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 that our Concierge would be happy to book for you. 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…
Best for Special Occasions
This small restaurant is dripping with authentic Andaluz atmosphere. 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 is romantic, traditional and unassuming. If you want bling and glitz then this isn’t the place for you. However, if it’s an intimate meal you’re after then it certainly hits the spot. The food is uncomplicated but delicious with sensible portions and a good wine menu. The restaurant is on the second floor of an old central patio-ed style Andalucian building. (There’s a rather good art gallery below, actually.) Be warned, though – there’s only a brace of tables for two on the balcony overlooking the square, so book early if you’re planning a special meal a deux surrounded by the intoxicating smell of orange blossom.
Address: Plaza de los Naranjos, 10, 29601 Marbella, Malaga. Pacojimenezmarbella.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.
Local boy Dani Garcia has two eateries in Marbella – the eponymous Dani Garcia and BiBo. The restaurants sit next to each other, and offer cuisine to delight the eye and tackle even the most discerning of taste buds, serving up Michelin-starred food which is innovative and intense at times but most definitely Spanish.
Dani Garcia – Cocina Contradicion
The food is theatrical, the service is first-class and the prices are to match. The restaurant offers a 19 course (we kid you not) tasting menu at €168, a short version at €75 and a full a la carte selection (where you can select half-portions). Molecular gastronomy is the name of the game here, for the most part, created before your eyes in the open kitchen. This allows Garcia to go wild with both the flavours and the presentation, and every plate on our last visit was met with a ‘Wow’ and a ‘Oooh’. Simply sensational.
Address: Hotel Puente Romano, Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Malaga. Grupodanigarcia.com.
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 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.
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.es.
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…
Beckitt’s Bar & Restaurant
Earlier seatings aside, if you’re also longing for something home-from-home then Beckitt’s is almost certainly the best restaurant in Marbella. Situated on a corner with terrace tables it offers an early bird menu (before 8pm) at €25 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: C/ Camilo José Cela, 4, 29602 Marbella, Malaga. Beckettsmarbella.com.
Best of the Rest
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. 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: C/Aduar 12, Casco Antiguo, Marbella. Phone: +34 952 765 277, Restauranteskina.com
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. Phone: +34 952 86 48 95. Restaurantemessina.com
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, just ask our Concierge for ideas and assistance with reserving the best tables. Aproveche!
For more of the best dining on the Costa del Sol, check out our pick of top places to eat in Malaga.