San Sebastián Baztan Bar.
San Sebastián Baztan Bar.
Image: Supplied

Shopping and wandering around art galleries are good reasons, as is lying on a beach. But eating has to be a standout reason to travel — and surely the ultimate way to get to know a place and its people. With a little help from some of our gastronomically inclined, jet-setting friends, we put together a list of restaurants you should head to next. Some are fancy, some are street — all are exceptional.

Spain's food scene, from the tastebuds of Robyn Chalmers and Peter Bruce:

1. SAN SEBASTIÁN: Baztan Bar

San Sebastián has more Michelin stars per square metre than almost any other city — second only to Japan’s Kyoto. This unassuming seaside town in northern Spain’s Basque region is lousy with fabulous restaurants. Recently we eschewed the fancy spots and hunted out little tapas bars. Only in San Sebastián, they are called pintxos (pronounced peen-chos) because the Basque people decided that tapas were just too simple and small. Strolling through the Parte Vieja (Old Quarter), we came across the Baztan Bar and Restaurant. The pintxos are plentiful, delicious, and gorgeous — best part is they won’t break the bank! After that, catch your breath on the beachfront at the lovely bar and restaurant just outside Hotel de Londres Y de Inglaterra. Great food, generous drink pourers, and the best views in the city. 

2. MADRID: Casa Gonzáles

Plaza de Santa Ana in Madrid is arguably one of the most convivial places to find yourself at night in the entire city. It is loud and busy, and ringed with restaurants and hotels. People dip into and out of bars, some of them beautifully tiled, in what becomes a happy cacophony. And most of the people in it are local. Just off the plaza, down two narrow streets, you’ll find Casa Gonzáles. It is my favourite haunt in a city I know well. The tables are squeezed in among gorgeous cheeses, wines, and hams. Get there at 2pm and you’ll have the place to yourself. Order one ración of jamón ibérico, a portion of pimientos de piquillo (flat, indescribably tasty little pepper heads), gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) and a portion of Spanish tortilla. 

From the August edition of Wanted 2019.

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