EATING al fresco is one of the joys of living in Spain.
Dining on the terraza of your favourite restaurant under a parasol during the day, or on warm evenings, nursing tintos de verano or cold canas. Life doesn’t get much better.
But some restaurants have turned the concept of a terrace into an art form.
Some of Andalucia’s finest places to eat focus their entire attention on outdoor dining and hardly bother with indoor space.
Naturally rainy days wreak havoc, but the generally fine weather from April to October more than makes up for this.
Living here for well over a decade I have made it my business to find all the best restaurants around the region’s eight provinces.
As the editor of the region’s leading independent – and objective – online restaurant guide Dining Secrets of Andalucia, I have turned it into a job. And I have certainly been spoilt for choice.
When it comes to eating outdoors, here are some of my favourite picks:
In the Serrania de Ronda, the best of the bunch, must be Almocobar, sitting in an ancient square by the historic Almocobar arch, while nearby Arriate has its charming El Muelle next to the train station, perfect for watching the sun set.
Two other fabulous picks nearby are amazingly consistent Molino del Santo in Benaojan and Al Lago in Zahara de la Sierra.
Both have spectacularly good terraces for dining, the Molino by a raging stream with plenty of trees for shade, Al Lago with some of the best views in Christendom.
Down on the coast The Beach House in Elviria takes some beating, sitting on a quiet stretch of sands, while La Sala, in Puerto Banus, is THE place to watch the coast in action.
In Malaga city, Restaurante Vino Mio, right by the Cervantes theatre, has a great terrace to while a way a hot summer’s evening, while nearby, in El Palo, look out for the emblematic Tintero.
In Nerja, Carabeo has an amazing garden terrace overlooking the sea, while up in nearby Frigiliana look out for El Jardin where Robert has created a magical spot with fantastic healthy food and views to match.
Another excellent spot in inland Axarquia is Los Orquideas, a hotel overlooking lake Vinuela, where chef Carlos Vera Mata creates a great range of dishes.
Other personal favourites include Patria and La Castilleria in Vejer de la Frontera and wonderful Tesoro near Tarifa. A true dining secret out of the way and unexpected is Cancha II near Sotogrande.
You are also spoilt for choice in Casares, where the Forge, and Arroyo Honda both have amazing terraces to dine on.
And in Gibraltar you have got places like The Landings and Cafe Solo, with a great terrace in the heart of emblematic Casemates Square.
Ultimately you could spend every day of the year eating a fine meal outdoors in Andalucia. That is apart from the 25 days a year when it rains, when you will just have to sit inside!