SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain - Unquestionably the haut cuisine capital on the international festival circuit, San Sebastian boasts more Michellin star restaurants per square foot than any city in the world -- 16. Vibrant creativity mixed with fresh, local ingredients and a sophisticated culinary culture have made the picturesque city known for its Belle Epoque-style promenade along La Concha beach the perfect foodie destination.
Four of the top restaurants in the city nestled in Spain's northern Basque region are:
1. Arzak– Regularly voted one of the top 10 chefs in the world for the past two decades, Juan Mari Arzak is recognized as one of the driving forces of the New Basque Cuisine and runs the kitchen with his daughter Elena Arzak. Address: Avda. Alcalde Elosegui, 273, San Sebastian. Phone: 943.278.465
2. Mugaritz- Chef Andoni Aduriz saw his kitchen jump to the the 3rd best in the world in Restaurant Magazines reputed list of the restaurants in the world in 2011. He coined the term “techno-emotional” cooking for merging science with cooking. Address: c/ Aldura Aldea, 20, Errenteria. Phone: 943 522 455 / 943 518 343
3. Martin Berastegui- A veteran of the Basque region’s Michelin-star movement, Chef Martin Berastegui took his brand of cooking international with an outlet in Shanghai. But he is at his finest on home turf where he can work with what he calls the “essence of flavor.” Address: Loidi Kalea 4, 20160 Lasarte-Oria. Phone: 943.366.471
4. Casa Nicolasa- One of the best known restaurants in San Sebastian, Chef Jose Juan Castillo has been famous for his delicious creations since 1986. This classic offers specialties like courgette in puff pastry with fois-gras and monkfish in squid sauce. Address: Aldamar, 4 on the first floor, San Sebastian. Phone: 943.421.762.
But part of the charm of San Sebastian's gastronomy is you don't need five hours to have a scrumptious, original flavor--just five minutes and a couple of euros. The city is renowned for its inventive bite-size pintxos.
Hot spots include:
1. Restaurante Oquendo--Just across the street from the luxurious Maria Cristina Hotel, the film festival's epicenter, the Oquendo is a staple for industry types for long lunches or a fast break away to enjoy pintxos—Basque tapas. Address: Oquendo, 8, San Sebastian. Phone: 943.420.736.
2. Haiza-- On the fringe of the old-part of the town, is this find with freshly-made one-of-a-kind inventions like grilled, stuffed shrimp with a thin layer of an original sauce. Address: Aldamar, 8, San Sebastian. Phone: 943.425.710.