Costa del Sol restaurants

By George Prior, your Costa del Sol expert

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

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#1/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Best for Outdoor dining -
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

The 'wow' beach location is matched by a 'wow' menu and service.

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Palacio de Babilonia

Price guide: Expensive
#2/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Best for Romance -
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

Arguably the most exclusive, original and expensive restaurant in Marbella.

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Restaurante 34

Price guide: Expensive
#3/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Best for Gourmets -
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

If you only visit one restaurant in Nerja, this must be it.

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Villa Tiberio

Price guide: Expensive
#6/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

Better Italian food than I've had in Rome, set in a Marbella palazzo amidst mature gardens.

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Tikitano

Price guide: Expensive
#7/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

A smart restaurant that’s worth a trip for its sensational beach location alone.

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Polo House

Price guide: Mid-range
#9/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

James Hewitt's perfectly pitched, British colonial-style venue in Marbella.

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Skina

Price guide: Expensive
#10/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

Modern fusion food in a contemporary setting… oh, with a Michelin star.

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Café de Paris

Price guide: Expensive
#16/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.1 (out of 5)

Enjoy a very special dining experience, albeit with a reasonably hefty price tag.

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Baboo

Price guide: Expensive
#20/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

Creatively presented cuisine offered in a hip, neo-industrial restaurant.

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Rey Alfonso

Price guide: Mid-range
#21/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
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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Restaurante Colonia

Price guide: Mid-range
#22/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

Time-honoured Andalusian cuisine with a Mediterranean backdrop.

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El Lido

Price guide: Expensive
#25/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:3.9 (out of 5)

This is a restaurant that truly deserves its Michelin star.

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#31/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:3.7 (out of 5)

Enjoy delicious food in a romantic courtyard in the heart of Marbella's Old Town.

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Finca Besaya

Price guide: Expensive
#35/40
expert-rated restaurants in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:3.6 (out of 5)

Contemporary, Mediterranean cuisine in a classily-restored Andalusian mansion.

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Showing 14 results
Set focus

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.