers to a traditional Basque dish of fish prepared in a rich green sauce. Remember, reservations here are a must as it’s one of the city’s most famous restaurants with visitors coming from far and wide to indulge on the delicious fare. 

Opening times: Tuesday to Friday – 1:30pm to 3:30pm and 8:30pm to 10:45pm and Saturday – 1:45pm to 3:30pm and 8:30pm to 10:45pm 
 

Mugaritz

Daring foodies, this one is for you. Unofficially named as the most adventurous restaurant in the world, two Michelin star restaurant Mugaritz is certainly an eatery fit for royalty. Using cutting-edge avant-garde culinary techniques and fresh ingredients combined together for an abundance of extraordinary creations, this one-of-a-kind eatery serves a menu with a twist – there’s no menu at all! Going solely on the tastes, requirements and preferences of each individual diner, head chef and owner Andoni Luis Aduriz provides an eating experience that’s truly out of this world. However, if you don’t fancy putting your taste buds in Aduriz’s hands (you’re missing out, trust us) then Mugaritz is sure to knock your socks off with its 24-course menu, a prestigious collection of mind-blowing dishes that showcases a range of cooking skills and exceptional ingredients. Just one taste and you’ll clearly understand why Mugaritz never strays too far away from the top 10 section of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list year on year. 

Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday – 12:30pm to 1:30pm, 8pm to 9pm and Tuesday – 8pm to 9pm 
 

Daring foodies, this one is for you. Unofficially named as the most adventurous restaurant in the world, two Michelin star restaurant Mugaritz is certainly an eatery fit for royalty. Using cutting-edge avant-garde culinary techniques and fresh ingredients combined together for an abundance of extraordinary creations, this one-of-a-kind eatery serves a menu with a twist – there’s no menu at all! Going solely on the tastes, requirements and preferences of each individual diner, head chef and owner Andoni Luis Aduriz provides an eating experience that’s truly out of this world. However, if you don’t fancy putting your taste buds in Aduriz’s hands (you’re missing out, trust us) then Mugaritz is sure to knock your socks off with its 24-course menu, a prestigious collection of mind-blowing dishes that showcases a range of cooking skills and exceptional ingredients. Just one taste and you’ll clearly understand why Mugaritz never strays too far away from the top 10 section of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list year on year. 

Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday – 12:30pm to 1:30pm, 8pm to 9pm and Tuesday – 8pm to 9pm 
 

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Alameda

San Sebastián is awash with hundreds of pintxos bars found around every corner offering traditional Basque cuisine but the gourmet traveller simply must visit Alameda. A family-run restaurant that stays true to its Spanish roots, this one Michelin starred establishment has certainly earned its place in the gastronomic constellation for the last 20 years. Alameda believes that the less distance between the land and the sea, the better and only uses locally sourced and seasonal produce in its dishes. Alongside the beautifully decorated dining room and the garden terrace for the most incredible sunset views while you tuck in, Alameda is also home to an extensive tavern which hosts a wide range of regional and international wines that perfectly match each dish on the menu for a culinary match made in heaven. This restaurant is ideal for those who are fairly new to the world of Michelin-rated cuisine thanks to the charming atmosphere and the top-quality fare at affordable prices. Must-try dishes include spider crab salad served in its shell, Guillardeau oysters with citrus caviar and porcini mushrooms with truffled egg yolk. 

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday – 1pm to 3:30pm and Wednesday to Saturday – 8pm to 11pm 
 


Akelaŕe is one of the world’s most highly regarded restaurants and proud award winners of three Michelin stars. Standing as a symbol for the evolvement and success of Northern Spanish cuisine, the restaurant is situated high on San Sebastián’s Igueldo Hill which provides incomparable panoramas of the city below. The tasting menu here comes highly recommended; a chance to sample carefully created haute cuisine that the chefs believe are their best work but the Aranori and the Bekarki menus are also something special. These menus combine a range of different dishes and showcase some of the latest recipes so expect to find the likes of roasted octopus and seaweed in tempura, grilled lamb loin and squid risotto. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that these dishes are as simple as they sound. One bite will cascade a myriad of flavours over your taste buds – perfectly balanced and never overwhelming – for a memorable meal in the Michelin capital of the world. 

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday – 1pm to 3:30pm, 8:30pm to 11pm and Sunday 1pm to 3:30pm. Akelaŕe closes annually from 23rd December to the 1st March. 

Akelaŕe

Akelaŕe is one of the world’s most highly regarded restaurants and proud award winners of three Michelin stars. Standing as a symbol for the evolvement and success of Northern Spanish cuisine, the restaurant is situated high on San Sebastián’s Igueldo Hill which provides incomparable panoramas of the city below. The tasting menu here comes highly recommended; a chance to sample carefully created haute cuisine that the chefs believe are their best work but the Aranori and the Bekarki menus are also something special. These menus combine a range of different dishes and showcase some of the latest recipes so expect to find the likes of roasted octopus and seaweed in tempura, grilled lamb loin and squid risotto. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that these dishes are as simple as they sound. One bite will cascade a myriad of flavours over your taste buds – perfectly balanced and never overwhelming – for a memorable meal in the Michelin capital of the world. 

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday – 1pm to 3:30pm, 8:30pm to 11pm and Sunday 1pm to 3:30pm. Akelaŕe closes annually from 23rd December to the 1st March. 

Arzak

Yet another San Sebastián restaurant that holds a place on the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants (since 2006) as well as three Michelin stars, Arzak is said to offer one of the city’s best gourmet experiences. It’s been said that “we eat with our eyes” and Arzak have taken this famous cliché into consideration, putting tremendous effort into the presentation of each dish as well as the taste. The chefs here strive for culinary excellence and innovation of the highest standard including father and daughter Juan Mari and Mari Arzak who have been awarded the Universal Basque Award. The restaurant adheres to the art of molecular cuisine, infusing a stylistic style of science into the way food is presented thus becoming a noteworthy feature of the restaurant – think foie gras bonbons and volcanic oysters. It goes without saying that reservations are imperative at Arzak whether it be for lunch or dinner but if you do happen to waltz in then stick around. It’s worth the wait. 

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday – 1:15pm to 3:15pm and 8pm to 10:30pm 
 


Have you ever wondered what the most important date in the culinary calendar was? Well, now you know – it’s when the Michelin Guide comes out! Restaurants that make the list are ones that encapsulate everything amazing about the world of food and drink with hopeful head chefs praying that this is their year to win the accolade of a lifetime. Michelin stars are a rating whereby restaurants are judged on their quality – one star signifying “a very good restaurant”, two meaning “excellent cooking that’s worth a detour” and three stars, “exceptional cuisine that’s worth a special journey”. The Oscar of the food industry has a dramatic effect on a restaurant’s success, with areas all over the globe battling it out for the top spot of the most stars accumulated. Most of the highly-rated establishments are often shortlisted on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants too – how many can you tick off?

Don’t deny it – your mouth is watering already! Why not click here to discover more food capitals of the world while you dial 0203 816 0985 to speak to one of our personal travel managers who are ready and waiting to plan your San Sebastián getaway! 

The Michelin Guide

Have you ever wondered what the most important date in the culinary calendar was? Well, now you know – it’s when the Michelin Guide comes out! Restaurants that make the list are ones that encapsulate everything amazing about the world of food and drink with hopeful head chefs praying that this is their year to win the accolade of a lifetime. Michelin stars are a rating whereby restaurants are judged on their quality – one star signifying “a very good restaurant”, two meaning “excellent cooking that’s worth a detour” and three stars, “exceptional cuisine that’s worth a special journey”. The Oscar of the food industry has a dramatic effect on a restaurant’s success, with areas all over the globe battling it out for the top spot of the most stars accumulated. Most of the highly-rated establishments are often shortlisted on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants too – how many can you tick off?

Don’t deny it – your mouth is watering already! Why not click here to discover more food capitals of the world while you dial 0203 816 0985 to speak to one of our personal travel managers who are ready and waiting to plan your San Sebastián getaway! 

Tagged: Europe, Spain
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