Tapas, tapas, tapas!! The whole world is in love with the Spanish tapas!
The best TAPAS on the Costa del Sol! These small dishes of delish. The presentation differs from the south to the north of the country and each region have specialities of their own. In the north they are known as “pinchos” (or “pintxos in Basque) and in the rest of Spain “tapas”. “Pinchos” means sticks and refers to that they are normally presented on a small piece of bread with a stick or toothpick in it.
Why you wonder? You actually just go to the bar counter and take what you want and, when you ask for the bill, the waiter counts the toothpicks to sum the bill of what you have had! This is the common way in the north of Spain, for example in the Basque Country.
Tapas is the common way of ordering in the south of Spain, like the Costa del Sol. The Spanish the word “tapas” really means “lids”, as in putting a lid on something. The origin of the phrase is to have something small, like a small plate or piece of bread to put on top of your glass to stop sand getting in it.
The history behind it might be that the King Alfonso XIII was served a drink with a piece of Serrano Ham on top of it in a restaurant on the beach in Cadiz on a windy day. The clever idea of the waiter to put a lid on it made it custom. But there are also other explanations for the phrase.
On the Costa del Sol there are thousands of bars and restaurants, with different specialities in tapas. This is our guide to StartGroups favourite tapas bars The best TAPAS on the Costa del Sol!
Pascal van der Woude´s favourite tapas
Tapas in Calahonda
If you want to go for lunch or dinner sharing “Tapas” with your friends or family in Calahonda, I can definitely recommend the following places.
One of the best locations is without a doubt “Luna Beach” situated in front of McDonalds on the beach front in Calahonda, bordering Cabopino.
Here you find a large selection of freshly prepared tapas, ranging from the famous “gambas al pil-pil”, a dish of fresh shrimps in hot olive oil and garlic to Calamares, boquerones or a small portion of meatballs.
A lot of people also share some of the above tapas as a starter before ordering the main course. At Luna Beach, you can order a great seafood paella or fresh fish from the grill after.
All this with your feet in the sand, overlooking the beach and the Mediterranean!
Cafeteria Los Olivos and Cafe El Zoco (both same owner) also offers a great variety of tapas!
This restaurant is situated in the Los Olivos shopping centre and offers tapas for lunch and dinner as well. Cafe El Zoco is located in the same shopping centre as our Start Group office, just at the entrance of the Supermarket Supersol.
Here you can get a some great cold “Russian salad” topped with either tuna or shrimp, meatballs, gambas Pil-Pil, but also not typical Spanish dishes such as chicken curry with rice or pork in pepper cream sauce with either chips or rice!
The best TAPAS on the Costa del Sol!
Bogart´s on “the strip” or Avenida de España is definitely a place to visit if you want to go for tapas in the evening. On the main avenue in Calahonda you find this great restaurant with a variety of tapas and main courses. We tried the “croquetas” and they were great. Also the patatas bravas, a dish with fried potato and a hot sauce are very nice.
This is a great place for an evening meal, and if you want to go for a drink after, there is a lovely wine bar next door or the best Irish pub in town “The Harp bar” at only 100 meters away!
Natalia Corbacho´s favourite tapas
Tikus – a little gem in the heart of La Cala
We all know that Southern Spain is a referent in gastronomy and as we all know there is a few restaurants more traditional than others, with a Mediterranean style and supply they have given it an international twist, in this list we have one that to my taste stands out and that is Tikus Gastrobar.
Simplicity and high cuisine
Between simplicity and high end cuisine, they have taken the tapas experience to a new level, as this is somewhat a combination of Asian and Mediterranean food.
You can find typical things such as ham and cheese platters to amazing tuna tartar. My personal favourite is their octopus with parmentier and piquillo pepper mayonnaise.
This one of a kind combination makes Tikus Gastrobar a must and a unique option. They also offer different fish and meat options and great selection for vegetarians and celiacs.
Creativity and taste
Their chef has an amazing hand and creativity that today makes the difference today. And lets not forget their desserts, creamy mascarpone, raspberry mousse & crocanty of spices for example.
A great variety of tapas that change daily Goat’s cheese crispy mini rolls, black pudding & cane honey crispy mini roll, foie, passion fruit and white chocolate, eggplant tikus style, hummus tikus style, false risotto of wheat, vegetarian or with chicken just to name a few.
They also have their own wine cellar stocked with Rioja wines, Ribera del Duero, sparkling wines, and you can top this all with a nice gin and tonic, or a simple rum and coke on their beautiful terrace.
Don’t hesitate and visit Tikus Gastrobar located in Boulevard La Cala Nº47!
Jennifer Clarke´s favourite tapas
Tapas, as you know are “small dishes” that can either be enjoyed as a snack with a drink at a bar, or you can order several of them in combination and then it becomes a real feast!
My favourite place for Tapas is Taberna Chinorros located on the Post office square, Plaza de Chinorros in the middle of central Fuengirola only 3 minutes’ walk from the bus station. Here you will find the best TAPAS on the Costa del Sol!
How to get there
From Calahonda or Riviera del Sol you can catch the bus to Fuengirola. The bus stop is on the other side of the motorway from the StartGroup office. The bus runs every twenty minutes and the ticket is bought directly from the driver at the modest amount of 1.80 euros. You can always take a taxi back to Calahonda if you wish.
The restaurants and bars at Plaza de Chinorros are relatively new. The site was previously a much smaller square with a small road passing around the large post office building in the middle.
About ten yars ago, Mayor Esperanza Oña – according to what I have heard – wanted to create a “Spanish square” where only Spanish restaurants would be allowed.
Plaza de Chinorros felt like the right place and they decided to turn the entire area into a large square.
Today there are a number of fantastic bars and restaurants on the square.
Most famous are probably “Casa Colon” and “El Picoteo“, always fully booked with guests. The restaurants’ tapas are delicious, but the price is slightly higher than if you walk about 50-75 meters towards the beach.
On the pedestrian street “Calle Larga” just behind the Post office, which still belongs to the square you will find “Taberna Chinorros”.
The family-run restaurant welcomes you with open arms and their motto is short and precise: – highest quality, lowest price. Something that works incredibly well, right here! The restaurant has a large, lovely terrace where we usually enjoy its fantastic selection of tapas. On colder days we venture inside enjoying the authentic Andalusian environment.
Tapas prices start at 2.90 euros, then you get for example “ensaladilla rusa” or “boquerones en vinagre”. One of my favourites is fried Camembert!
If you want something a little more filing, there are a number of meat and fish dishes in tapas format starting at just 3.50 euros. For example “carillada de cerdo iberico” (pork cheek … yes, actually!).
So, either meet at Taberna Chinorros for a drink and some snacks before heading off to one of the several restaurants in central Fuengirola. Or you do as we usually do, order 6-7 different tapas and dinner is done for the evening!
Leon Ruiz´s favourite tapas
Venta de Los Condes
I know where to best TAPAS on the Costa del Sol! On the A-387 road that connects Mijas town with the Puerto de los Pescadores is the Venta de Los Condes with very cheap food and tapas, it is a mandatory stop for locals to have a beer after leaving work.
Menus at good price
On weekends they have daily menus at a very good price and with abundant food. Foreigners who have a second residence on the Costa del Sol are starting to get to know it and it’s now a very popular bar to mix with Spanish locals and foreigners that want something different than the pubs along the coast.
Jeremy Rozario´s favourite tapas
Having been lucky enough to have bought a home here in Calahonda or near or you may be here searching for that ideal second home, investment or you are here for good! You are you to explore your surroundings, and with me my stomach is in the driving seat!
Here in Spain and it is said to originate here is the marvellous “tapas” a plethora of snacks! It’s origins are from when the workers would stop for lunch or and after work drink and get a little piece of bread to put on your bottle top, a “tapa” this was then elaborated on and over time we have so many delicious variations. Have to now stop and fix myself a snack, back in 20m.
My favourite tapas bar
Right better now! My favourite tapas bar is not really the “Michelin starred” tapas bar but a small chain called Lizarran. Why do I like them so much?? it’s really because when I am hungry and that’s often, there is always one within 10m in a car. It’s a default mode my stomach has, not starving, will cook later so need a coffee and snack, Lizarran.
They are all a similar design with both rustic and modern combined and the bar layout are always the same, glass cabinets full of combinations of bread with toppings, pastries, salads etc. all on individual plates or wooden skewers and this is essentially how you pay.
Your waiter will count the amount of plates there size and skewers (different size, different price) and count the glasses and there is your bill. I have never seen a price list but somewhere in my head I have it noted that the small skewers are around 2.75 and small plates are 3 to 5 depending on dish.
My daughter loves it here, the help yourself and variety makes it’s great for kids.
They also do hot food, this can be obtained via a menu, go large dishes like a full meal or if you are around at peak service I.E breakfast at say 10am or lunch at 3pm the chefs ramp up the output of hit dished and they are paraded around the tables by the waiters, calling out the name of dish, some are easy to decipher others are just try and see!
The only downside of this is if you sit too far away from the bar. Your are absolute craving but you can’t see the dishes properly from the kitchen. You wait patiently for him/her to get to you, will they see you??
Panic, but no, they have seen you and are making a b-line for your table, relief! But what, this big hairy hand waves the waiter down and picks the last 3 off the plate!! This is the only downside of this vibrant and happy little bar/restaurant, so just sit at the bar!!
David Hemmings´s favourite tapas
Bar Plaza de España
If you are looking for a tapas experience then don’t look any further than this little gem. It is tucked away in a hidden square in Arroyo de la Miel, Benalmadena.
How to get there
If you are not local to the area and don’t have a car then the best way to get there is on the local train service stopping at Arroyo de la Miel.
This is the same station that serves Tivoli World amusement park. A great idea would be to try the tapas and then have a fun family evening at Tivoli World.
You may as well make a day of it if you are travelling from areas such as Calahonda, Riviera del Sol, La Cala de Mijas. In that case take the bus to Fuengirola and from there take the train.
Arroyo de la Miel
Getting back to the tapas , exit the train station and looking straight ahead you will see a pedestrian street going down hill, head down for about 100 meters and take the second left which takes you through a small street with shops and town houses and eventually opens up into this beautiful Andalusian plaza lined with orange trees and a fountain in the middle.
Plaza de España
The square know as Plaza de España, is enclosed by old style town houses and each has a small bar below with tables and chairs on the terrace. The terrace is full of expats and tourists soaking up the sun and trying a taste of Spain.
The bar that I frequent is called “Bar Plaza de España“ it’s on the corner as you enter the square. There is an extensive tapas menu setting you back €1,50 per tapa or a choice of 4 for €5. A pint of local beer is €1,50, you are really in “ real Spain” with prices like that. That is why it’s a favourite with the expats.
On Friday afternoons it’s market day at Tivoli World and many people combine the two so it gets very busy. My favourite dish is “Chorizo el infierno” ( Hellfire spicy sausage).
It is a clay bowl moulded into the shape of a pig that they bring to your table. At the base they pour alcohol and set it alight. At the top they hang a full chorizo sausage which is on a metal skewer. You turn it and cook it, similar to a mini spit roast, and then devour it. Lovely and what a novelty!
For me this is the best TAPAS on the Costa del Sol!
Once you have replenished, take a walk around the vibrant village. There’s lots of shops and more plazas to discover before heading back home.
Cecilia Boden´s favourite tapas
Spain is a fantastic country, rich in culture, history and gastronomy. When it comes to gastronomy every region has of course its particularities and specialities but in general you find the Mediterranean Cuisine of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood in general and meats of the very best quality, to not to talk about olive oils, cheese, wine etc.
If you are a lover of fabulous food, Spain is definitely your prior destination and Andalusia one prime spot to explore. Here I mention a few of my favourite places that offers tapas on the Costa del Sol.
Tapas bars Malaga
Antigua Casa de Guardia: This is the oldest wine cellar and tavern in Málaga. Founded in the 1840, the house, if I recall right, became supplier to the Queen herself. I believe the house still holds that title to this day. You can find it on the label of their sweet wing “Moscatel Trasañejo “Isabel II” according to the same house. It is very traditional bar with old barrels of wine that they serve from.
There are sweet, dry, mix.. both wines and sherry’s and they also have for those who do not drink alcohol.
They have lovely rations of different type of sea food to accompany.
A great place in Malaga!
El Quitapenas: Also famous for their own sweet wine. A local, old style tapas bar with very good food and service. They have a great variety of tapas to choose from so there is for every liking and taste therefore try to come early as it gets easily filled up.
Bodeguita El Gallo: A picturesque tapas bar situated close to the Picasso Museum. Narrow and cosy, wooden beams and original Spanish decor with just wonderful service, food and taste. There is a world of different tapas and rations to choose from. Highly recommended.
Casa Lola: This tapas bar has kept it’s original charm and is an absolute must for an unique experience. The food is absolutely fantastic and the ambience too! They have a never ending list of tapas and rations, served in the utmost beautiful way. I can easily say they have plenty of the mos wonderful tapas on the Costa del Sol! This is a very popular place, people tend to stand waiting for tables so I recommend you go there quite early.
They also have the most spectacular home-made vermouth… If you dare to try:)
Unique, old-fashioned but modern cuisine
El Pimpi: Yet again, this is simply a must. This unique restaurant with all its old-fashioned charm, it´s patio, fountains and different rooms. The tapas are served in a very eye catching way and most of the ingredients come from their own vegetable garden.
The service is fantastic thus being such a frequented place. The menu varies depending the season and what they have fresh from their own land. The wines and sherry’s are absolutely exquisite. If you need help to choose they eagerly attend you.
La Tranca: This is for me my golden spot, traditional Spanish music and setting (though recently moved), lovely house cuisine for good price. The perfect place for a glass of sherry or wine and the chef´s speciality of the day. Very good value for the money.
Soho – by Antonio Banderas new Theatre
If you walk on the Soho side… I do not know as many but these ones did give me a really good impression:
La Deriva: When I entered the first time I was happily impressed by the service. It was quite busy that day but even so we were attended us at once. They offered us a drink while waiting for a table and even told us the approximate waiting time.
First impression is..oh this must be expensive.. but I must say that the high cuisine, the quality of the service and their wine cellar, well… A top ten!
La Deriva has absolutely delicious food and wine, a beautiful set up and the service is fantastic! Clean and proper. If you have been once you just have to repeat.
GK Time Soho: A fun and young restaurant / tapas / wine bar. Situated just next to the Soho theatre this makes it a perfect spot to meet up before any of the shows.
I haven’t tried any meal there yet thus I can’t tell you how they are though I have had a few tapas with my friends. The staff is very attending and friendly and yet again exquisite tapas and wine..therefore the price. A bit dear but you find quality and price do go together. I do recommend it.
Artesanal Cruzcampo: Now, I am not at all a beer person but IF you are, this is a place you have to see. They do their very own beer and they have set up the restaurant around/inside the very fabric. This is a restaurant with a very modern touch, the beers are a bit expensive but on the other hand, you can´t get them elsewhere so I find price and quality is very good. Good ambience, nice staff.. well worth a visit.
Tapas in Fuengirola
La Despensa del Aceite: As you might have figured out..I am week for good food, good service and good wine. This restaurant/tapas bar has it all. You are always treated and served with a smile, which is a delight..to not talk about what they serve. They even do have their own olive oil production. A very smart and clean place I do highly recommend.
Tapas, tapas, tapas!
El Callejon (before know as Casa Flores): Again an old tapas bar that has got a “face lift”. They have kept the barrels behind the bar and the original tables and stools as from an old Spanish Tavern. Very clean and proper. Good tapas and very friendly and good service. El Callejon is a cosy little place but quite small hence it gets easily crowded.
Cervecería Gamboa: You can tell I do like my prawns and shell fish. This place is economically very good. A note: There is much more outdoor space than indoor therefor come on a sunny day.
La Picada: For just a tapa or complete meal. The service is very friendly, the food is nice and the ambience too. Not too expensive.
For morning strolls!
Bar Casa Gómez: My favourite breakfast place when not having breakfast at home. Best coffee ever and the “pitufos” are to die for. Pitufos are small buns/baguettes (or any other type of bread you like) with a choice of filling. They do daily menus of proper home made Spanish cuisine from the mountain village Gaucín. Very family friendly atmosphere and very good value for the quality.
Cafeteria Costa del Sol: An old and picturesque coffee shop / cafe that has kept it original charm. They have a great range of pastries, sandwiches etc. You can buy freshly baked bread and/or pastry to take with you home if you wish. Perfect for a lovely coffee brake and maybe a cake. 🙂
and afternoon strolls!
Café Arabica Teteria: This is more a tea lounge than anything else as they do not serve food. This is an old Spanish house transformed. It has a lovely chimney to sit by in winter with a nice cup of tea. There is a nice inner patio and roof terrace where you can enjoy a glass of wine or drink if you prefer, with soft music in the background.
San Chocolate: A really romantic little place. Situated on one of the parallel streets to the church, you find this picturesque and charming cafe. Here you can enjoy a nice hot chocolate or maybe a smoothy… and why not try their crepes? Such a delight! or if you are more hungry maybe a lovely salad.
A very calm, genuine and welcoming atmosphere where time passes without realising.
Coffee and tea!
La Ruta de Kaldi: My absolute favourite place for coffee and tea. This lovely family business has a really genuine and personal treat. They import and distribute all kind of coffee’s and tea’s.
The local is cosy and welcoming with a world of different teas and coffees at your disposal much to ones delight. You can buy tea and coffee in loose weight and they can grind and mix to everyone’s desire and need. A must for any coffee or tea lover!
In my humble opinion in these places you can find tasty TAPAS on the Costa del Sol!
Christofer Fogelberg´s favourite tapas
I have so many favourites!
In Calahonda I go a lot to Cafe el Zoco, when I am in Marbella I like “El Estrecho” which is located in a very narrow street in the Historical Old Town of Marbella. Great typical Andalusian tapas.
In Fuengirola I have a bit of a different favourite! It is at the Restaurant MezzaNotte on the beach promenade where you will find the best TAPAS on the Costa del Sol!
A beautiful restaurant that serves Lebanese tapas and Italian food. All ecological and home made with love! Great terrace and ambience, the service is fantastic and food succulent!
Try the assorted Lebanese tapas. Or if you are really hungry have the Shawarma Pizza made with spelt flour and ecological vegetables.
Very good value!
Nicholas Pratt’s favourite tapas!
La Taberna de Santiago
As much as the food and ambience here, I enjoy the Taberna de Santiago for its location. Set right in the heart of Marbella and overlooking the “paseo marítimo” (beach front walking area) it is also blessed with being sat right above the underground car park of Avenida del Mar.
Piece of art
To start with, as you head up the stairs from the underground parking, you emerge to the square or “plaza” which forms part of the Avenida del Mar. Once your eyes adjust to the sunlight, you realise immediately that here is the home to 5 full sized replica sculptures by Spain’s infamous Salvador Dali. These statues are beautifully crafted. It gives you the feel of living some Spanish culture before you even had a sniff of a tapa or a glass of chilled fino!
At the end of the avenue leading towards the steps to the paseo marítimo. Here is another sculpture but this time by Eduardo Soriano; it is a tribute to freedom of expression (La libertad de expresión).
To the right hand side of the square as you face the sea, you will spot the magnificent Taberna de Santiago. Immediately recognisable due to the spectacular deep sea blue coloured tiled facade. Its fancy details and of course the name emblazoned on the front of the restaurant.
The restaurant interior is also cleverly tiled incorporating recipes and phrases. There is also a large exterior terrace on the front side where we mainly enjoy our experiences. Inside is great for the cooler months but outside is where you take in the ambience of people watching and of course enjoying the sun, sea views and the crisp sea air.
Although the tavern is in the heart of Marbella and now also forming part of the Michelin guide (The Michelin plate) gaining an award for good cooking and use of fresh quality ingredients, the prices are very reasonable, with tapas and “raciones” (plates) ranging from €2 upwards.
My staple tapas selection always consists of “Ensaladilla Rusa, bocas del mar and croquetas”. Translated as Russian salad, fruits of the sea salad and croquettes. After that I also can never resist a half plate (media racion) of fried squid (Calamares fritos). Along with an ice cold beer and the cooling sea breeze whilst sat in the sun. This is a combination that is hard to beat. The tapas menu is extensive of course and this is just my personal taste!
There is something to suit all tastes. On their extensive menu and you can be assured that the quality of each tapa is equally high.
So, my ideal tapas experience consists of a drive into Marbella with easy parking. Going for some great tapas and finish off with a walk along the seafront.
For me and my partner this is our ideal afternoon!
Benjamin Lartigue’s favourite tapas bar!
La Farola de Orellana (Málaga)
If you are looking for a typical tapas bar, go to Calle Moreno Monroy in yhe historic centre of Málaga. Look for “Farola de Orellana” and you will be warmly welcomed by Belen. It is a small establishment hosting at the max of 40 people.
We usually eat standing at the bar or on the narrow tables against the wall. There is always a nice atmosphere where the sound of the conversations mingle.
Tapas, tapas, tapas
On the bar there are large glass cabinets filled with traditional dishes. You have to point out what you choose. Carrillada de cerdo, solomillo de cerdo, patata asada, costillas de cerdo or stuffed mushrooms are amongst the most popular dishes.
A good “caña” (beer) or a good wine to accompany and you will appreciate the experience even more. The budget level is affordable, around 15€ per person,
I highly recommend to try these fabulous tapas on the Costa del Sol!