One of the perks of living on this side of the south-west region of France is that you’re just a one hour drive away from San Sebastian, baby! Home to the land of pintxos, this Basque city is brimming with Michelin rated restos and delightful pintxos bars at every other corner… And Borda Berri is one of them.
Known as Donostia in Basque, San Sebastian is the culinary capital of Spain and also stands as the country with most Michelin rated restaurants in the world. Ka-ching! A foodie dream destination. ✨
What are pintxos? Not to be confused with tapas, the term ‘pintxos’ is derived from the Spanish verb ‘pinchar’, which means to poke, stab or pierce. These bite-sized snacks were traditionally pierced with a toothpick through sliced bread to keep everything together. Today, a pintxo could be skewered on bread or simply gazpacho and risotto. They could be served cold on platters where you help yourselves or even better, ordered from a blackboard list as a hot dish!
Spoilt for choice with the abundance of pintxos bar to sample, it’s always nice when you get a great recommendation. A good friend of mine had recommended checking out Borda Berri and so I did! On that day, the weather forecast was playing hooky and tricked us into thinking the sun would be here to stay. Luckily, we had an umbrella on hand and the three of us made our way to the Parte Vieja (old town). Standing outside of Borda Berri, we waited for 7:30pm to come ever so patiently. We spotted a couple of other early birds taking shelter from the rain with their hefty cameras, no less — I took that as a good sign.
Finally, 7:30 rolled around and the Borda Berri’s shop sign lit up: we’re in. As they say, the early bird gets the worm! Borda Berri is a small space with limited chairs, so get there early if you want a seat by the bar, because trust me, you do! Within 10 minutes of opening, Borda Berri had filled up and the scene became hectic!
No worries if you no hablas español, English menus are offered as well. All their pintxos are available to order in 3 different sizes: small, medium, and large. We mostly chose medium sized orders since we were hungry and clearly gluttonous! At Borda Berri, all the pintxos are made to order and they are all hot dishes.
The staff come off as a tad cold, but they are dead efficient. There’s no messing around with orders here. Make sure you don’t hastily grab a dish that’s not yours, you’ll be told off by the lady manning the bar and it’s quite hilarious.
I will refer to said lady as Boss Lady because she was clearly the one running the show, taking all the orders by memory! Boss Lady had kindly recommended the Tataki de Atun Rojo y Guacamole, tuna tataki on a bed of guacamole. It was delushious! Moral of the story: always adhere to Boss Lady’s recommendations. Your stomach will be eternally grateful.
The watermelon, basil, and mozzarella gazpacho was diiiiiiiviiiiiiiine. YES, you have to sing out the words that way. The watermelon was pretty faint and the soup tasted rather rich in parmesan, but that wasn’t a problem at all! Their house sangria was gouda as well.
Next up: ‘Risotto de “Puntalete” con Queso Idiazabal’, a creamy, cheesy, Puntalete risotto with Idiazabal pressed cheese made from unpasteurized sheep milk. If you love cheese, this one is a MUST.
‘Taco de Bacalao con Pil-Pil,’ cod fish and Pil-Pil sauce, which is basically olive oil and garlic cooked to a thickened sauce. The cod meat was moist and smooth. Seriously cooked to perfection.
‘Carrillera de Ternera al Vino Tinto,’ the ever so tender veal cheeks in red wine sauce and light tomato paste sauce. As I put a lovely chunk of meat in my mouth, I almost closed my eyes to savour how good it was. Beautiful!
The ‘Arroz Bomba con Txipiron Maiden’ was a fragrant bomba rice with wild mushroom. Although, I did still prefer the risotto.
Oooooh and the ‘Ravioli de Langostinos y Bacon’! Pan fried ravioli stuffed with prawn and bacon, the delicate stuff of heavens!
This was a last minute order, we practically ordered almost everything on the menu list. The ‘Pulpo a la Plancha con Membrillo.’ Oh and what a good choice it was. Truly, it was a thing of beauty. The grilled octopus with smoked vinaigrette and quince sauce was ridiculously tender and foodgasmic. All three of us looked at each other, mouthing, “WHOA” as soon as we put it in our mouths. Get it. Eat it. Savour it.
Another last minute order was the “Kebab” de Costilla de Credo. Don’t be fooled by the title kebab, this is not a kebab, but rather a juicy pork rib. It came with an apple-like sauce that cut the fattiness of the ribs really well. At this point, it was clear our eyes were bigger than our stomachs so we offered our remaining pork rib to the group of San Franciscan tourists next to us. At first, they were hesitant seeing as they too were full, but in the end they polished the plate clean! “Those were the best ribs I’ve ever had,” said the grateful guy. Need I say more?
Our last savoury pintxo was the ‘Oreja de Cerdo con Romescu.’ Pig ears with Romescu sauce, a Catalan dipping sauce made with roasted red peppers and almonds. Pure fattiness = Pure joy.
To tie up our Borda Berri experience, I had to order a sweet pintxo for dessert. Balance, ya know? The ‘Yoghurt de Lima, Menta y Mango’ was refreshing enough to top off all our previous cheesy, creamy, greasy indulgences.
We might have been the first ones there, but we were also one of the last ones there to boot. Last foodie standing! With everything that we ordered, we did not expect our bill to come up to a measly 80 something euros. A tip was in order. The next time, I won’t have to be that annoying Asian taking pictures at every dish haha!
Borda Berri is small, hectic, packed, and the staff can come off as intimidating. But go anyways. You can thank me later 😉 On engin!
Till our next meal together,
Location: Fermín Calbetón 12, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain 20003
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday 12:30pm – 3:30pm // 7:30pm – 11pm
- Arrive early to get seats by the bar, it will make ordering your food much easier.
- Take Boss Lady’s recommendations to heart, you won’t regret it.
- Do not assume any dish is yours unless it’s given to you.
- Cash only.