Pintxos in San Sebastián — the tapas of Spanish Basque country — have been named the world’s top food experience by the tastemakers at travel guide Lonely Planet, part of a lofty list that ranks the top 500 gastronomic experiences from around the world.
In the brand’s latest travel guide Ultimate Eatlist, editors, food and travel writers helped create a master list of 500 of the most authentic bucket-list culinary experiences across the globe.
The food experiences — in Canada, Norway, North Korea, Namibia and Chile, among others — were then evaluated and ranked according to taste, cultural importance and the “atmosphere of the location”.
The culinary culture that outranked Britain’s fish and chips, steak tartare in Paris and Buffalo wings in Buffalo? San Sebastián’s culinary tradition of pintxos, bar foods that put standard-issue American peanuts and pretzels to shame.
From bite-sized, open-faced sandwiches to more gastronomic creations like battered white asparagus, tuna and anchovy tarts and garlic-braised mushrooms, bar-hopping in San Sebastián is described as a unique experience for its epicurean offerings.
To experience pintxos like a local, Lonely Planet recommends taking a leisurely siesta and heading out at 9pm, when the streets of San Sebastián come alive.
Rounding out Lonely Planet’s top three food experiences are curry laksa in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and sushi in Tokyo, Japan.
Ultimate Eatlist also features contributions from top chef José Andrés and US food TV host Andrew Zimmern.
Here are the top 10 food experiences:
1. Pintxos in San Sebastián, Spain
2. Curry laksa in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3. Sushi in Tokyo, Japan
4. Beef brisket in Texas, USA
5. Som tum in Bangkok, Thailand
6. Smørrebrød in Copenhagen, Denmark
7. Crayfish in Kaikoura, New Zealand
8. Bibimbap in Seoul, South Korea
9. Pizza margherita in Naples, Italy
10. Dim sum in Hong Kong