Extending across rolling Andalucian countryside between mountains and sea, Benahavis is the lesser-known, sophisticated neighbour of Marbella; a captivating destination for golfers, foodies, luxury…
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.
Address: Calle Aduar 12, Casco Antiguo, Marbella.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 952 76 5277
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 1 PM to Midnight
BEST LOCAL CHEF
Local boy Dani Garcia has three eateries in Marbella – BiBo, Leña, 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 traditional celebrity chef joints. 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.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 951 60 70 11
Opening times: Monday to Sunday 7:30 PM to Midnight
Best YEAR ROUND SPOT
Cascada Cocina & Bar
Just outside town, in the hills above La Cañada shopping centre, Cascada Cocina & Bar is one of the freshest 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.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 623 001 465. Email: email@example.com
Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday 1 PM to Midnight
Best Light Bites & cocktails
MOSH FUN KITCHEN
Those wishing to team a light bite and a cocktail with a side of good vibes should look no further than Mosh Fun Kitchen. Located in Nueva Andalucian near the Aloha golf course, this funky restaurant/bar goes by the philosophy of “Eat Drink Party Repeat” and certainly delivers on all fronts – the venue is actually more of a club than a restaurant, with moody low lighting, stylishly upholstered booths, exposed brickwork and a DJ booth in the corner spinning ambient house.
The menu is divided into Small Bites, Mini Hamburgers, Starters, Fish and Meat selections and keeps its dishes fresh and contemporary – with a range of freshly prepared sushi on offer along with international favourites such as Gyozas and Bao buns. The cocktail menu features classicssuch as Pornstar and Espresso Martini, teamed with signature drinks such as the Moscomosh – Mosh Fun Kitchen’s take on a Moscow Mule.
Address: Avenida del Prado, 3, 29660 Marbella, Málaga
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 952 81 38 59.
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.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 633 32 00 22
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 1 PM to 4 PM and 8 PM to 11 PM
Bar El Estrecho
Bar El Estrecho, a 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 Lázaro , 12, 29601 Marbella, Malaga
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 609 40 93 36. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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. 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.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 952 86 55 34. Email: email@example.com
Opening times: 1 PM to Midnight
Paella y Mas
Located in the centre of Marbella, Paella y Mas 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.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 952 82 25 11. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday 1 PM to 4 PM and 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM
Best Small Restaurants
The modern and contemporary dining room at Restaurante Messina 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: Avenida . Severo Ochoa, 12, 29603, Marbella.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 952 86 48 95. Email: email@example.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 Alfonso von Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Malaga
Contact details: 00 34 952 778 686
Opening times: Open for dinner Monday to Sunday 7 PM to 11:30 PM
Best for MODERN FINE DINING
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 talk about 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: Avenida Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe, 178, 29602 Marbella, Malaga.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 951 554 554
Opening times: Monday to Sunday 1 PM to 11:30 PM
Best for Kids
It’s worth pointing out 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.
This has made the LVC cut of best Marbella restaurants because what is more ideal than a beach bar for a family lunch or supper? The beach keeps the kids happy with no end of games to play and the relaxed vibe of Bono Beach is casual dining bliss. There’s a kids menu, high chairs, baby changing facilities and relaxed beside-the-sea vibe. This stretch of beach is great for families too. It has valet parking available, sunbeds, Balinese futons and beanbags to hire too if you’d like to make a day of it.
Address: Av. Cervantes, 29604 Marbella, Málaga
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 952 839 236. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening times: March to October, daily 1 PM to 6 PM
Bono Beach closes for the winter in November and reopens in March each year.
In the centre of Marbella, this bohemian restaurant is in a historic townhouse with a courtyard ‘secret garden’. The menu is short with simple dishes as there’s a focus on seasonal organic food and 0km. There’s a bohemian, street food feel to the whole place, this is not fine dining. Expect, yoga workshops, micro events, popup craft stalls and the main reason why it makes our best restaurants for kids in Marbella list… Flamenco shows at the reasonable time of 19.30hrs.
Address: Plaza Altamirano 3, 29601, Marbella, Malaga
Contact details: Thefarm-marbella.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.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 951 319 411. Email: email@example.com
Opening times: Wednesday to Saturday 1 PM to Midnight and Sunday 1 PM to 8 PM
Best for Wine Lovers
This cosy little restaurant in San Pedro prides itself on offering the “best selection of wine by the glass” in Marbella. With an extensive wine list featuring local labels from Malaga and Ronda as well as national and international bottles, the concept is based around choosing your vino first and your food to follow, helped along by suggestions from your knowledgeable waiter.
The menu features a range of delicious tapas such as fresh oysters (scientifically proven to taste better when paired with a crisp, cold glass of cava), spinach and ricotta croquettes and anchovies in vinegar with red baked peppers, along with more substantial dishes like slow cooked beef ribs (perfect with a glass of velvety red) and suckling lamb.
Address: Avenida del Mar Mediterráneo, Edificio Los Arqueros Beach 10, 29670 San Pedro de Alcantara Spain
Contact details: G-Wine.com
Opening times: Daily 1 PM to 6 PM (closed Tuesdays)
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.
Contact details: Tel: 00 34 952 92 95 78. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.