IT’S no coincidence that Marbella has nearly half a dozen Michelin stars within its modest borderies… this is, after all, the playground of the super-rich.
The line of fabulous eateries gets better by the year and includes plenty of great new spots not even found by the Michelin inspectors.
And forget Dani Garcia, who choked on reaching the highest accolade you can make in global cuisine, chucking in his three Michelin stars just a month after getting there.
The trio of El Lago, Messina and two-star Skina more than make up for it, each with their own stylish take on modern cuisine.
But it’s the hidden spots that are always my favourite to track down, the likes of Sabor in the back streets of San Pedro, the super-secret El Cortijo de Ramiro, in Guadalmina, recently-opened Paisana in Nueva Andalucia, and Cascada (see review) in the hills on the way up to Monda.
One true talent whose star is well and truly rising is Fernando Alcala, at Kava.
This self-trained cook, and former lawyer, is producing not only wonderful food, but at prices well below the going rate for the resort.
I particularly liked his attention to detail… his carefully skinned cherry tomatoes, tiny shrimps laid on carrots, pickled with cumin and courgette-stuffed wontons in a creamy lobster broth.
It not only looks good, but is awash with spicy flavours and is largely healthy, macrobiotic food, with almost all the dairy coming from sheep and goats.
Take a proper tour of the town and you will find well over 100 different nationalities cooking in Marbella, from leading Japanese joints like Takumi to famous eateries like La Sala.
Guaranteed fun, its menu changes regularly and the service is never short of amazing.
Best of all is the amazing terrace to be seen on outside, a place that every footballer and Towie star has made a beeline to be seen at for the last decade.
This institution, between Puerto Banus and Nueva Andalucia, is THE place for most tourists to visit at least once on their holiday.
And don’t forget La Sala by the Sea, the hippest beach club on the coast, with excellent food to boot.
On the subject of glamour, the stunning views from the rooftop terrace of the Benabola Hotel Sky Bar are almost impossible to beat.
Lording it over the famous marina, this celebrated hotel is the dream spot for an early evening tapa and cocktail, or a nightcap following supper.
Even better, come for the evening and relax at easily one of the coast’s genuine secret spots, where those-in-the-know and plenty of celebrities come to hide out.
For those having two cocktails or more there is free underground parking (look out for the Benabola Hotel signs and get your card franked at reception with your receipt).
Looking for a curry head to nearby Indian restaurant Mumtaz, while its sister restaurant Cibo on the main road into Marbella is a good bet.
Up in San Pedro you will be spoilt for choice with Alfredos which opens for 364 days of the year, as well as La Bodega de Cantinero, which serves up the best sherries by far, hundreds in fact.
Marbella’s journey into culinary greatness is typified by the famous A Cuatro Manos events that took place every summer at the Puente Romano hotel until wiped out by the Covid crisis.
Highly respected chefs from Ferran Adria to Joan Roca and Joel Robuchon to Juan Mari Arzak zoomed in to present dishes and show cooking events over the last five years.
Their appearances helped to make Marbella the true dining capital of Andalucia.
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