During Sanfermin fiestas it is possible to eat just about everything. Good food is widely available and some very good food is also available. Prices tend to rise in fiestas, so you are always going to be paying a bit above the outlay of the rest of the year. But there are all kinds of levels so it is also possible to find good food without paying over the top for it.
Eating is a must to keep up energy during all the partying and bear in mind that these fiestas can turn out to be pretty much marathon sessions
We would identify six moments in the typical fiesta day when it is necessary to recharge batteries with some nourishing food: an early-morning breakfast of fritters and hot chocolate (or coffee), a mid-morning sandwich or some kind of brunch meal. A good lunch at around 2.00 p.m. or even 3.00 o’clock; a heavy snack or sandwich at the bullfights around 6.00 -7.00 o’clock; a dinner at around 10.00 or 11.00 at night and, deep into the early hours of the morning, if you are still partying, have some kind of light dinner once more, or maybe a bowl of hot consume as dawn comes up.
Morning snacks during Sanfermin
Lunch in Pamplona
A Sandwich at the bullfights
Early-morning Sandwich or similar
It may be said that eating in Sanfermin is not a problem, but it’s a different matter to actually find a concrete place because everyone tends to want to eat at the same time and it is necessary to make reservations for many eating-houses. There are lots of options for eating in Sanfermin; there are restaurants of different category; there are bars, there are street stands; sandwich stands, special stands set up for the fiestas…etc, etc… A wide and ample offer exists, but as demand is also high, it might be advisable to spend some time checking out some places as soon as possible so that you know where you are going to go for you main meals of the day, at least.
However, differences also exist in other aspects: during the week it is more comfortable and less hectic than weekends and so waiting for a free table is less time-consuming. Weekends can be a nightmare. Patience. Also remember that Spanish eating-hours are adhered to in good restaurants. At six in the evening, it would be very difficult to eat a meal in a restaurant, but it would be possible to find a food stand on the street or at the fairground, for example. In addition to restaurants and bars there is a lot of street-stand food available, but in general, not very recommendable. If you want to try to avoid any stomach trouble, it would be more recommendable to have sandwiches or “bocatas” from any of the many bars found in the old quarter of Pamplona. These places will always guarantee better hygiene standards.
Some practical advice about eating in Sanfermin:
-Local eating times are strictly adhered to in most restaurants. That means lunches are served from between 1.30 -15.30 p.m. Dinners are served roughly between 21.00 – 23.00 p.m. That is to say, at these times you may sit at a table and eat comfortably. However, many restaurants do extend their hours during Sanfermin fiestas so it may be possible to find a table for lunch as late as five ‘clock in the afternoon and also to find late dinners being served at midnight.
–You should always go for the regular, legal and customary eating-houses that will guarantee health standards and food hygiene.
–In many places, the demand is so high that it will inevitably have repercussions on the efficiency of the service. Try to be patient and understand that it is fiesta time and there are large crowds to feed.
–Many restaurants and bars make a special effort during fiestas and they prepare special menus for Sanfermin with typical regional dishes that are worth trying.
-Check prices beforehand; prices do tend to be higher in fiestas and it’s always better to eat within your budget.
–Remember that it is not customary in Pamplona to provide some “free” tit-bits on the house when you order drink and if you see snacks and tapas on the bar counter, they are not free and perhaps not even cheap, as some of them are quite elaborate tapas which cost time and money to be made.
-Bear in mind that some establishments may open to serve lunches but do not serve dinners or tend to close at an early hour. You might not be able to have dinner in the same place that you have lunch. Check the schedules.
–Be careful of some of the temporary food stands on the street. They may not have passed any kind of hygiene inspection and they could give you an upset stomach that could ruin the fiesta fun for you.
To try to have a breakfast in one of those bars which is hosting both the night revelers on their last drinks as well as the early morning risers could be a critical decision to make as the two contrasting dispositions do not tend to harmonize. Our recommendation would be to go for a breakfast of fritters or some light repast similar to what you might have had for dinner.
The further away from the old quarter that you find yourself would probably mean that your aim of having a good hearty breakfast is more likely to be a satisfactory one. That point is well worth considering.
© Maite H Mateo
A Breakfast of Fritters
One of the most traditional breakfasts in Sanfermin has always been some hot chocolate (or coffee) with fritters. If you want to impress anyone, give them some fritters. If you want someone to fall for you, give them some fritters, if you want to meet people, give them some fritters… it’s almost like these freshly fried fritters are possessed of heavenly powers in Sanfermin. Taken with some nice hot chocolate could mean experiencing memories that will last a lifetime. It is equally well-seen to have fritters at any other time of the day and besides, they are not at all expensive fare.
There are four well-known traditional outlets for fritters in Pamplona during Sanfermin fiestas. The Mañueta Fritter shop the Lerín shop, the Gayarre fritter house and the San Miguel fritter outlet. There are also many other establishments who do fritters such as la Cafetería de El Corte Inglés, Manterola cake shop or the vintage Café Iruña, but we highly recommend our four favorite outlets as outlined below:
The Churrería de la Mañueta
Can be located in the street calle Mañueta de Pamplona. This premises is run by Paulina Fernández and her family and it is rather special as it only opens for Sanfermin and some other special dates during the rest of the year. Their traditional know-how produces some unsurpassed fritters. We suggest having a large-size taking. One piece of advice: as Paulina en Sanfermin.com, once told us – Don’t drink water after eating hot fresh fritters.
The Churrero de Lerín
Located in la calle Estafeta 3. Besides, making some excellent fritters, this establishment gives you the chance to dress them in a rich chocolate. On the walls here you can read messages left by people from all over the world after making a visit here. A little secret. There is always one day each year when the owner dresses up as Sanfermin and should you be by chance there on that day you will doubly enjoy the visit, both for the fritters and for the special moment with the owner in his fancy dress.
The Pastelería Gayarre (Cake shop)
It is another of the traditional establishments that sells excellent fritters in Sanfermin.Pastelería Gayarre. Churros en Pamplona it has some fritters similar to those famed one found in Madrid, large and generous sizes as well as being tasty.
Churrería San Miguel
It is located at the Antoniutti . During the rest of the year this place has a van selling at different points around the city, such as the Bosquecillo or in the main square of Plaza del Castillo. In Sanfermin they usually stay open until quite late most nights.
Morning snacks during Sanfermin
Brunch in Pamplona
A sandwich or some such snack at mid-morning goes down well in Fiestas. But remember that the opening day – the 6th of July, things are a little different than the rest of the fiestas days. On the 6th, before the midday Txupinazo opening rocket goes off, it is traditional to have a good heavy brunch to prepare the food for the celebrations just ahead. Should you feel like having a good solid breakfast that morning in Pamplona, you will have difficulty in finding a table. The local people are making reservations months ahead, or even a yearly renewal is a common thing for many people. Consequently, it is difficult to find a table in any kind of bar that particular morning in any part of Pamplona. This is a long-standing tradition for the local people and even a lot of up-market restaurants open early on that day to provide a good brunch for their clients, mostly composed of large parties of gangs of friends and colleagues.
Other days are much more accessible and a good plate of ham and eggs can be found in many bars such as La Servicial (In Navarro Villoslada Street, 11 –close to the old quarter-), the Bar Danubio ( Santa Gemma Square- in the neighborhood of SanJuan-), the Iruñaberri (Pío XII 7 -Iturrama-) or the Txirrintxa, located at the end of Estafeta Street.
The classic Sanfermin brunch is a mixture of a classic English fry-up and a European-style dinner.
Abundant and filling. It could not be considered a meal in itself, although in Sanfermin it might seem to be. The aim is to fill the lining of the stomach to help restore stamina, particularly after a long night’s partying or after taking part in the Running of the Bulls. It will help restore your sense of well- being, without a doubt. The basic ingredient should be a couple of “fried eggs” with… maybe with some cured ham, txistorra –type sausage, with ketchup or fried tomatoes. Drinks tend to be wine or wine mixtures such as Kalimotxo (wine with coke). However, there are many variations, depending on tastes and needs, and in some Sanfermin photos just about anything and everything has been served up for this morning brunch that would not shame the best of dinners. Let us just say it is rarely a light meal.
© Javier Martínez de la Puente
Lunch in Sanfermin
Eating in Sanfermin is a real pleasure. The restaurants go all out and give all their best during these days. The cooks take great pains to combine traditional dishes with a modern elaboration to create typical dishes from the region of Navarra. The fiesta atmosphere fills the dining-rooms and the staff so that as well as eating very well, you can also enjoy yourself in a festive mood just as Sanfermin fiestas should be enjoyed. It is important to make sure that you book a table beforehand. But even if you are told that everything is all booked up, keep insisting and checking out the places because there are always some people in Sanfermin who get played out well before the fiestas are over and cancel their reservations which means that there are places available even at the last moment.
The restaurants that received the best marks by clients in TripAvisor are the following ones: Restaurante Anttonenea, Restaurante Europa (with Pilar Idoate leading her team), Restaurante Rodero, Restaurante Alhambra, Restaurante la cocina de Álex Mújica Asador Olaverri (Grill bar)
© Maite H Mateo
Eating at the Bullfights
Eating at the Pamplona bullfights is a singular experience. The trick is to take along more food than you are likely to eat so that you can share it around. Because the atmosphere inside the bullring is one of harmony and sharing the fun. At that time of the afternoon (around 7.00 p.m. /7.30 p.m.), some hours have passed since lunchtime and there is still three or four hours to go before dinner. So, most people are feeling peckish around this time, and if you are drinking, it is a good moment to put some lining in the stomach. You can come across some incredible picnic hampers in the bullring. Some people even go there with spoon in hand to sample the goods. However, if you fancy joining the repast, remember that you cannot enter with a huge knife for cutting the cured ham or with a canister of gas to mount a cooker. Inside the bullring, everything goes, so if you find yourself without a drink, it’s likely you will find some opportunities to refill inside the bullring.
In spite of the mayhem that seems to be present in the stands of the bullring, the peña clubs know very well what they are doing and they have their repasts in an orderly and methodical fashion, even saving the leftovers for another day or for the garbage containers. Indeed, it is poorly viewed – and even forbidden – to throw leftovers or drinks at other people or around the arena. It is true that in some parts of the stands there is a tradition that if they sing a happy birthday song to someone, it is usually followed by a tirade of food and drink whether it is just for the fact that after the third bull it is normal to start snacking, or maybe it really is someone’s birthday.
There are some restaurants in Pamplona that prepare some hampers for diners who have eaten in the restaurant to take to the bullring with wine or champagne included. If you are going to go to the bullfights, it is not a bad idea to take advantage of this possibility.
Dinner in Sanfermin
Dinner in Sanfermin consists of a huge amount of options. There are three good reasons for having a good dinner in Sanfermin: Firstly, it is a chance to pull aside from the partying, and take a pause before renewing the dancing and partying. Or maybe it is also the moment for some to start the night, before watching the fireworks with the family or whoever, Also it could be the first step before heading off to the fairground or some of the different music concerts such as those at the Antoniutti. Another interesting option is to have a dinner of tapas at the Baluarte hall and watch the fireworks from the terraces there. the view from the terrace of the Baluarte is incredible and this is an reservation option which can be booked for 85 euros at Sanfermin.com in collaboration with the firm Destino Navarra
© Javier Martínez de la Puente
Having dinner at the fairground, at Antoniutti near the concert stage, or in some of the regional stands set up for the fiestas, means having the typical food that you find at fairs and fairgrounds. These establishments are very traditional in Sanfermin, with staff who have a lot of experience and who make their living from this rather nomadic lifestyle which means they usually make a big effort to please the customers. The seating and tables are not as comfortable as you would find in most restaurants, but they have the advantage of being right at the heart of the fiestas scene, so that makes them popular for many families and visitors. The regional eating-houses usually have some kind of concert going on in the middle of the area where they are located, as happens at the Antoniutti (sometimes the Big Wheel is located here) or at the fairground (Fairground Park).
It is important to keep an eye on the clock when deciding to have dinner, as some establishments can quickly turn from being eating-places into being dance –halls in a few short minutes. In fact, even if they are still serving up some food, the partying does not come to a stop in these places. Another option is to just have a “tapas” dinner, perhaps in Estafeta Street. You would also find plenty of places there selling sandwiches of different kinds. One of the advantages of having sandwiches is that you can take them with you just about anywhere, without losing out on the quality. We can recommend good quality sandwiches at places like the Bar Casa Jesus Mari, La Botería in Roncesvalles Street, near the bullring. (It’s well worth trying their sandwich of pork slices with comfit of duck and Roquefort cheese- real yummy- and there is also a wide range of sandwiches from the kitchen of Álex Mújica (located in Estafeta Street).
“Second” dinners or “Recenar” in Sanfermin
What does that expression mean? Well, according to the dictionary of Real Academia de la Lengua Española “recenar” means to having a second dinner when a lot of time has passed between one’s first dinner and one’s bedtime. Well, yes, that makes sense in fiestas when you find yourself still up and about, hours after having dinner and yet it is still a bit early for breakfasts to be served. The problem is that at those hours many establishments have their kitchens closed and cannot fill the demand. This is the moment when the illegal food stands come into their own.
While showing all the respect we can to all those who are trying to make a living, it should be borne in mind that these places do not undergo any kind of hygiene inspections that the legal food establishments must undergo. This could result in catching a dose of gastroenteritis that could upset your fiesta fun. Better to be safe than sorry, and we would recommend a consommé soup or sandwich at one of the many bars which serve these items throughout the night. And then in the morning light you could try the first item recommended by us at the top of the page – A Breakfast of Churros (Fritters).