How to bar-hop like it’s an Olympic sport

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I thought I knew bar-hopping, that is, until we headed out two nights in a row this summer with Iñigo, who takes bar-hopping to a whole new level. Don’t think I’ve ever felt this much pressure to down beer and red wine so we could move on to the next bar for more pintxos. Probably a result of equal parts Basque pintxo culture and only-girl-in-the-group symptom.

If you happen to find yourself in San Sebastián (or Donostia as the locals call it) in the near future, definitely make time for some of my favorite pit stops:

  • Fried ibarrako piparrak at Goiz Argi. Can’t go wrong with tiny mild Basque green peppers flavored simply with salt — unless if you are unlucky enough to pick out the only spicy pepper on the plate.
  • Tomato salad at Bodega Donostiarra. Fuss-free, juicy and refreshing.
  • Japanese pintxo at Kenji Sushi Bar. Our friend calls it Japanese pintxo but it’s actually an ingenious tripartite marriage of Japanese sushi/sashimi, fresh local fish with the pintxo bar scene. I had to be dragged out of this bar because I can’t remember the last time I had sushi/sashimi this authentic and affordable in Paris.
  • G&T at Akerbeltz. One last drink for the road in a country obsessed with its G&Ts. Sitting outside the bar, overlooking Kontxako Badia, with a large glass of G&T in hand is pretty much the perfect way to call it a night if you ask me.

Bilbao

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Lekeitio

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Another recommendation from our Spanish-Basque friend, Lekeitio was strangely empty the night we were there — all the better for us I guess. The pulpo a la vinagreta was so tasty, we ended up ordering a second portion to go with our draft beer.

Lekeitio
Diputazio Kalea, 1, 48009 Bilbao, Spain

Café Iruña

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Ate the first pintxos of my life in this grand dame of a cafe which has been around since 1903 (worth checking out just for its tiled advertisements of yesteryears, impeccable interiors and Andalusian tiles). Café Iruña comes highly recommended by a Spanish-Basque friend who used to live in Bilbao and it didn’t hurt that we stayed right next to it.

Of course we were on a budget this road trip and subsisted purely on a diet of pintxos washed down with beer or wine, not that I was complaining. Might skip the lamb skewers next time though. Never mind they are near perfection with that dash of lemon, they are still a little pricey especially for someone who has been spoilt rotten by China’s late-night chuanr carts.

Café Iruña
Berástegui Kalea, 4, 48001 Bilbao, Spain

Museo Guggenheim Bilbao

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Spent a whole hour mesmerized by the magic of Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson inside the big G and then we walked out into the warm embrace of maman in the evening sun.

Museo Guggenheim Bilbao
Avenida Abandoibarra, 2, 48009 Bilbao, Spain

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