Donosti Dining Update, Vol II

So, the first Donosti Dining Update was quite the success, not to mention I slept better having covered these places nagging on my subconsciousness.

So, time for round two. 

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, as happened this week, instead of appearing in the Donosti Dining Update, it will get its own post—soon. You should also know I pay for my meals, don’t tip off the restaurateurs that I am a blogger, etc (as if these wonderfully down-to-Earth Basque folks would even care).

The first edition was here.  But now it’s time for Donosti Dining Update, Vol II. With that prologue, here goes my semi-weekly collection of new(ish) spots in San Sebastián, made to keep us all in the know.


People in Donosti have to have somewhere to eat, too, you know. Somewhere they can feel at home, go every day without breaking the bank, and have their tastebuds oh-so-slightly teased.  That's where places like La Cochinita Pibil come in.

This bar used to be a frozen-in-time tribute to the 1980s, before ownership was transferred in the last year. Fortunately for us, this transfer was made to some pretty hip residents, which translates to a laid-back, cool clientele.  Which, in a neighborhood bar, is really all one is looking for, right?

That, and FREE FOOD.  La Cochinita Pibil takes a page from the playbook of Southern Spain and offers a free tapita, or little plate, with the purchase of any drink.  In addition, they offer a daily plato that rotates as well as a constant menu of pintxos and small plates with just the slight deviation off of the beaten flavor path, like the couscous. I like to overlook the fact that couscous hit its trend peak in the late 90s and instead focus on the fact that everything is sufficiently salted and reasonably rico.


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

La Cochinita Pibil 
Calle de Fuenterrabía, 38 (CENTRO)



Essencia is another spot that's not outrageously new, having opened sometime in the last year. It's a useful bar to have in one's back pocket, however, for one reason: the list of libations.  The current Essencia is a reincarnation of the wine store, formerly located across Calle Zabaleta.  In the new space, the wine shop lives upstairs, on top of the fully functioning bar. Why do you care?

The man behind the magic is Dani Corman, one of the region's foremost wine experts, who specializes in champagnes.  While my specialities currently lie in vermouth, baked goods and pickles, champagne is on my short list.

Because of his passion for wines, in Essencia you can find 100 wines by the glass, 50 sherries, and a wide selection of vermouths and other interesting drinks. In this bar they aren't going to slosh your glass with the same two-euro-a-bottle of verdejo.

The food may not be quite as remarkable, but it is simple and based strongly in local products.   You will find adequate classics, with the menu's strength lying in the raciones, or small plates. Try whatever's local, whatever's in season, and just make sure to drink something.

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

Zabaleta Kalea, 53 (GROS)



The guiri darling of Gros is BACK. Casa Senra, always open and always dependable, with its colorful waitstaff, closed last year under mysterious circumstances. The whisper of what would happen faded after several months, until the spot abruptly re-opened last month.

So of course I had to go back and place an order like the orders of the old days. For me in Senra that means brava patatas, croquetas, and baby squid, or txopitos (is all that fried? oops).  After we ordered cava only to find out not a single bottle was chilled, the txopitos came and were so, so sadly soggy. 

In my grief, I turned my eyes upwards, only to note the beautiful oak caserío style beams were painted a half-assed white. On only one side of the bar. Great, a historical nod to Pinterest.

The croquetas were decent. And honestly, I'll probably go back to try a few more things off the menu. But I question if Casa Senra has been restored to its former guiri, over-priced yet dependable glory.

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