ASIDE from counting on its first award-winning chef Diego Gallegos, of Sollo, who recently became ‘Spain’s best young chef’ at Madrid Fusion (see review on page 45), Benalmadena has a superb mix of international and Spanish restaurants.
One of the most romantic must be Blankko, sitting on an incredible headland by one of the old defensive forts in Torremuelle.
Set up by a pair of capable Iranian businessmen, you sit overlooking the sea, with stylish white tables and an exciting menu.
Overseen by executive chef Amador Fernandez, there are plenty of creative flourishes, such as the caesar salad served in a crunchy case and a delicious squid salad with fennel.
Another stylish place to eat is at Baboo, up in the hills beside Benalmadena golf, where you can eat an excellent value set lunch, which includes dishes such as stuffed squid in their ink and a delicious seared tuna with fresh tomatoes.
You sit on a choice of wonderful terraces with views down to the sea or into the pine-decked mountains, or inside in the cool, airy dining room.
Nearby, the excellent wine bar Jaque Mate has over 100 references and many by the glass, and some tasty tapas to boot.
This bustling spot, popular with Spanish and expats alike, is a great place to watch the world go by at both lunch and dinner time.
Down on the coast, a surprisingly good place to eat is at the Sunset Beach Club hotel, which has its extremely popular restaurant Luna Beach club sitting right on the sand.
An amazing location, the chef serves up great value fresh food seven days a week.
Up in the Pueblo there are some fantastic places to eat, with the surefire winner being steakhouse Longhorn, run by the capable Claus and with an excellent and varied menu (see sidebar, left).
Another top gem is fabulous Italian Pala d’oro, which is set around a patio and with a cool, stylish interior.
Hosts Sandro and chef Mateo Manzzato, from Venice, have a great repertoire and you will love the gnocchi stuffed with courgette and a natural goats cheese Asiago, especially imported from Italy, while the speck ham with rocket and walnuts and a balsamic sauce had just the right balance.
Finally, as mentioned, if you are looking for genuinely award-winning food you will have to head to Sollo, at La Reserva de Higueron, soon to become a Hilton, where culinary genius Diego Gallegos, 31, (pictured, below) hones his trade.
One of the most exciting food revolutions is quietly taking place meanwhile in nearby Torremolinos.
Buoyed by the pink pound and the proximity to Malaga city, it is little surprise that there is a superb range of quality tapas joints and surprisingly good restaurants.
In particular, look out for Taberna Mansiega, where tradition has been truly turned upside down!
Roberto and Charlie have created a venue that welcomes food and wine lovers equally.
There is great tapas with a twist and a menu featuring the freshest seafood, quality meats and fusion food to engage the palate. There is also a great wine cellar featuring over 50 different wines and champagnes.
You must also check out Vintage 8, an arty restaurant which is doing great business just off the beach.
The owner Ben, a Moroccan, who trained in France, has a passion to bring art and gastronomy together and the place is full of original paintings and other artworks.
It is perhaps little surprise, he being the son of a composer and with a brother as an opera singer.
Last, but not least, if you fancy a beer, a proper one, then you need to visit Cervezateca.
A genuine joy to the world of beer, Belgian Stefan has a menu of over 100 beers and a beer bible to understand them.
Each drink has a unique glass and an education can be offered.
Think of Stefan as your sommelier of the humble brew and, even better, bring your own food, to eat on the terrace outside in the sun.