Restaurants in the alternative
Costa del Sol.

So you fancy eating out during your stay in the Axarquia? Restaurants of all types can be found here so read on for some help in choosing which is the one for you!

Let's start with a few basics.

Opening hours: Resorts like Nerja are geared to the Northern European holidaymakers and therefore the restaurants tend to start earlier (lunch from about 12 o'clock and dinner from about 6 o'clock) than in the more traditionally Spanish areas where lunch starts at about 1.30pm and restaurants often do not open for dinner before 8pm.

Service charge: Restaurant menu prices always include service and the custom for tipping here is lower than at home with most people just rounding up the bill with a few coins.

Basic Spanish: The Spanish word for restaurant is restaurante - what could be more straight forward? - however there are loads of other words which, depending on the type of restaurant, can be and are often used instead. So look out for venta, taberna, meson, fonda, chiringuito, merendero, freiduría, marisquería or bodega all of which will serve food of some type. See below for more details on the various types of restaurant found in the area.

Ask to see la carta (the menu) when you arrive and don't forget to ask for la cuenta (the bill) before you leave!

Beachside dining

One of the real treats of a holiday here is the chance to take lunch at either a chiringuito or merendero - the Spanish name for a beach bar/restaurant. Whichever resort you are in, nearly every developed beach has one although outside of Nerja and Torrox Costa they tend to open only between Easter and October. Take your time to enjoy the view of the sea at a shady table and sample some of the local specialities:

If there is a BBQ close to the restaurant, often found in a small boat, it is a good bet that they will be serving delicious espetos de sardinas - bbq'd sardines on a spit, as well as whatever other fresh fish are available that day such as lubina - sea bass or dorada - gilt head bream. Some of the chiringuitos also cook a large paella from which they serve a ración or portion for very little charge. Fried fish along with basic chicken and meat dishes are also widely available.

Restaurant recommendation:

Ayo's in Nerja, situated at the far end of the promenade at Burriana beach, cooks several enormous paellas every lunchtime, a portion costs €4.80 but if you want more, then just take up your plate for a free refill.

Fish and chips

There is nothing more English than good old fish and chips, right? Think again! They have been deep-frying the catch of the day along the coast of southern Spain for centuries, adding potatoes once they had been brought back from South America by the conquistadors, and it is thought that English sailors developed a taste for it while docked in Cadiz and brought the idea back home with them. The Spanish version of the fish and chip shop is the freiduria and there are literally hundreds to choose from along the coast. Here the fish is served in a ración - a plateful of smallish pieces - and it is customary to order a selection to share.

Look out for rosada frita - similar to haddock, bacalao frito - cod, calamares fritos - squid rings and gambas rebozadas - prawns, all of which are battered and fried along with cazon adobo - dogfish or rock salmon, marinated in spices and lemon before battering and frying. These and all the other fish available are delicious particularly when dipped in ali-oli - garlic mayonnaise. Shellfish lovers will also find a great selection of almejas - clams, mejillones - mussels, gambas - prawns etc.

Restaurant recommendation:

La Marina has a branch in Nerja at Plaza Marina near the top of c/Castilla Perez and a branch in Torre del Mar in c/del Mar, both of which offer a great selection of really fresh fish and outstanding value for money. Once they fill up - fairly soon after opening at 8pm - they operate a waiting list for tables so ask a waiter for a ticket!

The Meat Course

Although the coastal cuisine is dominated by fish and seafood the region's inland menus tend to be all about meat, pork in particular. Take a drive along any of the country roads around here and you are bound to come across at least one or two roadside restaurants, often called venta or meson, which are bound to have a good selection of meat dishes on offer.

You could start with a tabla variada - mixed plate of ham, salami and cheese - to share, although the more health conscious might want to opt for an ensalada mixta - mixed salad. As pork is the cheapest and most widely available meat locally it will certainly feature for the main course in a choice of cuts solomillo - fillet or tenderloin, lomo - loin and chuletas - chops served either plainly bbq'd or grilled - a la brasa or a la parilla, or with a variety of sauces such as pimienta - pepper, or roquefort. Other options could include ternera - beef either as entrecote de ternera - sirloin steak or solomillo de ternera - fillet steak, cordero - lamb and pollo - chicken.

Restaurant recommendation:

Brensons Bistro Canillas De Aceituno
Brensons bistro brings international cuisine to Canillas De Aceituno. The restaurant is contemporary and intimate and offers a wide range of dishes that cater for all tastes. Lighter Bites such as seafood pancakes, garlic mushrooms with blue cheese and mains including duck stir fry, mexican chicken tortilla and spicy bean casserole.

Restaurante Camping on the A356 overlooking Lake Viñuela offers large portions of delicious bbq'd meat at very good prices combined with a stunning setting.

El Mirador on the C345 at the edge of the Mountains of Málaga Natural Park offers good value food with the most incredible view of Málaga.

La Bodega at the back of Plaza Marina in Nerja has an authentic Spanish ambience and offers a good selection of meat dishes at reasonable prices.

International flavours

If you fancy something a little different from the traditional local fare, our resort towns all offer a good selection of restaurants serving international cuisine. Nerja is the most cosmopolitan but a selection of Pizzerias, Mexican, Chinese and Indian restaurants, along with places catering to German and British tastes, can be found in the other towns along the coast.

Restaurant recommendation:

Hong Kong has branches at Avda. America, Torrox Costa and in Paseo Larios, Torre del Mar, offering a good selection of tasty Chinese food.

Natraj at the eastern end of the Paseo Maritimo in Torre del Mar along with it's sister restaurant Taste of India in c/Carabeo in Nerja both offer a good choice of authentically "British" curries.

Pizzeria Michelangelo on the Paseo Maritimo in Torrox Costa has a large selection of well made pizzas to choose from.

El Chicle on the N340 at Torrox Costa offers stunning gourmet cuisine with an international flavour - pricey but worth it!

The Gallery in c/ Los Huertos, Nerja has a fab. roast dinner set menu every day.

Menú del Dia

During the Franco era every restaurant was required by law to offer a 3 course set meal (menú del dia) including a drink and service for a fixed price. Although it is no longer obligatory many restaurants still continue the tradition and, whilst the choice is usually restricted to 2 or 3 dishes, they still offer outstanding value for money. Expect to pay between €6 and €10 for starter, main course and dessert or coffee - drinks are rarely included these days.

Restaurant recommendation:

Pacomari in c/Gloria, Nerja, offers a good choice menú del dia for €7.80 both at lunch and in the evenings.