Donosti Dining Update, Vol III

New spots in San Sebastián are opening at a pace faster than I can cover them. Overall, the places tend to be Spanish riffs on global trends, from coffee snob spots to all-day kitchens with ambiguous international menus, which is a bit disappointing. However, I am committed to cutting through the noise and the Pinterest knockoffs to find the gems out there.

For those of you curious as to how this works, you should know I head off to new places with the idea of slotting them here. However, if a place pleasantly surprises me, instead of appearing in the Donosti Dining Update, it will get its own post. You should also know I pay for my meals and don’t mention my intentions when I head off to dine.  For a key to the slightly unconventional rating system, scroll down to the bottom of the post.  The first edition was here, the second here, and here goes number three, a Gros-centric edition.

 the exterior of khaki campbell, in gros

the exterior of khaki campbell, in gros


This new spot in Gros aspires to hip international greatness. Somewhat inexplicably, the menu is divided into snacks, traditional plates, 'farm and flavor', Mexican plates, and Italian ones. The decor is really cozy, with wood-and-pipe furniture by Batlló Concept. 50 cent glasses of wine are advertised on a board outside. There's a DIY salad bar. There's a lot going on.

So when I stopped in to eat a few times, I wanted to try to capture a little bit of everything. The salmorejo (above) is another good litmus test for a bar, along with the croquettes (below). The salmorejo was outstanding, with a fine presentation that was both practical and not stuffy, its neat little dish of ham and eggs served alongside a generous bowl of chilled soup.

The croquetas were just fine.

One of the waiters could not be bullied into telling me a single dish to order, but the second one made it up to me by neatly suggesting his favorite plates from each category.  He suggested these pimientos de piquillo stuffed with squid (a plate of for for 10€). They were quite good, above all thanks to the rich sauce covering them. 

I couldn't help but order something from the Mexican menu, ugh, I'm such a sucker. We ordered the cochinita pibil, which came in little flour tortillas with a side of avocado and pico de gallo. Well....the meat was tender but the dish could benefit greatly by a little detail or two (pickled onion? something green?) and the 'guacamole' was missing salt and acid.  Not bad but not amazing, and sad because the hard part (the meat) was the highlight.

All in all, it's a fine place, invaluable for a kitchen open all day. It feels a bit pricy when it comes to the traditional dishes, and for me it seems to be a spot more valuable to residents of Donosti than to visitors, who would likely be unimpressed by the renditions of foreign food. Quite a nice place to just be, however.

$€$€ :  ★ ★ ★ ☆  ☆
Vibeyness : ★  ★ ★ ★ ★
Gobackability : ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Martimeter :  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Khaki Campbell
Ramon y Cajal Kalea, 3 (GROS)


Gros's favorite pedestrian street has birthed yet another of its favorite businesses: a cute coffee shop (the other favorite being a last count there were five).  Fam Kafe is a tiny shop with a short list of coffees.  Nary a chair in sight, the idea is grab your coffee and go. It's an agreeable enough spot to do so, with its wood-heavy decoration by hometown designer darling Bois et Fer

The sweets come from local cutesy baker Sweet Lulu and can range from banana cake to cookies to brownies.  They are better than your average wannabe American baked good served up in town, but we all know what that means...

The coffee, from roasters Zabala in nearby Tolosa, is adequate. I would recommend the cortado and the café con leche before the americano, which is brewed in true American style but was inexplicably watered down with even MORE water before being handed to me. *sad face*  All in all, a cute spot with pleasant enough service.

$€$€ :  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Vibeyness : ★  ★ ★ ★ ☆
Gobackability : ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
WIFI: 👎 
Martimeter :  ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Fam Kafe
Peña y Goñi Kalea, 15 (GROS)


Finally, a bar has settled into the old Narru spot, after ill-fated Pecaditos. The bar is Aitzgorri, and it's just what Gros needed: another pintxo bar-slash-restaurant. Okay, that sounds sarcastic, but I swear it's not.

Ham croquettes are a great way to start to get to know a bar. Shape is the first way to distinguish a homemade croquette from a frozen one. You don't want them to be too perfect, and small balls are often a sign that they are made in house.  These were creamy, seasoned, and correct all the way around.

It was a pleasant surprise to see a special house vermut preparado on the menu. A few drops of some magic potions and a vermouth that yours truly had never seen, Las Endrinas.  

This newcomer to the neighborhood actually just placed in the finals of the Pintxo Championships of Basque Country, right alongside the acclaimed Zeruko, with a pintxo of game bird, mushrooms and crunchy cheese. I opted to try some of their more traditional pintxos, which were adequate and could hold their own with most pintxos in the old part, from the morcilla (above) and the bacalao ajoarriero (below).

All in all, Aitzgorri is a solid addition to the neighborhood. A new spot to take friends that are visiting on a Gros pintxo route, with little dishes that aspire to greatness.

$€$€ :  ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Vibeyness : ★  ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Gobackability : ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
WIFI: 👎 
Martimeter :  ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Calle Usandizaga, 20 (GROS)

Agree? Disagree? Have a new place I need to cover? Just leave a comment.


Since this is my blog and I can do what I want, I have curated a strange group of criteria that summarizes the way my brain breaks down a restaurant experience. Ratings are from 0-5 and highly subjective.

$€$€ : Tuning in to how I felt looking at the check. The general price to quality ratio, the relation to how good it was to how much I paid. 
Vibeyness :  I'm super sensitive to ambience. Love low lighting and textures. Don't like virtual Pinterest reality.
Gobackability :  How likely is this place to be somewhere I make a regular haunt?
WIFI:  👍 or 👎, self-explanatory, ¿jyes?
Martimeter : The general feeling I have about the place, an unexplainable rating yet perhaps the most important of all..