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bucket lists: we all have them. topping mine is the pleasure of eating my way through san pellegrino’s ranking of the world’s 50 best restaurants. i’d made it to two establishments thus far: #15 le bernadin and #32 the french laundry. though america has made leaps and bounds in degustation over the past few decades, the majority of culinary superstar-dom still resides in europe. with that in mind, i plotted my european vacation with a detour in san sebastián, a euro beach town in the basque country of northern spain. boasting more michelin stars than any other city in the world, this jet set destination has it all…white sand beaches, shopping at every corner, and pinxtos spanning across each bar like a lineup of runway models. it was at one of these pinxtos bars that we came across fellow americans who shared a passion for food, and by the next night, we were all sharing a cab to arzak. once an inn and wine tavern, juan marie arzak has since transformed the house built by his grandparents into a holy ground for new basque cuisine. it’s no wonder that arzak has been ranked in the top 50 since 2003 and held strong to their three stars rating since 1989, as their tasting menu repeatedly wowed us, course after course. from architectural appetizers to foie gras-filled cromlech to “fractal fluido“, all five senses were satisfied. with another restaurant under my belt (literally), i left my heart in san sebastián- land of small dogs, 16 michelin stars, and my future retirement.