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Food Advice for Costa del Sol!

My husband and I are spending a week in the south of Spain, from June 14-21 and since neither of us have ever been there I am seeking advice about where to go and shop for fantastic food.

We are staying in a hotel that is between Marbella and Estapona. We will be travling to Granada, Gibralter, Malaga, Ronda (and probably many places in between!). First, are there any really great food shops in any of those locations? Our room has a kitchen and I'd love to stock up on really good cheeses/olives, etc. Secondly, I have seen some of the earlier posts about Marbella and Granada, but are there any "must trys" for this region? Any specialties that we just can't leave without testing out? If so - where would you recommend we try them?

Basically, any food suggestions you have for this area will be much appreciated! I promise to post again to tell you about our finds as well!

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  1. Must try Tragabuches in Ronda..and those lovely yemas (candied yolks). We also ate at Higueron (along the A7) by Fuengirola-Calahonda area and both food and service are good. The freidurias along the coast are always yummy for fried seafood. Definitely grilled sardines on a spit by the beach.
    For grocery items, El Corte Ingles' supermarket (many areas) carries a wide array of both deli items, wines, groceries...plus the cheapest souveniers and you can get your VAT back.

    1 Reply
    1. re: trvlcrzy

      If you do try Tragabuches do get them to slow the pace of the meal down. We ate there last September and whilst we enjoyed the food we did feel it was served far to fast.

    2. You'll find that Estepona is the most Spanish (i.e. least touristy) town along the coast.

      El Cortes Ingles is a fairly upmarket department store that has a food department. It's quite expensive and not necessarily very good. Worth a look though. There's a branch in Malaga and, I think, nearer in Puerto Banus. Better for general food shopping will be the Carrefour supermarkets. There are several along there, including one at Estepona. Even better will be the individual small shops where many local folk still prefer to do their shopping.

      You will catch the last day of the Marbella Feria and I thoroughly recommend you go. Great fun. Great street food and booze.

      All along the coast, you'll find chiringuitos (beach huts) serving usually good cheap food - mainly fried fish. And, of course, Andalucia is home of tapas. Estepona has a number of tapas bars near the main square. This is also where most of the decent restaurants are. The ones to look out for are those which the Spaniards are flocking to about 10pm for dinner. There is an excellent fish place on an alley right at the back of the square. Can't recall its name but it's all but impossible to miss. Just simple fried fish. Perfect.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Harters

        Is Carrefour better than Hipercor for inexpensive groceries? (Hipercor is owned by El Corte Ingles I believe.)

      2. We are in Andalucia now. If you make your way to Malaga, which I highly recommend, seek out the covered market for the freshest, cheapest, best seafood you´ve ever seen, as well as incredible Spanish charcuterie, etc. As far as restaurants go, specific recommendations seem pointless. In Malaga, and other cities along the coast, just find a place populated by locals, go in and order. You can´t go wrong, unless you´re expecting a fancy wine list, a translated menu, or things like that. Fritura (platter of various fried fish, usually for two or more people) is a particularly good idea anywhere near Malaga.

        1. I spent 3 months in Granada at the beginning of this year. Are you looking just for tapas bars and Spanish food or other types of Cuisine as well. As for tapas bars try Navas 14 on Calle Navas. They have great tapas, the bar is quite small if you are not used to it, the earlier you go the less people there will be. Also try Made In Italy, once again has wonderful tapas. Its located on Calle Alhamar about halfway down from Corte Ingles and Calle de Ronda. If you need a quick lunch you have to visit one of the classic Kebap King's and try a falafel. There is a great gelato shop, called Heladeria Tiggiani, in a little plaza off of Calle Reyes Catolicos. There are also a ton of great Cafeterias on Calle de Gran Via. I cannot remember the name of the particular one I loved but it was between a little pink and green bar that drops down the a few stairs and the Wok restaurant. It has glass windows and says Posteria above. The pastries are wonderful and they sell bocadillos, milkshakes, and other treats as well. If you have more information on specific types of cuisine or other tapas bars I'd be happy to help.

          3 Replies
          1. re: 3star

            oh and I forgot to tell you the best thing about Granada, at the tapas bars if you are a drink, reguardless if its wine, beer, a coke, you get a tapas with it, for free. Enjoy this advantage in Granada because in Sevilla and other cities in Spain, you have to pay for your tapas.

            1. re: 3star

              Not so. I found some bars in Sevilla (non-tourist places) where you did get freebies - mostly olives or those yellow beans (habas ?) . In Leon you also get a tapa with your drink which can range from the Morcilla de Leon to little plates of stew. Caceres in Extremadura likewise. And of course Madrid is where you get the best and most varied free tapas like prawns or the sausage and chips we once got in a Galician bar.

              I pretty sure there must be more.

              Some places like Burgos I found that the free stuff will only go to the locals (what the younger Hermano has coined tapartheid). But I've found if you just ask for some nuts or olives you usually don't get charged. I did this in Sevilla too.

              1. re: Hermano Primero

                "I pretty sure there must be more."

                Indeed, HP. Free tapas are fairly common in the Almeria part of Andalucia - even in the touristy parts (as at about 5 years back). But,as you indicate, it tends to be limited to olives or, surprisingly often, bread & aioli (dunno if its the same word in Castilian - it's allioli in Catalan).

                In my experience, there's generally no freebies in bars along the Costa where the OP is staying. Freebies such as olives are still on offer in restaurants though (particularly the ones catering more for Spanish customers).

          2. Tragabuches Highlights 2-Jan-09
            It was the highlight meal of our vacation. Nine course including 2 desserts, 2 mains, 4 tapas, and an amuse bouche. The best part for us was the four tapas (the mains were disappointing to tell the truth). One tapas (my favorite) was served in a medium size shallow bowl. Once you dug in there was goat cheese underneath with a layer of nearly microscopically diced green apple over it. There was also a thin, white clear gelatinous portion dotted with bubbles along with an area of foam; like foam on the sea. It looked like its own tiny ocean-y ecosystem. It was one of the prettiest things that I’ve ever eaten. The other tapas were similar in artistic flair (and they all tasted good too). Another was a light creamy cold soup with a sashimi sized piece of fish in the middle topped with caviar and what I thought were flakes of fish skin floating on the surface. The fish (raw) sort of delicately disappeared in your mouth and the oil of it melded with the creaminess of the soup. It was like eating sashimi that became ice cream.

            Thanks,

            4 Replies
            1. re: Chinon00

              Thanks! What were the prices like for the ala carte? And do you know if this place is cheaper for lunch or should I go to a sister property like Restaurante Escudero?

              1. re: lambretta76

                If you're in Rondo it's a must. The prix fix was about 75 euro a piece. Can't recall ala carte prices though. We went "early" (close to 8) and had no trouble getting a reservation via the hotel manager the previous day. Wine was wonderful (and affordable) too, but to be enjoyed on its own; how do you pair a wine with something "thin, white clear gelatinous . . . dotted with bubbles along with an area of foam".

                1. re: Chinon00

                  We actually ended up in Traga Tapas, which we thoroughly enjoyed. (It was perhaps the second best meal I had in Spain, outside of Sergi Arola Gastro in Madrid.)

                  It didn't open until 8 pm (we had walked by at around 7 and assumed them closed for the night - silly Americans), but we ate and drank magnificently (salmon with vanilla sauce, octopus cooked in the can) for around 40 euros total. One of the greatest bargains in high-end cooking that I've been to.

                  1. re: lambretta76

                    We ate at Traga Tapas before we ate at Tragabuches. We had the salmon with vanilla sauce too and enjoyed it. We liked the traditional tapas bars in Ronda better though.