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Costa del Sol recommendations


lauraf
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Hi all:

We are spending two weeks in Marbella, Costa del Sol. We will have a car. Can anyone contribute dining suggestions in the area? We prefer to alternate between fancy establishments and casual but great quality spots.

Thanks!

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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At the high end, I highly recommend Calima, in the Don Pepe hotel. The cook, Dani Garcia, used to work in the well-known Tragabuches restaurant, where he used to have a Michelin star. For some reason, he has not regained the Michelin star at the new location. But the food (modern Spanish cooking with malagueño roots at ** star Michelin level) and setting is fantastic.

Also, try out the old centre of Malaga for casual dining. Friday and Saturday evening is great for going out with great atmosphere and hardly any tourists (but it doesn't really get going before 10 pm or later). Two Tapas bars that my Malagueña and I like are La Mensula, close to the bullfighting ring, and more modern La Rebana close to the cathedral. For casual dining I'd recommend Palo Cortado which has inventive starters, very good grilled meats, and always one or two excellent fish dishes, or Meson Astorga, which offers quintessential Malaga cuisine, or Clandestino right in the centre, a very casual place favoured by the in-crowd. We've been several times to Cafe de Paris, which has a Michelin star, but were always dissapointed.

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At the high end, I highly recommend Calima, in the Don Pepe hotel. The cook, Dani Garcia, used to work in the well-known Tragabuches restaurant, where he used to have a Michelin star. For some reason, he has not regained the Michelin star at the new location. But the food (modern Spanish cooking with malagueño roots at ** star Michelin level) and setting is fantastic.

Also, try out the old centre of Malaga for casual dining. Friday and Saturday evening is great for going out  with great atmosphere and hardly any tourists (but it doesn't really get going before 10 pm or later). Two Tapas bars that my Malagueña and I like are La Mensula, close to the bullfighting ring, and more modern La Rebana close to the cathedral. For casual dining I'd recommend Palo Cortado which has inventive starters, very good grilled meats, and always one or two excellent fish dishes, or Meson Astorga, which offers quintessential Malaga cuisine, or Clandestino right in the centre, a very casual place favoured by the in-crowd. We've been several times to Cafe de Paris, which has a Michelin star, but were always dissapointed.

I would like to endorse Dani Garcia who is a superb chef. We have followed his cuisine from the restaurant Tragabuches in Ronda to his new location: Calima. We think his talent is exceptional; so, don't miss his cuisine. We agree that Malaga's, Cafe de Paris is old and tired. Judith Gebhart
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Calima is on our list now for sure, and thanks malacitana for the suggestions about casual dining on the weekends in Malaga. How far is the drive between Marbella and Malaga?

And is there anything worthwhile in Marbella itself? I get the sense it's pretty touristy . . . .

Cheers,

Laura

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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And is there anything worthwhile in Marbella itself?  I get the sense it's pretty touristy . . . .

Cheers,

Laura

It is touristic but there are a few interesting spots:

Altamirano in the Plaza de Altamirano is a fun, crowded and popular bar and restaurant specially for seafood.

Eskina is an small joint, just six tables, serving interesting innovative cooking in the very centre of Marbella.

El Ancla in San Pedro de Alcántara is an interesting restaurant to try the popular espetos de sardinas.

Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"
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Do most of these places take/require reservations? We're happy to cool our heels at a bar for a while but don't enjoy long wait times . . . .

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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  • 2 months later...

Skina is certainly not a favourite of mine. Very high ambitions in terms of food and service, but honestly - they do not deliver. Service is VERY rough around the edges and the kitchen does not really have the talent to pull the high gastronomical ambitions they have off. I have not been very impressed in any of my three visits the last year. They are a bit too desperate to be noticed by Michelin - and they are handing out phone numbers to the spanish Michelin office to many guests... Not that confident.

For me, the top Marbella restaurants right now are Messina, Mezzo, Mesana (what's with the name trend by the way?) and Calima - in that order - in terms of contemporary cooking. I was disappointed with my first visit to Calima, but two weeks ago I went there again, and was blown away completely.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 4 weeks later...
(or the surrounding environs)?

Along the Costa itself, Estepona is probably the most Spanish of the towns. Even so, like everywhere else, it is geared towards the serving the north european on holiday.

Avoid the marina area as it is very touristy and head for the main square. There are a number of restaurants in it and in the small streets surrounding it. There's good food to be had here - mainly simple fried fish and tapas. We spent a fortnight there a year or so back. I can't recall specific names so the general advice I would offer is to look out for the places that are empty in the early evening and then start to fill up with locals around 10pm. As you arrive in the square from the sea, walk straight through it to the small street that runs away from it for a few metres. At the end is a small restaurant serving great fish in totally casual surroundings. Worth the drive from Marbella for the food and the general ambience of the place.

John Hartley

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