Travel

The One Basque Country Dining Experience You Don't Want to Miss

In which a stunning coastal hike leads to a phenomenal meal in a quaint seaside village
Basque Country Pasajes de San Juan
Photo: Guillén Pérez/Flickr

Near the eastern edge of San Sebastián’s famous Zurriola Beach, a small staircase extends upward into the trees to reveal a stunning stretch of the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, Spain's most famous thru-hike. This isn't just any trail — it happens to be one the oldest walkabouts in Europe, totaling 500 miles in length.

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But for our purposes, it's the start of one of the best Basque Country dining experiences you may ever take part in, one that gives fresh meaning to the adage “the best meals are often the ones you have to work for.” 

You're heading to Pasajes de San Juan, a quaint nearby fishing village that begs visitors to stay awhile and refuel with quintessential Basque food and drinks. As for how you'll get there, all you need to do is follow the trail for about five kilometers to the small seaside town of Pasajes de San Pedro, where you'll pay a few euros to board a boat and cross the water to your final destination. 

 

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Perhaps one of the best parts of this whole experience is that you don’t need to walk back to San Sebastián when your meal is complete. Instead, you can hop on a bus from town, and you’ll be back in San Sebastián in less than 30 minutes. This means you can let the local wine and cider flow without a thought of trekking back to Zurriola Beach where your adventure started. Maybe by the time the bus drops you off in San Sebastián, you’ll even be ready for another meal. Did someone say pintxos? Below, a few tips about getting the most out of your time in Pasajes de San Juan.

Where to Go

Many of the restaurants in Pasajes de San Juan have outdoor seating, giving you the chance to dine alfresco amid the village’s colorful 16th- and 17th-century buildings and cobblestoned streets, all the while feeling like you’ve stepped back in time.

Don’t stress too much about where to eat—Casa Cámara and Restaurant Txulotxo are favorites, but many of the restaurants in town offer a proper Basque Country dining experience, so grab a table where you can find one.

 

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What to Eat

With options like grilled octopus, pil pil cod and hake in green sauce, you can’t go wrong with the seafood in this town. You’re in a fishing village after all. If the weather is cool enough to order something hot without regrets, go with the marmitako—a hearty Basque stew full of tuna, potatoes, peppers and other vegetables.

What to Drink

You won’t regret ordering a bottle or two of sidra, a Basque-style cider made from fermented apples that goes back centuries. It’s tart, sour and almost a tad bitter at the end, so don’t expect something sweet like you might get in the States. Otherwise, the move is txakoli, a light, sparkling and very dry Spanish wine so popular in Basque Country is seems to flow like water.

Whichever drink you choose, remember to sip slowly—the alcohol may sneak up on you a bit quicker than you’re accustomed to if post-hike alcohol isn’t your usual scene. 

Welcome to TT on Tour, where Tasting Table's editors guide you through everything you'll want to eat, drink and do in rising travel destinations around the world.

Beth is a Brooklyn-based food writer. You can find her on instagram at @beth_kri or Twitter at @bkrietsch.

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