TUCKED away in every backstreet and tiny square in Estepona these days you’ll find a new place to eat.
They literally jump out at you as you stroll around the charming city centre, both at lunchtime and at night.
Helped by the sudden arrival of three boutique hotels, it means many more tourists are staying the night… and they, of course, need to be fed.
Whether you fancy Japanese, Thai or Mexican – or just good tapas – there is something for everyone… there are even some fancy new wine bars sprouting up all over the place.
The changes were previously taking place between the two key squares of Plaza Ortiz and Plaza de las Flores, but now you will need to spread out.
Take Plaza Manilva, in the north west of the old town, here you will find Take a Wine, a great new spot that cleverly couples great wines by the glass, with tapas and music.
Set up by a charming Madrileno Anselmo, who spent many years working in La Rioja, he has close links with Spain’s leading classical musicians, not to mention bodegas.
The menu is simple, but focuses on gourmet ingredients from the north of Spain and has plenty of exclusive wines.
Best of all, you sit out in the charming shady square surrounded by orange trees and the usual phalanx of geraniums.
Back in the corner of the main square, Plaza de los Flores, you must try out Casa del Rey.
This was the first of the great new places to eat in the old town, both stylish and with a great menu to match.
Owned by the Reinaldo group, there are over 100 wines served by the glass and approachable half-Dutch expat owner Liliana is often around for a chat about the best dishes.
Nearby, look out for Etcetera, set up by an enterprising expat mother and daughter from Austria and Poland.
Sitting on the recently upgraded Plaza Rocio Bazan, half way along Calle Real, this is charm personified with a splendid range of dishes of a very international flavour.
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.
Another well established place, also in a lovely square, Plaza Ortiz, look out for brilliant Argentinian restaurant Sur, where well-travelled owner Juan is a hands-on and hard-working trouper.
He is normally around alongside his daughter, son and wife and promises superb steaks, juicy empanadas and lamb tagine.
For fish, you most certainly must not miss el Pescador run by Alfonso for years – and very often found in its kitchen, when not up the road in his new place in Guadalmina.
Few places are as busy as this and the hard-working team are professional and offer the best fish in town, overlooking the main beach.
Another excellent chiringuito is Africa Beach, run by the team from well established inland restaurant La Alcaria de Ramos.
But the best place to spend the day, hanging out on a sunbed, then enjoying cocktails at night is the chiringuito Palm Beach.
A superb fish lunch with espeto skewers, it is run by friendly Dutchman Erwin, whose prawn pil pil samosas and crab spring rolls are legendary.
Good pasta? Up in the newer part of town look out for the excellent Italian La Carbonara where they make their own pasta fresh in the kitchens every day.
There are some excellent wines by the glass and always plenty of starters and mains off the menu.
La Alcaria de Ramos may be out of the way but it’s worth seeking it out, somewhere 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.
And for something completely different head for the coolest spot by far on the Estepona coast… the La Catalina restaurant and beer factory.
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.
But the food is also excellent and the beer and wine is hard to beat, being local and organic.
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