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The first Pintxos bar in history, still active today!

Although it is not easy to demonstrate which was the first bar that started delivering pintxos (or “banderillas” as they were called back then) in San Sebastian, this honor, according to several sources, seems to belong to bar La Espiga. Located in the center district of the city, in San Marcial street, next to La Concha beach, this bar remains there and, what is more remarkable, is still owned by the same family that opened it on November 17,1928: the Castro family. The signs of the original façade are still preserved.

The always busy bar has been managed by three generations of this family, It has been reformed twice in their 90 years of existence: first in the 70s, and once again in 2008. From the latter, tiles used for the bar floor stand out, because they are the same used on the city sidewalks. Since a bar in this city is a mere extensión of the street for all those locals who practice the ritual of going out for pintxos.

You have to travel many kilometers from San Sebastián to find a wheat field, but this bar was named “La Espiga”, which means “wheat spike”. The name derives from the wheat warehouse that occupied the venue earlier. Those days San Sebastián was undergoing a tourist boom, living its own Belle Epoque, and, being the bar close to the beach, they used Pintxos to attract vacationers to the venue. The name of those products were “banderillas” (current pintxos), because they were little pieces of food skewered in a pick and put on top of a slice of bread. Sounds familiar, does it?

It was Luisa San Martín who created first os those pintxos that are now history. She was the grandmother of the current owners, and opened the bar with her husband, Jesús Castro. Luisa had learned the trade from her mother Simona, who worked at an economic restaurant called El Nido. Luisa created pintxos that 90 years later can still be tasted in La Espiga: La Chorrera, Milanesa, Fritos, Ensaladilla Rusa …

In the 60s, his son, José Mari Castro, started managing the family business, along with his wife, Garbiñe Berganzos. Garbiñe added new proposals to La Espiga, such as the “cazuelitas de Morros o Albóndigas” (pork snouts and meatballs served in earthenware pots), which soon became classics of this bar.

Now the family third generation runs La Espiga. They are Jesús, Txema, Luma and Koro, sons of José Mari and Garbiñe. Under the guidance of Koro, this generation has brought new pintxos to La Espiga. For instance, The “Tuna Ropa Vieja”, or the “Crujiente de Langostino” (crispy shrimp), to name a few.

As you read this, if have begun to be hungry, you are welcome to visit La Espiga, enjoy their full San Sebastian style design, and particularly their gastronomic proposal: faithful to its origins, but growing across generations. Our Michelin-starred chefs jury has selected two of them for our Pintxos list: Chorrera and Delicia.

La Espiga
San Martzial Kalea 48
20006 – Donostia – San Sebastián
Tel: (+34) 943 42 14 23

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