One of the things that come up repeatedly when you read about San Sebastian is how it has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world. That brings up a conundrum as a traveler. Michelin-starred means not cheap. Not cheap means locals only frequent on a special basis.
I have this adverse reaction to term to the word “foodie”. To me, it means bragging out exclusive meals, name-dropping celeb chefs and restaurants and waiting two hours for something stupid like a cronut. Thus, I’m not going to spend $200 for a meal just so I can impress other foodies.
I asked several San Sebastian residents (including my bike guide who’s lived there all his life) if they’ve even been to these Michelin-starred restaurants. All said no. I’m sure these places are truly wonderful meals, but I want to eat where the locals eat.
Which brings me to A Fuego Negro, a eatery that repeatedly will come up in your research on where to eat in town. It’s different in that it’s a tapas joint rather than a pintxo bar and it’s a Catalan-based menu and not Basque. The chalkboard menu is even written in Catalan, which sent my Google translate app to say “No Comprendo”. I had more fun and met more wonderful people here then I would at the high-end places.
The mini-hamburger with handmade crisps (Makcobe with txips) and a side of house-made pickles had me coming back the next night to order it again. Same with the chicken wings (Little bird, onion and carrot). Same with the house-made vermouth cocktail. In fact, my biggest regret on this trip was not buying a bottle of Beltza to lug around in my suitcase. They don’t sell it in America.
The decor and atmosphere are different from the rest of the traditional bars in the San Sebastian. They play 70s funk and soul while being surrounded my pop culture curios and knickknacks. It does tend to be crowded so be patient, it’s worth squeezing into the bar.