Nerja restaurants

By George Prior, your Nerja expert

I write for Monocle, OUT, SUR in English, The Independent, Time Out. Read more

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Rey Alfonso

Price guide: Mid-range
#2/5
expert-rated restaurants in Nerja
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

This is an intriguing restaurant with enduring appeal, located under the Balcón de Europa.

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El Papagayo

Price guide: Mid-range
#5/5
expert-rated restaurants in Nerja
Expert overall rating:3.7 (out of 5)

A beach restaurant that doesn’t just rely on its fabulous location.

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Of course there are the inevitable chips and eggs-style cafés catering for the Brits Abroad brigade (and indeed anyone with a hangover), but the Costa del Sol has a rich gastronomic heritage and the vast restaurant scene offers a kaleidoscope of choice.

Are sleek Michelin-starred eateries serving towers of gourmet delights on huge, white plates for you? Or are Iberian cheeses, hams and wines in raucous, barrel-lined, wood-panelled tapas bars more to your taste? Whether it's salty sardines barbecued on a restaurant’s beach terrace, meat stews made from centuries-old recipes, which are given a modern twist in lively country inns, or any number of Japanese, Chinese, Indian or Italian restaurants, you’ll be spoilt for choice, especially in the main towns such as Marbella and Malaga.

With a benign climate, fertile lands, and its privileged position on the sea, I believe the Costa del Sol produces some of the best food in Europe (olive oil, grapes, almonds, avocadoes, mangoes, oranges, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, hams, cheeses, speciality anchovies, mussels, lobsters…) and much of it is exported. I love the local, traditional dishes such as gazpacho or paella that combine the flavours and textures of the famous Mediterranean diet.

Extra tips

  • Most Spanish people eat late, especially in the summer, and the most popular time to eat out at night is between 9.30-10pm. ‘Lunch time’ is any time between 1.30-4.30pm, when people historically had a siesta (and many still do).
  • Café culture is big here and people tend to have a favourite for a mid-morning coffee and another for their mid-afternoon break (about 5.30-6.30pm)…remember businesses, offices and shops stay open until 8pm.
  • The majority of restaurants will have a menu translated into English.
  • When it’s hot, do as the locals do and choose to eat inside rather than on the terrace - you’ll get better service.
  • When ‘doing tapas’ don’t order too much in any one place. Have one or two then move onto a different bar and do the same.
  • The locals (both Spanish and foreign residents) are justifiably proud of the restaurants and cafés, so head to where they are (you’ll probably hear them before you see them) and avoid the over-priced, and inferior, tourist-laden restaurants.
  • Generally, service charge is not included on the bill. Tip about 10 per cent if the service has been good.
Set focus

I’m a foodie and one of the reasons I love living in this part of Spain is that your day will inevitably evolve around meal times, which are big, social affairs. Like a lot of people, I tend to eat out more than I eat in as it’s generally inexpensive, great quality, there’s a massive choice, and you don’t have to wash up.

I’ve chosen places which showcase the best of the many different types of restaurants, from value-for-money breakfast cafés and popular lunchtime tapas bars, to impressive ‘destination’ restaurants frequented by famous faces. I’ve stuck to places where people who live here tend to go and where the food, service and atmosphere are top priority.