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…
Few things get tongues wagging at LVC HQ quite like food and drink. It’s hardly surprising – we’re lovers of a country where they’re never too far from being the main topic of discussion, after all.
When we eat out we want more than just delicious food and wine; we want to undergo a full sensory experience from mouth-watering dishes to stunning surroundings. Which is precisely what the below selection of Michelin starred restaurants in Malaga Province have to offer.
Jose Carlos Garcia, Malaga City CENTRE
Nothing symbolises Malaga’s rebirth into a fabulous, forward-facing, tourist-friendly destination more than the city’s port area, Muelle Uno. And nothing better encompasses Muelle Uno’s ambitious vision than the glittering Michelin starred dining at Jose Carlos Garcia. There are three dining spaces, each of which is spacious with stylish but comfortable design touches. The food is experimental with whimsical, exotic takes on local dishes, from suckling pig served with pineapple and sweet pumpkin jus, prawns with Korean kimchi, hand-poured gazpachuelo and red mullet served with curry gnocchi.
The famous chef himself tries to go out of his way to welcome you (or at the very least sends you on your way, after a dazzling gastronomic experience, with a cheery thank you). All in all, it’s a dining experience that’s equal parts surprising and delicious.
Opening times: 13.30–15.00hrs, 20.30–23.00hrs. Address: Puerto de Malaga, Plaza de la Capilla, 1, 29016 Malaga. Phone: 952 00 35 88. Restaurantejcg.com.
KALEJA, Malaga city centre
Kaleja has been on the fine dining scene in Malaga since 2019 and finally in 2022 it won a Michelin star. Head Chef Dani Carnero also headed up the kitchens in La Cosmopolita and the newer La Cosmo restaurants. He believes in bringing traditional Spanish flavours to life with a nod to cuisine from the villages, serving it with his own flair and winning him awards left, right and centre.
The dining room is minimalist, pared back with no fuss and a serene simplicity. There are two tasting menus that allow the team to show off a little: a 16-course and a 14-course, both of which can be paired with wines. So be prepared – eating at Kaleja is a long enjoyable experience, not a dash. If you’re looking for the best place to eat in Malaga right now, then look no further.
Address: Address: C. Marquesa de Moya, 9, 29015 Málaga. Telephone: 952 60 00 00. Restaurantekaleja.com
A little unusually for a, quite frankly, seafood-obsessed Malaga, chef Diego Gallegos favours fresh water fish – on our visit sturgeon seemed to be a favourite and there were no complaints from us. As you’d expect from a fine dining restaurant there’s a tasting menu available, but in Sollo’s case it extends to 19 (count them) courses. Each course is beautifully presented and dressed exquisitely with plates substituted for shells, leaves, dried seaweed or wooden boards, the sort of touch of drama which really adds to the overall experience.
Opening times: Dinner only. Address: Urbanizacion Reserva del Higueron, Av. del Higueron, 48, 29640 Fuengirola, Malaga. Phone: 951 38 56 22; Sollo.es.
Since opening in 2016 every self-respecting foodie in the area has made a pilgrimage to Ronda to try out Bardal. Headed up by Catalan chef, Benito Gomez Bardal, it offers two tasting menus: the first of 16 courses, and a second, larger one offering a dizzying 19 courses.
The food is modern, clean, fresh and accomplished. Local produce is championed with creative and technical ability. These menus are a story of Spanish food served by very attentive waiters. Their wine cellar and sommelier is excellent and there are nearly 200 bottles of wine to pair with your meal.
From start to finish, it’s a delight.
Address: Calle José Aparicio 1, 29400 Ronda; Tel. 951 48 98 28; Restaurantebardal.com.
Awarded a star in 2022, this stylish restaurant is the concept of sommelier Marcos Granda, who returned from a trip to Japan in 2019 awed by the country’s fascinating culture and innovative use of raw materials and determined to recreate the magic in Marbella.
The dining space is compact and elegant and features a selection of private rooms plus a sushi bar with seating for 12 where guests can observe the Itame (Sushi Master) at work, preparing intricate dishes with premium seasonal products.
There are two tasting menus to choose, which vary depending on the star product of the day: Omaskase has 7 courses and is only available at lunchtime Tuesday – Friday, whereas the more extensive Nintai features 9 courses. The restaurant also prides itself on its wine list, which happens to feature some of the best Sake in Spain.
Address: C. de Ramón Gómez de la Serna, 18b, 29602 Marbella, Málaga. Telephone: 952777817, restaurantenintai.es
If you’re looking for a Michelin star restaurant which doesn’t take itself too seriously, then Back fits the bill. Recently awarded a star due to its high-quality cooking, Ubeda born chef David Olivas’ menu is both playful and creative, a features innovative modern takes on time-honoured Spanish dishes.
In contrast to some Michelin star eateries, the vibe here is relatively laid-Back (see what we did there?). The aesthetic is casual and cosy: the dining room more modern Bistrot than clinical, white-walled cube.
The Á-la-carte menu is divided into two sections: “Classics” – which features signature recipes such as salt-cured scallops and roasted sea bass marinated in lime and soy; and “Changing”, which gives space to seasonal dishes such as Estepona squid and pickled sea fennel and stewed lamb with cauliflower confit. These dishes also form the backbone of the 9-course Etorno tasting menu.
Address: Pablo Casals 8, Marbella, 29602, Spain. Telephone: +34 951 55 00 45 www.back.es
Located in Marbella’s marina, one star Messina represents the vision of Argentinian head chef Mairico Giovanini and his sommelier wife, Pía Ninci. The space is simple and elegant, and the menu is eclectic, drawing inspiration from European, Latin American, and Mediterranean traditions, with a special nod to Lebanese influences.
Giovanini believes the root of all flavour lies in the liquid component of ingredients. His innovative cooking focuses on pure juices and their concentrated forms – such as creams and emulsions – resulting in complex flavour combinations that are guaranteed to wake up your palette.
Messina has two tasting menus in addition to an a la carte menu, highlights of which include dishes such as Lebanese shellfish tartare or beef with mushrooms and Béarnaise sauce.
Address: Av. Severo Ochoa, 12, 29603 Marbella, Málaga, Telephone: 952864895, www.restaurantemessina.com
Proud holder of not one but two Michelin stars, you don’t get much more exclusive than Skina. Tucked away in the heart of the old town, its compact dining room contains only four tables, ensuring each customer is treated to an intimate and unforgettable dining experience.
Owned by Asturian sommelier Marcos Granda and headed up by Toledo-born chef Mario Cachinero, Skina’s aim is to stay loyal to local produce while embracing Andalucia’s myriad of flavours. All raw ingredients are sourced with exquisite care, and include wild, line-caught Galician fish, premium oil from the mountain olive groves of Jaen and meats sourced from the finest fincas in the region.
Skina offers three different tasting menus with wine pairing from its extensive cellar, which boats over a thousand different vino variations. The signature Grand Cru menu comprises 5-courses and features stand-out dishes such as traditional gazpacheuelo soup with fresh shrimps from Motril, sea bass with fennel and mushrooms and beef sirloin with sweet red pepper.
Address: C. Aduar, 12, 29601 Marbella, Málaga. Telephone: 952765277 www.restauranteskina.com
BEST OF THE REST….
The following restaurants may not have a Michelin star just yet, but they’re certainly on the right track and have recently been bestowed with the respected Bib Gourmand award for quality and value for money.
LA TABERNA DE MIKE PALMER
This rustic yet contemporary restaurant enjoys an idyllic location within an upmarket equestrian club behind the hills of Malaga. Its rural positioning affords it a tranquil vibe, and it’s a lovely spot to spend to the afternoon if you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of the city.
With a dreamy shabby-chic aesthetic featuring wildflowers, raw woods and white linens, the restaurant prides itself on using fresh ingredients sourced from the “soil and sea” of the surrounding area.
Head chef Miguel Palma – named “best chef” by Malaga’s Academia Gastrónomica – has created a menu of simple yet elegant dishes, such as Russian salad with pickled partridge, battered oysters in a Bearnaise sauce and his signature “Lechuga Viva”: a whole fresh lettuce served with a light dressing and a delicate scattering of pickled vegetables amongst its leaves.
Address: Camino de los Almendrales, Málaga, 29013, España, Telephone: 622697134 www.Latabernademikepalmer
Proving good things come in small packages, bijou eatery Blossom is fast gaining a reputation as one of the best restaurants in Malaga. Tucked away on a charming little street a stone’s throw from the cathedral, the dining room here is only big enough to accommodate a couple of tables, with the rest ranged across the pavement outside.
The menu is similarly petite and showcases modern, fusion cuisine with South American influences (chef Emi Schobert is from Argentina). Dishes deserving of a special mention include ceviche in a yellow pepper sauce and a seared scallop with foie gras, sweet potatoes and almonds.
Word is already out about Blossom, so make sure you book a table to avoid disappointment!
Address: C. Strachan, 11, Loc 2, Distrito Centro, 29015 Málaga, Blossommalaga.com
Located in the historic centre of Malaga, this bright and busy restaurant is already on the radar of the Michelin guide. No surprise, really seeing that head chef Dani Carnero counts Kaleja (see above) and La Cosmopolita amongst his other businesses in the city.
The aesthetic is clean and modern: a large open kitchen complemented by a simple, white dining room. The menu is similarly understated, focussing on transparency and quality, with every dish created from locally sourced ingredients.
Dishes are designed to be shared and include innovative flavour combinations such as grilled quail in a curry sauce, spicy tuna tartare and duck breast with a homemade BBQ sauce and fresh herb salad.
Address: C. Císter, 11, Distrito Centro, 29015 Málaga, Telephone: 630917396, Lacosmo.es
Planning a day trip to Malaga and fancy a more casual bite? Check out our round up of the best places to eat in the city – from laid back tapas bars to beachside restaurants.