Restaurants aren’t the only place locals in San Sebastian go for a quality meal. The Spanish city is also home to several gastronomic societies or private culinary clubs, typically closed to the public. Here’s what you need to know about these foodie forums—and how to experience one for yourself.
What Is a Gastronomic Society?
Called a txoko in the Basque language, a gastronomic society is a place for the food obsessed to cook, eat, drink, and socialize. Once men-only clubs, gastronomic societies today also welcome women. In communal kitchens, locals gather to experiment with new ways of cooking and share recipes. There are no reservations, no waiters, and no official closing time. Join one of these legendary gatherings and you’ll get the chance to peek behind the curtain of San Sebastian’s vibrant culinary scene.
How to Visit a Gastronomic Society
While gastronomic societies are notoriously closed to the public and open by invitation only, there are a few tours that offer exclusive access. A private tour of San Sebastian’s Old Town also includes lunch or dinner in a txoko. If you’re interested in exploring the city’s markets, sign up for a private market visit, complete with lunch at a gastronomic society. To get active before a big meal, one tour includes a hike along Saint James Way followed by a gastronomic society dinner. No matter how you do it, spend a night at one of these exclusive clubs and you’ll sample traditional dishes accompanied by local beer, wine, and smiles.