When the last vestige of the summer season comes to a close, I always find my mind and heart wandering to what friends know is one of my favourite restaurants in Marbella – Origen, founded by the group that also owns trendy tapas grill venue, Hacienda Patagónica.

If you have read our previous reports on Origen, then you know that the big secret of its success is three-fold: quality, technique, and ambience. This is one of the few places on the Coast that you can order a rib-eye cooked Maillard style, your steak delicately ‘caramelised’ on the flaming grill. At Origen, a variety of woods are used to heat meat up to just the right level in which smokiness, a gorgeous golden exterior, and a juicy, flavourful interior, are married to perfection.

Origen is a veritable classic when it comes to enjoying a great steak in the centre of town. Dressed in wood, red brick, and an open kitchen where you can see the staff at work, it is no less than a treat for meat lovers. Trendy yet casual, exquisite in quality yet laidback in spirit, it is the perfect spot for a business lunch, but is just as wonderful for couples wishing to be embraced in warmth while they enjoy a knockout meal.

On my most recent visit to Origen, the staff had me at ‘hello’, with starters that hark back to Argentinean family tradition. From sinfully creamy provolone cheese delights to grilled octopus, Criolle chorizo and picquant empanadas, a wide range of temptations elicited sounds of joy at our table, and we downed these delights with a glass of Malbec while working out whether we were in the mood for a ribeye or tenderloin steak.

In the end, the ribeye won; not surprising considering this lovely cut is packed with the strong flavour and a relatively high fat quotient that makes it so tender. We also shared a dish that is a must at Origen: the mustard honey chicken, grilled to sheer perfection in the Josper and bearing a slightly sweet taste which complements the delicious smokiness to perfection.

Only the very best meat makes it way to Origen, which, as you can expect, is owned by an Argentinean family. Produce hails from Patagonia and Uruguay, where the low temperatures and frequent rain provide ideal conditions for breeds such as Hereford, Black Angus, and Braford – all originally brought to Patagonia by British breeders in the 18th century. Not only did the availability of the finest cuts of meat make for a unique culinary tradition, but also the wide array of cooking styles that vary along the length of Argentina. In the south, for instance, cooking over an open wood fire in the campo lent meat a particular flavour and texture that was very different from meat dishes savoured elsewhere in the country.

At Origen, technique is honed to perfection. The owners are heavily involved in everything from the kitchen to customer service, and they have the vision to incorporate crucial pieces of equipment – including a fabulous Josper grill that heats meat to 450-500ºC, lending steak its characteristic golden-brown appearance. Prep work is also big here, with staff spending hours in the lead-up to nightly openings, ensuring cuts, vegetables, adornments, adobos and other marinades are freshly prepared and ready for the arrival of diners.

Visit a grill in Argentina and expect the meat to arrive plain, with no décor. Origen adds a bit of magic that takes plenty of prep work. For instance, steak is served with adornments like potato purée, fried pumpkin, and tomato that is dried then immersed in a garlic-infused olive oil. Caramelised onion, delicate mesclun leaves, and two delicate ‘stripes’ made with a red wine reduction add the final touch to a dish in which meat still takes the starring role in terms of volume and positioning.

Here, everything is made by hand – from the sauces right through to the wonderful ice-cream, that comes in a range of flavours – including, of course, dulce de leche. We ordered a couple of scoops as well as another classic at Origen – the dulce de leche crepes, fine and delicate and oh-so-sinful inside.

Origen is a classic choice for diners after a hearty, soul-soothing meal with excellent wine. Indeed, the restaurant majorly renovated its wine list, raising the number of bottles from 30 to over 100. Excellent options from all over the world can be found, so ask for a suggestion or have your food paired by the friendly staff. Rodo, who is nearly always around, is one of the discreet yet super amiable professionals who are committed, heart and soul, to ensuring that a meal at Origen always feels like coming home.


C/ Gregorio Marañón s/n, Esquina Camilo José Cela, Marbella. Tel: 951 352 164.