Marbella is an interesting place, to say the least. Part swanky beach resort, part lived-in town, it charms and seduces with its unique Andalusian-meets-Mediterranean vibe, tangled whitewashed lanes draped in bougainvillea, and a dining scene that could hold its own against cities several times its size.
But, in a city filled with Michelin star restaurants, colorful tapas bars, and the smell of sizzling freshly caught fish, how do you know where to begin your food journey? To help you figure out, we’ve eaten our way throughout the city and curated a list of the best restaurants in Marbella Center.
From fine dining establishments to casual family-run eateries, these places provide the perfect combo of food, service, and ambiance. And the best part, you won’t even need a car to reach them, as they’re all located within walking distance of the beach, the Old Town, and each other.
Best for Creative Mediterranean Cuisine: Casanis Bistrot
Casanis Bistrot is one of Marbella’s most popular and beloved restaurants, and for good reason. Charming, old-fashioned décor, gourmet bistro fare, and a postcard-perfect streetside terrace for alfresco dining – this spot has all the makings of a quintessential Mediterranean affair.
Housed in a 150 years old country house, the restaurant boasts an idyllic leafy courtyard and traditional, charismatic interiors with wooden beam ceilings, terracotta flooring, and quirky cartoon-style paintings adorning the walls. On top of that, it makes the most of its enviable location on a typical narrow Old Town street with tables and chairs set up on the cobbled sidewalk against a backdrop of whitewashed walls draped in purple bougainvillea.
The menu combines French, Belgian, and Spanish influences, and all the exquisite dishes are prepared using organic vegetables grown in the restaurant’s very own garden. As a main, I would unhesitatingly recommend their Pollo del Corral (Whole Grain Fed Chicken), which is simply divine. If you are in the mood for something lighter, you can’t go wrong with the “fish of the day” washed down with a chilled local white.
Best for Dinner with a Show: The Farm
With tables spilling onto a little cobbled plaza and a secret garden featuring flamenco shows, The Farm is more than just a simple restaurant; it’s a unique cultural experience that involves all the senses.
Occupying one of the oldest homes in Marbella’s Old Town, this family-run venue stands out in more ways than one. First, the food is organic and wonderfully seasonal, made with clean, quality ingredients sourced exclusively from local farmers & suppliers. Second, the setting is charmingly rustic and authentic, bringing to mind visions of the Andalusian countryside.
Interiors are characterful and atmospheric, while a delightful mismatch of upcycled pieces of furniture, quirky antiques, and creeping greenery sets the mood for a memorable alfresco dinner in the magical inner patio, where live Flamenco performances are held twice a week.
We visited the restaurant when my parents came over last July. Not only did they have the chance to sample Flamenco, but the overall experience was one to remember. The idyllic setting, the friendly service, and the delicious 3-course meal all combined to make it a fantastic evening out. I opted for the lamb menu, while everyone else ordered the sea bass fillet with yogurt and tabbouleh. They were both wonderfully cooked & presented, and came accompanied by organic Spanish wine and thoughtful starters such as cold Salmorejo soup and Andalusian tomatoes carpaccio with garlic and bullet tuna. The dessert selection was equally scrumptious and creative, with conscious options like seasonal raw fruit cake or orange parfait with coconut foam.
For a unique dining experience in Marbella Old Town, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place than the secret garden of this soulful farm-to-table restaurant.
Best Arroceria: Paella’s y Más
More often than not, the best restaurants are off the tourist trail. This is certainly the case of Paella’s y Más, a fine-dining establishment specialized in rice-based dishes, exquisite seafood, and prized Iberian meats.
Surrounded by nondescript apartment buildings, just outside the main avenue, this is where you’ll find the best paella in Marbella, along with a variety of delicious arroces and fideuas stuffed with high-quality produce from the area.
Not only is he an expert in traditional Valencian cuisine, but the internationally acclaimed chef Javier Ponte, who also owns the place, surprises patrons with an innovative menu rich in Andalusian flavors – think roasted onion black pudding from Ronda with caramelized pear, homemade gazpacho with green apple, grilled prawns with lemon romesco sauce, and Iberian pork escalope with ham, mushrooms, and Malaga wine.
The restaurant’s interior is a real stunner – with stylish contemporary furnishings, whitewashed brick walls, and dazzling Andalusian inspired tiles scattered throughout. Tables are cleverly set along lengthy leather banquettes and there’s also a sprawling outdoor terrace for dining under the stars.
Best for Modern Brunch Fare: Maleva Bakery
In a city studded with big-name restaurants and bustling tapas bars, Maleva is a breath of fresh air. Tucked on a quiet, leafy street behind the beach promenade and away from the tourist crowds, this trendy bakery-cum-café specializes in artisan sourdough bread, but also offers breakfast, lunch, brunch, and all sorts of delicious baked goods – and does it all so well!
The service is warm and friendly, the coffee as good as it gets, and they serve up some of the prettiest and tastiest brunch fare in town in hip surroundings with an edgy industrial feel. Come summertime, tables spill onto the shaded alley outside, making it a perfect place to people-watch over a refreshing drink.
The food is on the healthier side, with yummy, wholesome items like scrambled eggs with smoked cured salmon, Greek yogurt with granola, and avocado toasties, while drinks range from homemade mint lemonade to nutritious detox smoothies. In terms of pastries, we are overly obsessed with their carrot cake, but the cheesecake and fruit tarts are just as delicious.
Those with dietary restrictions will also appreciate their tasty vegan options, as well as the fact that the menu is helpfully marked out with symbols for possible allergens.
Best Wine Bar: Primeria Selection
Patrons with sophisticated palates won’t want to miss a visit at Primeria Selection, a classy wine bar & gastronomic space wrapping around a corner on a residential street in downtown Marbella.
Aside from the elegant design, with cool untreated wooden tables and walls decked out in wine bottles, this gourmet deli-cum-restaurant has a wonderfully unique menu of cured delights, exquisite preserves, and fresh, delicate oysters from Normandy and Brittany. The wine list is impressive, boasting a variety of Spanish labels, as well as drops from around the world, and they also pride themselves on their fine selection of vermouths and local craft beer.
While you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, we suggest ordering the burrata with pistachio pesto and tomato confit, a platter of smooth, rich jamón ibérico de bellota, and their topnotch anchovies served with artisan brioche and butter.
Best for Japanese Food: Ta-Kumi Gastro Bar
Run by two of the city’s most famous chefs – Toshio Tsutsui and Álvaro Arbeloa, Ta-Kumi is said to be one of the best Japanese restaurants on Costa de Sol. It prides itself on serving a fusion of Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine, using carefully selected ingredients, but according to most TripAdvisor readers, the real star is the sushi.
The restaurant is located in the new part of Marbella, an easy walk from Playa de La Fontanilla, and has a sleek Asian-inspired design. It’s traditional and authentic, but warm and contemporary at the same time.
They offer a lovely selection of sushi, along with fried noodles, fragrant woks, and delectable tempura and teppanyaki dishes starring top-quality fish and seafood. We had the Tori Gyoza (Japanese-style chicken dumplings) and Salmon Teppan Yaki with vegetables in teriyaki sauce, and they were both well done, beautifully flavored, and artfully presented.
The staff was on point, and we were also given several extras in the form of a small piece of tempura butterfish as appetizer, as well as some delicious dessert samplings to round out the meal at no extra cost.
Judging by their Facebook page and the flashy cars parked outside, Ta-Kumi attracts a mix of celebrities, socialites, and curious tourists, and it’s not unusual to spot a well-known football player (like Alvaro Morata or Cristiano Ronaldo) next to you.
Best for Traditional Spanish Food: Ebe La Polaca
Marbella is bursting with restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world, but if an authentic taste of Spain is what you’re after, you should definitely make your way to Ebe La Polaca.
Sitting on the edge of the historic center, right across the street from the Central Market (Mercado Municipal), this traditional eatery serves genuine local delicacies in charming old-world surroundings adorned with memorabilia from the ‘40s to the ‘60s.
Set in an impressive 17th-century building, the atmospheric restaurant spans several themed floors and includes a couple of outdoor terraces. The bar area is by far the most animated, with regulars gathering to socialize over delicious homemade tapas and chilled drinks. If you make it past the tempting selection of daily specials, which may include gazpachuelo malagueño and tuna lasagna or a hearty beef casserole, take your pick from their never-ending range of tapas, montaditos, and bocadillos in every imaginable taste and combination.
Best for Homemade Italian Dishes: Nika Café
Don’t be fooled by the small size, this pretty eatery is a fierce contender for the best value lunch in Marbella. Set on a quiet residential street parallel with the main boulevard, Ricardo Soriano, Nika Café is the place to go for a real taste of homemade Italian fare.
Comforting and packed with flavor, their pasta dishes seem straight out of nonna’s kitchen, and the selection of baked goods is simply amazing, with health-conscious options like sugar-free orange bizcocho. My favorite is the lasagna – it’s simply perfect, but, really, you can’t go wrong with any of their plates.
Food aside, the café has a homey atmosphere, with charming owners/staff. Monica, the Brazilian chef, is one of the nicest and most genuine people you’ll ever meet. She often comes out to meet the customers, talk about the ingredients she uses, and see if everything is okay.
The delicious, authentic cuisine and the very warm welcome all conspire to make you feel like eating in a real Italian home. The only downside is that they’re not open for dinner.
Best for Artful Bites & Live Music: Frenchette
Live entertainment, wonderful atmosphere, and a short but well-thought menu of international bites make Frenchette the coolest and fanciest tapas restaurant in Marbella.
Situated in Plaza Santo Cristo, just up the street from its bigger sister restaurant, Casanis, this seasonal gem attracts a well-dressed, fun-loving crowd who come to socialize around exquisite tapas and drinks under the starry sky.
The dreamy Old Town location – in a characterful Spanish plaza dotted with palm trees, between an old-fashioned tablao (flamenco establishment) and a small charming church – only adds to its charm, and also ensures some colorful people watching throughout the evening.
Rather than focusing solely on food, the restaurant’s number one goal is to create an exceptional dining experience for customers – and that’s exactly what it does. Think live gospel, graffiti projected on the church’s old walls, and creative shareable plates bursting with intense flavors. We also got a glimpse inside and found the decor to be equally interesting, with dazzling urban art all over the walls.
We went to Frechette on a Friday evening and were greeted by live R&B playing outside on the lively terrace, with the church’s dim-lit bell tower as a backdrop. The atmosphere was brilliant, and so was the food & drink. We started with the crab spring rolls and the tempura octopus, paired with a glass of cold, bubbling ecological cava. They were both served bite-size, exquisitely plated, and tasted wonderful. We also tried the yuca chips with tzatziki – excellent!
In a nutshell, we had an amazing evening and we’d definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for an exceptional tapas experience with an urban twist. Too bad this hip, gourmet eatery is only open during the summer months.
Best for Contemporary Pinchos y Raciones: Lateral Naranjos
Smack dab in the ever-popular Plaza de los Naranjos, the heart and soul of Marbella Old Town, Lateral is a natural choice after a day wandering up and down the whitewashed labyrinthine streets intertwined with pretty squares and inviting boutiques.
Part of the celebrated Spanish restaurant chain with the same name, the establishment pairs modern tapas with refined designer decor, providing a pleasant alternative to the traditional, albeit tourist-centric, restaurants nearby. It occupies a stunningly renovated colonial building, where patrons can dine under original exposed brick arches, in an Andalusian style inner patio decorated with romantic garden furnishings, eye-catching artwork, and lush greenery.
The “carta” revolves around Spanish classics with a modern twist, which come in the form of tapas, pinchos, and raciones, all reasonably priced and tastefully plated.
A rarity in Marbella, the restaurant is open every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its later closing hours and lively, sociable atmosphere make it a favorite place to hang out with friends and mingle with the locals, especially outside the busy summer months.