By Jon Clarke
PERCHED on a headland with one of the most incredible views towards Gibraltar and Africa, it is little surprise that Tikitano has become one of the coast’s leading wedding venues.
With its high wooden beam ceilings and a splendid terrace leading to the beach, it is the perfect place to tie the knot.
Constantly adapting and improving over the last decade, Tikitano also happens to be one of Estepona’s top places to eat.
Built by a visionary Dane, who also owns local estate agent Livingstone Estates, it has just the right combination of style and panache.
With a team of internationally experienced chefs, the menu is extensive and changes regularly by the season.
Expect to find an excellent selection of fish and meat dishes and the out of hours ‘snack menu’ is also loaded with plenty of goodies.
Just along the coast, in Laguna Village, is another fantastic beachside joint, the highly rated Terra Sana, one of eight in the chain of popular organic – and environmentally-friendly – restaurants.
One of two run by friendly Zahid (the other in Fuengirola’s Miramar Centre), the Londoner can occasionally be found rolling up his sleeves and preparing the food, or even washing the dishes.
Always full at lunchtime, even after expanding across the street, the buzzing team knock out a great range of healthy options.
In particular, the Morrocan style wraps, which come with subtly seasoned couscous make a delicious infusion of flavours. And the juices are amazingly fresh.
Another fantastic beachside option is Lolailo on Playa del Cristo, Estepona’s best beach.
Run by amiable Albanian Juliano expect to find great fresh fish, paella and top Italian dishes every day of the year. Yes, 365 days of the year, he insists!
Always a great place to visit at the weekends when there is entertainment, this is one spot that is rarely lacking in clients.
If you are looking for a completely vegetarian restaurant then you are very lucky for in Estepona you have the highly-rated Elemi, near the marina.
All the hearses used to pull up so the mourners could have a final pint
Owner and chef Ray Valentine known as ‘The Vegetarian Crusader’ creates a fabulous array of original and delicious food in his kitchen.
“If my food converts just one meat eater to become vegetarian, I will die a happy man,” he says.
Up the coast in Benavista you need to keep your eyes peeled for JJs
A huge, freshly made burger complete with thick cut chips, salad and coleshaw was just the ticket after a morning spent wandering round the shops. The clean, welcoming interior is stylishly decorated and has clearly received as much thought and attention to detail as the equally inviting lunch and dinner menus.
Over in the heart of Estepona town is another fantastic option.
Fast becoming the town’s most highly recommended restaurant, Sur is THE place to have a steak.
Run by an Argentinian dynasty, this is a classic family affair where you will often find the boss, his wife, daughter and son-in-law (a local businessman) helping out.
There is a lively, but not noisy, mix of Spanish, English and Irish and the subtle lighting and warm colours make for an atmospheric meal.
In summer you sit in the newly pedestrianised square with its fountains and views across the sea.
Juicy empanadas arrive followed by delicious spinach and pine nuts wrapped in filo pastry and served with a tropical salad.
There is a good mix of lamb tagines and fish dishes, but it being an Argentinian joint you really need to try the steaks, which are fabulous.
Up from this square, in Calle Caridad, you will find the town’s best selection of tapas restaurants, including Tipico Andaluz and Taberna de Lucia, which serves up Spain’s highest rated Cinco Jotas jamon.
After a tapas crawl you should ensure to end up at friendly Bar Rouge, where Irish owner Thom Maher is a mine of local knowledge.
“This was once the last bar on the edge of town before you got to the cemetery,” he explains. “All the hearses used to pull up so the mourners could have a final pint before the funerals.”