YOU have to head to the four corners of Estepona to really find out what is going on in the culinary stakes.
The best place to start is in Benamara where a group of excellent restaurants battle hard to pack in the punters.
Leading the charge is Cocomo, where former Savoy chef Simon Taylor-Lane, gets busier as the years go on.
Having trained with Marco Pierre White at the Criterion in London, he has the classic knack of creating culinary classics and, best of all, at amazing value with a set lunch for just €5 during the week.
He and wife Sally run a tight ship and the pair even come up with their own marketing to boot.
Nearby you have also got the excellent Tanino, run by talented Dutch businesswoman Trudy, who has a lovely eye for interior décor and a menu to match.
Meanwhile the brand new Chillis, an Indian/Mexican fusion, no less, has just been opened by Raj and Sunny.
Throwing away the rule book, the contemporary decor offers an oasis of calm to ready you for an assault of the spices, both mild and sweet!
Authentic dishes are complimented by fusion tapas served in the bar and there is a wide range of beers, wines and spirits and a takeaway and home delivery service for those in a 10km radius.
For those looking out for something different you must try out Lebanese restaurant L’Oriental, recently completely refurbished by an expat couple, who have lived around the world.
The pair also own the excellent pub, the Robin Hood, which has been an institution for years and now has an incredibly fresh, exciting menu, all washed down by a decent range of beers.
Another original spot, well worth hunting down is the country gem Eden Bar, located in a stunning location five minutes inland from Laguna Village.
This great rural spot, which dubs itself the ‘pub in the campo’ has a great kids play park and a legendary Sunday BBQ.
Up in the heart of Estepona you must look out for Lola’s, run by a French couple from Paris, who also own the superb Burgr Bar restaurant on Calle Real.
They have come up with a great range of tapas, including the fantastic spring rolls (nems) and snails, and even their very own invention, ‘rajaos’, which means ‘something broken’ and is effectively a bread roll with a filling.
If it is fish you are after check out El Pescador around the corner right on the beach and famous for its fantastic sea bass served in a salt crust, or its classic fried fish starters.
One of the town’s mostly-highly recommended restaurants, Sur is definitely the place to eat a steak.
Run by an Argentinian dynasty, this is a classic family affair where you will often find father, wife, son and daughter, not to mention son-in-law, helping out.
In summer you sit in the charming square with its fountains and views across the sea.
Juicy empanadas arrive followed by delicious spinach and pine nuts wrapped in filo pastry and a fresh tropical salad next. 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.
Just across the square is easily one of the best hang outs, or meeting points, in the town.
Tolone, run by cultured American Kristi, is now an institution and famous for its breakfasts, juices, cakes and snacks. And it is always busy. A real sun trap, my top tip is definitely the amazing cakes and, in particular, cheesecake created by Kristi.
If it is a good Italian you are after few places come as good as Rincon Toscana.
This stalwart sitting in the heart of Estepona old town has fantastic pasta and pizzas of the most authentic type.
Up in the port meanwhile, a fantastic new spot, also run by Argentinians is 11 y 11.
A genuine family affair, father Oscar is an accountant, wife Silvia keeps an eye on the kitchen, while daughters Candela and Anabel does are in charge of design and paperwork.
A son Sebastian meanwhile is a famous actor in Mexico so is not so often on hand.
Either way, it is an incredibly stylish place with a fabulous interior and a brilliant sunspot terrace.
It also has the freshest food in the port, with, in particular, some excellent steaks and delicious grilled octopus.
If it is a beer you are after then your best bet is the Irish Fiddler, opposite the sailing club, which serves up a good range of beers and tapas.
Finally there is Rick’s Cafe, which specialises in great G&Ts and live music at the weekends.
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