Spain’s reputation for haute cuisine is firmly consolidated, with three restaurants in the Top Ten of Restaurant Magazine’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (El Celler de Can Roca in Girona holds third place, Asador Etxebarri in Axpe holds sixth, and Mugaritz in San Sebastian takes the ninth spot).

Within this gastronomically varied country, Andalucía has carved out a niche for gourmet diners, with a plethora of restaurants boasting Michelin stars and attracting serious gastronomes to our shores. In the 2018 Michelin guide, published in November 2017, 16 restaurants from Andalucía were awarded stars. Interestingly, many of them are ensconced by the sea. The very best from Casares to Fuengirola include:

Dani García
Dani García is without a doubt one of Spain’s most lauded chefs. He has appeared on Master Chef more times than we can recall, but is also a regular speaker at events and a seasoned entrepreneur who has opened various establishments, including Bibo at the Puento Romano, famed for its creative tapas style bites, and Lobito de Mar on the Golden Mile.

Dani García restaurant is the place where the Chef lets his passion for Andalusia’s traditional flavours shine, encased in magical presentations filled with artistry and colour.

The tasting menu is what it’s all about here, featuring creations made with unique ingredients and cooking methods, sometimes bearing a touch of the surreal.

The perfect setting for this restaurant is the Puente Romano’s stunning La Plaza, a cobblestoned square overlooking the ancient Roman bridge that has given the hotel its name. This spot is home to some of Marbella’s finest restaurants, including Nobu and Thai Gallery.

El Lago
Launched in the summer of 2000, this scenic restaurant overlooking the Greenlife Golf course and a picturesque lake, is a reference point for Andalusian cuisine.

El Lago stands on three powerful pillars: Paco García (Director since the restaurant’s launch and a passionate defender of local seasonal produce), Juan José Carmona (Head Chef, also committed to rediscovering Andalusias gastronomic roots and relying on local products in every dish), and María José Aguilar, Maître d’, a Sevilla-born gastronome who has managed to build one of the most interesting and varied wine cellars on the Coast.

The restaurant is the perfect spot both for a quick lunch after golf as for a romantic dinner for two. For Michelin-starred magic, night is the right choice, of course.

Mauricio Giovanini, born and raised in Códoba, Argentina and founder of Messina in 2003, is without a doubt one of Marbella’s most talented and popular Chefs. He is largely self-taught, a fact that lends his cuisine a personal identity that can be savoured in every bite.

For Giovanini, true flavour lies within the liquid components of vegetables, whose essence he extracts and serves in a variety of concentrates, meringues, crèmes, gazpachuelos, etc. He also uses natural thickeners (obtained from dried fruits, fish collagen and meat), to create inimitable dishes.

At Messina, Mauricio is joined by his wife, Pía Ninci, the knowledgeable Maître d’ and ‘face’ of Messina, whose profound knowledge of gastronomy is married to a true passion for creating an unforgettable dining experience for clients.

Small and intimate, this restaurant, located in a romantic spot in Marbella’s Old Town is the brainchild of Marcos Granda, who launched it in 2004 and whose passion for great food, wine, and service, has forged a solid team that has held on to its Michelin star since 2009.

Mediterranean cuisine is the star of the show at Skina, jazzed up by avante-garde, modernist touches, present in dishes that bear an exquisite blend of contrasts, while retaining the flavours of traditional Andalusian cuisine.

This restaurant, the first to obtain a Michelin star in the Fuengirola/Benalmádena area, is the brainchild of Diego Gallegos, a chef, researcher, and gastronomic ‘recreator’ who is known as ‘The Caviar Chef’ owing to his penchant for this delicate product.

His respect for the environment has led him to introduce new concepts, employ innovative techniques and rely exclusively on regional produce of the highest standards.

Also a filmmaker, Gallegos presented his first film, Sollo, at film festivals in Spain, the Ukraine and India, and produced another film, You are What You Eat: an invitation to become more aware of where the food you eat is coming from, and the importance of sustainable cuisine.

Kabuki Raw
Whiz chef Luis Olarra and his team prepare exquisite traditional Japanese dishes at Kabuki Raw, the gastronomic star of the elegant Finca Cortesin resort in Casares.

Olarra, who trained alongside Ricardo Sanz at Kabuki Wellington in Madrid, has introduced traditional Malagueño ingredients into his dishes, resulting in dishes such as wild shrimp tortillas, garlic and almond soup, or bull usuzukuri with pan de mollete, which sit perfectly alongside classic Kabuki dishes and orthodox Japanese delights.

Words Marisa Cutillas