If you like Casanis you’ll love La Tapa, the new bistro-inspired tapas bar in the Old Town. It offers all the classics you love, but with a delicious twist.

Situated a little up from the now famous Casanis, La Tapa is the newest in a range of diners inspired by this successful bistro style restaurant. Passing Casanis you walk on for another twenty metres or so before reaching Plaza Santo Cristo, a pretty square in the heart of Marbella’s Old Town.

Straight ahead is a charming little church, with on the right the ochre-toned tablao, Flamenco Ana María, which ranks as possibly the most iconic flamenco venue in this region.

La Tapa is nestled in-between the church and the tablao, a position that adds to an already richly atmospheric setting looking back down the square towards the hustle and bustle on Calle Ancha, where the outdoor diners at Casanis are just out of sight.

In terms of classic Andalusian and Old Town charm, it doesn’t get much better than this, and with the pedigree behind it, La Tapa offers an exciting new dimension to the Spanish dining tradition that has taken the world by storm.

Sample and share
The whole tapa experience is built on ordering smaller quantities – often raciones – of a variety of dishes that can be shared around the table. It’s far more sociable and also a lighter way of dining than the conventional sit-down-and-eat format where everyone orders a starter, main course and dessert, keeping them all to themselves.

Tapa dining is a fun way to make food part of a night out, accompanied by beer or a glass of the broad range of natural wines that La Tapa is pioneering in southern Spain, and it allows you to sample lots of different flavours. No wonder it’s become so popular.

As the founder and inspiration behind Casanis and the group of eateries inspired by it, Guy Sirre has developed a reputation for being one of the most creative restaurateurs in the region, both for the décor, ambience and of course the flavours he brings to the table.

While he has remained faithful to the spirit and look of a traditional Spanish tapas bar, his latest creation bustles with the inventiveness that characterises his restaurants.

“We’re offering the classic, much-loved tapa experience but with an added twist,” says Guy, who loves the creative progress and the experimentation that comes with it but is not one to over-embellish things.

“Our philosophy is that creativity needn’t be overcomplicated and that it should never be self-indulgent. The food we offer is about our diners, not about me or my chefs, so while we want to be inspired and create a menu that will surprise and delight we believe in good, honest food and quality ingredients.”

The latter is at the heart of all of his eateries, along with a bistro spirit, and in this La Tapa can count on the fresh, organic produce that comes from Guy’s very own town huerta, or allotment.

“Everything tastes so much better when the ingredients are fresh and natural, so these are the building blocks for our menu, which contains a list of regular dishes and daily specialities.” The latter naturally vary with the seasons, offering a tempting variety of options.

On a classic Marbella summer evening we sampled a good cross-section of tapas, ranging from deliciously creamy Farci mussels – definitely a novel offering – and hearty little meat pies to flavoursome mini lamb hamburgers topped with goat’s cheese. The Gyozas – Japanese pan-fried dumplings – are particularly tasty.

The best way to eat them is to place them on the little cogollo lettuce leaves, add some soy sauce, and just enjoy the rich flavour. Guy is particularly proud of his signature cheese croquettes, not to mention the smooth delight of La Tapa’s cheesecake. He says: “I’m almost entirely satisfied with the menu,” but we think La Tapa is already a main marker on any tapas route.

Words Michel Cruz / Photography Kevin Horn

Plaza Santo Cristo, Marbella Old Town. Tel: 952 901 040.