Barrio Gros

San Sebastián (known as Donostia in Basque) is one of the main cities in the coast of the Bay of Biscay and 20km away from the French border. The city is the capital of Gipuzkoa, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country.

The district is built on the sandy terrain across the river. The Gros or Zurriola surf beach by the river’s mouth bears witness to that type of soil. In the 19th century, shanties and workshops started to dot the area, Tomas Gros being one of its main proprietors as well as providing the name for this part of the city. The area held the former monumental bullring Chofre demolished in 1973, on a site currently occupied by a housing estate. The district shows a dynamic commercial activity, recently boosted by the presence of the Kursaal Congress Centre by the beach.

Personally, I love the city surprisingly even though it is much smaller than New York, Paris or Hong Kong but it feels cozy and boasts many restaurants, beaches, tons of pintxos bar and designer shops. San Sebastián is divided into several parts and I always feel like Parte Vieja (Old Town) gets all the fame. That’s why I want to dedicate this blog post to Barrio Gros (Gros district) on the eastern side of the city. One short bridge walk away, you find yourself having an even better picturesque view of San Sebastián from Zurriola beach. Mostly tranquil by day but frenetic with young activity at nigh, the Barrio Gros holds a high concentration of inexpensive eateries and modern accommodation. 

Zurriola beach – a favorite among local surfers. You will see them walking towards the beach barefoot, with a wetsuit and their board in one hand. 

Some noteworthy traditional and avant-garde pintxos…

Bar Bergara – Calle General Arteche, 8

This is one of those classic bars you fall in love with, and is just a 10-minute walk from the town center. You should try to pop by around 8p to taste some of the delicacies along with a good Spanish wine or a txakoli (Basque white wine). The specialties are excellent, masterfully prepared pintxos (tapas). We highly recommend one called txopito, a small cuttlefish with onion that is traditional in Basque cuisine. This bar has been awarded many times for their expertise in seafood dishes. Service is excellent.

Shredded codfish with egg and potato, caramelized onions

Shrimp and Mushrooms

Foie gras cooked a la plancha

Mushroom risotto with foie gras

Hidalgo 56 – Paseo Colon, 15

This family-run joint is lovely. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but they do feature some revisited traditional pintxos. 

Mojito of Tomato and Jamon iberico – Crunchy and icy tomato with jelly ham.

Nearly all newcomers (and likely, regulars too) order the volcán de morcilla (blood sausage volcano). Instead of molten lava, the dark mountain of meat cut with rice, raisins and peppers is spouting a raw egg yolk sprinkled with salt. 

Manita con setas, foie y pure de manzana (Pig’s foot with mushrooms, foie gras and puree of apple). Glutinous and sticky collagen, just the way it should be. 

Fondue de Txuleta de Buey y torta del Casar

Here, four rare slices of steak covered in potato crisps are served with “fondue” of naturally ripe and runny Torta del Casar. Earlier, we had been discussing how you might eat a plate of charcuterie or cheese, but you rarely see meat and dairy combined in a dish. This was as close as we would get to our dream Spanish cheesesteak.

Tierra, Mar y Fuego (Earth, Wind and Fire)

Begi-aundi relleno de su pisto, crema cebolleta y su tinta

Piruleta de panceta, queso de cabra, pina y langostinos 

 Mil Catas – Paseo Colon, 15

 

The feel of the place is more modern and so are the presentations of the dishes. But the waiter/bartender was a bit cold. Perhaps he was having a bad day.
The bar
Huevos y Jamon (Eggs and ham)
Rabo de buey (Oxtail)
Ensalada de Txangurro (Crab salad)
A quiet but recommended neighborhood on the other side of the bustling city offering some top-notch bars and eaters. Gros, represent!
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