IT is a hard act to follow but Estepona is slowly developing a food culture to rival that of nearby Marbella.

SPECIAL SERVICE: Asiatic influence at Palm Beach
SPECIAL SERVICE: Asiatic influence at Palm Beach

Little by little more exciting and varied places are opening up around the town and along the nearby coast, with everything from Japanese to Goan.

Take excellent chiringuito Palm Beach, one of the best beach restaurants on the coast for quality.

Set up by talented former Dutch broker Erwin Vanderdonck, he and business partner Aart produce some stunning dishes including prawn pil pil samosas and crab spring rolls, which were melt-in-the-mouth amazing.

It is a similar story at Restaurante Alexandre, where Belgium talent Alexandre is currently producing some of the best quality food on the coast today.

One of the most stylish is Tanino, a riot of colours and cool interior decor, in Benamara, which has an Asiatic fusion menu, with a distinct depth of quality.

KOKOMO: Prawn salad
KOKOMO: Prawn salad

Another long term favourite is Kocomo, where former Savoy chef Simon Taylor-Lane, gets busier as the years go on. And now in a brand new venue, up in Nueva Atalaya.

Having also trained with Marco Pierre White, he has the classic knack of creating culinary classics and, best of all, at amazing value set lunch.

He and wife Sally run a tight ship and it is incredible how busy their place gets.

Up in the heart of Estepona there has been a quiet revolution with a string of new and stylish terrace restaurants opening of late.

Pick of the bunch is easily Casa del Rey, where there are no less than 70 wines by the glass and resident sommelier Farran Pacheco, who used to work at Harrods, gives out some excellent wine pairing tips with tapas.

Next door, the Wine Room offers wine courses and special tastings for anyone keen to learn more about Spanish plonk.

LOLA: Profiteroles
LOLA: Profiteroles

Nearby, you must look out for Lola’s, run by a French couple from Paris, who are always coming up with new dishes and specials, including beef bourguignon and snails, while their fantastic spring rolls (nems) and very own invention, ‘rajaos’, which means ‘something broken’, are excellent.

Nearby you need to check out Argentinian Sur, where well travelled owner Juan is never standing still, always trying new things in terms of decor, wines and dishes.

ON THE MOVE: Juan at Sur
ON THE MOVE: Juan at Sur

A classic family affair, you often find father, wife, son and daughter, not to mention son-in-law serving up juicy empanadas, lamb tagines and, of course, the best steaks imaginable.

If it is a good Italian you are after few places come as good as Rincon Toscana, run by Uri, who previously ran a b&b near Siena. As well as great Italian wines, you will eat the freshest pasta and the best pizzas around.

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 – including an amazing Amaretto-soaked cherry cheesecake, and snacks.

Up in the part look out for Plan B, where owners Veronika and Oscar serve up exciting Goan gastronomy, as well as amazing fresh juices, smoothies and mouthwatering cocktails.

The decor is quirky, the atmosphere welcoming and all of the dishes homemade.

Another great spot is De la Mar, where Dutch owners Helene and Pim have opted for fine dining, having previously run a pub.

With a distinct international feel, there is some excellent fresh fish and grilled meats, as well as a selection of Scandinavian dishes.

Estepona-portRun by father and son team Mike and Tom, Limonera focuses on seasonal, locally-sourced food and offers an inspired menu.

While there why not visit Caesar’s; an intimate dining space, which is the perfect spot for a special occasion or private function.

While in the port make sure to look out for Healy Macs, which was previously the Irish fiddler and has undergone a stunning conversion, with a decent mix of dishes and a great outdoor terrace.

Voted ‘best Irish pub’ outside Ireland, by the Irish Times and Diagio, dishes include great chicken liver pate, paella croquettes and an amazing Aberdeen Angus steak.

Last but not least, just outside the port, up on the ‘secret’ Playa del Cristo look out for chiringuito Lolailo, where a friendly team serves up the freshest fish that one would expect from a good beach restaurant.

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