Basque Country "pinchos"
Typical "pinchos" in San Sebastián
A good way to get to know the north of Spain, and especially the Basque Country, is through its gastronomy. To be more specific, we are talking about taking part in a deep-rooted regional culinary tradition: going out for "pinchos". This consists of sampling miniature dishes that fill the counters in bars and taverns. It is also the perfect excuse to discover the historic centres of Basque towns and cities.
Going out for "pinchos" (small dishes to try, like tapas) is an experience not to be missed. See the counters crammed with these little gastronomic gems. Sample them and feel the lively, busy atmosphere in the region's typical local bars - a unique experience. Tapas culture can be experienced all over Spain, but in the Basque Country people live it with real dedication. This is no exaggeration.
"Pinchos" are normally made with local produce, vegetables, meats, seafood, cured meats and cheeses. They are beautifully presented. These dishes are designed to stand out on the counter and will get your juices flowing before you even start. There are a host of different varieties, and every year there are competitions with prizes going to the best of the best. Our recommendation is this: try whichever takes your fancy and let your taste buds decide.
You should discover this special tradition - you will not be disappointed. Many towns in the Basque Country have particular areas with bars specialising in these culinary delights. Be sure to try them out. For a very reasonable price you will be able to sample exquisite flavours that will not be forgotten.
The best way is to take your time and explore the areas dedicated to "pinchos" in the town. Go into the bars, soak up the atmosphere, admire the plates packed with food and get carried away by the divine smells that fill the place. This is also a wonderful opportunity to get to know the historic centres of this Spanish Region's major towns and cities, given that many of the bars and taverns are to be found in their old towns. In Vitoria, then, be sure not to miss the medieval old town, set around Santa María Cathedral, and Arquillos Street and Plaza del Machete Square, while you savour, for example, "pinchos" with peppers, the real star in bars in Vitoria.
If you are in Bilbao, head for the old town, the busiest area of the city, with its outstanding Santiago Cathedral, and savour delicacies made with cod, mushrooms and omelettes. Other areas for "pinchos" are the Ensanche, Indautxu and Gran Vía. In San Sebastián meanwhile, make for the old part of the city. Here you will find narrow streets packed with bars and taverns. At the same time you can see places like Plaza de la Constitución Square and Santa María Church, and head to the La Concha Beach viewpoint, an emblematic promenade on the Bay of Biscay.
Any time of year is good for a visit. The sooner the better.