YOU need to get the insider knowledge to find the best places to eat in Manilva.
The obvious spots are definitively not the best places to eat. Take that from me… it has taken me two years to sniff out its true gems.
Ultimately, you need to get into the heart of Sabinillas, into Duquesa Port or up the coast a little to get the taste buds sated.
One true dining secret sits on its own beach between Duquesa and Pueblo Nuevo.
Described as a cross between a ‘Spaghetti Western and the Flintstones’, I feel more like Robinson Crusoe, camped out at Floria, an isolated location, with amazing views and the deep blue sea crashing onto the nearby shore.
Run by amiable Dutch-South African Peter and his missus Karen, from Antwerp, it has three capable chefs Emilio, Nigel and Juan Carlos.
The menu is simple and is all about good fresh fish and barbecued meats, while the pil pil prawns are easily some of the best on the coast.
Just up the beach, close to Duquesa port you need to look out for Chiringuito Andres y Maria.
An amazing beach spot, on Playa Castillo, it is just about to reopen in a stylish new modern guise, but with its trademark, straightforward fish-based menu.
Nearby on the main road you will find the finest British fish and chip shop on the entire coast.
Well established, punters drive for up to an hour to sample the amazing cod and chips at Marlows. A true institution, it has excellent banquette seats and even better prices.
Venture into Duquesa Port and, while there are dozens of restaurants vying for your trade, you need to be careful, as quality is not always paramount.
This however is anything but the case at Hemingways where hard-working Ashley has created a great ‘fusion’ tapas menu, which is high on quality.
Constantly looking to improve the menu, it is a nice spot to dine and to enjoy the port ambience. It also has a highly-rated Sunday lunch.
Meanwhile, another good place to eat in the port is Bistro, a steakhouse which only serves the very best meat.
Up in Sabinillas, the beach is lined with restaurants, but if you are looking for something special, two of its best joints are Miel and Marengo.
Miel, run by friendy Dutch boss Kaat, is an institution, with high standards for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
With excellent coffee and a great snacks and tapas menu, it is hardly surprising it is usually full.
Another fine place to eat is Marengo, just one year old, but with a distinctly different feel to its nearby rivals.
Run by Isabel, from Madrid, with much of her family in cahoots, it has a great range of tapas, pinchos and racions to share.
The pulpo on a skewer is excellent, while there is a nice range of wines.
Another great secret to seek out is Cruz Blanca, a typical Madrid-style bar/restaurant, which serves up ice cold beers and some excellent fresh seafood.
There are specials by the day and always some good value tapas at the bar.
Owner Juan is a local businessman, who takes a real pride in the place running like clockwork and being the sort of place that he would like to eat.
Another emblematic place is Café Nenit, where Jose and his team serve breakfasts and pastries from early morning, tapas for lunch and bar snacks into the evening. And don’t forget to ask for ‘Ana’s special’, which changes by the day.
In the heart of the town meanwhile, look out for O’Callaghan’s pub if that is more your bag.
A great range of beers and snacks, you would be advised to looks out for Karaoke and quiz nights each week.
Two other popular English spots are Charley’s Bar and Toni’s Bar, which has just opened with a nice big terrace and all of the live sports.
While not open till July it would be impossible to write about food in Manilva without mentioning the amazing Roman Oasis, just inland on the road to the Roman Oasis, of course.
Over three decades old, it was here that legendary UK chef Keith Floyd came to spend some of the last few weeks of his life.
A massive fan of the eclectic, original spot, he and owner Paul were close buddies and this is obvious by the amount of photos of Floyd on the walls.