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Exploring San Sebastian’s Best Michelin Star Restaurants

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] San Sebastian is one of Spain's most beloved cities when it comes to food. The Basque country is famous for producing some of the best ingredients in the world, and the local chefs certainly know

Image of an outdoor terrace with panoramic sea view at Akelarre restaurant

San Sebastian is one of Spain’s most beloved cities when it comes to food. The Basque country is famous for producing some of the best ingredients in the world, and the local chefs certainly know how to turn them into culinary masterpieces.


Do you know how many Michelin stars there are within that small circle, within just a ten-minute drive from San Sebastian in all directions? There are 16 Michelin stars.


Did you know that San Sebastián and its surrounding area have three out of Spain’s nine three-Michelin-starred restaurants? The acclaimed Arzak, Akelarre, and Martín Berasategui are all located in this picturesque region.


Furthermore, there are plenty of other Michelin-starred restaurants to explore, including Mugaritz and Amelia with two stars, and Kokotxa, Alameda, and Elkano with one each.


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But wait, there’s more! Zelai Txiki has even been recognized with a Michelin Green Star in the 2023 Guide for its commitment to sustainability and the circular economy.


The San Sebastian boasts more Michelin stars per inhabitant and per square kilometer than almost any place on Earth (except Kyoto in Japan), so it’s safe to say that it’s a true foodie’s paradise.


In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best Michelin-star restaurants in San Sebastian and what makes them so unique.


Image of a dish at the Akelarre restaurant

Photo credit: Akelarre


Our first stop is Akelarre, a renowned restaurant and hotel located in San Sebastián that sits atop a offering a breathtaking sea view. This restaurant is no newcomer to the Michelin star scene, having been awarded three stars consistently since 2007.


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Founded in 1970 by Pedro Subijana, it has achieved great acclaim in the culinary world. Situated on the picturesque Mount Igeldo, Akelarre offers not only exquisite dining but also breathtaking panoramic views of the Cantabrian Sea, creating a unique and memorable experience for its guests.


The head chef, Pedro Subijana, creates dishes that are both visually stunning and delicious. Guests can expect a thoughtfully curated menu designed to provide guests with an unforgettable culinary journey.


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The restaurant takes pride in offering a range of innovative and delightful dishes that showcase the creativity and expertise of its chefs. Each course is carefully crafted to highlight the flavors of the region and provide a unique dining experience.


The restaurant offers guests the opportunity to mix and match dishes from two menus: Aranori and Bekarki. The menus showcase a blend of traditional house specialties and innovative new recipes, all prepared with impressive gastronomic flair.

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Martín Berasategui

Image of a dish at Martin Berasategui restaurant

Photo credit: Martin Berasategui


Another highlight of the San Sebastian culinary scene is Martín Berasategui. Martín Berasategui is a renowned chef with a three-Michelin-starred restaurant located in Lasarte-Oria, Gipuzkoa. He has dedicated nearly five decades to his passion for cooking, earning a well-deserved reputation in the culinary world.


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This restaurant has three Michelin stars and has been cited as one of the best restaurants in the world. Berasategui has won myriad awards, and it’s not difficult to see why.


This exquisite restaurant offers a serene ambiance with picturesque countryside views, providing diners with a hedonistic culinary experience.


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Guests can choose from a variety of dishes. Their tasting menu is a journey through Basque and international cuisine with dishes including the restaurant’s signature caramelized millefeuille with smoked eel, foie gras, spring onion, and green apple.


The à la carte menu and spectacular tasting menu also feature new creations, such as suckling lamb chop, liquid fritter, spicy carrots, and fried bread. All dishes are expertly prepared with delightful nuances and are served alongside artisan breads and delectable butters.


Image of a dish served at Arzak restaurant

Photo credit: Arzak


For a more traditional experience, we recommend Arzak, a renowned restaurant located in San Sebastián. This family-run restaurant has held three Michelin stars since 1989 and often features in best-of lists for the region.


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It is famous for its association with New Basque Cuisine, a culinary movement that gained international recognition during the 1980s. The restaurant was founded by Juan Mari Arzak in 1976, one of the most influential chefs in Basque cuisine who has played a crucial role in modernizing the region’s culinary scene, and has received three Michelin stars for its exceptional cuisine.


Juan Mari Arzak, along with his daughter Elena, continues to lead the family business, making it a symbol of Basque gastronomy. Arzak is known for its perfect dishes, wine pairings, and an inviting atmosphere.


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Diners can choose between a complete tasting menu or a set menu featuring a variety of dishes.


Image of a dish served at Mugaritz restaurant

Photo credit: Mugaritz


If you’re after a Mediterranean-inspired twist on Basque cuisine, Mugaritz is the place to go. Mugaritz is a renowned restaurant located in Errenteria, Guipúzcoa, with two Michelin stars, and is famous for experimenting with innovative techniques and flavors.


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The name “Mugaritz” itself is derived from the Basque words “Muga,” meaning “border” or “edge,” and “Haritz,” signifying “oak.” This nomenclature pays homage to its location on the border between Astigarraga and Rentería, surrounded by the natural beauty of the Basque region.


It first opened its doors in March 1998 under the management of Chef Andoni Aduriz. Over the years, Mugaritz has earned a stellar reputation in the culinary world and is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants globally.


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In fact, it has consistently ranked among the world’s top restaurants since 2006, as recognized by Restaurant Magazine. In the most recent rankings, Mugaritz secured the impressive fourth position.


The head chef, Andoni Luis Aduriz combines traditional Basque recipes with modern techniques to create dishes that are simply unique. A unique and creative dining experience developed by Chef Aduriz are known for pushing the boundaries of gastronomy.


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Guests can expect a culinary journey that lasts several hours, encompassing various spaces within the restaurant, from the kitchen to the dining room.


Mugaritz’s cuisine is playful, avant-garde, and highly innovative, aiming to open diners’ minds to new culinary experiences. It’s a testament to Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz’s commitment to creativity, innovation, and interdisciplinary cuisine.

Amelia by Paulo Airaudo

Image of a dish at Amelia by Paulo Airaudo restaurant

Photo credit: Amelia by Paulo Airaudo


Paulo Airaudo is a highly respected chef known for his exceptional culinary skills. He leads the team at Amelia, a restaurant situated in San Sebastian.


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Amelia is a prestigious restaurant that has been awarded two Michelin stars for its innovative cuisine. The restaurant is located within the Villa Favorita hotel and is celebrated for its delectable tasting menu, which emphasizes the use of locally sourced ingredients and shellfish.


Guests can enjoy the unique experience of watching the chefs work their magic in the open kitchen.


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The chef creates unique and delicious dishes that are distinguished by their exceptional fish and seafood. He blends the essence of Basque cuisine with subtle influences from Italian and Asian cooking.


A single-tasting menu is offered, featuring carefully selected ingredients from around the world. You can also order wine pairings or wines by the glass to complement your meal.


Image of a dish served at Alameda restaurant

Photo credit: Alameda


Looking for a restaurant that exudes romance and history? Look no further than Alameda, a Michelin-starred restaurant located in Hondarribia, on the banks of the Bidasoa. The Txapartegi brothers have turned this eatery into a foodie paradise.


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Alameda is a family eatery run by the grandchildren of the business’s first cook, their amona (grandmother). They focus on serving local, seasonal produce that is prepared with care and simplicity.

You have the option to dine in either of the two distinct spaces available: the “taberna” or the gastronomic restaurant. The à la carte and two set menus, Hondarribia and Gartzinea, showcase traditional Basque cuisine with a modern twist.


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They refer to this style as “Bidasoa cooking” and it incorporates locally sourced ingredients from the Bidasoa-Txingudi area.


Image of a fish dish served at Elkano restaurant

Photo credit: Elkano


Elkano, established in 1964 and located in Getaria, is a Michelin-starred family restaurant that specializes in grilled fish and seafood. Aitor Arregui and his team have a deep understanding of the sea and its abundant offerings, inherited from their ancestors.


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It is celebrated for its commitment to both tradition and innovation in culinary arts. The restaurant is known for its connection to the Cantabrian Sea and offers a gastronomic experience that showcases the region’s seafood specialties.


Their renowned grill in Getaria is a must-visit for seafood lovers. The menu includes a range of dishes, from hot and cold starters to whole grilled fish, with prices varying based on the type of fish and availability. Elkano is particularly known for its signature dish, Kokotxas.


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If you’re planning to dine at Elkano, you might want to consider ordering their ‘Taste of Biscay’ tasting menu, which features various preparations of kokotxas, marinated lobster, and exceptional sea bass.


Image of a dish served at Kokotxa restaurant

Photo credit: Kokotxa


Kokotxa is a Michelin-starred restaurant located in San Sebastian’s Old Town, near the Basilica of Santa Maria and the port. Along with its delectable cuisine, this restaurant also offers a stunning view of the heart of Donostia.


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Kokotxa first opened its doors in 2002 and quickly gained recognition for its culinary excellence. It’s known for offering contemporary cuisine inspired by strong Basque culinary traditions.


This restaurant, located in the heart of the old town, is named after one of the most exquisite dishes in Basque cuisine, made with the scrumptious barbels of hake or cod.


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In this charming restaurant, led by Daniel López and Estela Velasco, you will indulge in modern dishes that take inspiration from the diverse Basque culinary heritage and showcase top-quality ingredients sourced from the market and skillfully cooked.


The chef enjoys infusing his creations with subtle hints of other cultures, such as Japan, India, and Turkey, to give them a unique taste and character. The restaurant provides two set menus for all diners, each with a varying number of courses, and the chef’s daily catch is a canvas for his boundless imagination.

Zelai Txiki

Image of a dish served at Zelai Txiki restaurant

Photo credit: Zelai Txiki


Located in Donostia, Eva Hernández and Juan Carlos Caro founded Zelai Txiki founded restaurant over 20 years ago in a historic farmhouse located on the hills of Ulía in San Sebastián.


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The restaurant’s terrace offers stunning panoramic views, while the food is renowned for its beautiful Basque cuisine, served in a minimalistic style with a focus on maximum taste.


Zelai Txiki in Donostia has received recognition in the 2023 Michelin Guide. Specifically, it has been awarded a Michelin Green Star in the 2023 Guide. The Michelin Green Star is an accolade that rewards restaurants for their sustainable practices and commitment to environmental responsibility.


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This recognition highlights Zelai Txiki’s dedication to both culinary excellence and sustainability.

What to expect from a Michelin-starred San Sebastian restaurant

Michelin-starred restaurants are considered the crème de la crème of dining experiences. They offer the highest quality ingredients, unique presentation, and flavors that will linger in your mouth long after your last mouthful.


That said, it’s important to note that these restaurants tend to be expensive, and you’re advised to make a reservation beforehand.


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There’s a formal dress code in many Michelin-starred restaurants, so it’s best to check before you arrive. However, the atmosphere will differ from place to place.


If you’re not used to fine dining experiences, the heady silence and stiff service might be intimidating. But know that the waitstaff is there to walk you through the menu, and it’s no problem asking for their recommendations.

The future of Michelin-starred restaurants in San Sebastian

There are no signs of the San Sebastian culinary scene slowing down any time soon. Several new restaurants have recently opened in the region, and they’re already garnering attention across the world.


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Michelin-starred chefs are still leading the way in innovation in Basque cuisine, and the future looks bright for those looking to experience the best that San Sebastian offers.


In conclusion, San Sebastian is a food lover’s paradise, with Michelin-starred restaurants serving up some of the best dishes in the world.


The region’s culinary scene has a bright future, with both established and up-and-coming chefs pushing the boundaries of Basque cuisine.


From breathtaking views at Akelarre to traditional cooking at Arzak, there’s something for everyone in San Sebastian.



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Greetings, wine & travel enthusiasts! Allow me to introduce myself. I am a lover of life's finer things - an avid appreciator of the intricacies and subtleties of wine, a curious explorer of exotic cuisines, and an adventurer at heart. As a natural storyteller, I take pleasure in sharing the knowledge and experiences gained from my travels around the world. So, sit back, relax, and let my words take you on a journey to exciting new destinations!

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