DINING REVOLUTION: Where to eat in Estepona on the Costa del Sol

Palm Beach 1

JUST take a sniff around the centre these days and, please, whisper it quietly: The most upwardly-mobile resort on the Costa del Sol is finally developing a foodie scene.

As a series of boutique hotels get set to open in the centre, appropriately a number of new and exciting restaurants are also getting into the mix.

Whether you fancy Mexican, Argentinian or Japanese, there is something for everyone now in Estepona.

Thanks to an influx of better heeled, more refined expats moving in over the last few years,  the resort’s chefs have had to up their game.

The revolution is taking place primarily in the main streets around Calle Real and Calle Caridad, bookmarked by the two squared Plaza Ortiz and Plaza de las Flores.

Here, you will find up to a dozen good places to eat, on top of the celebrated fish restaurants that line the paseo.

I was particularly taken with Etcetera, one of the newest set up by an enterprising expat family hailing in part from Austria, in part from Poland and with a chef from Brazil, who has been around the block and picked up plenty of skills.

Sitting on the recently upgraded plaza,Plaza Rocio Bazán, half way along Calle Real, this is charm personified with a splendid range of dishes of a very international flavour.

Etcetera is one of the top spots to eat in Estepona

There were some fabulous asparagus croquettes, a superb hamburger and the most creative pudding (a cross between a cheesecake and banoffee pie) I have had this year.

Over the road you might pay a visit to the new Mexican Mexa, which serves up some delicious and spicy tacos and quecas.

Staying with the south American flavour, one of the coolest spots is definitely the excellent Argentinian Sur, in Plaza Ortiz, where globetrotting Juan runs a tight ship and has a distinct eye for style and decor.

His is a real family affair and you often find father, wife, son and daughter, even the son-in-law serving up juicy empanadas, lamb tagines and, of course, the best steaks imaginable.

Definitely the place not to miss and the main magnet these days must certainly be Casa del Rey.

Sitting in the corner of Plaza de las Flores it epitomises the changes in the old town, which is finally becoming stylish with a huge new focus on quality dishes and particularly wine, with over 100 being served by the glass.

Casa del Rey, owned by the Reinaldo group, has brought a gourmet focus to the centre and the ambience inside and outside is alluring.

Knowledgeable half-Dutch owner Liliana is often around and happy to give you tips on what wines to mix with what dishes.

For fish, you most certainly must not miss el Pescador run by Alfonso for years – and very often found in its kitchen.

Sitting slap bang on the main beach, few places have developed as quickly and as stylishly in the town over the last decade (and he has just opened another one in Marbella).

Through sheer hard work and a clever eye for quality and panache, he has turned this place into the must visit fish restaurant.

You sit by the promenade overlooking the sea and eat only the best fresh fish from the nearby port. My tip is the sea bass in salt, an absolute joy.

Palm Beach 1
Pay a visit to Palm Beach

Another excellent chiringuito right on Estepona’s main beach is Africa Beach, run for four years by the talented team from well established inland restaurant La Alcaria de Ramos.

An excellent place to spend the day, you can lay back and enjoy a superb fish lunch enjoying prawns and sardines cooked on espeto skewers, then hang out on a sunbed for the rest of the day, enjoying cocktails at night.

Just up the road you will find the chiringuito Palm Beach, one of the best on the coast for quality, and due to reopen again shortly.

Set up by talented former Dutch broker Erwin Vanderdonck, it has a range of tasty dishes including prawn pil pil samosas and crab spring rolls, which are melt-in-the-mouth amazing.

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Fantastic food at Palm beach

A bit further afield a must visit for anyone wanting to find one of those true dining secrets of the Costa del Sol is La Alcaria de Ramos.

Run by Jose Antonio Ramos for over three decades, it sits beside an inland crossroads, between the two famous golf courses of El Paraiso and Atalaya.

An ancient coaching inn, it is charm personified with some amazing Spanish tourist posters and has wonderful views of the coasts sitting up in an enviable position.

For many years in the Michelin guide, it mixes up traditional Mediterranean cuisine with international fare and has a superb wine list.

And finally, there is more at La Catalina, which has its very own beer factory next door.

This is fast becoming one of the hippest places to hang out on a Friday night and over the weekend when there are a string of live events taking place.

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