Looking to get off the beaten track in Andalucia? We’ve scratched beneath the surface of this exciting, historic area of Spain, asked local experts and come up with a list of little-known things to…
It’s probably fair to say that Spain’s foodie credentials need little introduction. However, we know what it’s like to try and distinguish the good from the, well, not so good on holiday.
So to help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here’s a Luxury Villa Collection edit of the very best Marbella restaurants. Whether you love the informal sharing of a plate of Jamon Iberico or some El Buli-esque molecular gastronomy, there should be something here that gets your taste buds tingling…
Despite its generally low-key vibe and unpretentious dining room Skina is an excellent restaurant. No bravado, no tricks, just the best produce cooked perfectly plate after plate. Barcelona born chef Jaume Puigdengolas keeps the menu enticing with new creations, so even regulars will never get bored. Booking is essential as the dining room is limited and with 2 Michelin stars it’s very popular. The sommelier has selected local wines that are from small bodegas as well as the larger, better known winemakers. One of our favourites, Bodegas Bentomiz, is among their chosen wines.
Closed Sunday & Monday
Address: Calle Aduar 12, Casco Antiguo, Marbella. Restauranteskina.com.
BEST LOCAL CHEF
Local boy Dani Garcia has two eateries in Marbella – BiBo and Lobito de Mar. The restaurants sit pretty much next door to each other, and offer cuisine to delight the eye and tackle even the most discerning of taste buds, which is innovative and intense at times but most definitely Spanish.
For a quicker or lighter bite, BiBo is ideal. It’s a buzzy and bustling but relaxed bistro with four different areas: the terrace, Grandma’s table, the Raw and Oyster Bar and the Cocktail bar. While the food’s invariably delicious, the haute-ness has been dialled down a notch or two compared to sister joint Dani Garcia. There’s a choice of stone-baked pizzas, burgers (Garcia’s bull burger is a signature dish that has been copied all over Spain), stuffed whole chickens and slow-cooked lamb legs to share and sushi, along with tapas, steak and fried fish dishes. To cap it all off, the cocktails are quite simply the best in Marbella.
Address: Hotel Puente Romano, 29602 Marbella, Malaga. Bibodanigarcia.com.
Cascada Cocina & Bar
Just outside town, in the hills above La Cañada shopping centre, Cascada Cocina & Bar is one of the freshest recent additions to the Marbella restaurant scene. Quite literally, in fact. The restaurant, which opened in early 2018, sits alongside a series of babbling pools and waterfalls surrounded by lush green gardens. Before we’d even ordered we were pretty much won over. It’s a lovely spot.
Inside, the space is just as welcoming. The interiors are a blend of old, foot-worn terracotta, teal coloured tiles, slouchy sofa space by the bar (where there’s a fire for chillier winter evenings) and Scandi-chic chairs that all comes together to understatedly stylish effect.
And the food? More than a match for the setting. The restaurant was opened by food-loving Dutch entrepreneurs Maryn Gerrits, Arjan van de Vrande and Jaap Schaafsma and there’s a real commitment to relaxed, unfussy dining with a focus on letting the local ingredients do the talking. The last time we dropped in for lunch, the grilled naan bread, beef carpaccio and delicately fried tempura vegetables were all superb, while the gleaming glass wine cellar also gets full marks.
Address: Urb. Montua 39, 29602 Marbella, Malaga. Cascadamarbella.com.
Best Light Bites & cocktails
This restaurant is part of a small successful chain in Spain. Although the address is Plaza de los Naranjos – the historic main square slap-bang in the middle of Marbella’s old town – the dining room has a mix of high and low seating. It’s light, modern, comfortable and unassuming. If you want bling and glitz then this isn’t the place for you. However, if it’s an catch-up meal with your girlfriends you’re after then it certainly hits the spot. The food is uncomplicated but delicious and there’s a good wine and cocktail menu. The restaurant takes over the whole building of a traditional Andalucian townhouse with central courtyard.
Address: Plaza de los Naranjos, 7, 29601 Marbella, Malaga. Lateral.com.
Best Traditional Tapas
Taberna la Niña del Pisto
This tapas bar serves up a wide range of deliciously simple, home-spun classics from the province of Cordoba. Expect all the traditional dishes that Spanish food fans have come to know and love – salmorejo (a thick, cold soup served with jamon and boiled egg), berenjenas con miel (lightly fried aubergine drizzled with honey), snails in a spicy sauce, local cured cheese and bull’s tail stew. A must for anyone looking to adhere to a strict ‘carbs in Marbs’ policy.
Address: Calle de San Lazaro, 2, 29601 Marbella, Malaga.
Bar El Estrecho
This Marbella dining stalwart was founded in 1954 and is still family run to this day. It lives up to its name – ‘estrecho’ meaning narrow – and the space on offer can be at something of a premium on weekends, particularly. You can stand at the bar, or if you prefer a table for your assortment of mouth-watering tapas and a seat for you, too, then there’s a very informal dining area. This is more towards the spit and sawdust end of the Marbella restaurant spectrum than the gourmet, but it makes for an authentic and fun pit-stop in the historic old town. There are no surprises on the food front but a good selection of the likes of croquettes, seafood (think fresh clams, prawns, and octopus) and pork dishes.
Address: Calle de San Lazaro, 12, 29601 Marbella, Malaga. Barelestrecho.es.
Best for an Early Bite
The Spanish eat late. There’s no getting around it. If you haven’t been able to quite slip into the rhythm of Spanish dining times then here’s the best place to get some early dinner…
The Harbour Bar & Restaurant
Earlier seatings aside (it opens at 18.00hrs for dinner service), if you’re also longing for something home-from-home then The Habour is almost certainly the best restaurant in Marbella. Situated on the harbour with views of the sea it has terrace seating as well as indoor dining. There’s an early bird menu (before 6-8pm) at €29 per head. It’s famed for its steaks and its rib-eye, Angus fillets of beef are consistently top quality. It gets lively at the weekends with live music so if you’re wanting a quiet, romantic meal perhaps try one of our others. It’s great for a boisterous family meal, though, and can accommodate large groups.
Address: Club Maritimo Puerto Deportivo, Marbella. Theharbourmarbella.com
Paella y Mas
Located in the centre of Marbella, this is your go-to place for a real, authentic paella or fideua. These delicious Spanish staples – which are satisfying, soulful and quite simply the best comfort food – are prepared by Chef Javier Ponte. The fideua, which is similar to paella but made with thin pasta noodles rather than rice, is always cooked to perfection – moist but slightly crispy at the bottom. There are a good range of starters to like salmon tartare. If paella or fideua doesn’t appeal to everyone in your party then there’s a good selection of choice Iberian pork cuts which will satisfy any meat lover. It’s open for 12.30 for lunch and 19.30hrs for dinner.
Address: Calle Hermanos Salom, 3, 29601 Marbella, Malaga. Restaurantepaellasymas.com.
Best Small Restaurants
The modern and contemporary dining room is comfortable and doesn’t interfere with the food. It might lack a bit of atmosphere if it’s quiet but more often than not it’s full with happy diners. We loved that the sommelier, who is truly passionate about Spanish wine, would recommend local wines when appropriate too. The food is excellent and easily Michelin Star-worthy. The kid with creamy Payoyo cheese is melt-in-the-mouth delicious.
Address: Av. Severo Ochoa, 12, 29603, Marbella. Restaurantemessina.com.
All breathe a sigh of relief – your favourite Japanese restaurant can be indulged on holiday, too. Nobu has finally come to Spain. The international restaurateur and chef needs little introduction: Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, the master of Japanese food.
Sitting in La Plaza alongside the equally glamorous likes of Bibo, with its buzzing atmosphere and plant-filled terraces Nobu Marbella has pretty much the perfect setting. The dining room is contemporary with clean lines, wooden cladding and simple table settings – no fuss, just elegant design.
The team are working hard to reach the standards of the infamous Nobu Park Lane (the first European Nobu, and one of our favourite restaurants). If you’re new to the Nobu experience, start with a saké and go for their set menu, which is usually seasonal. This will give you the chance to try some of their household name dishes as well as others specific to Nobu Marbella. If we absolutely had to mention a negative it might be that the tables are booked in sittings so on busier nights you can’t while the night away after the meal with leisurely drinks.
Address: Boulevard Alfonzo H, s/n, 05200 Marbella, Malaga. Noburestaurants.com/marbella.
Best for Laid-back Quality
Lobito de Mar
The pavilion-style building of Dani Garcia’s most recent restaurant Lobito de Mar is chic and stylish. This is Dani’s take on a chiringuito – without the beach. The would-be rough and ready seaside shack however is replaced by white and black interiors warmed up by natural tones and green leafy plants, this makes for a relaxed and informal eating environment.
There are two menus: affordable tapas and light bites as well as a full menu. Both feature plenty of fish and seafood cooked according to simple, traditional methods from ‘espeto’ (skewered on a BBQ) to paellas. A favourite on our last visit was the dry noodle fideua paella, cooked to absolute perfection.
And you couldn’t mention Lobito without at least a passing mention to the wine cellar, a dizzyingly extensive collection chosen by Carlos García Mayoralas which caters to all palettes and plates. Also, the sangria menu – no, we hadn’t seen a sangria menu before either – has five different fusions of the traditional sangria to try, which certainly makes for a conversation stopper (or starter).
Address: Av. Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe, 178, 29602 Marbella, Malaga. Grupodanigarcia.com.
Best for Post-Dining Atmosphere
Oak Garden & Grill
In Nueva Andalucia, away from the Puerto Banus port – but not so far away you can’t saunter from one to the other on foot – with its perfectly lit dining room and lively decking area outside, Oak Garden & Grill has a great atmosphere. A part of the locally well-known La Sala group, this new-ish venture falls squarely into the reasonable price bracket, while also being great for families or groups.
As the name suggests, meat and seafood dishes are the order of the day here, coming perfectly grilled and often served up to cook at the table to your desired taste. You’re here to eat their signature grilled meat so don’t fight it: order the ribeye or Galician fillet, and be done with it.
Next door to Oak is La Sala, which is a great place to end your evening with cocktails, some live music and people watching.
Address: Calle Belmonte, 29600 Nueva Andalucia, Marbella, Malaga. Oakgardenandgrill.com.
Best for Wine Lovers
This concept restaurant to the west of Puerto Banus has an accompanying wine shop and a bodega of 5500 wines. Although quite a large restaurant, it doesn’t feel echo-y or cavernous and you don’t rattle around in the place when there are only a few other diners. The dining room is comfortable and relaxed with unassuming décor, while there’s also a terrace which is heated during the winter evenings. Service is attentive, and the menu is a real crowd-pleaser with something for everyone. The Galician scallops on our visit were excellent and the quarter of lamb was a great sharing dish cooked perfectly in their Josper. Make the most of their Sommelier as they can create pairing menus, thematic tastings and horizontal or vertical tastings for you.
They also offer intermediate and advanced wine courses – please contact our concierge to arrange. There’s parking outside the restaurant, but on some nights this can be busy and with such a fantastic bodega it would be a shame to not partake in some tasting.
Address: Centro Comercial Azalea, Calle Ana de Austria, 2, 29670 Marbella, Malaga. D-winecollection.com.
Best Frontline Golf Course Location
Opened in 2005, Magna Café offers a traditional restaurant and dining experience on the Magna Marbella Golf Course in Nueva Andalucia. Décor-wise it’s perhaps a little lost but the views out onto the golf course are more than enough to distract you.
This relatively stately restaurant is a long-established stalwart on the Marbella food scene so you must forgive it for the odd dish that you thought never saw this side of 1990. We love their lobster soup and roast lamb leg. It’s a good all-round crowd-pleaser and can accommodate groups with ease.
Address: Avenida Calderón de la Barca, 29660 Marbella, Malaga. Magnacafe.com.
Best for Kids
It’s worth pointing out at this point that the Spanish love children and in the vast majority of establishments won’t even blink at the sight (and sound) of a large, unruly brood crossing the threshold. However, a restaurant being supremely relaxed about it is one thing; offering high-chairs, children’s menus and changing facilities is something completely different.
The Funky Forest
This has made the LVC cut of best Marbella restaurants because the concept is one of the most family-friendly in Andalucia- namely, ‘A place to play, create, stimulate, share and enjoy.’ The Funky Forest is based outside the centre of Estepona (just up the road from Marbella) and offers everything a parent would ever want in a restaurant. It offers cooking, music, recycling, language, theatre and dance classes for children. As well as being situated in a pine forest it has a great faux grass area for safe, playful tumbles with a swing and even a bouncy castle. The food is child-led so it’s more of a lunch spot for the adults to take a breather while the kids have fun playing with the resident rabbits and all the other children.
Address: Avenida de Bel-Air, 29688, Malaga. Funkyforest Facebook.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of great places to eat – there are so many other mouth-watering options for you to discover in and around the town. For ideas and assistance with reserving the best tables, just ask our Concierge. Aproveche!
For more of the best dining on the Costa del Sol, check out our pick of top places to eat in Malaga.
Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 139603 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2020-12-11 09:50:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-12-11 09:50:40 [post_content] => Looking to get off the beaten track in Andalucia? We’ve scratched beneath the surface of this exciting, historic area of Spain, asked local experts and come up with a list of little-known things to see and do for our guide to hidden Andalucia...
If the bird's eye view of the inside of the cathedral looks spectacular, then to cap it off you emerge outside with 360-degree rooftop views of Malaga. [email protected]
Visit Malaga Cathedral's Roof
The top tip of Lindsay Gregory, Director of The Luxury Villa Collection: “Stroll around Malaga historic centre, take a hammam at Mammam Al Andalus and finish with cocktails at a rooftop bar.” https://malaga.hammamalandalus.com/en/
RELAX IN A HAMMAM
A rather lovely town with a Moorish fortress complex and no fewer than 30 churches. Don’t miss having tapas in the impressive Plaza de los Escribanos.
Meander in Antequera
Just outside Antequera, these are some of the largest and most complete megalithic structures in Europe. Museosdeandalucia.es
Visit Three 5000-year-old Dolmens
The ruins of a 9th-century church carved out of rock are the highlights of a larger fortified town complex. Anything 9th century and still standing is incredible in our books.
Wonder at a 9TH Century Church – Bobastro
A house with a garden in the Albayzin (the oldest part of Granada city) is known as a Carmen. These Carmens look out towards the Alhambra Palace, often have wooden balconies, plant-filled patios, babbling water features and decorative tiles.
Nose Around the Carmens of Granada's Albayzin
This 17th-century abbey and college comes complete with holy caves/ancient catacombs. The view of Granada alone is worth the walk.
Visit the Abbey of Sacromonte, Granada
This village has stately houses gripping onto the edge of a gorge, cobbled streets and spa credentials. Our top tip is to escape the summer heat in Granada and visit Alhama – it has a unique microclimate where summer nights cool to a comfortable level.
Take a day trip to Alhama de Granada and its Natural Hot Springs
Once part of several fortifications, the castle that sits on this tiny island dates back to the 13th century.
Find Out the Mysteries of the Island of Sancti Petri, San Fernando, Cadiz
This pristine white village, sitting high on a rocky hilltop, really comes into its own at sunrise and dusk. Aside from the dramatic light, there are lovely boutique shops, great restaurants and, during the summer, look out for their candlelight festival.
Experience the Beautiful Light in Vejer de la Frontera
While it's got a great beach with some decent Atlantic surf, it’s the laidback-hip bar vibe in El Palmar that makes it stand out from other stretches of southern Spain's coast.
Surf and Sip in El Palmar
David, chef at De Tako's top tip is, “One of the best ways to experience a country is through its food and an even better way is to enjoy perfectly cooked food is in an incredible setting surrounded by friends". We entirely agree – hire a private chef at your villa for the ultimate in convenience.
HIRE A Private Chef
One of our top hidden foodie treats in Andalucia is delicious Retinto beef from Cadiz. Much is spoken about fried fish, olives and olive oil, jamón ibérico and Sherry but this meaty option is also a real gastro-standout.
Taste Riotinto Beef
Hire a boat and hit the sea - you’ll almost inevitably come across a pod of dolphins in the Mediterranean.
Take to the Sea – Dolphin Watch
This forgotten about 12th-century arched gateway and wall was the main entrance into Seville, and is certainly off the beaten path.
Puerta de Macarena/Walls of Seville
You'll never have experienced a bar like Garlochí, a homage to Easter in Spain. All year round there's incense burning and procession music playing – they call it the cathedral of bars. Don’t miss their signature cocktail: Grenadine, whisky and Cava.
Drink at a Bar Dedicated to Easter in Sevilla
There’s a succession of beautiful waterfalls running over some interesting limestone formations in Sierra Norte de Sevilla Nature Park.
Wild Swimming at Cascadas de Hueznar in Seville Province
Fiona Flores Watson, Telegraph Travel Writer and Seville resident recommends: “The summer outdoor concerts held in the Alcazar Palace… a magical setting for live jazz, flamenco or classical music by moonlight.” Alcazarsevilla.org
SEE LIVE MUSIC IN THE ALCAZAR PALACE
The castle of Castillo de Almodovar del Rio was built in 740. You can join theatrical tours, do some medieval combat training or spooky storytelling. Castillodealmodovar.com
Visit Highgarden, the Tyrell’s House in Game of Thrones
Manni Coe of Toma & Coe Tours' top tip is: “One of the most consistently excellent restaurants I know in Andalucia is located on a little-known street, in the little-known town of Lucena. It's called Tres Culturas and it's also a handy stop off en-route to Cordoba." Tresculturasrestaurante.com
TRAVEL TO EAT AT TRES CULTURAS
In the Sierra de Cazorla natural park this castle was built at the start of the 16th century. A beautiful monument in an even more beautiful part of the world.
Marvel at the Castle of Iruela, Jaen
The colours of autumn over the vast landscape of rural Huelva is the perfect way to disconnect. Local people flock here to experience the change of the season.
Reconnect with Nature and See Autumn in Aracena
This breath-taking beach near the charming village of San Jose feels like another world.
Genoveses beacH in Cabo de Gata, Almeria
A bit of a cheat but do a tour…
Our top 5 are: Most unusual is in Segura de la Sierra in Jaen province: this square bullring is the old courtyard of a castle and was built in the 18th century. Ronda bullring is the second oldest and the biggest. Seville bullring is the oldest; Antequera's is famed for appearing in Madonna’s Take a Bow video; Mijas has spectacular views and is simply charming. Archidona usually erects a bullring inside its eight-sided main square during the summer season. Like this and want to know more about visiting southern Spain? Check out our 50 things to do in Andalucia and our guide to the five best cities to visit in Andalucia [post_title] => Hidden Andalucia [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hidden-andalucia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-01-31 15:25:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-01-31 15:25:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=139603 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 133379 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2020-10-03 15:27:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-10-03 15:27:14 [post_content] =>
See Andalucia through its Bullrings
(As of Nov 2020)Since the global pandemic reached our countries in early 2020 there has been restrictions in one way or another on the way we live our lives. With the sheer amount of press on Covid-19 it’s difficult to see the wood from the trees. So we wanted to reach out to our guests and give you a clear idea of what it’s really like to be in southern Spain in 2020. As we become used to Covid-19 not going away we’re getting better at carrying on with our lives but with safety measures in place. Obviously, those who are at high risk may adopt a more stringent approach to their activities but for the rest of us we’re getting out and about responsibly. While we at The Luxury Villa Collection welcomed guests during 2020 we realise that clarity on what it's like in southern Spain is needed.
What restrictions are there in southern Spain?Shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, events, museums and art galleries all have capacity limits to ensure social distancing can be adhered to safely. Businesses all have hand sanitizer at the door so customers can clean their hands upon entering and leaving an establishment. As of 25th October there is a curfew between 22.00hrs and 07.00hrs. Further restrictions have been put in place to limit the movement of people outside their municipalities. Face coverings must be worn at all times if over 6 years old, other than:
- People playing sports do not have to wear a mask whilst engaged in the sporting activity.
- Masks do not need to be worn by customers who are eating, drinking, or smoking.
- In the sea or swimming pool.
- In a designated household sunbathing area on the beach.
Do I have to wear a face covering?The use of face coverings is mandatory for anyone over the age of 6 years old at all times unless during one of the points stated above. This includes in all forms of indoor and outdoor public spaces even if social distancing can be applied. For countries that haven’t adopted this measure, face coverings seem a huge inconvenience but what they have allowed people to do is enjoy their holiday as normal with face coverings and social distancing being the only restrictions.
Are restaurants open?Yes, restaurants and cafes are open with limitations place upon their capacity to ensure tables are spaced out enough so customers can remove their face coverings while drinking or eating. Serving staff and chefs must wear masks at all times.
Are Beaches open in Andalucia?Yes. Once on a beach in your own sunbathing area and in the sea you may remove face coverings. The sunbathing areas must be 2 metres apart and social distancing must be adhered to in the sea. Some beaches have allocated sunbathing areas others are flexible but there are personnel checking that people adhere to social distancing rules while enjoying the beach. No distancing is necessary within your family unit. The norms that local governments put in place over summer 2020 worked to great effect and people could enjoy the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz and Costa Tropical.
Are tourist sights open?Yes. Restrictions on numbers being allowed into famous landmarks, tourist attractions and galleries has meant some sights have never been so quiet. Achieving the perfect photo of the Alhambra Palace or Real Alcazar de Sevilla without other sightseers is actually possible.
Does a face covering need to be worn while driving?When driving alone or with your household no face covering needs to be worn, but if there are passengers or a driver from a different household then everyone must wear a face covering.
What’s the general mood in southern Spain?Summer 2020 saw fewer parties for sure: the dancing all night in a club and watching the sunrise from a buzzing rooftop bar was and is not on the cards at the moment. However, long lunches beside the sea, visiting theme parks, historic sights, galleries and museums, beach days and outdoor activities are all there being enjoyed. It's really business as usual with the some sensible parameters in place. Some of our guests used our villas with entertainment rooms, cinemas, spas and abundance of space to organise private experiences from chefs to talks to spa treatments and live music. Bringing the wonderful Spanish culture into the safety of their private villa.
What is State of Alarm and What Does it Mean?The phrase state of alarm sounds very official and, well, alarming however, it is really just an administration step for the government and helps regional governments put in place restrictions. This phase allows the government (if necessary) to limit the movement of people at specific locations and times, temporary use private industries (such as private hospitals), limit the use of services and ensure the supply of necessary goods and services. In 2020 during Covid19, the state of alarm has meant limiting the movement of people between different provinces and curfews been implemented (from 23.00-06.00hrs). In no circumstances does state of alarm mean visitors aren't permitted to travel back to their home country.
Air travel – Is it safe?So far there has been little evidence of in-flight transmission of coronavirus, but there have been a couple of examples of transmission early on in the pandemic before more stringent controls were in place. Shaun Fitzgerald, Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Cambridge said, aircraft ventilation systems are unique, the “replacement rate” - the number of times a volume of air equivalent to the volume of the cabin is removed each hour - can be four minutes in a aircraft. Compare this to 20 or 30 minutes in an indoor environment on the ground and it’s very brisk. The air filters themselves on aeroplanes are sophisticated and much more effective than filters found in indoor venues on the ground. Most airlines say face coverings are mandatory, limit food and drink services and don’t allow queuing for the toilet. The airports themselves are being diligent ensuring social distancing is in place as well as temperature controls in some. As from October 2020 if traveling from Europe or the UK:
- You must complete a health control form - which includes a HCF - a negative PCR test within 72hrs of your arrival to Spain.