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eating around midnight in san Sebastian


rsh
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Hi everyone,

A quick question... I will be going to san Sebastian for easter weekend, flying in on Thursday night and leaving on Monday night. I arrive at bilbao at 9:35 and am renting a car, so if all is on time and I don't get myself lost, I imagine i'll be in san Sebastian at around 11 or 11:30. From what I have read, that is cutting it kind of close for dinner since places seem to stop serving pintxos at "around midnight.". I was hoping to go to a couple of tapas places, but am curious: is this a realistic goal?

Also any advice on particular specialties at tapas bars would be welcome: I have seen them in bits and pieces around here but I figure I will ask anyway.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Rob

Ps I have reservations at some great places including arzak, akelarre, etxabarri and will provide a report upon my return...

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It is quite too close. Unless there's a lot of people crawling from bar to bar on Thursday night because of Easter and bars extend their opening times, it's very likely that many of them will be closed when you try to hit them. I've been there during long weekends and I've found a sheer contrast between Fri and Sat nights and Thu nights, much more pronounced than in Madrid, for instance.

Pintxos, except at a handful of places, are way too overrated. The experience is great, but the food not that much. The exceptions, to me, are Ganbara, Bergara, Aloña Berri and Cuchara de San Telmo. The latter is the more 'cuisine oriented', that is, there's real cooking in what they serve you. Of course, probably others will have more recs.

I would suggest making plans to have dinner at some place really close to the airport.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Pintxos, except at a handful of places, are way too overrated. The experience is great, but the food not that much. The exceptions, to me, are Ganbara, Bergara, Aloña Berri and Cuchara de San Telmo. The latter is the more 'cuisine oriented', that is, there's real cooking in what they serve you. Of course, probably others will have more recs.

I'd say "way too overrated" is a bit strong. Though not everything you'll eat will be revelatory, there's plenty that's quite good - though I'd certainly agree that some places are more interesting, culinarily, than others. From our recent visit, I thought Aloña Berri was really almost in a league of its own. Absolutely stunning presentations, excellent flavors, really exceptional. On the other hand, I thought La Cuchara de San Telmo was somewhat disappointing (perhaps we ordered poorly). I also thought Gandarias and Casa Senra were very good. More info here ->

http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/2009/03...-sebastian.html

In answer to the original question, we weren't out at midnight to be able to tell you, sorry.

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If you are on schedule in Bilbao and assuming you are staying in San Sebastian, I would go for it. The drive to San Sebastian is not difficult and the traffic at that time would be light. You should not get lost because there are signs pointing to SB every few miles. Finding your hotel/parking in SB might be a little more difficult. Crowd builds in eating places as the week progresses and there should still be some action in the Parte Vieja on Thursday around 11:00-11:30pm. Of course, you are eating what ever is left at the end of the night but it is still worth it and the walk around the old city and La Concha at that time of the night is wonderful.

Edited by Pork Belly (log)
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Thanks a lot for all of your suggestions, guys. I'll probably make a game day decision based on what time we end up with the car. If anyone else writes a response thanks in advance - I am leaving tomorrow morning for an actual vacation (as opposed to the holiday weekend San Sebastian will be) to Russia and so will only be able to respond when I'm back...

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Actually I will add a new question to this, while I am on the topic of when I can and cannot eat tapas: is it likely the bars will be open on Good Friday evening and Easter Sunday evening?

currently I have:

Thursday night: arrive, eat?

Friday: lunch Akelarre, dinner tapas?

Saturday: lunch Arzak, dinner Elkano

Sunday: lunch Etxebarri, dinner tapas?

Monday: lunch tapas? a sidreria?

i am sort of considering trying to move my Elkano reservation to friday night to ensure that i will have at least one decent experience leisurely moving around and eating small plates. (i'd prefer more than one night of that but am sort of stuck on sunday night since none of the big restaurants seem to be open for sunday dinner anyway). originally i thought that with that schedule i would be able to fit in a few tapas evenings, but between thursday's late arrival and the holidays i am wondering if it's not worth changing the schedule or cancelling one Arzak or Akelarre...

any thoughts are more than welcome...

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  • 4 weeks later...

just to bring this full circle - and thanks to everyone who helped.

i'll post a more full recap later, but with respect to eating around midnight, you can definitely be more than sated at midnight or so in san sebastian. from 11:30 or so, in the old quarter, at the very least casa gandarias and al fuego negro serve hot and cold pintxos, and gandarias has its restaurant open for full on sit down meal where you can order until midnight. i'd called them and made an 11:30 reservation for the night i was scheduled to arrive to make sure i had a table, and then by a stroke of luck and scheduling (and useful frequent flyer status) i managed to get myself in 2 hours earlier than i'd thought, allowing for a few pintxos before a real meal.

it's worth noting that gandarias is open all night, with the kitchen ceasing to make hot food between midnight and 11am - but during off hours all sorts of cold pintxos, and hams, chorizo etc is available. no problem. this is especially useful for all of those from london who are of necessity flying in at off hours either to bilbao or biarritz and therefore get into san sebastian later in the evening. it's also useful since gandarias is one of the 3 or so best pintxo bars i went to.

one final note: the drive to san sebastian from bilbao does take about 1 hour, but once you're there, if it's your first time, count on it being another 30 minutes to figure out how to get to your hotel. those one way streets are crazy.

like i said, more later, but that's the answer to my original question.

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