Gazpacho, fried fish and grilled sardines are the most popular dishes in
the beach bars on the Costa del Sol, tasty examples of the traditional Mediterranean diet. “The cuisine of the Costa del Sol is based on local produce from the Malaga area. The quality of these ingredients, together with the preparation of traditional recipes using cutting-edge techniques, are the secrets of its success”, says chef Diego Gallegos. His restaurant, Sollo, at the Hotel Double Tree Reserva del Higuerón in Fuengirola, received one of the three new stars in the 2016 edition of the Michelin Guide.
However, the Costa del Sol has so much more to offer than just Mediterranean cuisine. Every year, over ten million visitors flock to tourist destinations like Marbella, Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Fuengirola. Many of them are foreign tourists with high spending power. These visitors, along with the large number of foreign residents, have revitalised local cuisine.
Chefs of different nationalities have combined their national dishes with local produce and fine dining techniques.
The variety of food on offer is increasingly cosmopolitan and not only from the numerous establishments featuring cuisine from other countries. Chefs of different nationalities have combined their national dishes with local produce and fine dining techniques. These range from the Argentinian Mauricio Ginovanini at his restaurant Messina, in Marbella, to Diego Gallegos, who is Brazilian. Known as the ‘caviar chef’, he prepares fascinating dishes using sturgeon and other freshwater fish.
Another of the new 2016 Michelin stars, the restaurant Kabuki Raw, fuses Japanese cuisine with the flavours of the Mediterranean. Head chef Luis Olarra creates dishes such as the adobo-style ‘usuzukuri’ (finely sliced white fish). Guests at the Finca Cortesin Hotel, where Kabuki is located, can also enjoy the Italian cuisine of Don Giovanni. This restaurant belongs to Andrea Tumbarello, ‘the king of truffles’.
One of the first chefs responsible for this explosion of top-quality cuisine was Dani García. His restaurant at the Puente Romano Hotel in Marbella is the only one in the area with two Michelin stars. García’s technique, flavours and creativity can also be enjoyed at the less formal BiBo brasserie, located in the same hotel.
Is there fine dining on the Costa del Sol outside of luxury hotels? “Of course there is”, replies Diego Gallegos. “Nowadays there are countless restaurants devoted to fine dining outside of the big hotels”. Two other members of the Michelin star club in Marbella for example: El Lago, by Diego del Río, and Skina, run by Jaume Puigdengolas.
The food critic Carlos Maribona adds in other examples that blend high-quality ingredients and simple techniques with dishes cooked to perfection. Frutos, in Torremolinos, and Los Marinos José, in Fuengirola, are great examples of fine-dining fish and seafood restaurants. As examples of more traditional bistros, celebrating the original spledour of Mediterranean cuinsine, he recommends Nuevo Reino and El Ancla, in San Pedro de Alcántara, and La Niña del Peine, in Fuengirola.